Home Made Dust Collection?


I need some form of dust collection for my polishing lathe (1/4 hp
Baldor). I don’t have the available cash for an high quality
collector made specifically for the task.

I’m considering a Shop-Vac for the time being. Cheap and relativley
powerful and should hold me over.

Anyone tried this or other appraoches for less than $75-$100?


Warren Allen
Whatrix Designs

Warren- i supposeyou feel the shop vac is better than nothing,i
found this method to be annoying in the long run. i would suggest
you find a heating and air cond shop with an accessible dumpster.
now, in or around this dumpster you should eventually locate a
squirrl cage blower or fan which is what you need ! why because it
will produce torque. it takes a 3/4 hp motor to pull the flow needed
to effectivly keep your work space from being coated with dust. if
you mount this thing up inside lets say an old file cabinet put a
really and i mean really good filter in it seal it up with some
plywood and caulking you might get away with your situation for
cheap. but if at all possible you should scour the internet for a
good price on one because. my time is ( due to experience) better
spent making jewelry rather than equipment. good luck- goo

I just recently replaced the buffer at the school where I teach. I
found that with very little retrofit, a one gallon, one horse shop
vac works great as a dust collecter


Hi Warren;

I’ve known people to use a Shop-Vac, but they are quite loud. Day
before yesterday, I went to buy one of those very small ones to use
in my shop to vacuum out my buffing machine’s collector. I already
had one, but my wife kept borrowing it to do the carpet strip on our
stairs at home. I also use it to vacuum out the mini-van, so I bought
a replacement and let us keep the first one at home. Well, while I
was there at a local store called “Valu Home” they had large models
of a brand other than Shop-Vac, the brand name I can’t recall, but
what I noticed was that these were touted as “Quiet”. Might start
looking around for this new quiet shop vac. You might also have seen
a chain of stores specializing in woodworkers tools. They had large
shop dust collectors designed to collect sawdust. These are cheaper
than those designed for jewelry work, but they might not be ideal for
collecting the finer dust that comes from our work. However, what
they did have was a selection of hoses and funnels and hoods that
could hook up to these collectors, and I seem to remember they even
had apparatus for connection to the typical Shop-Vac. You could look
around for these things and probably put together a satisfactory dust
collection system.

David L. Huffman


Yep - I had posted a while ago about my homemade dust collection
setup. Works beautifully.

I use a small shop-vac with the widest of the flat ends mounted to
the hose. The end is screwed down tightly to the top of an old end
table (perfect height when seated) with window screen screwed down
over it (prevents pieces from getting sucked in). The entire
collection end of the thing is in a box (started with carboard, which
lasted me a couple of years - finally broke down and built a small
one out of plywood), which is covered in duct tape on the inside
(makes it slick enough to clean, rather than collecting dust
particles. The box is also fastened to the top of the table.

I plug both the shop-vac and the polisher into the same surge strip
and use that as my on-off switch – that way, one doesn’t turn on
without the other.

It really does work quite nicely. I think the entire setup cost
about $40.

Karen Goeller

For years I used a decent canister vacuum, less than $100, with a
HEPA filter. I hung it on the wall, and on the intake end I taped
the top part of a big funnel. I also attatched a U-shaped hook of
flat aluminum rod to the side, just under the funnel. I could either
hang the funnel over one leg, or attach with the hook to a vise that
could be angled in different directions. It actually worked pretty
well, but I wouldn’t trade it for the more professional system I
have now. I think it was way better than the average shop vac,
however. Good luck!

Allan Mason

Hello Orchidians,

I’m in the beginnings of reconstructing my workshop after our move
to new digs and I thought I would try to recreate ad upgrade my
dust/fume collection system. In the process I’ll pass along my
proverbial 2 cents worth.

First, I would never, never use a shop vac because every one I’ve
ever known has been intolerably noisy. I hate noise. One of the joys
of my metalwork is that, generally speaking, it provides a
relatively quieter work environment compared to the 40 years of
woodworking machinery I’ve worked around. Oh sure, tap tap tap and
scratch scratch but no multi-horsepower, howling, brain-scrambling

In my jewelry/metal shop I divide the dust/fume collection chores
into two categories.

First - the areas which did not require high volume/high speed
extraction - pickling and soldering.

The second category area is to do with grinding/buffing and the like
where the machinery tends to throw stuff in all directions.

For the first category I supplied myself with a few of those little
cooling fans that come from computers. They are light, small and
quiet, run on low voltage DC current and, if you know anyone who
repairs and services computers you can get them for nothing or next
to nothing. Local surplus store here was selling them by the
barrelful for a couple of bucks each. To power them rummage through
that pile of old AC/DC transformers that every 21st century
household accumulates in the back of the “miscellaneous” stash. The
ones left over from your kids’ slot-racing cars (remember them?) or
your old cassette players (remember them?) Find the one that
delivers the output your fan needs - usually 12 volts. Or, sigh, you
can buy one at Radio Shack - Cheap! The wiring to the fans can be
very light stuff, like speaker wire. Run it where you want, fix it
in place with tape or staples, no worries about dangerous shocks or
hiring electricians. Install a simple toggle switch (Radio Shack
again) where it is handy. I found some fans that were just the right
size to be a friction fit inside the flexible plastic ducting
normally used for clothes dryer exhaust. Slipped 'em right inside
the duct, wrapped some tape tightly around the outside to hold 'em
in place, poke a hole in the side of the duct for the little wire
ends to stick out and hook up to the power and we’re away. The
outside end of the duct goes through the wall of the shop with the
same dirt-cheap fittings you’d use to install your clothes dryer.
The “business end” of the duct can be adapted to the task it serves.

For my pickle pot - I had the pickle on a small electric hotplate
which sat inside an enclosure - essentially a simple plywood box on
a bench top. The front of the enclosure was hinged like a door. The
exhaust duct came down to a hole in the top of the box and kept
enough airflow going up and out of the shop so I didn’t accumulate
acid fumes and condensing steam on everything. The sound is almost

For soldering - a similar arangement except the “fumehood” at the
business end was made of a galvanized bucket, upside down, with a
portion of the side of the bucket cut away to allow a big enough
opening so I can manipulate torch, solder etc. I used the cut-away
piece of the side of the bucket to make a sort of baffle near the
hole in what was the bottom of the bucket (now the top) to prevent
flame and streams of very hot gas from going directly up into the
duct without first mixing with the ambient airflow. This might not
be sufficient precaution if working with large flames but was OK for
ordinary small soldering operations. The whole bucket was hung from
above with a small pulley so it could be hauled up and out of the
way - or lowered down onto bench top for soldering operations. Never
had a problem and it was also quiet. Also it was relatively dark
inside the bucket so I could more easily see the color of the metal
as it was heated.

The advantage of these small fans, aside from the quietness,is that
they don’t suck all the heat out of your shop in the wintertime.

IMPORTANT - Make sure you test to see that the fans are blowing the
right direction when you install them - to the outside, not inside.

For larger volume extraction I am going to improve on a system I
used in my last shop. In that one I had a squirrel-cage blower
(sucker) mounted under one end of a bench. This blower was salvaged
out of what had been one of those Jenn-Air type cooktops. I ran a 5"
sheet metal duct along the back of the bench and had inlets to it
for buffer, grinder etc. Each machine lived in a box, open at front
for access and with outlet at back into the exhaust duct. The
fittings; elbows, tee’s etc, can be found at heating suppliers. A
pair of tin snips and some sheet metal screws are about all you need
to adapt these to your needs.

The upgrade I am planning is an adaptation of a system I invented to
deal with another problem entirely. We live with a large family of
cats and a few years ago we moved from our large country acreage to
a house in the big bad city where we would not want our cats roaming
free. Thus the use of the indoor catbox escalated exponentially and
also the accumulation of dust and odours therewith associated. What
to do? I had placed the box under a counter in the laundry room,
curtained off the entry to the area, but that just concentrated the

The solution - Under the counter I installed one of those heat and
motion detector lights you see often installed outside houses and
garages. These have two light sockets. I removed one of the lights
and ran the wires from that light to a bathroom exhaust fan which
vented outside. Thus when a cat entered the area it activated light
and exhaust fan which ran on for about 12 minutes after being
activated - long enough for the cat to finish his business and cover
it up. This was also a great help to the humans who had to get down
and scoop the clumps out twice a day - plenty of light and no dust
or smell in your face.

Now I am going to install a similar arrangement with my buffer so
that I don’t have to turn on the exhaust fan (and then remember to
turn it off again) every time I want to use the machine. When I
stick my hands within working distance of the machine, a motion
detector will turn on a light and the exhaust fan automatically.
That’s my fantasy. Again, when I am done it will turn off
automatically fairly soon (the time delay is adjustable) and won’t
be sucking heat out of the shop if I get trancy and forget to turn
it off.

What I would do differently if I can find the parts. I’d like to
find a couple of those Jenn-Air or similar cooktops. When you remove
and discard all the burners what you have left is a wonderful sturdy
stainless steel pan - about 20" by 30" and a few inches deep - with
a flange around the edge for easy mounting into a benchtop. At the
bottom of the pan is the exhaust fan -also a drain hole or two into
a reservoir to catch any liquid spills or drips. Very tidy. Instead
of removing the exhaust fan, discarding the rest of the cooktop, and
cobbling together all that ductwork as I described above - I should
have left the fan attached and installed the whole pan into the
benchtop. I could then cover the whole top opening (where the
burners used to be) with a sturdy screen to catch dropped pieces,
set the buffer right on top of that, and have a downdraft extractor
right there in the benchtop - much easier!

What else I would have done differently if I only had a brain - I
would have paid a whole lot more attention to things like dust,
noise, etc when I was an invulnerable macho young hero. Some damage
has been done while I took my sweet time to learn about these

Marty in Victoria where I just put up a few Xmas lights - What a
handy guy, eh?

Yep - I had posted a while ago about my homemade dust collection
setup. Works beautifully. 

I set up my dust collection system using Karen’s system, and it
works beautifully.

I’ve found that using a relatively small box helps contain the dust
from the outset and makes the suction more efficient. And shop-vacs
vary widely in their noise output. The first one I had was extremely
noisy, as well as being entirely too big for the job. My current
shop- vac is quite small, relatively quiet, and has good suction.

Janet Kofoed

I mentioned this in a post in another thread, but figured it was
actually more pertinent here…

Penn State Industries is a company that specializes in wood working
/ wood turning supplies, including lathes, chisels, polishing, etc.
They have an extensive selection of components and systems for dust
collection, ranging from the simplest hoses and ends and
home/hobbyist systems, to heavy-duty industrial systems.

They also have a good selection of used machines, components, etc.

You can find them online at www.pennstateind.com or 800-377-7297.
They also have a storefront in the Philmont section of Philadelphia.


Karen Goeller