OK, I'll admit it. When I first saw  Oneida Air Systems' Dust Deputy ( see video ), I thought it was a playful gimmick to arrest trade show booth traffic rather than a real tool. Now, after regularly using it in the shop, I'll have to turn myself in as a confessed convert to this miniature dust collection device.

Oneida's  Dust Deputy is a translucent plastic cyclone separator not much more than a foot tall that mounts on top of a 5-gallon plastic bucket. When coupled to common shop vacuums, the system is designed to improve the efficiency of the shop vacuum as well as reduce clogged filters.

How it works  

Despite its size, the Dust Deputy works really no differently than large conventional cyclone separators. Dust is pulled through the separator, where the cyclonic action separates the heavy particles. Those drop down into the bucket, leaving only the finest dust to continue on into the vacuum's filter bag. Oneida says the patented device separates out 99 percent of the dust before it reaches the shop vacuum.

In my tests, I was genuinely impressed with how much dust wound up in the bucket. You can easily see the cyclone working through the translucent plastic. It also seemed like the vacuums I tried it on all worked more efficiently with the mini-cyclone attachment. Oneida recommends adding a HEPA filter unit for even cleaner air, but we did not try that.

What's it good for?  

As soon as I started using the Dust Deputy I didn't want to use a shop vacuum without it. Even when coupled to my very efficient Festool shop vacuum it seemed to make a difference, and I'd expect it to save me money in not having to replace expensive filter bags so often. When hooked up to an old Sears shop vacuum I got similar positive results. I especially enjoyed the easier change-out of the 5-gallon dust bucket instead of wrestling the heavy motor-laden lid off the old Sears unit.

A Dust Deputy kit with the mini-cyclone, hose, snap plastic lid and two 5-gallon buckets and the hardware needed to put it together runs $99. There's also a larger Super Dust Deputy designed to turn single-stage collectors into more efficient cyclone dust collectors. That system includes a steel cyclone with steel drum and at this publication is listed at less than $300 direct from Oneida.

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