I spent 30 minutes on a Friday evening making up something that has been on my project list for awhile. I made a swarf separator to go in front of the vacuum. Often these are called dust cyclones, or particulate cyclones, or separators of some sort. I made a video of how I constructed it (which took longer than actually making the separator):
The design is very simple. The pail itself was from someone with a pool – it was used to hold bromine (I love re-purposing stuff!). I’ve been saving the pail for this for awhile because it has a nice tight fitting lid. I cut 2 holes in the top for some 1 1/2″ threaded ABS couplings and a 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ bushing found at a local hardware store. One coupling was male threaded and the other was female threaded. The 1 7/8 Ridgid vacuum hose fit well onto these couplings after I turned them to fit. A long 1 1/2″ ABS elbow was used to direct the dirty suction flow along the side of the container. The ‘clean’ air comes out the centre and into the vacuum.
I immediately tried it by cleaning up the lathe. It worked very well for metal chips. I’m not sure how well this design would work with saw dust – something I’m bound to try out at some point. I don’t do that much work with wood, and when I do it generally is general construction – which usually happens outdoors.
I was considering purchasing a Dust Deputy – a purchased cyclone attachment for standard vacuums. They are $60 for just the cyclone (still requires a pail with a lid) or $135 for a cyclone, pail, lid and hose. Lee Valley also has their Veritas cyclone lids for larger containers for about $50, but I prefer the 5 gallon pail size.
I have about $30 into the project including the hose (the most expensive part of the project), which isn’t too bad at all. Now I won’t fill expensive vacuum bags up with metal chips anymore, and I can keep the vacuum bag for filtration of fine particulate like grinding dust.
I didn’t make drawings for this project because I thought it was very simple. If you really would like something, send me an email and I’ll try to do something up.