I finally took the leap and ordered a Shapeoko 3. Shortly after ordering it, it dawned on me that I’d probably need to think about an enclosure and dust collection.
I’ve been reading a lot of post on this forum about noise-dampening enclosures and think I have a good idea of what to build, but when it comes to vacuums I couldn’t find as many posts. Most people seem to buy an industrial vacuum cleaner, but due to money and noise concerns (I live in an apartment) I really want to go with a low-noise everyday vacuum cleaner.
I tried an inexpensive home vacuum — it worked fine, until it would overheat, then I would swap in a second unit while it cooled down.
It’s pricey, but I went with a Festool CT Midi (should probably have reduced the height and gone for a Mini) and Oneida Ultimate Dust Deputy — fits in a closet and isn’t out of scale as a full-sized shop vac might be. You could do as well with a Fein or Ridgid or other quiet shop vac and a DIY cyclone or Dustopper and some sweat equity, but I bought in a migraine-fueled rage after a long cut with an inexpensive small shop vac (Buckethead).
This is what I used during my ~first year with my Shapeoko: a regular (and cheapo) home vacuum. It worked fine, but I never did long (>1hour) cuts at the time.
What I learned really, really fast though is that you must use a cyclone separator in between the machine and vac, or you will be spending lots of money on bags
I finally went the Festool CT Midi way (same as Will), no regrets, but it is undeniably a completely different ballpark in terms of budget (and is more bulky too, for an apartment)
I would suggest to design your enclosure with a place for the cyclone & vac under the machine, and soundproof that compartment (while still being careful to allow for sufficient airflow…which can be tricky, but there are examples floating around here)
Wow… what an active forum . Thanks for all the insights.
The Festool Midi along with the cyclone looks like a really good fit, but it sure is another price-range than a run-of-the-mill vacuum. I think I’m going to have to start with a day to day vacuum and then upgrade later one.
A few questions… @will Why did your vacuum overheat? Did you have it in an enclosure when it overheated or was it just standing in the room?
@will@Julien Do you both have your vacuums inside your enclosure? It’s something I’ve considered, but kind of decided not to do, since I’m guessing the vacuum will suck out a lot of hot air from the main compartment and if that hot air has nowhere to dissipate, then that’ll surely fry the vacuum at some point. How did you deal with this issue?
The vacuum I was using overheated because it was really cheap and not suited for long runs, and the manual even specifically mentioned that it would happen and that the fix was to unplug it and allow it to cool off — no enclosure, it was just out on the deck/carport in the shade along w/ everything else.
Yes I do have mine (both the original cheap one at the time and my current CT Midi) inside my enclosure, I padded the inside of the compartment with sound dampening foam, but also made sure to have a large (4") hole at one side for fresh air intake and a large hole on the opposite side with a small air extractor (picture in that thread). I wired the air extractor such that it turns on whenever the vac is working.
That is the naive way to do this though, some of the sound will (obviously) leak through those air holes, and the right way to do this is to build the air intake such that the air follows a non-straight path (labyrinth like) to the inside of the enclosure, to break the propagation of sound. I was too lazy to do it, but for an apartment I would definitely look into building a fancy sound-reduction enclosure for both the machine and the vac.
I’m going deaf using my old big craftsman/ridgid vac, but the small cheap oneida dust deputy works great! my “sound proof” enclosure is useless with that vac so someday I’ll get something better but by then it won’t matter cause I’ll be completly deaf.
I’ve done some research into ‘quiet’ shop-vacs and come up with the following compromise: V-TUF 240 Volt M-CLASS Mini Dust Extractor which retails circa £115 (maybe translates to $150), available in 110v (US and UK-EU building sites) and 240v (UK-EU domestic mains) versions. Rated sound pressure is 76dBA, vacuum 2,000mm and flow rate 25litres. There is quieter available, but sound is exchanged for price…
So I will site this away from my CNC to reduce sound pressure at my ears, and hopefully it will be a significant improvement over the 94dBA unit I have been suffering with. That and the water-cooled spindle should mean my hearing, and hopefully my sanity will be preserved
Edit: Using a cyclone already, which the above will also work with. Wear ‘stethoscope style’ ear protectors almost always, as otherwise I put ear-plugs down, ear defenders down and they get in the way, they are on the computer desk not by the 3XL and the ‘oh gosh’ words get overused. Stethoscope style remain around my neck and are always to hand.
I would like to take this opportunity to recommend that folks use the best hearing protection they can find.
For long cuts I’ll double up on foam earplugs and a set of 3M earmuffs (not quite rated for 34db, but they’re more comfortable than the ones I had bought which were so rated whose rating I wasn’t entirely convinced of).
@holgersindbaek cyclone separators come in all price ranges, and vary in effectiveness, but even the cheapest one will help tremendously separating the dust in the first stage. I am using a $20 cyclone from amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074Y7JTCY/) and a standard 20L/5gal bucket, and it is doing its job. I use a standard noisy cheap shopvac, and it would be nice to find something less noisy. but the important part the the cyclone to prevent the vaccuum to clog up and overheat.
I use an older Fein Turbo II vacuum with HEPA filter. For dust separation with the Shapeoko I use the Duststopper on a bucket. The noise is reasonable when the speed is turned down a little bit (and much quieter at full power compared to my old cheap Craftsman vacuum). The vac is over 10 years old now and has been used for sanding while making 4 wood kayaks. Lots of cedar dust and way more epoxy sanding then I like to think about. I have had no problems running it for hours when hooked up to a random orbital sander or the Shapeoko. I don’t have the vac in an enclosure. The vacuum has been worth every penny I paid for it, for the quiet, power, and reliability. I highly recommend getting a good vac like the Festool or Fein.
This is what I use. I’ve used it as long as 5 hours straight, and put it through very heavy use, for the last 6 weeks. I also use it on my saw, planer, and as a general purpose shop vac throughout the day.
Your mileage may vary, and @WillAdams seems to have had a bad experience with a cheap shop vac, but I’ve been impressed so far. This is also my dust separator, which I promise is a must with a cheap vac.
Total price for both, shipped, was about $80 USD. You’ll also need a 5 gallon bucket for the dust collector.
When plumbing all these bits together, try to use a hose that is larger diameter than the one the vac comes with, you’ll be adding pressure loss with each extra bit of hose and losing air volume. Bigger hose helps reduce this.
e.g. on my shop vac it had the standard thirty-somthing mm vac hose so all my air ducting is 50mm waste pipe or 50mm antistatic ribbed hose from Amazon. I got a lot of air volume back with the bigger pipes.
Those are exactly the ones I have (the added foam hearing protectors is more a belt–suspenders thing than any real need) — I’ve found them both comfortable and effective (for some reason the 31db NRR rating is more usually used in the U.S. rather than the 37db SNR).
Thanks a lot for all the suggestions from everyone!
@aaronz The Nilfisk sounds like a really good bid. Seems like I can get it for a good price here in Denmark as well. I think I’ll go for that . Do you have it inside your enclosure (if you have one)? If so, what do you do with the heat it generates and et exhaust air?