Cyclone Collector

I (Phil) walked into my work place on day, and saw a 5 gal bucket and 35 gal drum we being thrown out. I brought the bucket and the drum to the hacker space. It was a project in the making…

Cyclone Collector 2Our wood shop produces a lot of dust, and the shopvacs we use for clean up always need to be emptied and cleaned themselves. So, I figured we would benefit from a dust separator. The mission was set. Andrew, Dmitriy, and I accepted the challenge.

We got together the list of things we would need:
  • 3′ x 3′ sheet aluminum
  • Some acrylic sheeting
  • 2′ of 2″ PVC piping
  • 2 tubes of silicone caulk
  • a caulk gun
  • hose hangers/clamps
  • 4″ hose
  • a blower fan
  • 5 gal plastic bucket
  • 35 gal plastic drum
  • misc plumbing bits to fit it all together
The dust separator works by separating particles based on density. This process is commonly used in industry, and the pieces of equipment go by the names “hydro-cleaners”, “centri-cleaners” or “centrifugal separators”. A lot of the commercial dust collection set ups for wood shops use this same process. Youtube has an abundance of videos to check out on the subject.
In our case, we want to sweep the dust up in an air flow, and get it to the dust separator. The air and dust com into the top of the cone at a smooth tangent. The air is forced to keep accelerating as it goes in smaller circles as it traverses it’s way down the cone. The dust gets pushed to the outside, because of it’s density, and resistance to that acceleration. The air then make a quick upturn to go out the exhaust, while the saw dust continues down and falls from bottom of the cone into the 35 gal drum. This allows us to fill up the 35 gallon drum (a long time between when we have to empty it), and not have all the dust clog the filter sock on the blower. This system gives us cleaner air, a more user friendly interface, a quieter shop, and it looks really cool.
Cyclone Collector 5
We started by making a funnel the size and shape that we needed out of paper. We did some extra math to make sure we would be happy with the result, and then traced our desired shape onto our piece of sheet aluminum. We cut the shape out with metal snips, and cleaned up the edges with the dremel. We used metal tape to hold the cone in the desired shape. Next we cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket and a hole in the top of the drum. Those two then got caulked together. Then we dremeled a hole in top side of the bucket for the PVC to come in tangential to the inside curve of the bucket. This was one of the hardest parts of the project. We used a lot of caulk to fill any open spots, and make sure it would be an air tight seal. Then we dropped the cone into the bucket and taped it in place. After that, we made acrylic lid for the bucket that had a PVC outlet for the clean air. All this was caulked up and left overnight to cure.

Cyclone Collector 4Cyclone Collector 6Cyclone Collector 8Cyclone Collector 9The next day there was a decent bit of flex to the PVC inlet, so we went to work figuring  out how to support inlet and outlet, and hook them both up to the 4″ lines for the blowers. It required another trip to home depot.

Once it was all sealed up, we were all really happy with how well it worked. It’s pretty mesmerizing to watch.

Cyclone Collector 10 Cyclone Collector 11 Cyclone Collector 12 Now we need to find a good location for it, ground it, and attach it to all the tools in the shop. See it in action here on our Facebook page: Suck-O-Matic (TM).

By: Phillip Strong