I have several woodworking tools and a 16 gal shop vac. I would like to use
the shop vac with hoses to suck away sawdust but I have been led to believe
that you need one of those specialty items. Is this correct or can the shop
vac work fine? I am even willing to buy a special attachment. I just don't
have the extra money/room for one of those specialty things.
What tools do you want to use it with? A shop vac is fine for sanders or
routers. You need a dust collector where you have to deal with larger
quantities of air, like a planner or jointer. Nothing works very well on a
table saw or a miter saw.
it'll work fine for some things. to find out if any of those things
are the things you do, try it.
you'll be making fittings and dust shrouds as you go. get familliar
with the stock of plastic plumbing fittings at your local hardware
store and have at it.
before I got a dust collector I used my shopvac for one. for most
things it was adequate.
A shop vacuum can work up to a point. I often hook mine up to an individual
tool such as a spindle sander or bandsaw when I am going to use them for
quite some time. It does great. However, I doubt that it could support
more than one tool at a time, or pull through long run of hose like the
dedicated collectors can.
If you have the time and some materials it might be a pretty neat and useful
experiment to see how much service it can provide.
I've used my Shopvac vacuum up until about 4 weeks ago, when I bought a
Delta dust collector at Lowe's ($159). Let me just say, my Shopvac-brand
shopvac really "sucks"!! And, that's a GOOD thing with a vacuum!! It has
served me well up until now, but you can really tell the difference between
the shopvac and the dedicated Dust Collector on the jointer and planer, as
one of the other poster's mentioned. BTW, I'd been looking at 2 hp DC's
from Harbor Freight and Penn State before I bought the 1 hp Delta.
Amazingly, I had an attack of common sense, and was able to merge my desire
for a powerful DC with a realistic view of how I work and use my tools, so I
saved myself some money for once! :-)
My one recommendation for using the shopvac is to get one of those cyclone
tops for a garbage can. It made a world of difference in cleaning out the
shopvac. I'd estimate ("SWAG") that the cyclone top and garbage can cut my
cleaning out the shopvac in half, and really didn't affect the performance
of the shopvac (note my shopvac is a Shopvac-brand with a "5 hp" motor).
Almost no build up in the tank of the shopvac. It also made it easy and
convenient to dump the waste chips and dust.
I bought my cyclone top from Lee Valley, however, many other WW outlets
carry them - Woodcraft, Hartville, etc. They run about $30 +/-. I got a
Rubbermaid garbage can at Lowes for about $25 (I found the exact same can at
Home Depot about a week later for $15.95 on a sale/clearance). This set-up
makes all the difference, and I strongly recommend it.
How does the noise level of the DC compare to that of the shop vac? Tucked
away in a corner of the garage somewhere, can the DC be left on for hours at
a time while you work, or do you need to turn if on/off when finishing tool
usage for a while? Right now, I turn my shop vac on and off each time I use
a power tool. It's rather annoying...
A real DC can be left on all day, and most are quiet enough they are hard to
notice, particularly compared to a typical shopvac... My DC is in a separate
shed on the outside wall of my workshop, and I need to have a light to tell me
it's on, otherwise, I'll get back into the house and the SWMBO will tell me I
left something on in the workshop (workshop is about 75 feet downwind from the
house, and we keep our windows open in the house all year round -- we live in
Hawaii and it rarely gets cold enough to need to close windows).
A decent DC is worth every dollar you spend for it.. If I were going to do it
again, I'd double the DC size, though, as once you have one, you'll find a bunch
of things you want to hook it up to, and the longer runs of piping require
higher HP on the DC to overcome the friction of long piping runs...
Mike Pio wrote:
I'm not Nick, but here's my experience.
My shopvac (HD brand) screams a highpitched, loud, annoying sound. Hearing
protection is a must, for me, even if I'm not using any other tool.
I have had a Shopsmith DC for about four years. Think large shopvac, with
a plastic catch bag and a small filter bag. Quieter, and cheaper to run.
But it's a dust pump, and way overpriced. But you don't have to buy
filters at $15 each, either.
The 1.5 hp Delta 50-850 was what I chose. Added a LARGE, heavy felt bag,
and built a trash can seperator. Threw caution to the wind, and plumbed
the system with 4" PVC pipe. It lives in the garage/shop/studio with me,
and rumbles along in the background. Conversation is no problem, and the
pitch doesn't cause me a headache.
If you build or buy a trash can seperator, and run your shop vac only when
need it, and wear your hearing protection, it should do just fine. Until
you decide that it doesn't suit you any longer.
Remember, your father probably just used a broom.
The DC noise level is more "muted" than the shopvac - a lower tone. Not
nearly as loud as the shopvac. I usually wear ear protection, no matter
what, so it's not really a factor for me. As to leaving it on for an
extended time, I haven't. Not from the noise so much as the cost (?). I
just assume that running a 1 hp motor continuously will really cost - I have
nothing solid to back that up, it just seems logical. If I'm moving from
the jointer to the planer fairly soon, I just leave it on. Otherwise, I
turn it off - it's fairly accessible, so it's not too bad.
One day, I'll have the automatic sensor that senses the blast gate being
opened and starts the DC. I haven't had a chance to install the blast gates
yet - I was still trying to figure out how to couple them into the hose
line, but I think I have that figured out now. I have to go to Woodcraft,
Wilkie Machinery or Penn State and get some additional fittings.
Well, as long as we're talking about shop-vacs and dust collectors . . . my
5(or is it 6?)HP(right!) Shop-Vac brand just bit the bullet. Started slowing
down after about 3 or 4 minutes, stinking and you could see a LOT of brush
arcing. When I shut it off, made a lot of squeaking until it finally
stopped. Pulled it apart, oiled the top bearing(bushing). Still lots of
brush arcing, spitting the occasional spark out of the top, but the bearing
is quiet. Called a local tool repair who is listed as Shop-Vac repair
facility, he said "Yes, I can order a new motor for you, but for another $5
you can probably replace the whole unit." Guess I'll go shopping!
DC noise . . My 1HP Griz can run anytime! VERY quiet compared to any
shop-vac I have ever heard. I have a metal garbage can cyclone, and 2
lengths of 4" hose. The DC stays in one place near center of sh^H^H^H
basement, and I can't really figure out how to plumb it with 4' PVC that
will be effective without me running into the piping with my head(low
ceiling). This setup works very well for me. Cool to watch the chips flying
through the hose when using the DW planer, and it works a whole lot better
than the shop-vac, gets more of the chips instead of them flying around in
The law of intelligent tinkering: save all the parts.
I've got a Penn State 1.5HP DC with a giant muffler attached to it, along with a
garbage can cyclone. Mine is very quiet also; much more so than that damned
Shop Vac that I was using before. I had to wear muffs with the Shop vac, but
you can easily carry on a conversation with the DC. It was a very pleasant
I've got a combination of 2 1/2" tubing, 4" tubing, and 4" PVC along with
various fittings. So far nothing's blown up.
Just came back inside from planing about 50 bf of rough sawn red oak from 15/16
to about 3/4. Using my Ridgid 16 gallon shop vac hooked to the planer, I had
to empty the vac 4 times and it was full up to the top each time. BUT, without
it I would'nt be able to use my tools inside my garage and I think it does a
pretty good job on one tool at a time. I do have a small cyclone lid for a 5
gallon bucket but it's totally useless. Anything small enough to be classified
as sawdust just gets sucked into the 5 gallon bucket and right back out into
the vacuum. I might try adapting it to a larger can.
Mike in Arkansas
Take a look at what Woody did here, for cheap, and see if you can adapt it
for your set up. I did one, and it works pretty well. I put the outlet
side, to the vac/DC, in the center, and used a couple of sweep 90's to hook
up on the tool side, 1 up, 1 down, and pointing towards the side of the
can, to help with the swirl. Your vac should have sufficient power to
Depends on the tool you are connecting to. I find that my 16gal
shopvac works adequately for my table saw and bandsaw (marginal BUT
workable), but does NOT have the airflow/suction needed for my
planner. Planner might work with a cobbled together 2 ShopVacs to get
However, realize that the shopvacs are NOT the ideal solution here
What most ww'ers don't realize is that the planer puts out dust in a 4"
square chamber or about 16 sq in area. (required so the 4" hose can fit
the collection hood) The DC hose has a vacuum in a 12.56 sq in area
where it is dropped to the 16 sq in area creating a 25% loss at the hose
to hood change. The shop vac will work well if the collection hood is
designed to allow the air flow of the shop vac and not a DC.
My planer works on a 2.5 in hose which has a special built smaller
collection hood that allows the air flow of the DC used to move the air
in the collection hood. The the dust will flow with the air flow to the
separation can like any quality DC.
You see, some WW'ers think that the tool collection hood has to stay
fixed at 4" and the DC or dust collection has to be built around that.
That's because if the wrong size of DC or DC hoses are used, there is no
air flow and so the change is made to the DC side of the system.
Try this. Use the planer as usual allowing the dust to spread on the
floor. Then run the shop vac into the pile of dust as you clean up.
Notice how fast the dust is moved from the floor as you sweep. That is
because the floor brush id designed to work with the air flow of the
shop vac. If the dust collection hood was designed to work with the
shop vac, the dust would be removed just as fast. I know, my system
works on 2.5 in lines which includes the planer and TS.
Check out my Web Page at:
Where you will find:
******** How My Shop Works ******** 5-21-03
* ** Build a $20 DC Separator Can Lid. 1-14-03
** * DC Relay Box Building Plans. 1-14-03
* ** The Bad Air Your Breath Everyday.1-14-03
** * What is a Real Woodworker? 2-8-03
* ** Murphy's Woodworking Definitions. 2-8-03
** * Murphy's Woodworking Laws. 4-6-03
* ** What is the true meaning of life? 1-14-03
** * Woodworker Shop Signs. 2-8-03
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