Portable Dust Collection System With Noise Reduction & Dust Separator Using Shop Vac




About: I'm an Electrical Engineer by training and profession. I enjoy working on complex problems and processes, and I especially like finding ways to do complex tasks more efficiently. My current interests are ...

This is a dust collection cart that I made for my small workshop that serves multiple purposes:

o It provides a handy portable working surface of various shop projects

o It serves as my primary means of vacuuming dust from the floor and work surfaces

o It includes a dust separator made from a Dust Deputy that separates out 95+% of the wood dust into an easily removable container (and allows the shop vac to continue to produce maximum suction)

o It includes a noise reduction system for the shop vac that significantly muffles the shop vac noise (-10 dB)

o It has power outlets on both sides of the cart (one is switched)

o It allows easy connection of a vacuum hose to various woodworking tools in the shop to suck up most of the dust at the source of dust generation, including:

- Radial arm saw

- Kreg pocket screw jig

- Circular saw

All parts used in this instructable are off-the-shelf parts. No specialty parts are needed.

This instructable is intended to provide a proof-of-concept approach for creating a portable dust collection system using a shop vac. Detailed steps are not provided, but if there is sufficient interest, I'll be glad to provide them. If you would like additional detail for a particular step, please post a comment and I'll respond.

Step 1: Determine Which Shop Vac You Are Going to Use

If you already have a shop vac that provides great suction, you can use it.

I used a Ridgid WD1450 14-gallon 6 HP shop vac (available from Home Depot for $99). It has great reviews and provides excellent suction.


Step 2: Determine What Dust Separator You Are Going to Use

I used a Oneida Dust Deputy dust separator because of its lower cost and lower profile. It's available from Amazon for $58.


Step 3: Design Your Portable Working Surface ...

This is by far the hardest part. Take some time on this one.

My source of inspiration for the noise reduction came from the following two links by Mr. Schrunk:

How To Silence Your Shop Vac


Build a Simple Box to Muffle Your Shop Vac (be sure to view the video and listen to the difference the noise reduction system makes)


I followed the basic design of Mr. Schrunk's shop vac noise reduction box, but added a compartment to the right to hold the dust separator (Dust Deputy).

Determine the height you want the working surface to be (be sure to include the height of the casters).

Determine the width of the cart, the depth, and where you want to add the partition between the shop vac and the dust separation compartment.

Determine what you will use to catch the dust. I used a plastic container that I purchased from Walmart. Make sure the width and height of the dust collection compartment will hold the container.

Note: The dust collection compartment MUST have an air tight seal or the dust separator will not work correctly. I created a lip and included some weather strip seal on the lip. I also sealed the inside of the dust collection compartment with caulking. I also purchased toggle clamps to hold the door onto the weather strip seal.

Determine what you will use for noise reduction, if anything. The acoustical noise reduction padding that Mr. Schrunk used is expensive, and I decided to use some egg crate foam padding that I had in storage. You really don't have to have any padding in the box to get a significant noise reduction (I don't think the egg crate foam padding added that much to the noise reduction). Note that I did not get anywhere near the noise reduction that Mr. Schrunk got, but it is still perfectly fine for my purposes.

If you make the cart tall enough, you can include a small storage compartment just above the dust separator. Also, depending on the size of your shop vac, you might also be able to include small storage compartment above the shop vac.

I'd also like to refer you to another Instructable that describes another noise reduction/dust separation cart: https://www.instructables.com/id/Dust-Sniper-quiet-...

He has a very detailed Instructable with lots of good information. For those concerned about heat build up in the enclosure, see esp. the discussion in Step 5 of the Dust Sniper link above. He also includes a circuit diagram to make a switch that automatically turns the shop vac on when the connected tools are turned on (see Step 13).

Step 4: Obtain Plywood and Parts and Construct the Cart

You will probably need 1-2 sheets of plywood.

I used 3/4" plywood.

Build the outer walls first (do not put the top on yet), then focus on placing the partition between the shop vac and dust separation compartments. I used two sheets of plywood for the partition.

The Dust Deputy uses a 2" vacuum hose connection, and you will need to cut a hole in the partition to connect the shop vac to the Dust Deputy.

I also shortened the power cord going to the shop vac and added a power outlet inside the box.

You will need an adapter to connect the 2" hose to the 2-1/4" shop vac. These are not easy to find. I modified a Porter Cable 1-1/2" to 2-1/4" adapter that I got from Amazon. I used some plastic tubing that I got from Lowe's to make up the difference between the 1-1/2" and 2" vacuum hose.


Add casters as needed. I used 3" casters from Harbor Freight Tools.

Step 5: Add the Dust Separator & Small Storage Compartment

Once the shop vac compartment has been constructed, go ahead and determine the height of the base to the Dust Deputy. Make sure you have adequate clearance for the dust container.

Make the plywood base for the Dust Deputy fit as closely as possible to the sides. I used Kreg pocket screws to attach it, and then sealed the edges with caulking on both the top and bottom.

Install the Dust Deputy per its installation instructions, and attach the 2" hose from the shop vac.

Then, mark where you want the intake port to be on the side of the cart. You will need a 2-1/4" - 2" adapter for the side of the cart. I used a universal adapter similar to the one below and cut off the excess. Drill a hole in the side of the cart and install the universal adapter.


Once the Dust Deputy has been properly installed, you can go ahead and add a piece of wood on top of the Dust Deputy to make a small storage compartment accessible from the top (if desired).

Step 6: Make Sure the Dust Collection Box Is Properly Sealed ... Troubleshoot As Required

Make sure the dust collection department is sealed as best as you can make it.

Connect all the hoses together and power up the shop vac.

Try vacuuming up the dust and see if it all goes into the container.

If it does not, try doing a "smoke" test. With the system running, light a match and blow it out and then hold the smoking match near the edges of the dust collection compartment to see if any smoke is drawn in. If smoke is being drawn in, you will need to rework your seal.

In addition, you will want to make sure that the Dust Deputy is grounded. Use some metal tape and run it over the surface as described in the link below. Then, attach a wire to one of the Dust Deputy mounting bolts and run the wire to a washer which can drag along the floor. This will make sure that the Dust Deputy is adequately grounded when running and will help ensure that all of the dust drops into the container below.


Step 7: Enjoy Your New Tool!

I've included a photo showing a comparison of the dust that gets captured in the plastic container under the Dust Deputy and what actually made it to the shop vac.

You can see that most of the dust and small chips are captured by the dust separator system!

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    37 Discussions


    Reply 8 months ago

    Leathaldose - It might. Check out the links referenced in Step 3 for Mr. Schrunk's design, and then modify as appropriate.


    8 months ago on Step 4

    Bearing in mind that a vacuum blows as well as sucks how did you cater for the air vent?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    Stawbs123 - There is an exit path for the exhaust air in the lower rear of the cart. You can see it in one of the pics in Step 3.


    2 years ago

    Good instructible! Ive made similar systems in the past but have used a home made Thien Baffle instead of the Dust Deputy. (Just Google Thien Baffle if you're not sure what it is.)

    My main suggestion is you'd get far better noise reduction by tearing out the eggcrate foam and replacing it with a couple of layers of 5/8" fire rated drywall on all sides of the box including the cover. Make your corner joints as tight together as possible. If you glued the 2 layers of drywall together with "Green Glue" (available at most drywall supply specialists) you would have the same effect as 3 layers of drywall, but at a lower cost. The drywall works by adding Mass to the system. Mass is a great dissipator/absorber of sound. (Think of the limited sound transmission through the floor of a concrete building compared to the much greater sound transmissions through a wood framed floor, even if it's insulated). Make sure you use the regular heavy weight fire rated drywall and not any of the new "lite" versions of drywall they have now. Really, the heavier the better.

    You can also make your system quieter by baffling the air outlet strip you have at the back of your enclosure. The simplest way to do this would be to make a double wall at the back with a cavity between the drywall and the plywood. The air would enter the cavity at the top of the enclosure and exit at the bottom as it does in your present design. You could further improve it by glueing small horizontal boards in the cavity that would create a long back and forth channel that goes from side to side of the enclosure making the exiting air travel a much longer route to the exit. Just make sure that the cross section area of the channel is always as large or larger than the area of your 2" or 2-1/4" vacuum hose. I've found that a cross section area of the channel about one and a half times the cross section area of your hose seems to give the greatest noise reduction in my experience with systems of this type.

    My last tip would be that spring loaded "Butterfly Clips" like those used on road cases for musical equipment and scientific instruments work very well to seal the cover on the enclosure. These can be obtained at many large music stores as well as online.

    I'd really recommend you at least try the drywall. Its pretty cheap and will make a drastic difference in noise reduction. ?. Quiet is Good.


    3 years ago

    best thing I have seen


    3 years ago

    I especially LOVE the noise reduction.... that makes a major difference for me. When I have a shop....


    Reply 3 years ago

    I noticed the hold downs you use for sealing the doors - is that permanent, or just for the prototype? Do they work well for that?

    Oh also, did you consider making a power outlet from your system that automatically switches on the vac when you use the tool pulgged into it? There is a circuit diagram for an easy to make one in the link above.


    Reply 3 years ago

    The toggle hold down clamps work OK, but they are a bit cumbersome; however, I don't need to open either of the covers very often. I like the appearance of your cover hold down design, though, and may change mine in the future.


    3 years ago

    Dimensions would be helpful. I realize some adjustments may or may not be needed based on the wet-vac, but in general, we could get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time if we had them for a basis.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Please see my response to Robert in the comments below. Mr. Schrunk has posted dimensioned plans for a shop vac noise reduction box which can be adjusted to the dimensions of your shop vac. This project is really just an extension of his noise reduction box, and could be built in two stages with the dust separator section built separately. In a future update to the Instructable, I'll post some more details on the dust separator section. In the meantime, let me know if you have specific questions.


    3 years ago

    The noise reduction is a great idea, Isn't 10db supposed to be around 6 times less noise? (I think every 3db is 2X the sound_

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I *think* 10 dB reduction is approximately 1/2 of the noise level (at least according to this link: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-levelchange.htm The shop vac sound is significantly reduced to a comfortable level. I can run it continuously without being annoyed.

    This may be partially due to the fact that I purchased a new Ridgid shop vac which is already a lot quieter out of the box than my 20+ year old Shop Vac. I'll also note that I'm not sure that the eggcrate foam helped that much in reducing the noise. I used it because it is what I had available. I checked the noise level before I added the eggcrate foam and it was about the same as after. If you really want to go all out though, you could install the expensive acoustical noise reduction padding that Mr. Schrunk put in - he stated that he got 22 dB noise reduction!

    Robert Glass

    3 years ago

    I would very much appreciate a plan including detailed steps. It looks like something that would work great in my woodworking & carving shop.

    1 reply
    pbriggs8Robert Glass

    Reply 3 years ago

    Robert - This tool might be easier to build in two stages: 1) build the shop vac noise reduction box first, and then 2) build the dust separation/collection box (and then bolt or screw them together).

    Mr. Schrunk has dimensioned plans for a shop vac noise reduction box here: http://www.startwoodworking.com/post/how-silence-y... .

    I would make the following changes to his design, though: 1) run the shop vac intake through a hole on the right side so that it can easily connect to the Dust Deputy in the future, 2) shorten the shop vac power cord and install a power outlet inside the box, 3) add a switch and power outlet on the left side of the box (you may also want to run wiring to the right side if you want a switch/power on the right side in the future), 4) adjust the height of the box to your desired height (and perhaps add a drawer or storage compartment on the top), and 5) use 3" casters.

    Once you've got the shop vac noise reduction box assembled and running the way you want, you could then build a box with the dust separation/collection compartments separately, and then attach it to the right side of shop vac box, add a piece of plywood underneath that runs the length of both boxes for stability, and then add the casters.