Space Saving Shop-Vac Dust Collector Cart





Introduction: Space Saving Shop-Vac Dust Collector Cart

I recently moved into a new shop and lost some square footage over my old one, so floor space is at a premium. At the old shop, my dust separator was quite content sitting next to my shop-vac with the hose reel mounted to the wall, but they require a little pampering to get them to fit the new space. This dust collection cart allows me to stack everything vertically, only taking up a small amount of floor space, while still having the same functionality as before. It has also allowed me to avoid the hassle of installing a dedicated dust collection system to a lot of my tools. The hose reel is my favorite part, with the 20' hose on it, it reaches almost everywhere in my shop and stores away easily and neatly so avoid fighting with the clutter of loose hoses. The cart is a combination of designs from Jay Bates, Jeremy Schmidt, and myself.

Build plans:

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Notable Materials:

> Plywood

> Miscellaneous length drywall screws

> Painters tape

> Wood glue

> Concrete, poly sheets, and cardboard (optional)

> (2) 3" rigid casters & (2) 3" locking swivel casters

> Shop-vac

> Rockler dust separator

> Rockler vacuum hose reel

> 20' shop vac hose

> Flexible hose

> Small port hose kit

> Shop vac accessory kit

Notable Tools:

> T-square

> Tape measure

> Circular saw

> Bandsaw

> Brad gun

> Air compressor

> Miter saw

> Screw clamps

> Drill & impact driver

> Palm router

> Glue applicator kit

> Countersink and driver set

Step 2: Cutting Materials to Size

This whole cart can be built from 2/3's of a sheet of plywood. Luckily I have one of those... just buried behind everything else.

I put a model together for the build in SketchUp based upon the dimensions of my shop-vac, the Rockler dust separator, and the Rockler hose reel. From this, I create an exploded view of all of the parts so I can transfer the dimensions onto the sheet of plywood.

Dimensions are marked on the sheet with a t-square and then cut out with a circular saw and the cut is finished with a pull saw. I didn't have the table saw hooked up to electricity yet, so I used this technique to cut all of the pieces -- just takes a bit longer, but with a steady hand you can get the same accuracy.

I start by focusing on the base. It's a bit of a funky design made to keep a low center of gravity since this cart will be fairly tall and slender. The main piece of the base is cut out to allow the wheels to be mounted up higher and the whole base to squat down around the wheels. Each of the 4 corners it cut out on the bandsaw, 2 larger cut outs like this for swivel casters in the front, and 2 more smaller cut outs for rigid casters in the back.

Step 3: Assembling the Base

The miter saw helps me to cut these smaller pieces to size, and then I apply painters tape to the back to help with the glue-up. These strips will be the extension pieces at each corner that hold the pieces that hold the casters.

Glue is applied to each of the joints and spread before bending them into place with the painters tape holding the joints tight.

Glue is then applied to the top surface of each of the extension pieces so they can be glued and brad nailed into place.

The whole assembly is flipped over and the same is done for the corner bracket caps in each of the 4 corners.

Now the perimeter pieces can be installed with glue and brads as well. I decided to box in the rear wheel to give the box more structure (especially on the rear where all of the weight will be applied from the legs) while it's notched open at the front wheels to allow them to swivel freely.

The front wheels are located in place right up against the corner. I ended up shimming them up about 1/8" because the wheel lock lever was a big longer than I realized and interfered with the swivel. This actually worked out because I could use slightly longer screws to fasten them in place.

The wheels that were on the shop-vac previously are no longer needed, so I remove those so that the vacuum can fit inside of the wheel box outs. With the base flipped over now, you can see how nice and low profile the whole setup is, just under an inch from the ground.

Step 4: Adding the Legs

I ended up deciding to save some plywood and instead use some reclaimed lumber that I had on hand for the rest that happened to be the perfect size for the pieces. First I cut down this 3/4" pine paneling to a couple inches longer than what I want the main legs to be.

2 pairs of the pieces are glued and screwed together into an "L" shape and then each of the L's is screwed into place into each of the back corners. Just need to be careful not to screw into the actual wheels.

Step 5: Bottom Shelf

The shelf support pieces are cut from some 3/4" thick pallet slats on the band saw. I cut an angle in the side supports to remove some material from the front of them.

Each of the side supports is glued and then screwed into the main back support piece. Also, these are pre-drilled prior because I'm screwing into end grain. One of the support pieces is shorter than the other to allow for the host to pass between levels later.

I measure up from the base just high enough to fit the shop-vac below the shelf and then clamp the support into place while I fasten it to the legs with some screws.

Step 6: Top Shelf

A square piece of plywood is install on the lower shelf to hold the dust separator and then I can use a framing square to mark the legs at the height that will give enough clearance for the hose into the separator. I can then clamp the top shelf into place at the point and screw it into the legs.

From that point, I measure up 3/4" to allow for a space for the top shelf platform and then cut the top of the legs to final length at this point with my circular saw.

The final piece of the puzzle, the hose reel, can now be installed into place! I line it up where it needs to live and then mark out the mounting holes onto the top plywood platform.

Each of the 4 corners is drilled out where I just marked, and then I move the reel back into place and hold it in place with some carriage bolts.

Step 7: Installing the Hoses

I use a flexible rubber hose to connect the 3 units. This allows for me to go around the corners from one unit to another smoothly without needing to hassle with any fittings. I first mount it to the left side of the dust separator and measure the length needed to reach up to the hose reel before cutting it to length.

The remainder of the hose can then be installed on the opposite side of the separator and connected to the inlet of the shop-vac below.

Step 8: Modifying the Separator Cart

The shop-vac is held nicely in place between the wheel extensions, but the separator is just sitting on the shelf, so I decide to cut out an indent to hold this in place. I pull it off and set the separator where I want it to live so I can trace out the circle.

I then use a straight cut bit in my palm router to cut out this indent by hand, 3/8" deep starting at the center and working my way out. Besides just holding the bucket in place, this will also give me just a little bit of extra room so the hoses aren't too cramped at the top.

The lower platform can then be installed back into place. This shelf is just floating in place on top of the supports to allow for easy access to the vacuum, so I install a trim piece on each side just to make sure that it stays in place.

Step 9: Vacuum Accessory Organizer

The last wooden addition is a vacuum accessory organizer. I find a 1-1/2" wide stick of reclaimed pine and chop it down to length to fit between the legs and then as separators between the 2 main pieces. These are glued and brad nailed together.

I then measure out the right height for the accessories that I have, screw the organizer into place, and then load it up with my small hoses and nozzles.

Step 10: Adding Concrete to the Base

Now that it is all assembled I can get a better idea of how top heavy the whole unit actually is and because of the squatted base it's very steady. I had it in my head while designing though that I would need some more weight at the bottom, so I go ahead with that step because I knew I'd always wonder if I didn't :) I remove the base, wrap the base of the vacuum in poly, and then wrap that in a layer of cardboard to give some clearance between it and the concrete.

I then lay down a 2nd sheet of poly inside the wood base before centering the vacuum and pouring the concrete in place around it. While the concrete is still wet, I install a screw in each of the 4 sides to give something for it to grab to once it cures.

With the concrete cured, I can pull out the vacuum, remove it's diaper, and install it back into place and hook all the hoses back up. Conclusion from this is that it was definitely unnecessary -- it added a little bit of stability but it wasn't significant and wasn't really needed anyway (you could always just put weights inside the shop vac instead). Only thing that maybe made it worth it is that it stiffened up the base slightly.

Now this one unit can service the whole shop to clean up the work bench and also actively while I'm using hand sanders at the workbench, my bandsaw, and bench top sander. It's on wheels so that I can easily move it around and get even more range, like rolling it out into the driveway to clean out the cars.

Step 11: Glamour

Thanks for checking out the build! This is one of the first steps in organizing the new shop. Definitely check out the build video for the full experience and keep and eye on my channel for more of these coming soon.

Thirsty for more? You can also find me in other places on the interwebs!

My Website: Essentially my entire life

YouTube: Me, in moving picture form

Instagram: Preview my projects as they progress #nofilter

Twitter: Riveting thoughts, in very small doses


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    Nice job. Thank you.

    how hard is it to empty? all the insets and the collector being on top seems a little difficult for emptying purposes

    Great work as always man :) Nice to see the things you come up with - I wish I could build full time like you..

    Love it! Great write up. The concrete base, seemed like a really good idea, was interesting that you thought it not too effective and unnecessary- goes to show hands on experi5 cant be beaten. Love that the hose's starting point is quite high, so can reach over many workshop junk without snagging.
    Not one to miss a plug opportunity, here's my little shop vac effort-

    Great project, as usual. Concrete base is a brilliant idea.

    And man, your videos are excellent!

    Thanks so much for the love Sam!

    Great work, congrats. Hey, which software are you using for modeling?


    Thanks for sharing. The base was a work of art, the video, almost as impressive as the base.