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Australian Woodsmith 13th May 2020

Low-Cost Dust Separator

I have long needed to upgrade the dust collection system in my workshop. My prior system consisted of pulling my workshop vacuum over to the tool I was using and plugging it in. This works just fine for many of the operations I do, but the filter in the vacuum kept clogging up quickly, resulting in reduced suction power.

Not wanting to spend a lot of money, I came up with the solution you see here. It allowed me to make a two-stage dust extraction system using mostly items I already had in my workshop, plus a few inexpensive pieces of PVC.

How it works. Since the two elbows inside the bucket face in opposite directions, a vortex is created when the workshop vacuum is attached and turned on. This vortex deposits most of the wood chips and dust into the bucket. This, in turn, keeps the filter in my workshop vacuum clean for much longer, which prevents a loss of suction power.

Big bucket. At the heart of my new dust collector is a 20-litre bucket that acts as the first stage of the system. I sandwiched the lid between two plywood discs and secured the assembly with screws. The discs act as an anchor point for two short sections of PVC pipe and elbows. I chamfered both edges of the lower disc for a better fit inside the bottom of the lid. I also chamfered the top of the upper disc to remove the sharp edge.

Add PVC. Each PVC assembly consists of a coupler, a pipe and a 45° elbow. The coupler size I used is a slip fit with the hose on my workshop vacuum. I drilled the holes in the discs and lid using a hole saw and held the PVC in place using some epoxy. The coupler and elbow should slide over the pipe and rest flush against the discs on either side.

Mobile base. To give my dust collector some mobility, I cut another disc, chamfered both edges, and added four castors. A thin plywood insert glued to the mobile base surface keeps the bucket from sliding off the base.

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SAFETY IN THE WORKSHOP Safety devices, such as riving knives, guards on table saws and guards over router bits have been deliberately left out of the line drawings in Australian Woodsmith projects in order to make them easier to follow. It goes without saying that where safety devices have been supplied by the manufacturers you should use them. We encourage the use of push sticks as good work practice.
    Exercise vigilance and the greatest of care when using power tools, whether stationary or portable. Keep all your tools sharp and well maintained. Wear protective eyewear, a dust mask and a hearing protector when appropriate. By limiting distractions and developing safe work practices you will go a long way to avoiding workshop accidents. So, work safe fellow woodworkers.  -Editor
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