Introduction: Better Dust Collection & Tool Organization for Shop Vacs

About: I'm a retired lawyer and current woodturner, woodworker, DIYer and sometimes sewist. Although I spend the lion's share of my time in the workshop and on the lathe, I've gotten into some small project quilting …

Employing a dirt/chip/dust collector ahead of a shop vac is a great way to collect most of the dirt, dust, chips, etc. that come into the system, leaving only a small amount of dust to get through to the shop vac's interior bag. The collector is easy to empty, and you end up using many fewer [expensive] shop vac bags. In my small shop I had an Oneida Dust Deputy ("ODD") collector attached to the side of my Craftsman shop vacuum and wrapped the hoses around the whole thing. While this combo was on casters and could be hauled around, it was ungainly, took up too much floor space, and the hose and tool set up was awkward to use and to put away. I had already considered the idea of mounting everything vertically and started shopping around for ideas as to how best to do it. Among other suggestions I came across KentM's excellent Instructable, "Piggyback a Dust Collector on Your Shop Vac," which gives careful, detailed instructions about mounting an ODD on a Ridgid vacuum but did not include the matter of tool and hose management. Also, I had a 16 gal. Craftsman shop vac, so my mounting set up had to be quite different from his. I managed to sort all this out and built my system, shown in the right hand photo above. The unit is easy to move around, takes up less space, comes apart and reassembles easily, and makes tool and hose handling effortless. This instructable will show you how I did it, keeping in mind KentM's good advice that you will have to modify your system to fit your specific brand and model of shop vac.

Step 1: The Components - Design Considerations

I started with three basic components: the shop vac, its tools and hoses, and the Oneida Dust Deputy, all pictured here.

Since the Craftsman shop vac was already mounted on casters it was not necessary to add any rolling base. It also has six raised,... "bumps" to hold tools and wands: four on the tops of the casters, and two on the upper (black) part of the vac. The "bumps" fit into the open ends of the tools and extension wands. I used two of the lower ones and both of the upper ones to hold my system, and added new tool holders of my own. My shop vac's top is quite irregularly shaped and did not lend itself easily to becoming a supporting platform for the ODD.

I have a number of connected hoses and several pick-up tools that needed homes in the new set-up. I wanted them "out of the way" but convenient for use.

The Oneida Dust Devil is a cyclone-type collector. The intake hose to the shop vac attaches to the port at the top of the ODD "tower", and the hose from the pick-up tool attaches to a port on the side of the tower. The suction of the shop vac swirls the debris around in the ODD tower (the "cyclone"), from which it drops into the bucket below, with very little debris going into the shop vac bag. The ODD has two 5 gallon buckets, which nest. The inside bucket collects the dust, chips and dirt sucked in through the cyclone action of the tower. The outside bucket simply supports the inside bucket; this turned out to be a useful feature in my project.

Finally, I wanted the whole system to be easy to take apart and reassemble should I want to use the shop vac in some other location, transport it, etc.

Step 2: Building the Bucket Support

The photos show my bucket support as constructed. (Plan ahead: I used a Forstner bit to drill the indentations in the platform for the white tool holders - see second photo - before doing any of the actual construction steps described in this paragraph.) The platform is plywood. Since the top of my shop vac had two "bumps" to hold pick-up tools, I instead used these to anchor the base of the vertical support, which descends from the side of the platform to support it and keep it level. Two 2 ½" PVC couplings, attached to this support piece, sit snugly over the "bumps" and anchor the support platform. I then set the platform + support in place and worked out where to add additional support for the platform on the vac top. As you can see from the photos these are not elegant. I marked the underside of the platform where I thought they would go, cut some scrap to fit the vac contours and angles and tried them out. When I had a solid fit I glued and air-nailed them in place. The platform sits quite solidly on top of the very irregular top of the shop vac, and can simply be lifted off if I want to use the shop vac without the ODD.

I then drilled holes in the bottom of the outside ODD bucket and screwed it down to the platform so it was balanced in the center.

Finally I epoxied 2 ¼" PVC couplings into the indentations I had drilled in the corners of the platform (see above) to serve as pick-up tool holders.

Step 3: Building the Hose Caddy

I built my hose support out of 2 ¼" PVC pipe and fittings, glued together with PVC cement, as shown in the photos. (I suppose one could be constructed of wood, but this seemed simpler.) The two vertical posts are cemented into 2 ½" PVC couplings, which in turn fit over the two "bumps" at the base of the shop vac, atop the casters. The completed structure is simply held in place by a bungee cord around the bottom ODD bucket (see second photo). The hose caddy may be easily removed by removing the bungee cord and lifting it off the "bumps." The vertical posts sit against the body of the shop vac, so when held in place by the bungee cord the hose caddy is quite stable.

There is no particular magic to the design of this hose support. I simply determined how tall I wanted it to be, and how much space I wanted for hoses (see photos below). The caddy does need to be sufficiently sturdy, however, which is the reason for the two cross-members. Although the fittings may feel snug when simply dry fit, the caddy will not have adequate structural integrity unless the various joints are cemented into place. This is very easy with PVC cement, but you must be careful to have your pieces properly aligned because the cement dries extremely quickly. So be sure of your measurements, and make sure your parts fit well before you do anything that cannot easily be undone.

Step 4: The Completed Project

These photos show the project as completed. The two floor length wands fit onto the two remaining "bumps" at the base of the shop vac unit. The pick-up tools fit on the new supports on the ODD platform. The hose loops over the PVC hose caddy where it is easy to use and re-wind and is out of the way. The ODD collection bucket and its lid (which must be removed, of course, to remove and empty the bucket) are easily accessible. And both the ODD assembly and the hose caddy may easily be removed and put back in place as desired.

I hope you've found this Instructable useful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment to let me know.