DIY Dust Cyclone A Traffic Cop Would Be Proud Of

Dust Separator

Sure, having a wood shop is super handy but it also can get real dusty. Hooking up a shop vac to suck up dust coming off a wood-cutting machine works for all of 3 minutes before the vacuum’s filter gets clogged with dust. There is a solution, though, and it is called a dust separator.

A dust separator does just as its name suggests, it separates dust from air. There is a common type of dust separator made in the DIY community, it has a cone-shaped body and is generally referred to as a cyclone-style. [Dror] built his own cyclonic dust collector out of an odd object… a traffic cone. Looking at it now, we wonder why this isn’t much more common!

The dusty air enters the PVC pipe and ends up spinning around the inside of the cone. Since the dust particles have mass, they are thrown to the outside of this chamber as they spin. They lose speed and drop down into the 5 gallon bucket below. The dust-free air then outlets through the top of the dust separator which is connected to a shop vac.

You’ll notice that [Dror] decided to use threaded rod to hold his separator pieces together. While this may seem like overkill, he had tried several glues and could not get any to stick to the traffic cone!

If you’d like to get in on the dust separator action but don’t have a traffic cone, they can also be 3D printed or made from metal.

45 thoughts on “DIY Dust Cyclone A Traffic Cop Would Be Proud Of

  1. The threaded rod makes changing the cone easy – in the UK at least traffic cones are made of a UV degradable plastic. Won’t be so quick indoors of course, but if left exposed to daylight after about 12 months they have the strength of tissue paper and just fall apart if touched.

    1. Doesnt really make noise. However I have heard that the cyclone isn’t good for filters life as it only collects fine dust. At the very least it would be hard to evaluate the vacuums filter life based on the number of ’empties’ you’ve done

      1. It seems you yourself have a sever grammatical issue as well. In your choice to use an ellipsis to shorten the article’s text, you have used only 3 periods. When placing an ellipsis at the end of a quotation to indicate the omission of material, use four points — a three-point ellipsis and a period. The ellipsis should follow a blank space.

        I think everyone can agree you have shamed not only yourself, but also all readers of Hack-a-Day. Surely, in the future, you will be more careful with grammar – it is not a toy. It is a tool. It must be used properly.

  2. Great build but there’s a problem with using plastic for this application – static electricity. A lot of the woodworking boards spend a lot of time arguing about the likelihood of a dust explosion, ignition or life-ending sparks, but I can vouch for getting an a**-kicking shock out of these things. You could play with antistatic coatings etc. but metal wire/mesh doesn’t really help.

    1. Static hurts but that’s about it. When I’m cleaning my floor with my shop vac, the hose often gets enough charge to start zapping me through my tennis shoes. It’s especially bad in the winter up here in Denver so I usually just take off a shoe so the discharges are just a tingle instead of audible pops.

  3. “he had tried several glues and could not get any to stick to the traffic cone”

    That’s because it’s vinyl/PVC. The easiest way would be to use PVC primer/cement. Another method would be to obtain a PE traffic cone and use EVA based hotglue.

    Threaded rod is extremely cheap and strong for this application. How is that overkill?

  4. I just used the second bucket as the collector and it works amazing. kind of like this guys: except I just used pvc fittings from the hardware store. I also ducted the “Outlet” lol to outside so even the finest dust doesn’t lay around. that and sequestering the cnc router in a small room is all I need. I’ve seen people use rolls of 6mil clear plastic sheeting to constructed a cheap “room” around their machines. can’t hurt

    1. I used a smaller height bucket to achieve the same effect. Now I need to find a translucent bucket so I can see when the bucket needs emptying. the item on thingverse and others on Instructables work very well. And cost much less than stuff from Amazon.

    1. I guess the threaded rods would hold the cone open (at least in the up/down direction), and you could just extend them down to the bottom of the bucket to brace that if you had to.
      If you’ve got that powerful a vacuum you probably want to build it out of stronger materials though.

    2. In the comments he says:
      “As a matter of fact, if I block the pipe by hand while the vaccum is working the bucket walls collapse inside.
      I intend to take another bucket and remove its base and the upper lip and push it inside so it gives better wall bucket support.”

    1. I don’t see any promotion of theft in this blog post.
      From the article: “It is made with a cone sold for sports usage.”
      It’s also pretty clear from the image that it was purchased for the purpose (no road grime, official markings, etc.)
      Besides, no gub’ment ever needed an excuse to raise taxes :P

  5. Just how far into the cone did you extend the outlet pipe? You failed to show that important detail in the photos. I believe that it should extend past the inlet but would like to know what you found would work best.

  6. I need a design for one that will separate out fine powder from still usable glass bead or sand, without sending either into the shop vac. Then I can dispose of the powder and put the coarser stuff back into the blasting cabinets.

    1. Try connecting your vacuum hose to the top of a 5 gallon water cooler jug cut in half heightwise. You get high flow to move the dust but low vacuum to leave the glass behind.

  7. Why would you ever 3D print a cone? That seems terribly inefficient, especially when you can buy cheap cones for soccer or other sports at a sports store or online.

    On a side note, these cheap sports cones may bond better with different adhesives

  8. This actually is fairly common. In fact, if you type “traffic cone” into a youtube search, the very first suggestion (for me, anyway) is “traffic cone dust collector.” The reason why it isn’t *more* common is because the walls on most traffic cones get sucked in by the vacuum without additional supports.

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