TabLeft Workshop

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Bucket Vac Cyclone Separator

I have a pretty poor power setup in my shop, and a large vacuum can trip the breaker when used with many of the tools. I generally use my bucket vac because it works surprisingly well considering the low amp draw and size.

However once the filter becomes dirty the suction is dramatically decreased. I figured i could build a smaller modified version of my trash can dust collector(, but rather than having a separate assembly why not just use the vacuum itself as the top of the collector.

== This configuration has several advantages ==
• contained unit, no need to deal with a separate bucket and hose.
• far more portable
• consistant suction.
• no filters to clog or replace
• low cost
• can still be use in original configuration for wet applications.
== Details ==
• Vacuum used is a Bucket head wet/dry vac from home depot with a regular 5 gallon bucket. An additional bucket is cut down to provide the top rim.

• The base is 3/4″ ply cut to a 14″ circle with an 11,1/4″ inner circle removed as the inner baffle.

• Side wall is 8″ tall 1/16″ polycarbonate which i purchased from

• The baffle has 1,1/2″ gap cut 1/3 of the way around. I used 1/3 cutout rather than a 2/3 cutout like a Thien baffle because it works fine and is more stabile in the application. The gap should be positioned just behind the inlet port.

• The down spout is a 3/4″ pvc coupler and 3/4″ pvc elbow joined with a 1″ coupler to prevent any internal constriction. I tapered one end to make it easer to fit into the vacuum port.


  1. Sorry if I am a bit thick but I’m trying to understand the point of your separator. I see on the video there is an inlet, tangential to the side wall. There is an exit at the top and a bucket at the bottom. Who doesn’t the dust just whizz from the side and out the top?

    I have a noisy Dewalt vacuum which may just suit your idea once I understand the principle.


    • What happens is that the air current coming in from the side induces a cyclone in the chamber. all the debris is caught in the current and centrifugally forced to the outside wall away from the outlet where is gathers up and and is slowed by friction on the outside wall. This causes it to fall out of the air stream and fall through the slot in the bottom baffle and into the collection chamber. Because the inlet and outlet are not oriented in a way that they would efficiently have access to the same air stream and the air current wants to persist in then same direction as it enters, it rides the wall rather than going straight up the outlet until enough air enters the system that it essentially overflows out the exhaust. But by that time the air has been sufficiently cleaned for my purposes.

      Hope that helps and thanks for watching,
      Ray (TabLeft)

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