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Thread: Using dust collector as shop vac in small shop

  1. #1
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    Using dust collector as shop vac in small shop

    I have found quite a bit of discussion of using a shop vac as a dust collector. My question is about using a dust collector as a shop vac. I have a 3 hp cyclone with 3 gated connections. One is "permanently" attached to a table saw, a second is used to connect to whatever machine I am using, and the third is currently unused.

    My shop is small (about 16'x22'). A 13 foot hose should let me reach into the furthest corners. i have seen floor sweeps that would let me sweep the floor into a fixed spot and have the DC pick it up. Instead of a floor sweep, I think i would get more utility from having a vacuum hose attached as the third connection. I could then put the shop vac in another room and retrieve it when needed for something when the DC was not appropriate. I'm even thinking of using a 1 1/4 inch hose instead of the 2 1/2 inch hose my vacuum uses. The smaller hose would take up less room and could easily be coiled and hung up on a wall. If I did this, I wouldn't be moving the vacuum and its hose nearly as much as I do now. Although moving the vacuum only results in a small increase in floor space, much of the floor space is already permanently occupied with work bench, table saw, band saw, etc. so that moving the vacuum to another room is very functional.

    Does anyone do this or something similar?

    What are the pros and cons?

    Would the 1 1/4 inch hose just be too small?

    Other suggestions?

    Thank you for any advice.

  2. #2
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    Hi, before I purchased a Festool Vacuum I used my cyclone for the sander.

    I would open a 5 inch gate and the gate for the small hose so that the cyclone had some airflow.

    It worked fine although the cyclone filter would plug faster so I went with the vacuum.

    I still use the cyclone for bulk floor cleanups with a 4 inch hose and one of those floor sweeps with the 2 wheels and a handle.

    Dust collectors don't have enough vacuum for true vacuuming however for cleaning up the big stuff they work great...........Rod.

  3. #3
    The dust collector with small diameter hose will not have the suction equal to a shop vac. But it will certainly draw in saw dust.
    You could probably get a hose and adapters for $20 and see if it's adequate.

  4. #4
    I do this. I have a 4" drop in the center of my two car garage with 20' of 4" flex tube attached. It allows me to get to all parts of the shop, and sweep up.

    A couple of caveats:
    1) I got the Rockler 4" sweeping attachment that goes to their quick disconnect. This is poorly made and the magnet and the wheels have already fallen off with a month's worth of light use. I would suggest everybody stay away.

    2) This is a BAD idea for anybody with a single stage collector (not you) because the fan will pull everything into it, meaning that larger bits can quickly beat up a collector.
    Last edited by Andrew More; 07-30-2019 at 5:45 PM.

  5. #5
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    You can buy good shop vacs at Lowes and Home Depot for not a lot of money. And, they will do the job.

  6. #6
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    I don’t see why you’d want to use an big expensive cyclone on cleaning the floors. Just use a shop vac with a long hose. Then vacuum up anything you want like screws nuts misc shrapnel that could damage your cyclone. Just my opinion.

  7. #7
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    If you have pre-separation, you can use your system to pick up materials like you would with a shop vac. In particular, many of us use floor sweeps for that...I have three in my shop for cleanup. In fact, I used two of them today as I was doing some major straightening up after a series of messy CNC projects. If you want a connection for an actual hose, stick with the larger diameter...dust collectors are not designed for "suction". They operate on air flow. Necking down to a 1.25" hose will kill that air flow so significantly, that you'll not likely be happy long term.

    That said, I agree with Matt. Aside from the floor sweeps, I use a cheap shop vac for general cleanup and that keeps my shavings pile dedicated to shavings rather than metal and other things that can get picked up in the shop during cleaning.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Day View Post
    I don’t see why you’d want to use an big expensive cyclone on cleaning the floors. Just use a shop vac with a long hose. Then vacuum up anything you want like screws nuts misc shrapnel that could damage your cyclone. Just my opinion.
    Hi Matt, I use mine for cleaning up when there's a lot of debris on the floor, something a shop vac isn't that good at.

    Cyclones don't get damaged by picking stuff up as the debris doesn't go through the fan. I picked up a tape measure once, it was a bit noisy going through the ducting and around the cyclone........LOL..........Regards, Rod.

  9. #9

    I use mine

    As a floor sweep on occasion. Mostly I use the Ridgid shop vac and a broom. I bought the vacuum attachment from Grizzly when I bought the cyclone. It is attached to a 20’ length of 4” hose and it works very well. I scout out the area and pick up any large pieces of wood and any nuts/bolts that may get picked up. It is one of those Yikes moments when you pick up the wrong stuff and it hits the impeller.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Frederick View Post
    It is one of those Yikes moments when you pick up the wrong stuff and it hits the impeller.
    How are you hitting the impeller with a cyclone? I frequently throw small cutoffs into the dust collection system, and while I hear them bouncing around, I've yet to hit the impeller.

  11. #11
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    Pre-separation, as with a cyclone which is in front of the blower, precludes any metallic debris hitting the impeller. That's why you can use a floor sweep with most cyclone systems (there are a few out there that are push through and cannot be used this way) since anything "hard" will be in the bin before the air gets to the blower.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Apparently, thinking the worst, I assumed it was the impeller. Thanks for pointing that out.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Frederick View Post
    Apparently, thinking the worst, I assumed it was the impeller. Thanks for pointing that out.
    No, it's always good to express concern because there are going to be folks that miss the "cyclone" part of the conversation and think they might be able to do floor pickup with a more basic dust collector that's push-through. While the whole "explosive dust" thing is not such a major concern in reality when discussing plastic vs metal duct work, an actual spark caused by a steel screw hitting a steel impeller is a real risk, IMHO.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    While the whole "explosive dust" thing is not such a major concern in reality when discussing plastic vs metal duct work, an actual spark caused by a steel screw hitting a steel impeller is a real risk, IMHO.
    While it's slightly more likely, I've yet to hear of any actual occurrences of fires caused this way. Further I often use an angle grinder in the shop, which produces a shower of sparks, all over the saw dust on the floor, and haven't had any issues. The angle grinder is closer to the fuel (3-4' vs 6-8'), and produces far more sparks, and longer.

    I think that everybody should have a fire extinguisher in their shop, just in case, and not worry otherwise.

  15. #15
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    Thank you to all who posted thoughts on this. I have a good shop vac and will keep it in the shop with a longer hose. I found I could move some other tools to get some space. It amazing how much space a few square feet can seem to be.

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