Introduction: X-Carve CNC Router Dust Collector/Shoe
I purchased the upgraded 1000mm x 1000mm X-Carve CNC. The upgrade comes with bigger drive motors and a Dewalt 611 router. Anyone who has purchased one of these will quickly realize that a dust collection system is an absolute must have if you don't want your entire work space covered in dust.
I searched around for a DIY dust collector solution, but did not like any of the options I found. Most DIY dust collectors attach to the spindle, which is not ideal as it does not stay a fixed height relative to the work. The ones I found that don't attach to the spindle usually had fairly complicated attachment methods, required modification to the X-Carve, or made it difficult to get the dust collector on and off to change bits. Also many solutions seem to rob routing height.
I did find one commercial product that seemed pretty good called "Suck-It" (http://www.suckitdustboot.com). I could have purchased one of these for $80 and saved myself several hours of free time, but where's the fun in that?
In the end I spent about $40 on the entire dust collection system (including the vacuum). The system is very easy to use. Simply by loosening two hose clamps the dust collect can be rotated out of the way or back into position (see photos). Also the way the system is designed it can take full advantage the maximum routing height of the X-Carve.
Note: Since most of my work initially will be 2D cutting parts out of sheets of material or plywood, I did not include bristles on the dust collector face. I have found that keeping the collector face close to the work (about 1/8" to 1/4" above the work) does not allow any dust or material to escape. It would be simple to a fix brush material around the outside of the dust collector presented if desired for 3D carving.
Step 1: Materials Needed
You will need the following material (All hardware can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot):
3D Printed / CNC Cut Parts (Shoe Bottom, Shoe Top, VAC Attachment and Hose Adaptor - see next section)
8 x 10 x 0.08 Acrylic sheet
1 1/4" PVC Pipe 11" long
5/16" Carriage Bolt 1" long, with Washer, Lock Washer, and Nut
2 - #4-40 Pan Head Bolts 1" long with Nuts
2 - #4-40 Flat Head Bolts 1" long with Nuts
5 - #4-40 Flat Head Bolts 1 1/4" long with Nuts
2- 1 1/16" to 2" Pipe Clamps - must be at lease 1 1/2"
1 1/4" long piece of 3/4" AL angle iron
(OPTIONAL) 1-1/4-in Dia 90-Degree PVC Sch 40 Elbow - This fits a 1 1/4" OD vacuum hose.
(OPTIONAL) 3' length of 1 1/4" or larger PVC Pipe for hose to rout over at back of X-Carve
(OPTIONAL) Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum (bought at Amazon for $35)
Tools You will need:
Drill and 1/8" bit
Step 2: 3D Printed Parts
You will need to 3D print or CNC cut the following parts:
XCarve_Shoe_Bot - This is the bottom plate of the dust collector and should be 3D printed in PLA or ABS. I used PLA with 40% fill.
XCarve_Shoe_Top - This is the top plate of the dust collector. It should be CNC cut it out of Lexan or Acrylic so you can see the router work. The SVG should be used for CNC cutting. It was a bit of a pain getting Easel to work with the SVG as it did not print everything. I added extra shapes for the stuff that did not cut and ran the CNC a second time. There is probably an easier way to get this to work, but I'm a noob with the CNC. STL files are attached if you want to 3D print the top, but I recommend something clear.
XCarve_VAC_Attach - This is the part the mounts the dust collector to the X_Carve and should be 3D printed in PLA or ABS. I used PLA with 40% fill. Note that is takes advantage of a large hole (5/16") on X-Carriage to provide a strong attachment. No modification of the X-Carve is necessary if your X-Carve has this mounting hole.
XCarve_Hose (OPTIONAL) - This is a hose adapter is optional and may need to be re sized depending on the vacuum you use. I printed mine using TPE filament so that it is flexible and provided a tight non-slip fit.
Step 3: X_Carve Attachment
Start by making the bottom attachment bracket. You can probably make this bracket from materials you have on hand if you follow the measurements in the pucture. If you are using a 1 1/4" long piece of 3/4" AL angle iron, as I did, start by cutting one side down to 3/8" (see photo). Next on the uncut face drill two 1/8" holes 3/4" apart, 7/16" from the short face.
Next, insert two #4-40 nuts into the blind nut holes in the XCarve_VAC_Attach 3D printed part (see Photo). The nuts should fit snug. Use a small screw driver to push them down until they line up with the bolt holes. Now attache the bracket you made above using the two 2 - #4-40, 1" long pan head bolts. The short face should be away from the rounded front and pointing up toward the plastic (see side attachment photo). You will need to leave the bracket very loose for mounting.
Now, completely open the pipe clamps and insert free ends into the two large mounting holes in the left side of the XCarve_VAC_Attach (see side attachment photo).
Place the 5/16" carriage bolt in the large hole in the rounded front of the XCarve_VAC_Attach part. You should now be able to mount the assembly as shown in the side attachment photo. Secure the carriage bolt using the washer, lock washer, and bolt (in that order). Tighten only until the lock washer lays flat or you will damage the 3D printed part. Next using a very short (<3") screwdriver, tighten the #4-40 bolts until the bracket securely attaches to the bottom lip of the x-axis carriage of the X-Carve. Again, do not over-tighten as the nuts are only held by the plastic part and can be easily damaged.
Step 4: Attach 1 1/4" Pipe to Dust Collecting Shoe
Start by placing one end of the 11" 1 1/4" pipe on the back of the 3D printed shoe (XCarve_Shoe_Bot) as shown in the first photo. Next mark the edges of the step (both sides) on the pipe. Make sure the edges are marked accurately relative to each other as any slop will make the interface between pipe and shoe loose. Also mark the side of the pipe not covered by the step as this is the side you will be cutting out.
Next place the same end of the pipe on the flat bottom of the shoe with the side to be cut facing the shoe side. Mark the shoe side height from one step mark to the other (see photo).
Using a hack saw, cut the marked section of the pipe off. Note that you should cut on the side of the line that is to be removed as the line accurately marks the edge you want to keep.
Once cut, test fit the end of the pipe into the back of the shoe. It should go all the way in leaving the top cut at the height of the shoe side wall (see last photo). If the pipe does not go all the way in, or is too tight, file the pipe edges to fit.
Once the pipe is all the way in, mark the two bolt holes at the bottom of the shoe on the pipe. Then remove the pipe and drill the holes using a 1/8" bit. Be careful as any slop will not allow the bolt to be inserted in the next step.
Once drilled, place the captive #4-40 nuts in the base of the shoe (see photo). Now insert the pipe and secure using two flat head #4-40 3/4" screws.
Step 5: Cut and Install Clear Shoe Top
Import the XCarve_Shoe_Top SVG file into Easel and use the "OUTSIDE" cut feature. I used a piece of Acrylic to cut the top from.
Cutting the Acrylic was a bit of a pain. There were a couple times the bit got gummed up with melted plastic and I had to pause the program, stop the router to remove it. Easel does not make this easy and you basically need to time it when the router bit steps from one location to another. Also, for me some of the holes did not cut, and I'm not sure why. To cut the missing holes I overlaid circles on top of the SVG picture and then deleted the SVG background so that only the missing holes were cut on a second pass. There is probably an easier way to do all this, but I'm a noob with the X-Carve so you will have to work through this on your own like I did.
Once you fight through getting the Acrylic cut use the five 1 1/4" flat head #4-40 bolts and nuts to attach the shoe top to the Shoe bottom bottom. Then use some clear packing tape to cover any gap between the pipe and the Acrylic sheet.
Step 6: Final Assembly
This is pretty simple, just place the dust collector assembly into the pipe clamps and screw them closed. Place the dust collector in position for operation, then attach the right angle PVC fitting so that it faces the back of the X-Carve.
If you bought the Armour All shop vac that I did, you will find that the hose end is loose inside the right angle fitting. You can either tape up the vacuum hose end to fit snugly, or print out the hose adapter using TPE filament. Either way, you will want to be able to remove the vacuum hose from the dust collector to make it easier to rotate the collector out of the way, and be able to use the vacuum to do a final clean up.
You will also need to add a guide at the rear of the X-Carve to keep the vacuum hose from getting hung up on the waste board. I simple used a piece of 2" PVC pipe I had lying around. This is very low friction and seems to work very well. Alternatively you could make some kind of suspension contraption to keep the hose off the table, but that seems like overkill.
That's it - get carving!
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