Make a Woodshop Pre-filter (aka Cyclone) for $8




Introduction: Make a Woodshop Pre-filter (aka Cyclone) for $8

About: Alton Brown taught me how to cook, now I want to tackle diy projects.

If you spent any time cutting wood you know how annoying it is to clean out your Shop Vac all the time since it get's clogged up with wood just as fast as your lungs do. There are many options to fix the issue, ranging from the dirt cheap to not so bad to "I'M RICH, BEOTCH!!! solutions.

I tried to set the budget bar even lower with my $8 Shop Vac prefilter build.

Follow along at home if you dare.

Step 1: Get a Bucket, Then Spend $8

Grab a bucket. Make sure it has no hole, leaks or fissures other than the giant one in the top you can stick your head into.

Grab a GammaSeal lid from Amazon or Lowes or wherever finer plastic lid products are sold.

Get some additional hose if your length doesn't match your girth.

Amazon hose kit, Here is Home Depotshose kit.

Step 2: Screw Your Lid

While I was at Lowes I bought a threaded PVC piece that was the same size as my Shop Vac hose. The threaded side I screwed into my GAMMASEAL lid. If you do it right it will be leak free. If you suck at tools, then shoot some silicone or some sort of sealant around your wonkey hole.

This is good life advice.

If you suck at life, shoot some sealant around your wonkey hole.

Step 3: Use Your Shop Vacs Nozzle Attachment

You probably have the Shop Vacs nozzle attachment floating around in a junk drawer somewhere not doing a damn thing for you and your dusty lifestyle. Cut a hole in the side of your bucket and jam this tool into it. The hole will need to be this peculiar shape in order for the nozzle to fit inside at an angle.

Don't be lazy like me, deburr your hole.

That's more good life advice. "deburr your hole."

I should write a coffee table book full of life tips.

Moving along.....

Step 4: Use the Nuts and the Bolts and the Flavens

Silicone alone won't hold the vacuum attachment in place. I used a few nuts and bolts I had in the shop. If your shop is a disorganised mess or devoid of nuts and/or matching bolts, buy them when you are at Lowes. They might set you back $2.

Silicone this hole too.


Step 5: Put It All Together.

Now put it all together and bask in your success at making wood chips spin inside of a bucket.

Step 6: Weeeeee




Step 7: Look at Your Wood, JUST LOOK AT IT!

Are you proud of yourself now? Look at what you have done. Now your wood is no longer clogging up your Shop Vac. You should be able to suck wood for substantially longer periods of time now before needing to remove the waste.


Step 8: Now Figure Out How to Keep This Stuff Together

I have an old cart leftover from the BBQ Grill I made from junk. I might use the cart to hold the vacuum and the prefilter. Stay tuned and maybe I will show you how I accomplished that someday.

Why am I using such a wimpy Shop-Vac you say? It has good reviews on Amazon, and was in my price range. It was also one of the more powerful ones in it's category, so it was a good fit for me. Maybe someday I'll upgrade into something fancier, but for my basic shop garage it does the trick.

Step 9: I'm Like Elvis, I'm Everywhere.

I make my Instructables about 2-3 days after my videos are completed, so if you want to see my new stuff even faster, check me out on Youtube. Instagram is where you can get sneak peaks of stuff that is in progress or fun little snippets. Twitter is a wasteland of bots and marketing people, so enjoy me there as well.

Maybe someday I will make a coffee table book of clever life tips. I shall call it "Just the tips".


2 People Made This Project!


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25 Discussions


1 year ago

If you have a Firehouse Subs near you, they sell their bright red 5-gallon pickle buckets for $2 each. Proceeds go to provide life-saving equipment and resources for firefighters, police, and EMTs. The buckets do smell like pickles, but that shouldn't matter for this use! Good sandwiches, too!

3 replies

I am thinking lunch time now thanks have to head out

Where I live, I think they cost $3 each. The caveat is that they smell very strongly of pickles and take a lot of time or effort to air out.

That said, they are nice buckets.

I've been planning to do this one for a while, but I have to ask: where did you get the hose? Is it just a spare that you had lying around?

My shop vac is a very small, portable unit, with very little capacity in the waste compartment. I think it's been discontinued (for good reason). I'm hoping to use your bucket technique to make it useful, since it should extend the capacity to the gallon range (previously measured in cups).

Unfortunately, I only have one hose. So I can use it to connect the shop vac to the bucket, but then I have nothing to attach to the radial hose attachment.

I'm thinking about maybe mounting the whole shop vac on top, sideways, and making some changes to the "tip-over protection" mechanism (the ball that cuts off the flow if it falls over). Then I could use only a couple inches of hose to connect them, and the rest of the hose could be used on the radial attachment.

1 reply

I did have some spare hose but I also had to buy some from Lowes. That's the funniest part, the hose is crazy expensive. I think this is where they get-cha. I paid 50$ for my Shop-Wac and the hose is 15-25$ alone.

You can grab some hose from Amazon for 17$ with some extra attachment ends which is infinitely useful.

Here is HomeDepots price.

Get a Centr-Vac and use it Problem solved 160.00CND and you have no work to do just buy a Crazy carpet and make it into a cone with Tabs attach the tabs to the top Underside of the suction chamber around the Bag filter and your done.

they are made Bagless and Filterless. I turned mine into a Hepa Water filter for my Home when it fills up It flushes like a toilet no changing bags for me.

2 replies

hah, you want me to buy a 120$ vacuum? The whole point is to do this on the cheap. :)

But you would save the original $8 you spent.

I would like to suggest that you use the chlorine tablet containers from a swimming pool service company. these are 5 gallon capacity, have an airtight screw-on lid, and the pool companies are very happy to give them away! (I've made arrangements with a local company to pick up as many of these containers as I wish, whenever I want them, for FREE) I would also offer this improvement to the i'ble, mount 2 buckets in tandem. this will let your vacuum capture all of the sawdust, or other fine dust that escapes the first bucket. just be sure to use the same 'swirling' motion as in the first bucket.

This would be great for wet vacuuming. Just "kick the bucket" over, instead of killing oneself trying to move a shop-vacuum full of water.

when was doing fibre glass fabrication we would get our 5 gal buckets at dunk'n doughnuts-had wash out the jelly though

1 reply

That sounds like a horrifically (delicious) experince.


1 year ago

Great idea to use that useless furniture cleaning attachment as an inlet. Why didn't I think of that? (don't answer that)

I am wondering how much dust / fines goes to your vac? Most YouTube builders show that as a final step. I like what I saw cheap and simple.

1 reply

No idea. I saw everybody doing all that measuring and made it a point to not do that on mine. :)

It works.
It works better than it did before.

Mission accomplished.


1 year ago

I agree with sizzle74. A great instructable and an excellent read. You are absolutely effin hilarious!! I'm waiting with bated breath for that coffee table book.

1 reply

I'm happy to make you effin happy. :)

Love the inside video of the bucket. Very nice instructable.

I made one of these with a Home Depot bucket to drain water from clogged sink. I had my home carpet vacuum and did not want to buy a shop vac so bought the bucket and attached a 3/4" tube and small hole on top for my vac hose. One issue was with such a small tube the bucket tended to collapse so had to tweak it some, but it got the job done for less than $5.