Supercharge Your ShopVac

Super Charge your ShopVac

If you’ve ever used a Shop Vac to clean your woodshop, you have quickly realized that the fine dust particles clog up the Shop Vac filter very quickly.  A clogged filter means less suction power and increased strain on the motor, likely causing the motor to fail prematurely.  Today’s article will show you a clever way to increase the power of your existing ShopVac and doubles as a pre-filter to keep the ShopVac running smoothly!

My ShopVac has several uses around my shop.  It cleans the floors, my tools and serves as a makeshift dust collector for my tools.  While it works flawlessly for these tasks, the major downside is that it’s filter was not designed to handle fine woodworking dust particles.  As a result, the filter quickly clogs up and the vacuum doesn’t work nearly as well.  Reduced airflow means that it won’t pick up as much dust AND the increased load on the motor will surely cause it to fail sooner than I would like.

I frequently watch The Woodsmith Shop TV show on my local PBS station. On one episode, they showed a fun shop project that not only put their ShopVac on wheels, but it also added a pre-stage dust collector to increase the efficiency of the ShopVac.

Since I use my ShopVac so frequently, this looked like a great project… both to improve my woodworking skills and to increase the efficiency of my ShopVac. I found the Dust Deputy dust collector for about $50 on Amazon and ordered it. The rest of the project called for 3/4″ plywood, which I had already and some casters. So, for less than $100, I decided to tackle the project.

The premise behind using the Dust Deputy dust collector in front of the ShopVac is that the Dust Deputy causes the airflow to rotate (like a cyclone) which causes the majority of wood particles to drop down into the collection bucket BEFORE they reach the ShopVac filter. While this concept is pretty simple, watching it in action is quite amazing. Here’s a video demonstrating how the Dust Deputy works.

If you watched the video, you’ll see that there is a complete collection kit you can purchase. The issue I had with the kit is that it’s tough to pull the contraption (Dust Deputy, ShopVac and hoses) around the shop without some kind of cart. Pulling the dust deputy hose tends to cause undue tension on the dust deputy itself, so the cart design helps to consolidate the pieces into a single rolling solution, plus it includes a handle to pull the unit around and a storage shelf to hang your hose and power cord from. There’s even an area to store your ShopVac tools onboard. This design can be customized to fit any shop vac and could easily be adapted to include more storage slots if necessary.

After a weekend of working, I built this cart and couldn’t be happier. I use the vacuum all the time and am still amazed at how well the dust deputy works.  It’s rare that I have to clean the filter on my ShopVac and I’ve found that the suction on my vacuum has actually increased since adding the dust deputy.  Maybe it’s my imagination, but I highly recommend this configuration for anyone that uses their ShopVac in their wood shop.

What ways do you handle dust collection in your shop. Let us know below.