Dust Collector Phase 1

Previously, I laid out my plan for a DIY dust collector.  I promised I’d be back for phase 1 after I went shopping for parts.  Well, I’ve got the parts, and I built phase 1.


So far, I’m happy with my progress.  The dust collector works – that’s always a good start.  I found in my first tests that it is definitely a dust collector, not a shavings collector.  It didn’t do a very good job with the ribbons I got from my hand plane, but did very well with sawdust.

Here’s how it went together:


  • 2 5-gallon buckets, one to work as the Thein baffle, one to collect the dust
  • 1 lid for a 5-gallon bucket
  • 2 1-1/2 inch 45-degree PVC elbows
  • 2 1-1/2 inch straight PVC unions
  • 10 inches of 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe
  • PVC cement
  • 1 2-inch to 1-1/2 inch PVC flex union (rubber with pipe clamps)
  • 1 2-inch PVC PVC flex union
  • 12 wood screws (deck screws or drywall screws would be fine)
  • 3 pieces of scrap 2×3 (if you have 2×4’s that will work, too)


  • Drill with hole saws
  • Caulk gun
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver (impact wrench)
  • Combination square
  • Hack saw


  1. Using a 1-1/2 inch hole saw, cut a hole dead-center in the lid.  To avoid tearing up the plastic, run the hole saw backward.
  2. Using the same hole saw, cut a hole the diameter of the 12-inch length of PVC just inside the ridge near the edge of the lid.
  3. Cut 4 pieces of the 1-1/2 inch PVC at 2-1/4 inches long.
  4. Cement one of the short lengths of PVC into each elbow or union.
  5. Insert one of the unions with the PVC through the center hole in the lid from the bottom.  Cement the other union to it, creating the vacuum connection.
  6. Insert one of the 45-degree elbows through the other hole in the lid from the bottom.  Cement the other elbow to it in a “Z” shape.
  7. Twist the “Z” until the bottom part would be touching the bucket if the lid were attached.  Caulk it in place to both hold it and create the air-tight seal
  8. Caulk the vacuum connection to create its air-tight seal.  Set the lid aside while working on the bucket.
  9. Cut the bottom off one 5-gallon bucket.  Save it – you’ll need it again.
  10. Put the lid on the bottomless bucket and hold one of the 45-degree elbows up against it.  Where the bottom edge reaches inside the bucket is the shortest you can cut the bucket off.  Add 1/2 inch to that and cut the bucket as squarely as you can.
  11. Remove the lid, then measure the diameter of the bottom of the bucket ring.  This is important – they’re tapered, so the bottom is narrower than the top.  Divide by 2 and subtract 1 inch.  This will give you the radius to cut the baffle from the saved bottom piece.  Mine ended up a 4-inch radius.
  12. Cut the 2×3 or 2×4 to the same length measured in step 10.  For me, this was 4-1/2 inches.  Arrange them evenly-spaced around the vacuum connection on the bottom of the lid and screw them each in place.  Cover each of the screws with a little caulk to seal them.
  13. Lay the disk cut in step 11 on the 2×3 standoffs and screw it in place.  Caulk is not needed here.
  14. Insert into the catch-bucket and connect the vacuum hose and the clean-up hose using the flex connectors.  Once the caulk sets, it’s ready to test!


I had some challenges cutting the disk from the bucket bottom.  Finally, I was able to use my saber saw (a scroll saw would work, too) with a circle-cutting jig.

The utility knife turned out to be pretty hard to use when trying to cut the bucket.  I ended up using my hacksaw to do a lot of the cutting.

I got impatient and didn’t wait for the caulk to set before I tested.  I had to re-caulk the connections before I could finish testing.

Since it seems to work well so far, I think I’m ready for phase 2 – moving to a larger catch bucket.  For me, that’ll be a garbage can, probably one of the 33-gallon ones.  Between now and then, I may try extending the inside of the vacuum tube all the way to the baffle.