Introduction: Cheap Cyclone-based Vacuum Cleaner Made From Scratch

About: I love to void warranties!

This is my build of a cyclone-based vacuum cleaner.

I made this project spending only 21€, as most of the materials can be gathered without spending any money. Just for reference, here is the bill of materials:

  • Stuff I had to buy:
    • Wheels: 3.5€
    • 1200W motor: 7.5€ (bought a vacuum cleaner and salvaged the motor)
    • 40mm PVC pipe and elbows: 10€
  • Stuff that I had/got for free:
    • Fiberboard
    • Wood scraps
    • Wood glue
    • Hot glue
    • Rivets
    • Washers
    • Drywall screws
    • Buckets
    • Air filter
    • Hose
    • Window insulation foam

Furthermore, even though I used a bunch of power tools (table saw, router, drill, etc..), this project can be built using only a screwdriver and a jigsaw.

Unfortunately, I haven't taken any pictures during the build process. The main reason for not having such pictures was that I mostly improvised during the whole process. Given this fact, I'll only show pictures of the finished parts.

Step 1: Components and Assembly/Disassembly

This vacuum cleaner is composed by 3 independent components:

  • The base, which serves the purpose of making the unit movable.
  • The dust separator, responsible for filtering dust and large particles.
  • The motor, responsible for creating suction and filtering small particles.

The pictures show how the components are connected together.

Step 2: Base

The base was made from a wooden board (actually, it previously was a shelf from an IKEA closet :P ).

The base was reinforced by screwing in two wooden beams. The beams were placed at 90 degrees with respect the board's grain, preventing it from bending.

Step 3: Cyclone/Trash Container

The cyclone was heavily inspired on this great tutorial:

The cyclone separates the dust by forcing the air to spin inside the top bucket. Due to the centrifugal force, heavier particles are pushed onto the bucket walls and, by gravitational force, they spiral towards the bottom, eventually reaching the trash container.

As the cyclone's exhaust is placed in the center of the bucket, almost no dust is sucked into the motor.

A variation I introduced was to add a disk to separate the trash container from the cyclone. This separation consists of a disk with a 240 degree by 2cm groove around the edge. (I saw that on a video by Jay Bates:

The cyclone bucket is attached to the trash container's lid using rivets (and washers on the plastic side). The joint was sealed using hot glue.

My trash bucket features a quick release system, which is very convenient but not strictly necessary (a second paint bucket could be used instead).

Step 4: Motor Casing

The motor casing design is pretty straightforward: it is just a box made out of fiberboard with a set of stop blocks in the middle to hold the motor.

As I bought the cheapest motor I could find, I expect it to fail and/or replace it by a more powerful one. Given this fact I wanted the casing to be mostly independent of the motor shape. To achieve this I cut a circle onto a square piece of MDF and pressed the motor onto that circle. If for some reason I need to replace the motor, I just need to redo the MDF piece.

The motor + MDF fit perfectly inside the casing and are held in place by 4 wood blocks. To improve suction, the joint between the MDF square and the casing was sealed using window insulation foam.

Since the cyclone is not 100% efficient, some dust is sucked onto the motor casing. To prevent dust from getting sucked onto the motor, a dust filter was added to the suction chamber (i.e., the top part).

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