DIY Cyclone Filter: Completion and Test

When I started making a cyclone filter to attach to my shop vac, I imagined it would turn out something like this:

Tornado Foutex Cyclone Dust Collector

Or at least this:


Instead, I got this:
Dust Filter - bucket lid attached

Things started going wrong almost immediately, as noted in my first post on the topic, and I discovered several ways NOT to bend and cut acrylic (valuable lessons) and so this project degenerated into an experiment: how badly could a cyclone be built and still work?

Continuing where my last post left off, I had several things to do before my cyclone was complete:

  1. add a top
  2. reinforce the seams of the funnel
  3. install intake and outflow tubes
  4. attach the cyclone to a bucket lid

I made the top out of a piece of 1/2″ plywood that I marked according the to shape of the top of the funnel.
Dust Filter - tracing

Since the funnel was not perfectly round, I found the center and drew a circle that was approximately the average diameter of the funnel and cut out the circle with my scroll saw (the bandsaw would have end the baby’s nap).
Dust Filter - top
Dust Filter - top

Next I used a torch to soften the plastic rim of the funnel enough to force the lid into the end and mold the plastic around the lid to hold it in place.

Everything was sealed up with Liquid Nails polyurethane glue, which fills gaps nicely and drys very hard overnight.
Dust Filter - sealing

I then started reinforcing the seams by melting a steel mesh into the plastic across each joint.
Dust Filter - reinforcing

This seemed to be working reasonably well, but just to be safe, I also smeared glue all over the joints to hold the mesh in place.
Dust Filter - reinforcing

Using a holesaw, I drilled out enough of the top to insert a 1 1/2″ ABS pipe for the suction end of the cyclone, which I then glued in place.
Dust Filter - top

For the intake, I cut another piece of pipe at a 45-degree angle (approximately) and glued it in.
Dust Filter - Inlet

On both pipes, I used masking tape to hold them in place while the glue dried.
Dust Filter - drying
Attaching the cyclone to the bucket lid required a small amount of creativity. If I just cut a hole in the bucket lid, I would have very little gluing surface, due to the bucket lid being very thin.

My solution was to cut a smaller than necessary hole in the bucket lid, and then to heat up the lid with a torch to soften the area around the hole, and then to force the cyclone assembly into the lid.

The result is a perfect sized hole in the lid that tapers along the cyclone and provides a large surface to join the two pieces.

Dust Filter - bucket lid
Dust Filter - bucket lid
Dust Filter - bucket lid attached

Once everything had dried, I did a little more cleanup and reinforcement (neither of which helped the cosmetics of the cyclone), and hooked everything up for a test run.

Dust Filter - Complete

I took the end of the hose to a pile of sawdust and watched in amusement as the dust flew into the cyclone, swirled madly, and went straight out the exhaust tube and into the shop vac.

I had successfully created a clear chamber in which to observe dust and trash along its path to the shop vac.

And then I noticed something important: I had hooked up the hoses backwards.

I switched the shop vac to the top, and the accessory hose to the side and tried again.


I watched in fascination as the sawdust, metal shavings, plastic shards, and welding slag flew into the cyclone  chamber and promptly spiraled downwards into the bucket below sending practically clean air out to the shop vac.

And thus the conclusion of my experiment was reached: even ugly cyclones can be effective. Don’t over-engineer it unless you have a lot of spare time and nothing else to work on.

Just make sure to cover the following criteria:

  1. The inlet needs to come in at an angle that sends air and dust along the outer wall of the funnel
  2. The outlet needs to be long enough to end somewhere below the inlet (this causes the incoming air to spiral downwards, instead of just getting dizzy in the middle)
  3. The funnel should be shaped like a funnel (round and tapering downwards)
  4. The seams and connections need to be air tight

If you build a cyclone that meets these requirements, it should work, even if it looks like a potato battery from a third-grade science fair… like mine.


Coming Soon: Something.

While I doubt there are many people out there on the internet compulsively clicking “refresh” on, wondering when the latest content will arrive, I thought it might be a good idea to let everyone known why I haven’t posted anything lately, and when I will start posting again.

First excuse: I’m busy, leave me alone.

I have been busy with work, being a dad to my nearly 1-year old little girl, and a husband to my beautiful wife.
But that’s nothing out of the ordinary. In addition to this, I have been helping a friend weld together a new bumper for his jeep, and I had been planning a camping trip with some friends that took place last weekend.

That’s where this happened:

Second excuse: … actually, I think the first excuse pretty much covers it.

I do plan to start generating some content again very soon, but I may not be regularly updating until I get through July, due to the nature and quantity of calendar entries between now and then.

Some of the things I will be working on when I get back into the garage are:

  1. completing the cyclone dust collector
  2. figuring out a workbench layout that will hold my tools AND allow me to use them without them interfering with each other
  3. taking apart and re-purposing this thing I bought on craigslist (yes, I fell off the wagon)

So please be patient, and if you don’t want to be stuck clicking “refresh” for the next 2 months, just click “follow” and you’ll be notified when I’m able to do something interesting in my garage.