Dust and Chip Separators for Shop Vacuums

Advice on equipping a shop vacuum with an accessory that separates material out of the air stream before it hits the vacuum filter. June 15, 2014

Does anyone know of a good commercial vacuum with a separator? To explain a little: We have a good dust collection system, but it's a wood shop with lots of dust and chips to sweep up, but sweeping always leaves the talcum/fine dust. The $150 Rigid vacuum I bought can clog the filter in a couple of minutes if we hit a dust pocket or two. Ideally I would like to vacuum as I roll it around, then pull the hose out for corners and inside machines, etc. The separator would keep the filter from clogging so fast. OSHA likes us to vacuum the dust up instead of blowing dust around with air nozzles of course. Does anyone have a heavy duty vacuum that works really well in our environment?

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From Contributor K:
Oneida has a few options. If you can add the Dust Deputy onto your existing unit, it's a low cost fix. I have one and it does work well.

From contributor H:
The shop vac works better than a dust collector for cleaning the floor and collecting dust out of portable sanders. It fails big time by being loud. I put an $80 rigid shop vac outside the back door with a switch inside. The filter is covered with a piece of flannel sheet. The dust goes through a central vac line, through the wall, into a 55 gallon drum cyclone and then into the shop vac. I clean the filter rag every other day, but the $12 filter cartridge lasts a year. The cyclone needs to be dumped every few weeks. It's heavy and awkward, but I roll it over to the edge of the woods and tilt it over.

Vacuum $80.
Hose for vacuum $40.
Tape and hose clamps $10.

Central vac pipe, vacuum hoses, barrel, fittings- free at the dump.

This would work better with a bypass vac which doesn't have to filter the air to cool the motor. I'm looking for a used central vac for a house. Using a separate system for the floor keeps the shavings in the trailer free of nails, glass, and trash.

From the original questioner:
I ordered a Dust Deputy kit to try with our Rigid 6.5 hp before going the next step. I'm planning on putting both on plywood with wheels. Itís odd that we have an industry where people will spend half a mil or a mil on equipment but won't spend $1000 on a shop vacuum, which is a safety/hygiene/showroom (show the shop) issue. Is there anyone with a larger shop that has tackled this issue? Maybe the dust deputy will do the trick, which would be fantastic. I would love to hear from someone that has a shop 15k to 40k feet or larger.

From contributor U:
I've been reading up on everything 'dust collection' and have decided to build the 'Thein' or 'Thien' separator with the baffle and maybe even a cyclone so I can run some tests to see which of the two separate the finest dust best. I've also decided that to really get the finest dust I'm going to figure out a way to have the vacuum pull everything through a water shower or bath. That should take care of the finest dust before the vacuum stream reaches the final filter. The problem then might be keeping the water from getting into the vacuum stream and finding its way to that final filter. I know there are washable filters that will work on my HFT 2Hp. DC.

I have seen those five gallon buckets on the market designed for separating drywall sanding dust from the vacuum stream by using water. These buckets are inserted between the work area and the vacuum source. The vacuum pulls the dust through a water bath that captures the dust and the clean air then passes to the final filter at the vacuum source. Has anybody ever tried using water in a woodworking dust collection setup? I have to do something - filters can get expensive and they are not 100% effective on fine dust.

From the original questioner:
We just put the Dust Deputy right on top of our Rigid 6.5hp vac and put a bungee cord around it to tie it to the push-handles (we have the vac with the metal tube push handle, if that's what you call it). We put some electricians tape around the Dust Deputy in and out openings so the hose would fit comfortably snug. We bought two sections of 7' hose, so we have a 14' vacuum hose; the original hose just goes from the vac to the top of the Dust Deputy. This works great, we are even running without a filter for extra strong suction, with no visible dust exiting the vac. Success so far.

Vac: $150
Dust Deputy kit: $210 (that includes shipping)
2-7' lengths of hose: $40
Total: $ 400 no filter clogging or filter expense, somewhere between 150 and 200 cfm. Itís less expensive if you use your own bucket, smaller vac, etc

From the original questioner:
I have to use a filter - little pieces of plastic got into the rotor and reduced airflow to almost nothing. It works like new after cleaning and putting on a new filter.

From Contributor M:
Oh man - you just solved a problem for me. I made one of these baffle things. I need to validate all my equipment for insurance (if it is not UL). So I tested it and I saw very odd SP/CMF relationships. Your post caused me to go look at it again. I am milling thin v-beads in western red cedar. It is making long thin shavings which are wrapping around the rotor of the fan. When I take out the baffle, it is fine. It looks like the air flow with the baffle may be more controlled and regular.

From Contributor R:
Here is a little solution we recently developed for chop saws and other small wood shop problems that some might be interested in. It has high suction 110" SP, 170 cfm and provides a high capacity of dust collection in the large bin. It won't replace your dust collector for larger airflow requirements, but it out performs dust collectors on smaller tools like chop saws and others with only 1-1/2 to 3" ports. Cyclones and DC units typically offer 7-8" ports with step down options, but then the SP goes down along with airflow. This setup has more power for shrouded saws and sanders etc. and puts the dust in a nice roll-away container. It operates on 110VAC, sits in the corner and can be piped 250' away in a closet. Itís priced at $1795.00 plus shipping and includes a piping kit also. It operates at 62 decibels. There arenít any bags. There are dual inlets and a remote wired switch included. It has a Hepa Membrane filter, 20 year motor warranty plus a silencer. It comes in a wooden crate and is commercial use grade. Itís Kraemer tool developed.

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