I made a Dust Collector – Part 3

So… I may owe some level of explanation for waiting a year between my last post and this one…


I made a housing for my impeller by arranging several blocks of red oak on a piece of plywood and then tracing the perimeter of my impeller onto the blocks of wood.

I appear to have lost any photographic record of this step, so please view the following for reference:
Step 2 was awesome, sorry you missed it.   I then cut this line on each piece using my bandsaw. I rearranged the cut blocks so that they made the correct shape and then screwed them on to the piece of plywood. i also smeared from Bond-O on to the inside circumference to smooth out inconsistencies and plug any gaps.  I drilled a large hole into the center of the plywood to pass the motor through and made a little platform for the motor to rest on. cowling2
I found a picture!

After cutting a hole in the front piece, I slapped everything together for another test. It Sucked. But not as much as I hoped. I sat and pondered. and then got distracted. For a year. At some point during that year, I realized why my dust collected only sucked a little, but still waited a number of months before doing anything about it. Let’s play a fun game: Can you figure out what was wrong with my dust collector? ...duh.
The impeller is spinning the wrong way. To make matters worse, the motor is unambiguously non reversible.
IMAG2092So I immediately (when I felt like it) got to work. I decided to solve the problem by moving the motor around to the “front” of the assembly. This also meant that I needed to keep the impeller in the same orientation relative to the housing, and so I needed to turn the back of the impeller into the front and re-mount it on the motor shaft:IMAG2093
back coverbalancing
transferring the old hole locations to the new backplugging unnecessary holes
done now. still done.
okay, NOW I'm done.Easy peasy. I powered it up for a test run, and promptly woke my son up (I have a son, he’s almost 2 and he was asleep).


Needless to say, it was louder than I hoped.

I had recalled Wandel doing some testing around making his impeller design quieter and subsequently much, much louder to make an air raid siren. So I scoured his website and failed to find the article I was looking for, but did find a comment of his on someone else’s dust collector design where he noted that “the smaller the gap between the impeller and the housing, the louder it will be.”

So I shaved 1/4″ off the perimeter of my impeller using my bandsaw and put everything back together.

Then I waited until my son was asleep again (for maximum effect) and tested it again.
This time it REALLY sucked. And it did so very quietly. Almost Dust-Sniper quiet!

And so I set in a corner of my garage until I get time to mount and duct it.

Next June is looking promising…


I made a Dust Collector – Part 2

Curse you Wandel, for stealing my thunder!

Whatever. Nobody cares about your little website anyways.


So, at this stage of the project I had an impeller and a motor, and nothing in between.

I needed something in between.

Fortunately, my motor came with a pulley attached.



…Very securely attached…

I cobbled together a gear puller with some scrap metal, clamps, a magnet, and a coupling nut.



Now that I had removed the pulley from the shaft, I proceeded to remove the coupling nut from the pulley…

Impeller - Motor Pulley


Impeller - Motor Pulley


Over at the lathe, I began to cut away at the pulley to turn it into a hub.

Impeller - Hub

Impeller - Hub


Aaaaaaand, it’s a hub.

Impeller - Hub


I laid it on the center of the back of the impeller and marked the locations of the  holes I had drilled in the hub since the last picture…

Impeller - Mount

Impeller - Mount

Off camera, I drilled out the holes and attached the hub to the impeller and the motor shaft.

Impeller - Test

I hooked it up to a foot pedal switch and it was time for a test!


Holy crap! Time to change my underpants!


…to be continued.

I made a Dust Collector – Part 1

A while back I bought a leaky air compressor for $50 because it had a good 3HP motor on it that I figured I could use someday for something, probably.

When Mr. Wendel built a small dust collector with a tile saw motor, I knew my old motor had found its destiny.

Little did I know that this would lead to one of the scariest things I have ever built (and I’ve made a good number of catapults and potato cannons in my day).

I needed to make three things: an impeller, a cowl, and a motor mount.

Everything I needed I already had laying around, so I figured this would be a good way to use my tools and my time. At the very least it would be an educational experience.

First: Thing 1 – Impeller

To start, I cut some 1/4″ plywood into two identical discs by taping two squares together with double-sided tape and then spinning them across the blade on a screw I had driven through a thicker board (a rudimentary form of a dedicated circle-cutting jig)
Impeller - discs
Impeller - discs
Impeller - discs
Impeller - discs

A piece of oak I had in my scrap bin became the impeller fins. I printed out a template and glued it to the piece of wood and then cut out the pieces freehand on my bandsaw.
Impeller - Fins

Since this was a remnant piece of wood, it was not the same thickness all the way through, so I removed some wood from the top of each fin after setting it against the bottom of my milling machine vice to ensure that they were all the same height.
Impeller - Fins
Impeller - Fins
Impeller - Fins
Impeller - Fins

Using 9 fins, the math was easy, I placed a fin every 40-degrees around the bottom disc. The tilt was determined based on what looked best to me, then I just measured the offset from the 40-degree lines and placed the tip of the fin on one line and base of the fin on the other.
Impeller - Assembly
Impeller - Assembly
Impeller - Assembly

After setting everything in place dry and ensuring in all aligned properly, I applied glue to the top and bottom surfaces, set them in their pre-determined places around the bottom disc, and then set the second disc on top.
Impeller - Assembly

I didn’t want to mess with clamps, so I set the assembly on a known flat surface (my table saw) and set another known flat surface on top (yes, that’s the table top from the old scroll saw) and piled some heavy metal pieces on that.
Impeller - Assembly
Impeller - Assembly

After letting the glue set overnight, I took the assembled impeller to the drill press, where I used a 4-inch hole saw to open one side as the air inlet.
Impeller - Inlet
Impeller - Inlet

Next I set a large ball bearing on top of a metal cylinder in the vise and balanced the impeller on top of it.
Impeller - Balance
Impeller - Balance
Impeller - Balance

I used a forstner bit to remove wood from the heavy side until the impeller stayed level while balanced on the bearing.
Impeller - Balance

So, now I had the impeller… part 1 complete.

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 garagesandals.wordpress.com, 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.

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…

Table Saw Dust Collection Concept

The Rockwell 10″ Contractor saw I own has an open frame and an external motor hanging off the back, making efficient dust collection an issue because controlling the airflow is next to impossible.

I have a friend with a similar saw on an open frame, but his saw’s motor is more contained, so he doesn’t have the challenge of  plugging a hole that allows the motor to pivot as the blade is tilted to make a beveled cut.

I may still try to close off the cabinet and plug the holes to set up a more traditional dust collection arrangement, but I have an idea I’d like to try out first

Here’s what I’m thinking: I might be able to get effective collection by attaching a “fender” of sorts around the blade under the table. If I attach this fender to the arbor assembly (similar to how I have mounted the riving knife) then I can keep it in close proximity to the blade, which should make for very effective dust  collection.

I made a concept drawing in Sketchup to work through some kinks in my mind:

I like the idea, but I still need to figure out if it will be practical to mount this to the arbor assembly to have it move vertically with the blade, or if I should just attach it to the horizontal rails so that it will tilt with the blade and motor, but will not respond to the depth of the height of the blade.

I’ll keep you posted.