Homemade Cyclone Dust Collection System

Part 1: Introduction & Project History

by Steve Silca

The original 1hp dust collector

My dust collection adventure began with a single stage 1 HP Reliant brand from Trendlines in December of 1995. As the hobby, the tool collection, and the shop area grew (now 15’x27’ – about 400 square feet), this did not suffice in terms of suction or in terms of safety. I was spending more and more time exposed to the dust that flows right through the cheap filter bags (see Bill’s site for more information on this).

Initially, I had planned to use the old blower and motor in conjunction with a drop box in the shop. Then, I pondered the possibility of exhausting the dust collector outside and not worrying about filtering. This, however, is known to create a very dangerous situation, as fumes from the furnace and water heater would flow directly into the shop, particularly in the winter when I can’t comfortably open a window to help replace the air in the shop.

So, it was clear to me that I needed to set a system up that was completely contained within the shop. It was also clear that, because of their small size, the 1 HP motor and 10” diameter fan were not going to do me any good for the kind of system I envisioned (see Bill’s site for more information on these size requirements as well).

Thanks to Glen for this graphic

Bill Pentz convinced me to construct a cyclone, as intimidating as that sounded. This website thoroughly explains how a cyclone separator, in conjunction with a home-made blower and filter set-up, effectively collects woodshop dust. However, for those unfamiliar with this topic, the diagram at the side should help you understand exactly what happens in this system. The blower, mounted on top of the cyclone, consists of a motor, fan, inlet and outlet. As the motor turns the fan, suction is created at the inlet, which is connected to the cyclone outlet pipe (4). Dust and chips from the network of ducts throughout the shop enter through the cyclone inlet (1) and are forced to circulate around and around in the upper cylinder of the cyclone. As the air approaches the funnel shaped cone of the cyclone (2), dust and chips continue to be spun against the sides and eventually settle down in to the collection bin (3). The remaining air and very fine dust are sucked out of the cyclone through the cyclone outlet pipe (4), into the blower, and blown out the blower outlet toward a filter. This filter captures the very fine dust (which are now known carcinogens), and allows perfectly clean air to be exhausted back into the shop. Many websites go into greater detail on this topic.

A month and a half later my cyclone was complete, the shop was re-organized, and the ducting was being finalized. This is the story of that process. Hopefully, it can help others decide what they want to do with their dust collection system. I know that I would not have endeavored upon this project if I hadn’t known that there were many others who had successfully completed the project and were available to help me along the way. And help me they did! Through dozens and dozens of emails with fellow woodworkers, I was able to put together a powerful dust collection system that makes my shop cleaner and my household a safer place to be. Hopefully, this information can help the next woodworker who has these same goals in mind.

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© 2003 by Steve Silca . All rights reserved.
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