How To Convert a Shop Vac Into a Cyclone Dust Collector
October 7, 2014 | 7:09 pm CDT
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Dave stopped by yesterday. The last time he was here, we discussed a purchase that he and I had made in Las Vegas at AWFS last year. We each purchased the Oneida Air Systems Dust Deputy Kit. This kit allows you to turn your shop vacuum into a very efficient cyclone dust collector. At least 90% of what goes into the hose is collected by their small cyclone. That keeps all those fines from clogging your vacuum filter. As a result, your vacuum runs all day without loss of suction.

I have been a fan of Oneida Air Systems for years and I encourage you to take a stroll through their website at It was a natural then, that I, who does not have his own shop, would be drawn to portable dust collector that I can take “on the road.” Portability is very important to me since I don’t currently have a shop and need to borrow shop space to do big projects.

But beyond that, I need a system like this because I run my Bosch sanders with a vacuum attached so as to keep dust to a minimum. Also, as a guy who stores this contraption in the garage, it just makes sense to have the portability when there is something small to clean up such as the car interior or a big mess in the bed of the pickup. This system really works well for me.

But, both Dave and I found the Dust Deputy Kit wasn’t the answer to our dreams when it came to the portability portion of the operation. As far as what it does while it just sits there and runs, that’s outstanding. But I needed things packaged better. Dave agreed with me. There needed to be a better way.

Then, one day I was snooping around on the Oneida website and I found a link to a ShopNotes plan that someone created and was selling through cart that not only holds the shop vac. It also holds the Dust Deputy as well as all your hoses and accessories all in one, relatively compact, contraption.

Dave (who has a shop) gets semi-regular visits from Bernie’s traveling woodworking show. He lets me use his shop for my big projects. The last time I was there, I didn’t have room in my truck to back haul two sheets of ApplePly. I left them in his wood storage room for “next time.”

Fast forward almost a year. Dave had a catastrophe in his dry kiln. It got too hot and started a fire. The bad news is that there was a lot of damage. The good news is that Dave now has a new shop from the ground up.

Back to the bad news. My ApplePly got smoke damaged and I couldn’t use it for its normal purpose. But then it occurred to me that I now had the material to make myself a really nice Shop Vacuum Station. Check out the attached pictures and see if it fits the bill for you as well.

Far be it for me to make a few improvements of my own (lol). First, the caster locations on mine aren’t adequate to give a solid wheelbase when going across my exposed aggregate driveway. I grabbed mine by that nice integral handle and took off for the shop door but the casters stayed put and the cart went down on its chin. That really messed up the bottom edge of my fresh-from-the-shop-ApplePly-and-conversion-varnish-finish. I cringed and said a bad word or two. Then, I went out and bought another caster to mount under the front end below the edge of the five gallon bucket. Problem solved!

Second, mine is made out of ApplePly. For most shop fixtures, that’s really overkill but...oh well! During the building process, I had access to some 1” Appleply-like product so I had some beefy falloff to use to make the frame for the upright. I love the look of the end grain with all those plies shining at me under two coats of conversion varnish!

Third, what’s a shop vacuum without duct tape? Some hose is always needing a little help to stay connected or to attach to another to allow the equipment longer reach. I made a little duct tape holder that holds that necessary accessory.

Oh yeh, the pictures show a shortened version of the hose that connects the cyclone to the vacuum. The one supplied with the kit is longer and kind of gets in the way. A pair of side cutters and a utility knife will help you make that issue go away.

Then too, I felt a stiffener was necessary between where the cyclone and the lid to the top of the five gallon bucket connect. Some 1/8” chipboard doughnuts were easy to produce. I put one on each side of the lid and got some slightly longer bolts to hold everything together.

Voila! That’s one BIG improvement on an already great idea. Check it out for yourself. I know that one man’s wisdom is another man’s folly. But Dave said that he wished that I had cut out two while I was at it. He sees the wisdom and is looking to add one of these to his shop now. There’s wisdom in making a great tool even better. Don’t you agree?

Until next time…spray on!

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