Why use a cyclone on your vac for power tools?

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Doug71

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As the title says, asking this as many people seem to use them and recommend them but I have never really understood why?

I have a Festool CT36 which I use with my router, plunge saw, domino etc, works really well, takes ages to fill a bag and the filters never seem to get dirty.

I see these homemade systems with pipes all over the place and talk of pressure relief valves etc, it all seems very complicated.

Is the purpose of a cyclone to save on bags, keep the filter cleaner and give a small, cheap extractor more capacity?

I like how I just remove the full bag from the CT, throw it away and fit a new one where with cyclones you seem to end up with a bucket (or barrel) full of dust and shavings to dispose of.

I can understand using one if there was loads of really fine dust (plaster?) or if you want to really increase collection capacity but if it's hooked up to a PT or something surely you would want a bigger extractor anyway?

I know big ones work well on a bigger scale for machinery when you have 4"+ pipes but never seen the need for one on a shop vac type extractor.

Surely if they were an essential every power tool manufacturer would be selling a ready made all in one system/solution but I think the only one I know of is the Festool pre-separator.

I'm not knocking them, it's a genuine question as if I'm missing out it looks like it would be a fun project to build but I can't see what benefit it would give me?

Thanks, Doug
 

gog64

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If you make a lot of chips it saves on bags. If you are using a cheaper shop vacuum it saves the fine filter from clogging. The Festool (and others) work differently so only reason 1 applies. However those bags aren’t cheap…
 

Doug B

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I’ve been using a Dust Deputy by Oneida for 14 years on my shop it vac hooks up to all my hand held power tools.
Full steel construction so no need for pressure relief valves etc, the barrel holds considerably more than my little Festool vac so gets emptied much less frequently & as very little gets through to the vac the bags last an incredible time, my present bag is still working fine after 14 months so a big saving just in bags.
I’m so impressed with cyclones I’ve a second one for my site vac & I’ve just built a cyclone system for my main extractor. Post a photo of the last thing you made you’ll have to scroll down
 

ArtieFufkin

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I have a diy cyclone system in my garage workshop (with pipes all over the place) its connected to a £50 shop vac, the vac is in a vented wooden box under my main work bench for noise reduction reasons. It has all worked a treat for 4+ years now.
No bits in the shop vac or its filter and it takes many weeks or several months before I need to empty the blue barrel containing the dust.
running cost beyond power is zero.
 

Sandyn

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With a cyclone system you get 'full airflow' all the time. A bag will progressively get clogged and offer more resistance to airflow.

Most domestic vacuums use cyclones these days. The king of the cyclone cleaner is Dyson. I use one of the early Dyson DC01 cleaners for extraction from small tools. It works very well.
 

kinverkid

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I think it comes down to either how much you use certain tools. I don't use many hand held power tools besides drills. On the occasion I use a sander or router I'll hook it up to the portable vacuum but that's not often so I don't bother sending it through a cyclone first. I do use one on the other side of the workshop attached to the bandsaw, chop saw, radial arm saw, router table, table saw and planer thicknesser. The PT is the main reason though. It might take a while to fill my blue barrel from the other machines but the PT can fill it quite quickly depending how much I'm putting through it of course. When I do empty the barrel I may as well empty the vacuum. Every bit of chips and shavings go on the stove so nothing is wasted.
 

Bingy man

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If you make a lot of chips it saves on bags. If you are using a cheaper shop vacuum it saves the fine filter from clogging. The Festool (and others) work differently so only reason 1 applies. However those bags aren’t cheap…

I use a standard vac with my dust deputy as without it the filter clogs quickly and the vac then spews fine dust everywhere which is annoying when my work shop is basically a converted bedroom . Apart from that the dust emitted is then in the atmosphere for ages which I’m then breathing in . The festool extractor’s are excellent but expensive + the cost of replacing the bags . The main reason I went for the cyclone/ vac is a-I already had a vac , 2 the cyclone removes chips /dust / shavings into the collection bin or container before it gets to the vac and the important bit for myself and probably others is it’s portable so it can travel to the job with me . When I looked into regular dust collection units I found that they were all designed at 100 mm outlets and reducing them down to 40 or 50 mm was not recommended. I also have a 1400 watt numatic which I use for t/saw router table / p/t and bandsaw which is also connected to a dust deputy which also works well with no issues. It also takes up less space in a small workshop. Tbh these two vacs with the deputy,s and various hoses cover all my machines large and small -I don’t use or need pressure relief valves just an inlet and outlet to the tool being used .🤗🤗
 

Sideways

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One specific application where they are v useful is cleaning down a metalworking lathe.
You would't use a standard vacuum or a quality dust extractor for this because swarf can be covered in oil / coolant which you don't want in the vac, but with a cyclone & barrel the separation is good enough that you don't need to worry. Hoovering down the lathe is far easier than using a brush.

For woodworking tools that make only modest amounts of fine dust like the tracksaw, sander, bandsaw etc, there's little benefit and a noticeable loss of suction through the cyclone. You wouldn't bother lugging one to a jobsite or taking up space in a small shed for minimal benefit.

But - If you are cleaning up something more bulky like woodshavings from handwork or a chips from a powered planer, the cyclone will easily pay for itself. In my small workshop, one hepa filter bag in my extractor lasted over a year while I emptied the cyclone over a dozen times. A dozen bags would have cost most of £50 so even the good anti static cyclone broke even in the first year.
 

Orraloon

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I would say if you'r filter is not clogging up then you don't need a cyclone. The aim with a cyclone is to capture most of the dust before it gets to you'r shop vac so it helps keep the filter going longer. My vac is an old wet n dry and bagless. Good for wood chips but fine dust clogs the pleated filter pretty fast so I do use a small cyclone. When I empty the cyclone bin there is only perhaps a spoonful of dust in the vac itself. A cyclone does reduce the overall airflow of the system so only get one if its really needed .
Regards
John
 

Distinterior

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I do quite a bit of Solid Surface fabrication (Corian), and it is a messy process without really good dust extraction. I have a dedicated 11 litre capacity Festool dust extractor that I use when fabricating & sanding that is over 20 years old now (it still works perfectly well) and the paper dust bags are no longer made/sold for it.
So, I bought a no "Static" Dust Commander cyclone and made my own collection box that all fits neatly inside a Sys5 systainer.

Without the use of the cyclone, I would be getting through so many of the bags that are no longer available......The cyclone keeps the bags empty and suction is constant 👍

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OCtoolguy

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it's quite a coincidence that this topic came up. Just the other day I was emptying out the bucket where the sawdust from my table saw all goes and I was amazed that it was about 4/5's full. I'm using a 14 gal. Ridgid shop vac with the Home Depot Dusttopper cyclone that fits the top of a 5 gallon bucket. It works very well and I don't seem to realize any loss of airflow. If I am losing it, I'm not seeing it. I have a Dewalt DW745 jobsite saw that I have enclosed the bottom of and also did a interior wall on the saw blade enclosure so that the saw emits very little dust to the ground. This setup has saved me a fortune in bags and filters. When I inspected the drum of the shop vac, there was little to no dust in it. I'm sold on the cyclone systems.
 
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BillK

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I have one sat ontop of a steel chemical drum, with a £50 ash vac next to it. They sit on a small trolley made from ply and skip-ratted castors. It gets used on routers sometimes, spindle sander and hand power sanders, and mainly as general workshop vac cleaner. The cyclone/can stops the ash vac filter ever needing changing or cleaning and no bags needed, dead easy to empty out. It's probably the most-used thing in my place (bar the kettle :) ).
 

Bingy man

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it's quite a coincidence that this topic came up. Just the other day I was emptying out the bucket where the sawdust from my table saw all goes and I was amazed that it was about 4/5's full. I'm using a 14 gal. Ridgid shop vac with the Home Depot Dusttopper cyclone that fits the top of a 5 gallon bucket. It works very well and I don't seem to realize any loss of airflow. If I am losing it, I'm not seeing it. I have a Dewalt DW745 jobsite saw that I have enclosed the bottom of and also did a interior wall on the saw blade enclosure so that the saw emits very little dust to the ground. This setup has saved me a fortune in bags and filters. When I inspected the drum of the shop vac, there was little to no dust in it. I'm sold on the cyclone systems.
I have same or similar saw and would appreciate a few pics i
of your mods as a comparison to mine . I did have to seal the chamber that encloses the blade and used 68 mm down pipe to connect to my vac /cyclone and also tee,d off to provide extraction to the guard ..I discarded the adapter which came with the saw
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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As the title says, asking this as many people seem to use them and recommend them but I have never really understood why?

I have a Festool CT36 which I use with my router, plunge saw, domino etc, works really well, takes ages to fill a bag and the filters never seem to get dirty.

I see these homemade systems with pipes all over the place and talk of pressure relief valves etc, it all seems very complicated.

Is the purpose of a cyclone to save on bags, keep the filter cleaner and give a small, cheap extractor more capacity?

I like how I just remove the full bag from the CT, throw it away and fit a new one where with cyclones you seem to end up with a bucket (or barrel) full of dust and shavings to dispose of.

I can understand using one if there was loads of really fine dust (plaster?) or if you want to really increase collection capacity but if it's hooked up to a PT or something surely you would want a bigger extractor anyway?

I know big ones work well on a bigger scale for machinery when you have 4"+ pipes but never seen the need for one on a shop vac type extractor.

Surely if they were an essential every power tool manufacturer would be selling a ready made all in one system/solution but I think the only one I know of is the Festool pre-separator.

I'm not knocking them, it's a genuine question as if I'm missing out it looks like it would be a fun project to build but I can't see what benefit it would give me?

Thanks, Doug

Doug, like you I have a Festool vac. In my case a CT26e. These are fabulous vacs with HEPA filters. The downside of filtering is keeping them clean. What the cyclone done is filter out the bigger stuff, which will block fliters.

This is a pretty neat set up. The CT26e is now about 8 years old and going strong. The cyclone was picked up second hand. I'm not sure if they are still available ...

DD2.jpg


Easy to clean - just remove and toss the bag ...

Bags4.jpg


Regards from Perth

Derek
 

sploo

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Lots of good responses already, but my $0.02...

The problem with fine filters (the ones that will trap the really tiny particulates that are dangerous to human health) is that they will quickly get damaged (and clogged) if hit with large amounts of visible dust. Once clogged, you've then reduced the airflow so regardless of the quality of the filter you're now not capturing the dust at source (due to the reduced airflow).

You can "fix" this by using coarse filters; which are more robust, but they then just allow the dangerous fine particles to pass through (basically you've just created a dust pump that will fill your workshop with the bad stuff). This sort of system would be fine as a "chip collector"; used outside with, say, a planer/thicknesser.

A (good) cyclonic separator should capture just about any material or dust that's large enough to be visible, and drop it into a separate container; meaning that you can exhaust the airflow through a high quality fine filter (which will last for ages, and not get clogged). The fact that you can retrofit an existing extraction system with a cyclone and get a container that's larger than the original bag/bin capacity is just an extra benefit.

I have exactly the same Festool vac + Oneida cyclone that Derek's shown in his photos. The vac pretty much never puts anything into the bag, and the filter always looks clean.

One downside (other than the extra space/cost) is that cyclones do rob you of some airflow; so HVLP systems need to be sized accordingly. The Oneida system for the Festool (LVHP) vac seems to have little negative affect.
 

Sideways

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I've recounted this before but it's worth repeating.
I needed to clean the loft space of a large georgian house before woodworm treatment. The house had been reroofed many years ago and the loft space was v dirty. Rentokil said it needed to be cleaned down for the best treatment.
I opted to do the prep myself and after bagging up the insulation spent most of a week cleaning down the timbers and vacuuming out debris from the lath & plaster ceiling.
Access to the loft was 12 feet up and too tight for me to get a vacuum through (don't have a Henry) but I could just squeeze the cyclone barrel through. I left the vac below, ran 10m of 2" koi carp hose (horrid but cheap) up and into the loft with the cyclone and weighed the sacks of debris at the end of the job.
I collected almost my body weight of dust and plaster from the cyclone for a total of just a couple of hundred grams in the paper bags of the karcher.
But
I also used up a dozen "empty" bags in the karcher in the process. The v fine dust that made it through the cyclone choked them after an hour or so even though they were still effectively empty.
The cyclone worked vv well but it seems that the really fine stuff is what blocks your filters.
 

Ollie78

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Doug, like you I have a Festool vac. In my case a CT26e. These are fabulous vacs with HEPA filters. The downside of filtering is keeping them clean. What the cyclone done is filter out the bigger stuff, which will block fliters.

This is a pretty neat set up. The CT26e is now about 8 years old and going strong. The cyclone was picked up second hand. I'm not sure if they are still available ...

DD2.jpg


Easy to clean - just remove and toss the bag ...

Bags4.jpg


Regards from Perth

Derek

I have the exact same setup, it's pretty much perfect. Works better with the 36mm hose but I sometimes use the 27mm on the little router and the domino.

I find very little gets through to the main bag at all.
Must have saved hundreds in replacement bags.

Ollie
 

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