DIY Dust/Wood Chip Collector





Introduction: DIY Dust/Wood Chip Collector

This is a super easy way to build a dust/wood chip collector for your shop. Basically, this uses two buckets, two feet of PVC, some clamps, and some scraps laying around in most garages or basements. Very minimal cutting is required to create the cyclone effect.

I've been surprised at just how well this works. It can greatly extend the life of your Shop Vac motor and at the same time keep the suction consistent rather than declining as the Shop Vac filter clogs.

The video shows the full build.

For mobile devices - here is the link to the video:

After the unit was built I made a small cart to hold the vac and collector. It has been an awesome addition to my small shop.

Thanks for taking a look.



    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Clamping seems to be rather inefficient. Here is a possible improvement:

    We all know how these buckets stack well inside one another, just try pulling one out of another when trying to buy one....

    Cut a 3rd bucket in half (horizontally!), using the top 1/2 of the bucket as an extension to the top bucket. (Turn the other half into a neat bowl for parts bin.) Clean up the outer edges along the cut with a box knife and carve it a bit inward as you go. Next, PVC(or ABS?) glue that "ring" onto the top bucket, lip to lip, and add some other method to strengthen the overall connection (a few "C" shaped blocks of plastic perhaps?) Now when you connect, you simply insert the top "into" the bottom, removing the need to use any gaskets or clamps. The vacuum pressure should hold them together quite well. I'd also add two "feet" onto the bottom bucket - to step on when pulling the top back off of the bottom. Simple angle brackets should be more than sufficient. Grips/handles on the top bucket would also be helpful.

    3 replies

    Another good suggestion. Thanks. Using the clamps was just very quick and simple. The seal is rather tight and plenty good for my purposes.

    another option is the gamma lids You could glue the top bucket to the lid portion and cut out the middle. These lids seal really well.

    This is exactly what I did to make mine. I just need to re-glue and seal the bottom of the cyclone bucket to the screw off lid... I didn't do a great job on the first attempt. Other than that, it works great.

    Could someone confirm my thinking that the very basic principals for these is what I have sketched up? A feed hose from the top of the cylinder/cone connects to a hoover (or similar) with a feed on the side connected to the power tool(s). Presumably, the feed to the hoover need to extend into the cone far enough to limit the amount of dirt going straight up it ... and the feed from the power tool is best positioned at an angle to 'encourage' spin .... with everything mounted on top of a 'bin' letting gravity take care of dust removal.

    Does that sound about right?

    1 reply

    No sooner do I ask the question and I find a great picture which really shows how it works.


    Have you tried this with drywall sanding dust?

    I think I posted an identical comment in the wrong place...sorry tomx63!

    I built this as exact to yours as I possibly could. From the 5 gallon buckets from lowes, to the seal, clamps, same size fittings and PVC, everything. It worked great for about 2 min. then both buckets collapsed!! Any Ideas whats going on? How to fix this?

    3 replies

    Really? The bucket collapsed? How powerful of a vac is it? I don't notice mine being pulled from the sides even a little. And the vac has lost very little suction with the dust collector sitting in front of it.

    I was using a few of these blue Lowes buckets with my bucket topper shop vac when I plugged the filter and the increased suction collapsed the bucket. I went on to the next bucket and no problems, went back to the first (which I had collapsed) and it immediately collapsed again. I think my newly collapsed bucket is good for being a bucket only and not a bucket and shop vac catcher. My thoughts.

    Not sure...hmmmmm. Mine has worked perfectly with somewhat heavy use. No collapsing or even bending in. Did you use the blue buckets? I think the white ones of the same size were thinner.

    Really great instructable! thanks for posting. cheap
    solution for the bucket tipping issue, assuming you've not already addressed
    it. Buy a third bucket and fill a 3rd of it with something weighted like crushed rock, pea gravel. anything that will provide a relatively
    flat bottom, and set the dust collector in that to stabilize it.

    I am able to procure 55 gallon steel drums where I work. I built something exactly like this and with 6" ducting, remounted the vacuum head directly to the top of the drum to which I welded another drum below. This is the best dust separator I have ever had, it replaced the industrial unit I bought and grew sick and tired of constantly emptying/cleaning. The dust bag, over the air filter, stays clean and my work area is always clean. This the best thing anyone can build for their wood shop. This is a fantastic Instructable!!

    1 reply

    Thank you for your time and comments. This little dust collector has been extremely helpful in my small shop and should have been built years ago.

    What a great and easy tutorial! My only question is I know you used 2 inch PVC pipe and coupling but what size is in between the 90 degree elbow and the shop vac's attachment?
    Also, I was watching this and my wife commented how relaxing and nice the music was...then we saw it was you! Very nice indeed!

    2 replies

    Thank you for your comments. The connector pipe between the 90 degree elbow is just another small section of 2" pipe. I put a circle or two of duct tape to hold it a slight bit tighter. The black part at the Shop Vac is just part of the Shop Vac attachment. I'll attach some pictures that might help.


    Perfect! Thank you so much for the reply/pictures! Looking forward to doing this! Thanks again!

    a really practical, simple project. Thanks!


    I'm thinking of making a leaf vac using this setup! I came across an old electric weed-eater that I'm thinking of putting in the bottom of the bucket.

    Firehouse Subs sells their red 5-gallon pickle buckets for $2.00 each with the proceeds going to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. My Dust/Chip collector is going to be red!