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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
No one seemed interested in doing testing on different dust collector/separator methods, but it seems many people would like to know the results of such a test, so I got busy and did some. I hope that this may help some people who are looking for some real comparisons on dust collectors when using a shop vac. (These results may completely differ when using a dust collector.)

Please note, these tests were done to the best of my ability, and of course you might get different results... please test for yourself and post here, I would love to know what results other people get.

So that I don't have to reproduce my entire blog post, here is the direct link:

http://familyweb.us/TinkerT/default.asp?Post=177-Dust_Collection_and_Suction_Comparison_with_a_Shop_Vacuum

In it I tested the Dust Deputy, Bucket Lid, Thein Baffle, and my Semi-Thein-Clone for fine particle/powder removal by a "Spice Test" I made up.

If you are up for a slightly boring video, here are the tests in action:
0:21 Oneida - Dust Deputy
0:52 Plain DIY Bucket Lid
1:36 Thein Baffle 1st Attempt
2:16 Thein Baffle 2nd Attempt
2:36 Semi-Thein-Clone (Short Outflow)
3:15 Semi-Thein-Clone (Long Outflow)
3:59 Semi-Thein-Clone (Medium Outflow)

4:27 Test Results​


Also the winners were tested for comparative suction loss.

And if you have no patience at all, here are the fine particle/powder removal results:


100% Oneida - Dust Deputy
80% Plain DIY Bucket Lid
10% Thein Baffle 1st Attempt
50% Thein Baffle 2nd Attempt
90% Semi-Thein-Clone (Short Outflow)
100% Semi-Thein-Clone (Long Outflow)
100% Semi-Thein-Clone (Medium Outflow)


Winners suction loss results:




And here is a "How to" for my simple Semi-Thein-Clone:
http://familyweb.us/TinkerT/default.asp?Post=178-Step_By_Step_-_How_to_Build_my_Semi-Thein-Clone

I hope it is helpful to at least someone. But even if it wasn't, it was pretty fun and now my shop vac smells delicious!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
veddy interesting project!
Thanks! I was pretty surprised by the results that such a very simple DIY could meet and actually exceed the manufactured device. I also hope it encourages others to do some testing on their systems as well.
 

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I like the test ... using a clear bucket to see the flow.
Well done.
When I get my shop built, I'll be building one of those designs.

Thank you for the video.
 

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your test is well documented....

However the specific of the various build and mods are not enough to be clear. For example, the Thein clone seems to have 3 slots at the bottom which then allow the particles to drop into the large container below...at this point in the video:
https://youtu.be/iC_yjuLgCNc?t=164

The simple bucket lid has the same 3 slots?

What is the beveled black spout on which the filter is mounted using the rubber band? Is that on the shop vac?
More details would be really helpful! :smile3:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
However the specific of the various build and mods are not enough to be clear. For example, the Thein clone seems to have 3 slots at the bottom which then allow the particles to drop into the large container below...at this point in the video:
https://youtu.be/iC_yjuLgCNc?t=164

The simple bucket lid has the same 3 slots?

What is the beveled black spout on which the filter is mounted using the rubber band? Is that on the shop vac?
More details would be really helpful! :smile3:
Sorry about that... after doing a lot of research on the subject, I got very used to the "standard builds" and didn't think about the fact that someone might not be used to what they are.

A Brief Overview:


  • Cyclone - seperates by using a cone shape to spin the debris down into a separate container
  • The Dust Deputy - Manufactured "Cyclone" that is either DIY (no gasket, bolts, or collection container) or an even more expensive kit
  • Simple Bucket Lid - made of a plain bucket with a lid that has one curved pipe in the lid for entry and a straight pipe for exit
  • Thein Baffle - Commonly made from two pieces of wood bolted together on threaded rods, it works like a bucket lid, but the baffle slot helps drop the debris away from the turbulent air that moves on to the shop vac (angle, length, width, and orientation of the slot compared to entrance takes some time to get just right)
  • My Semi-Thein-Clone - Uses a top bucket with slots cut into the bottom to cyclone the debris down the bucket and drop away through slots like a Thein baffle (a 4 to 6 inch extension on the center exit pipe makes this work as well as the Dust Deputy)

If you get a chance, please check out the full blog post... it will probably clear up any other questions.

http://familyweb.us/TinkerT/default.asp?Post=177-Dust_Collection_and_Suction_Comparison_with_a_Shop_Vacuum

However, to help, here are the specific answers for your questions...


The simple bucket lid is just the lid on the bucket with no holes cut anywhere. The design is to enter and exit the lid and let the debris just drop into the bucket. I think they are usually done with a 5 gallon bucket, but I didn't have a 5g that was transparent.

Yes. The black spout is the entrance to the shop vac. Here is the picture of it:


I would be very happy to answer any questions, so please feel free to ask away!
 

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I've been eye balling an old traffic cone sitting behind the shop for use as a homemade cyclone. It is about 24" tall and about 8 to 10" at the base. A top for the bottom and a couple holes for the intake, outtake, should work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've been eye balling an old traffic cone sitting behind the shop for use as a homemade cyclone. It is about 24" tall and about 8 to 10" at the base. A top for the bottom and a couple holes for the intake, outtake, should work.
I was thinking a traffic cone build would be worth testing... I even have a big traffic cone that a friend gave me sitting around waiting for it, but unless I can find a way to test past 100% visible removal of fine powder... I think I will stick with the Semi-Thein-Clone. For ease of build I am not sure much can beat just jamming the base of a bucket into a wood lid.

If you build out your traffic cone, please test and let us know how it does.
 

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methinks a 5 gal bucket is like: "Why?"

this is all good stuff and I dis not anybody's opinion or effort, but from an entirely practical point of view there's "dust" & "fine dust" & "super fine dust" and there's "chips"

methinks attempting to eliminate any exhausted particles is like a really serious thing. exhaust the fan to the outside and be done with it. eliminating dust so one can apply finishes in the same area is like not all too clever; likely never ever gonna work out. people who do wood finishes 'for a living' don't (power) saw/rout/plane/sand things in the same room.

past that there's the chips thing. planers and joiners produce a large volume of chips. I hooked up a 5 gal "ShopVac" brand to a planner and it lasted about 10 minutes before the 5 gal bucket was filled to the point of totally clogged up. a five gallon bucket is not much of a volume. works for sanders and saws tho.

but then,,,, the ShopVac has a filter. the theory of collecting every solid particle to the submicron size range with a cyclone seems slightly off the mark. Why? why not use the ShopVac filter to catch the fines and "something else" to catch the cubic feet of chips from the power tools?

methinks every wood hacker needs to think about what hez wood hacking needs are. for me, collecting five gallons of chips/dust/fine dust/superfine dust is simply not a target of interest. 30 gallons of chips? yeah - that's got my attention. pros with a 3 acre shop, 20 hp, 15 phase 205 KVA dust collection systems - they have different problems than the hobbyist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
methinks a 5 gal bucket is like: "Why?" .............. 30 gallons of chips? yeah - that's got my attention.
Thank you for your questions/comments.

You may want to take a little more look at the blog post and/or video. The black collection container is 20 gallons. Also, you could up-size that to pretty much any collection container you wanted... even a 55 gallon barrel. 20 gallons should suit my needs as a hobby user great and only need dumped a few times a year.

As for trying to remove all the fine dust I can... it is true that I could just let it all go to the shop vac filter. However, that filter will clog sooner, need cleaned more often, and reduce the suction as it clogs. The more of everything I can stop from going to the filter, the longer it lasts, the less I have to clean it, and the better suction I maintain.

Venting outside is a great idea and I have been considering it just to remove the very last of the invisible dust from my shop air. However, in many cases people can't do this (city regulations or even just placement of their shop), so having other alternatives to venting out can be a good thing. :thumbsup:
 

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shop vacs vs dust collectors

A small shop on a budget may only have a shop vac. A larger shop with more tools and floor space may, in addition have a dust collector. Obviously, or maybe not, the dust collector gets hooked up to the planer and jointer and drum sander where either large volumes of chips or really fine dust is generated... at least that's what I do.

A shop vac will not move enough air to work well on a table saw, actually neither will unless the saw has a covered blade enclosure under the table. Most dust on a table saw just settles to the bottom no matter what system you have and anything that lands near the 4" port is just "fate" and get sucked up. Never job site and portable saws have those wonderful enclosed blade covers under the table with a 2 1/2" port for a shop vac out the back.

The shop vac is best on router tables right behind the cutter, bandsaws under the lower blade guides, a radial arm saw port on the blade cover, or a over the blade system on a table saw. Smaller hand ROS are best hooked to a very flexible hose to a shop vac, at least that's what I do. I use the same hose on my 3" and 4" belt sanders. Bandsaws generate an inordinate amount of fine dust, more that you might expect.

The problem with any device between the tool and shop vac is the floor space the second unit takes up, especially in a real small shop, BUT it's worth it for health reasons and eliminates frequent cleaning of the shop vac filter which is a PITA... pain in the aperature ..... Cleaning a clogged shop vac filter is an outside job and a dust mask is advised. :frown2:
 

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my little 2-1/2 ShopVac shop vac works wonderfully well on my table saw unless I put in a zero clearance throat plate . . . with a z-clearance plate shaving just a tad off something makes the dust fly, the dust is not swallowed down the throat - well, more accurately the saw throat. mine, not so much.... in a closed kerf situation it sucks everything out the back.

one see the dust suck'em'up pipes mounted over the blade. a nice touch. I have not piped up my whole shop so that's outside my experience at the moment.

it also works very well with the spindle sander port.

whether it works at all, and/or how well it works - on the router (rear outlet, flush with deck) depends on location & kind of cut I'm making. oh, and my fence. I'm prone to using one piece fences with a spot notched out for the router bit. those cute two piece fences (left&right of the bit) do facilitate better chip pick up, but cause an unacceptable boggle/stall/hitch/glitch moving along the fence.

Taf - I did watch the video. you saw my solution:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/q...-when-run-shop-vac-147521/index2/#post1489129

unless the sucker'upper is vented to nature, you're going to have to clean a filter. how frequently that need arises depends on what the wood hacker is doing - so all the once-a-(blank) theories are quite meaningless mefears.

oh, meant to ask... how did you get that vac so clean?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
oh, meant to ask... how did you get that vac so clean?
Brand-spankin-new. But I also used the vac blower to clean it and all the hoses out between each test so that I had a fresh start.
 

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Great tread!!
Will help those new to cyclones and the like to see it's benefits.
From the three extractors I've build, a wooden cyclone a soft traffic cone [that would get sucked in] from lowes and a Thein Baffle, they all seem to work just fine and from all the wild and different extractors I've seen on the net they all work to some degree much better than no extractor at all.
The biggest thing as your building one is getting it to seal right, any leaks and they will suck the dust off the bottom of the bucket.
 
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The biggest thing as your building one is getting it to seal right, any leaks and they will suck the dust off the bottom of the bucket.
This is actually semi-related to what I was actually coming here to ask about. I built the semi-thien-clone, exactly as per the directions and mine looks identical to the one in the video and in the build log on the familyweb site, and while it IS collecting dust in the bottom of the container, I am also getting dust in the shop vac filter. Probably about half and half.

So my question is whether or not the quality of air-tightness from the normal sealing capacity of a Lowe's five gallon bucket with lid, and an identical pink bucket to the one used in the video, again, with a Lowes blue bucket lid (They don't offer a lid specifically for the pink 3.5 gallon bucket), is good enough to disallow the shop vac from sucking stuff out of the lower container. Because I can't seem to find any bucket lids with the built in seal on them, and sealing the lids to the buckets using caulking isn't an option because you'd never be able to empty it.

My other consideration is whether or not the DEPTH of the five gallon bucket is enough to prevent it, or is it too shallow. I've seen several different cyclonic designs, including the myriad variations on the Thien baffle, and most of them use only a single five gallon bucket for the lower container and either a 3.5 gallon bucket on top or part of a five gallon bucket on top, and they don't seem to suck the collected media out of the lower bucket. Any ideas what might be causing this?

Also, this is all hooked up to my blast cabinet in which I'm using aluminum oxide media, so what's coming out of it is fairly fine but is certainly heavier than wood dust, so you'd think it would more readily settle to the lower container than fine wood dust would.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My first thought is that the problem may be with the slots not being flush with the sides of the pink bucket. The cyclone action needs to be able to drop the debris directly down the sides of the pink and into the second bucket.... if it hits the ledge in your design, I think it may force it back into the airflow. So tentatively, the dust may never be fully separated into the lower bucket to start with. I would put some line chalk or dark spices into the bottom bucket and see if they show up in the shop-vac. If they do, then it means that there is too much air-flow getting into the lower bucket... and if they do not, it means that the problem is more in the upper bucket not dropping the debris.

The concern though, is that once you cut right up to the sides of the pink bucket, it may then have too wide of slots, allowing too much air flow into the lower bucket and pulling debris from the lower bucket back into the air flow.

So my first change would be to cut the slots right up against the bucket sides. Then test with the line chalk or spice in the bottom bucket. If it is pulling back up from the bottom, the slots would need to be reduced in width from the center... which might require a new pink bucket at that point.

My second thought is that there may be a problem with having the support wood on the bottom of the bucket/lid. With a thickness to the slot like that, I wonder if the debris is trying to fall through, but the air-flow is hitting the thick board and causing a swirl action at that point or down into the lower bucket. Anything that re-directs or reflects the air-flow would reduce the effectiveness. Would it be possible to do as I did and just cut a hole barely big enough in the lower lid to press the pink bucket down into the lid by about a half-inch or so and caulk it in place? Then you would not need any added wood support that might deflect the air-flow.

And I guess to answer your question more specifically, if any air is sucking in through the bottom lid, it could definitely cause the falling debris to get right back into the air-flow and to you vac. I found lids with the rubber seal in them in the paint department and that may really help, too.
 

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Dammit. I went completely open earhole on that one. I could have sworn the slots in yours were about a half inch out from the sides, but clearly they are not so my big ass fundamental mistake. LOL. So, new bucket. Ok to simply widen the slots in the supporting wood underneath the pink bucket to match the slots in the new bucket I'll go get and cut the slots out in the right place on? I would think so since yours just has a big hole under the pink bucket to accomodate the slots but I have no idea how slots in the wood affects the aerodynamics, or if that part even matters so long as the slots are in the right place,......which of course, they are not. :)

Hmm, every other cyclonic design I've seen out there had a wood support between the upper chamber and the lower one. Not sure that's a factor, however, looking even more closely at yours, I guess I must not have paid as much attention as I thought I did, since that too is not as I believed it to be. Sad thing is, I don't even drink or use recreational drugs. I must have just been too impatient.

Also, thanks for the reply. You'd be surprised how many people post up plans or designs, and then never respond to questions or come back to them again. Especially when it's been a while as in this case. Thanks for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am very glad to help. I also have a tendency to look and see what my brain thinks I see. Sometimes I wonder if a little rum would help. LOL

I think the other versions often have a wood support on the bottom more to hold the bucket in place or to screw the round top part to. But thinking about it, you are right, many versions have this thicker wood where the slots are, so maybe it doesn't matter and doesn't cause trouble with the air movement. If it is needed to connect your bucket to bucket lid, I would probably keep it then, but if not, I would probably skip it. Since mine went into 3/4 inch osb, it had a lot of structural strength for the connection... but also my big lid just has weather-seal and lifts off the lower container... so I don't have to bump around the connection much when removing the lid to empty the lower container. With a snap on lid, the wood bracing may be needed to keep the top bucket firmly glued to the lid of the bottom. (does that make sense?)

However, I wonder if you could just use a center wood piece to bolt/screw the upper bucket to the lid firmly enough without needing to exact cut for the slots? Might make things a little easier.
 

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I'm going to try it out, with a different bucket, and I'll let you know how it goes. If I still have issues, I'll discard the wood and just glue the upper bucket into a sealing lid and go from there. Thanks again.
 
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