Dust Collection: Cheapest Two-Part Dust Cyclone

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About: Nathan here, former Vetern of the U.S. Navy with a passion for being a wood working hobbyist. Love making things and seeing them come to fruition, now come follow along and let’s build some things!

Cheap, a relative term...

So, Hell-o everyone to my first Instructable, and my first contest entry into the Build your own Tool Contest. Now you may be wondering how this dust collector is so "cheap"? If you look at most of the components this can easily be built for under $250. Now this is cheap in relation to the most others on the market. The big filter that is sitting on the end of the blower is that price alone. That's because I wanted to have this for a lot of MDF cutting with a CNC down the road. Most of the MDF boards that I used for the box were left over from a project and the 2x4's I stumbled upon in a dumpster.

Now with that being said, you can make this as cheap or as expensive as you want to. Some of the things that are in this Instructable don't necessarily have to be added I just did for some "flair" and to make it neat. Some of the things I did to make it unique and my own I did not add to this Instructable either. The main goal was to cover the important parts of the build.

I decided to put a little more money into this since it was going to be a more permanent feature in my shop. This idea was also driven off of two things that I needed this to be; able to be moved around easily, and I wanted it to be easily emptied out when that time came. The box idea that I constructed was inspired by Frank Howarth's dust collection system which is more permanent in his shop but none the less an idea that peaked my interests. Everything else was ideas that I have seen and patched together to make my own.

I hope this Instructable will be a driving force to a dust collection issue you may be having and can put an end to it. Enjoy!

Step 1: Drawing and Drafting

Honestly there was not much drawing and drafting. What a majority of this boiled down to was having the materials on hand. Also building it so that the cyclone and blower would be low enough to maneuver around the "shop".

Now if you really wanted to draw and draft this all the way out you would need to know your basic measurements for whatever your constraints consist of. Mine being these two items; cyclone and blower height. My constraints just so happened to be no taller than than 75". My original plans in my head had to be altered slightly since the left over scraps of MDF measured 48"H x 18"W. I originally wanted the box to be that tall but with the cyclone and the "J-Pipe" connecting to the blower were going to set that well over my original height constraint.

So with that in mind the final dimensions that really matter for my build are;

Cart Dimensions; 43"L x 20"W x 65"H

Box Dimensions; 18"L x 19 1/2"W x x 30"H

These allowed me to have plenty of box space to collect the dust into and it also allowed for the cart to be moved around freely.Other things to consider when drawing out a design are supplies needed for pieces you want to incorporate which leads us into the next step.

Step 2: Cutting and Sourcing Parts

The parts that I used are as follows (sorry no hyper-links);

  • MDF/Plywood sheets
  • 2x4's or some sort of framing material
  • Dust Cyclone (found on Banggood)
  • Dust Blower, this comes with a dust bag (Harbor Freight Special on sale)
  • Silicone (for sure need this one)
  • 4" furnace/dryer duct
  • 2 Multi-Position 4" duct angles, used to make a "swoop" from cyclone to blower
  • Misc. hardware for the construction; screws, paint, stain, etc.
  • Dust Right dust filter in place of Dust Bag (Amazon)
  • 3D printed "gaskets/spacers" to make off sized fittings match up
  • Pipe clamps for ducting
  • Foam Tape
  • Door Seal
  • Piano hinge for door
  • Small Cast Iron Wheels
  • Electrical Boxes
  • Electrical Outlet (15 Amp)
  • Electrical Switch (15 Amp)
  • Sacrificial Extension Cord (12 gauge)
  • 1/2" conduit and connectors
  • Misc hardware to make things look "neat"
  • Plexi-Glass or similar panel for windows
  • Kitchen Cabinet light, used inside of box to illuminate

*Remember not all totally necessary but my basic parts and material list.

My apologies for the way things are ordered here and another apology for not having a nice excel spread sheet of the total cost of this. Most things I had already laying around, the main things you'll have to buy are the Blower, Cyclone and ducting/fittings to get everything to match up. If you don't have a 3D printer to make the gaskets/spacers there are lots of other options to use here, for instance wrapping tape over its self, over and over again until there is enough built up to fit your pipe over it. This will make a nice air tight seal, I may have done this for a mini-potato launcher back in the day!

Step 3: Building Frame and Adding Wheels

This is pretty straight forward. The Frame is made of two pieces; a bottom "floor" and the back "wall". This is similar to the framing in a house, the bottom was made here with two long 2x4's with four smaller 2x4's assembled together as a ladder would look. I used long 3" screws to attach at each joint, holes would be pre-drilled and a counter sink was added. These were all spaced evenly apart to ensure there was enough cross joints to support the structure that would hold the blower and of course the box as well. The back "wall" was made so it would attach to the outside edges of the bottom "floor". Then two angled pieces were cut and attached to the front edge of the floor. I then measured the distance between the holes on the frame of the blower and decided to add another 2x4 and a cross member for support on the back. Then I added a piece of MDF on the top of the "floor" for the dust box to be set on top of, once it was complete. After this was built I added the wheels to get a feel for how this was going to maneuver in the shop.

Edit: Most of this may be jibber-ish, refer to pictures for details.

Step 4: Stain and Paint

I decided here that I would not be able to paint and stain all of the raw surfaces after this point. I removed the MDF first to be able to paint both sides. After that I used some pre-colored paint in a can to cover the MDF. While that was drying I removed the wheels off the bottom of the pine frame. Then just stained all the pine with some "Early American" flavored stain. After waiting a day or so I re-attached the MDF and the wheels back to the frame portion and prepared to make the box.

Step 5: Building the Box

The box needs to be air tight and structurally sound since there would be a vacuum inside of it via the blower. Honestly, using some Baltic Birch would have made me a lot happier but MDF will do for now. After assembling this, you'll need to poke a hole in the top of it for the cyclone. Once you have the cyclone attached and the box assembled you'll want to silicone the joints and the gap that is between the cyclone and edge of the wood. I did this all from the inside since the air being drawn into the box would be creating a vacuum.

A big factor that needs to be looked at here is the door and how it needs to be attached. Since I used a piano hinge I mounted it from the outside mainly learning from trial and error. Then I used a door seal and attached it on the inside edge the box with staples. I also used foam tape on the inside of the door to press against the rubber gasket that is the door seal. There were no issues with how it closed after all that had been placed on the door. To keep it closed I used two metal clasps that sort of "ratchet" down and pull the foam and rubber together making the door seal, air tight!

At this point you can mount your blower to the back "wall" as well. I used some lag bolts for beef instead of small wood screws. I just used the holes on the frame that you would normally put the wheels on for this floor model dust blower.

We are closing in on the finish line, most now is finishing touches and testing!

Step 6: Adding Power

*Disclaimer*

- Be sure you know what you are doing with electricity before you start cutting and connecting things. This is just what I did so that way I could leave the extension cord that I used plugged into the wall. While also still having the ability switch power on and off to operate both the light inside the box and blower itself. If you do not want to do this just simply plug the blower into the wall and use the switch on the side of the blower. I am not an electrician but have done my homework and know what safe Amperage load will work with the wire I am using.

Okay, now that, that is out of the way this is what I did for power;

For the power I used a 25', 12 gauge extension cord that I cut the female end off of. I then ran the cut end into back of handy box that had the 15 amp switch in it. I ran the black wire from the extension cord to one of the terminals and used another scrap piece of 12/2 wire to attach the black side of it to the other terminal. Then just used wire nut connectors for the ground and neutral wire to continue the circuit to the electrical outlet. Make sure you connect all the wires correctly and test the outlet with an outlet tester. Also make sure the light switch turns the power on and off when the extension cord is plugged into the wall. Now when this is done wrap your extension cord up and hang it on whatever means you see fit.

Edit: I sanded, cleaned, and painted all the electrical box components and covers to make it look pretty. Again not necessary just what I did.

Step 7: Assembling Everything

Now that the box is set up and the power is ran we can start doing the final assembly. The box should just need the "J-Pipe" connected and the blower and attach the Dust-Right filter for my specific build. For the J-Pipe I added a spacer to the top of the cyclone and used some two part epoxy to make a snug fit and hold it in place. After this I slipped the Swooping end of the J-Pipe over that new spacer that was added and then attached the other end to the inlet of the blower. After I made sure it fit I tightened down the pipe clamps to make a snug and semi-air tight fit. Some foil tape was used here to make things air tight. These could also be made any other way you seem fit you'll just have to measure the gap that needs to be filled.

After this I added the other spacer to the outlet end of the blower and held it in place withe some more two part epoxy. The Dust Right filter had a pretty nifty clamping mechanism on top with how the bolts held it to the spacer. I also added some foam tape on this end to make sure no air would escape out. This foam tape was also shipped with the filter so that is why I used it.


At this point things should be pretty much finished up and ready for some test runs!

Step 8: A Few Tests!

I did just one test first to make sure I had suction to the end of a dryer vent, which there was lots of suction and power! (This is not permanent this is just temporary until i either order some 4" dust hose or a local supplier gets some in stock, the closest Rockler is a hour away!) After that I made sure there was sufficient suction I attached the open end of the flex hose to a dust box on the bottom of my table saw. I then pushed my meaty arms in the small throat opening where the blade and blade insert sit. I pushed saw dust into the port inside the box and watched as the box and cyclone began to fill with dust. During this you'll want to watch connections where dust could potentially be escaping into the air. One thing I wanted to see was if dust was getting past the cyclone into the filter. MDF saw dust, most would consider as the finest saw dust usually found in a wood shop and to my surprise there was none getting past the cyclone! I was very happy with the results of this and felt comfortable for the future en devours of this dust collector because a lot will be thrown its direction!

Edit: No I did not do a test where I measured the weight of a pile of saw dust before and after entering the dust collector. I simply just eye balled it, and am happy with the results. Long term use should show how efficient this thing really is.

Step 9: Final Touches and Ending Thoughts

These final touches are small but I would consider necessary. After the first actual live saw dust test run I opened the box to make an inspection of the inside. As you can see the picture air is coming insdie the box from the door seal. So I will vacuum the saw dust off the edge and silicone the small lip and edge on the inside of the box to create a true air-tight seal.

Also the dryer vent hose needs to go. I will get some proper 4" dust hose and maybe "plumb" some dust pipe around the exterior wall of the shop area. This would just be nice so I don't move the collector all that often.

Thanks for visiting my first Instructable! If you thought that this would be a good tool to have in the shop be sure to make yourself one and also vote on this in the "Build your Own Tool" challenge here on Instructables!

Thanks for stopping leave a comment or if you have any questions be sure to ask away!

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    2 Discussions

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    seamster

    16 days ago

    This looks really good. Despite being into woodworking for many years, this is something I've still never added to my shop. Good ideas!!

    1 reply
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    GGsWoodWorksseamster

    Reply 16 days ago

    Thank you I appreciate it. Once I figure out how to edit videos I will upload most of the build!