Dust Collection Advice

I’m finally feeling confident enough with my pro xl to use it on a bit more regular basis which has got me thinking a bit more about dust collection. I’m currently using the sweepy attached to my 22 liter husky shop vac which is in desperate need of a new filter. Before I go out and buy a filter, I was wondering if I would be better off with a new unit a bit better suited to my shapeoko? I’ve seen a few posts here of people recommending using $5000+ units but that’s way outside my budget. Thanks in advance.

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A cyclone will save on the filter — an inexpensive option is the Dustopper from Home Depot, Harbor Freight now has a clone of the Oneida Dust Deputy, and there are many plans for DIY options.

In a migraine-fueled, noise-induced rage I bought a Festool CT Midi and an Oneida Ultimate Dust Deputy, which is great, but it’s a pricey option.

One can do as well w/ a much less expensive Fein or Ridgid dust extractor (one wants a unit which is quiet and designed to run for hours-on-end) and some sort of cyclone.

EDIT: The most important consideration is that the filter be HEPA rated to capture the finest particles which will be made by the tool cutting the material

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Because I have the room, I got the Harbor Freight dust collector. Upgraded to the one-micron bag. It is kind of noisy, but better than a shop vac. The Harbor Freight shop vac I have has an extra filter. Wash it out when I replace it.

Good luck

A shop vac will usually handle anything a Shapeoko will throw. However if you are doing more woodworking a shop vac cannot keep up with table saws, bandsaws and even some 2.5 or larger router tables. So if you only need the Shapeoko then a shop vac will work. If you think you need a new vac there are just plain shop vacs you can get at the big box stores. If you want a quieter vac then look at the Fein and the Festool. Those are pricey but you get what you pay for.

I have a Jet DC1100 but you have a full woodworking shop. I also have a 5" Onieda Cyclone attached that keeps almost all the dust out of my dust collector bag. When I see dust accumulating in the clear dust bag of the DC1100 I know that the Onieda needs to be emptied.

The Onieda sells the Super Dust Deputy and that works well with a shop vac. They also sell larger models for 4-5-6 inch dust collector systems. If you buy a new dust collection I recommend you get one built with the cyclonic feature making it a two stage dust collection system. You can retrofit a system like my DC1100 but if I were to buy a new one I would get one with the cyclone built in.

So the answer to your question is depends. Depends on what you plan on doing.

Your filter does not necessarily need to be replaced. I have two shop vacs and have used the same filter for years. I take the filters out and go outside and band them on a tree to get the dust out. Then I take my shop vac on blow mode and blow them out. Now if you use the wet feature on a shop vac clean your filter first and you may be able to wash it out. However the paper filters will likely need to be replaced after vacuuming up water or other liquid.

The Fein and Festool have HEPA filter and I have bought a VacMaster shop vac for my daughter as a present that had a HEPA filter and paper bags. So shop around for a bargain. However tools like Festool are virtually the same price everywhere you look. They have very rare sales. Many of the folks like Festool have prices fixed as a condition of distributing their tools.

Thanks for your advice Will. I’m not entirely convinced I need to buy a whole new system yet but if I do, I’d like to get something that’s a little quieter then my current shop vac if possible. How is your festool for noise?

Thanks for your detailed reply. Do you know off hand specific units that have a cyclone feature built in without needing to buy a separate kit? That hasn’t been something I’ve come across. Also, as I just asked Will, If I were to get new system It would be great if I could get something a little quieter then my shop vac. What would you recommend if noise is a concern? My workshop is in the basement and the family upstairs isn’t thrilled when the shop vac is running for a while.

I added a Dust Deputy to my shopvac and love the way it works. Inexpensive add on.

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My comment on the build in cyclonic function is on dedicated dust collections like Grizly, Jet and Onieda systems. For shop vacs Festool has an expensive cyclone that fits on their vacs. For Shop Vacs you are limited to add on ones like the Onieda Dust Deputy. There are a bunch of other cyclones for 5 gallon buckets and so on and a lot of diy solutions to making a cyclone type add on.

Here is an example of a Grizzly cyclone dc


The actual dust collector is up top with the cyclone below and on the back is the dust filter. The bottom drum is the collection bin for the sawdust.

Jet Cyclone


Onieda cyclone


The noise of the Festool is much less than the shop vac I was using before.

My XXL has a shop vac with Home Depot separator and bucket. Works great as the Sweepy keeps the dust in check from the beginning. It needn’t cost more than $150 for the entire setup.
xxl dust collection
Keep in mind that you need to clean the vacuum dust filter every time you empty the bucket.


I’m surprised you have to clean the filter every time you empty the bucket.

I have the Dust Deputy and seldom have to clean the filter. One of my Dust Deputies is on the CNC while the other is used with the tablesaw (overhead blade guard), router, sanders, etc.


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A cyclonic separator works by starting a spin in the air column causing the dust and chips to slow down. When the dust and chips slow down they fall to the bottom of the bucket by their own weight. The push of the air helps to settle the dust to the bottom as well. The lighter air travels up to the top of the cyclone separator and travels through the impeller of the dust collector and eventually to the dust collector filter and back into the atmosphere.

So depending on how efficient your cyclone is at spinning the air you get less dust passing through the cyclone and on to your filter/bag. There are a lot of variables in the dust collection efficiency, the cyclone design and the type of dust you are creating. Chips tend to settle to the bottom because of their weight compared to particles of dust. If you are creating fine dust like when sanding then those particles tend to pass through the system easier than larger chips.

There are a lot of variables which we cannot account for. The design and implementation of your system has infinite variables and cannot be estimated but can be observed. So if one system does not pass on dust and/or sawdust then great but if your bag and filter are getting slowly filled up then from your observation you know to clean your dust collector at the right time.

If you have a system that is sending fine dust through you need to make changes because the extra fine dust is the most dangerous part of the air quality in your shop. We all breath fine dust everyday in our environments but when you breath in concentrated dust that is generated in a wood working shop it elevates the danger to us long term. Consider an air filter to help clean the air in our workshop. The benefit to your health is also augmented by removing dust in the air that settles down on your projects with wet finish on it.

Here is an example of a cheap air filter.



I don’t have to, but I do. The door is already open, might as well do it then.

First a shopping hint…I shopped CraigsList and got an almost unused Harbor Freight dust collector for $100.

Replace the main inlet (just in front of the impeller) with a 6 inch HVAC inlet. Run as much 6 inch piping you can, then drop to 5 or 4 inch piping to your machines. 5 inch is better but some shop layouts may preclude its use. Fit as many machines as you can with 4 or 5 inch dust ports, whatever size you end up using. The latter will likely require some creativity on your part to find fittings you can attach to your machines.

Avoid sharp turns in the ducting. This kills dust collection. Use a little as possible of the flexible hose (the stuff with the wire inside). Another dust collection killer. I have two short runs of 4 inch plastic ducting and the remainder metal. I’ll will get rid of the plastic and replace with 5 inch metal to match the remainder of the runs.

If this is for your Shapeoko only, put the cnc near the dust collector and run as much 6 and 5 inch pipe you can between them. Build a box for the cnc. Mine is double wall with used, shredded blue-jean insulation. Home Depot sells it, cheap and effective. I have a flip up section in the back of the box for tiling and double pane clear poly for the front doors.

I use, what used to be cheap, plastic trashcan lid dust cyclone. https://www.amazon.com/WOODRIVER-Trash-Can-Cyclone-Lid/dp/B0035YD23K. When I bought mine it was about half of the current Amazon price. You might be able to use CraigsList of FaceBook Market Place and find a cheaper cyclone. Fit the plastic cyclone lid to a metal trashcan. The idea is to contain potential fires in something that will not burn.

I tried the Home Depot Dust Topper but found it inadequate for use with the Harbor Freight dust collector.

If this is too much to digest, contact me and we’ll figure out how to speak more directly.

Best regards,



Go to Harbor freight they have a gallon 2 HP High Flow High-Capacity Dust Collector for $279 works nice (harborfreight.com)](https://www.harborfreight.com/2-hp-industrial-5-micron-dust-collector-97869.html)

I went with a Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner with Dust Extractor and Dust Stopper from Home Depot. MUCH quieter and handles all the waste from the Shapeoko. Every time I dump the bucket I check the filter and internal bag but they are always clear. I’d consider it a mid range upgrade but the noise reduction was well worth the investment.


I really appreciate all the fantastic advice, i have alot to think about now.

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I have the same dust collector. I am interested in a part number for the one-micron bag. When you say you have an extra filter. Are you referring to an extra bag? I punched the harbor freight part for the dust collection bags (clear) into Amazon. Got a great price on five bags.

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I am sure this was the bag I got.

I turn it inside out and hang it from the clothes line outside to wash it twice a year. Hang it in the shop to dry.

One thing I did was put some silicone on the surfaces of the dust collector where the bags are clamped to slow the dust that invariably finds a way out .

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