DIY Cyclone Filter: Introduction and First Steps

I like the idea of having a cyclone separator for my shop vac.

Not only would it be fun to see the dust swirling to its final resting place at the bottom of a bucket, but from what I’ve read, you can significantly increase the efficiency of your dust collection by putting a cyclone en route to your shop vac because the filter in the shop vac does not get clogged with dust as quickly.

As much as I like the idea of having a cyclone separator, I have a proportionally greater dislike for paying $70 for a fancy bucket, or $50 for a fancy lid.

So I like the idea of spending $13 for a sheet of plastic and trying to make my own cyclone separator, like this guy did.

The first step was to take my sheet of plastic (clear acrylic) and roll it into a cone (or funnel, depending on your perspective).

I started out by using a heat gun to soften the acrylic as I rolled it. This worked okay at first but, as the funnel started getting taller and taller, I had a larger and larger area to heat for each increment of progress. It took me altogether too long to realize that I had a better tool for this.

A few minutes after starting with the propane torch, I had the beginnings of my funnel.

Now I needed to cut the excess bits off the top and the bottom, and so began another process of trial and error.

First I tried to cut the acrylic with my jigsaw. This immediately started to grab and crack the acrylic, and didn’t improve with any combination of coarse or fine toothed blades and low or high speed settings on the saw.

So I tried using a hacksaw, and had limited success on the small end of the funnel, but holding the piece still while cutting was difficult, and the hacksaw would be too small and cumbersome to use on the wider end of the funnel.

And so I used a cutting head on my rotary tool.

Finally! The right tool for the job.

Now that I have one of the key components to the system, I can start working on how to attach it to the vacuum hoses and the bucket that will collect the dust.

To be continued…


5 thoughts on “DIY Cyclone Filter: Introduction and First Steps

  1. Hay there,
    Great blog, cant believe I haven’t seen it till now.
    Question: why use acrylic rather than polycarb, which can be cold formed?
    If you used polycarb, you could have used the cutting diagrams from my site, cut most of the material easily with tin snips – and end up with cyclone proportions that are guaranteed to work well for fine dust…
    Looking forward to the rest of the story 🙂
    Peace, Bongo.

    • Thanks! I’m having a lot of fun with the blog so far, it’s been a great outlet for all the things whirling around in my head that my wife has no particular interest in 🙂
      I used acrylic with the thought that it would make a more rigid cone, and they had a sheet of it at the local Home Depot that was about the right size.

      Another reason is that I tend to use the following process when I decide to make something:
      1.) Do very little research into the proper method.
      2.) Make it out of stuff I have on hand or can buy at Home Depot (or Industrial Metal supply).
      3.) Research the proper method after catastrophic failure.
      4.) Use the correct materials and methods to make a working version.

      I am often lucky enough to have things work the first time, even if I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort by doing it differently.
      This is actually part of why I have started blogging, because I have very few people in my life that share my interests that I can bounce ideas off of. Although I am now finding a shortcoming of the blog: I don’t get feedback until after I post something, which is generally after I finish something…

      I am very curious to see how well it works when I finish it, and I’ll definitely expand on whether I think I chose the correct approach.

  2. Pingback: Coming Soon: Something. « GarageSandals

  3. Pingback: DIY Cyclone Filter: Completion and Test « GarageSandals

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