Looking at dust collectors

I have a standard shopvac on my xcarve with a 3D printed dust shoe on it. Outside of the whole dust shoe argument what is everyone’s opinion on dust collectors? I’ve heard some people claim that running a shopvac for extended periods can burn them up. I don’t want a big dust collector sitting there with a huge footprint. Even the harbor freight 13 gallon seems too big for what I want. I’m hoping to find something I can put under the machine and run it. Also the shopvac hosing seems really stiff. What’s the most flexible hosing out there in that sizing 1-1/2 to 2". Thoughts? What are you doing for the actual collector?

I tried using a shop vac at first and discovered that a standard shop vac is just not designed to run for hours at a time. It will get very hot and the motor will fail (at least mine did).

After the shop vac died I purchased the 2hp HF dust collector. It works great, it can run for 8 hours and not even get warm, plus it is much quieter than the shop vac. The HF dust collector does not really take up much more floor space than a shop vac, it is just taller.

The next thing I learned was that the most important feature of a good dust collection system is the volume of air you are moving. A four inch hose is 10 times better at pulling in the dust than a 2 inch hose. Even if you are using a 2 inch hose connected to your dust shoe, the system will operate much better if you have a four inch hose also connected to the intake and just leave it open to pull in shop air.

This made no sense to me at first but then I realized that leaving the 4 inch hose open increased the air flow.

The next thing I learned was that keeping the shops air quality in a healthy range means that you need a filter that will capture particles down to 1 micron. The HF dust collector came with a 5 micron filter bag and that seemed pretty good at first, but there was still dust in the air.

For about $25 you can purchase a 1 micron filter bag on Amazon that fits perfectly on the HF system. With the 1 micron filter the shop air was noticeably cleaner.


I also have the Harbor Freight (HF) 2hp dust collector, I have had it for 2 years long before i got the X-Carve (last week). Like Allen I have had it run for hours with no problems. I have a good size shop and many tools that have a 4" port. For the price, 2 ports, 2hp and a Dust Collector with a 4" hose you can’t beat it.

I few others the same size as the HF 1HP would be, Rockler Dust Right® Wall Mount Dust Collector 3/4hp, Grizzly G0710 - 1 HP Wall Hanging Dust Collector, Grizzly G1163P - 1 HP Light Duty Dust Collector. You can get adapters to go down to the size hose you have.

With the HF dust collect many people have modified it, like to vent the dust outside, trash can vs bag, etc. Check out YouTube and Google, April Wilkerson is one that i can think of.


Get what you can afford. Most vacuums sold through major retailers will have warranties of at least a year. If you wear yours out through overuse, I’m sure they’d replace it anyway. Providing you’re not claiming a new one every few months, I doubt you’ll ever have a problem.

Yes, excessive use can eventually kill your vacuum, but unless your using your machine for many many hours a week, I’d doubt you’d have an issue. Even using one for a couple of hours a day wouldn’t void any warranty.

I suspect that those who have had failures, have used their vacuums non-stop for hours and hours without clearing the filters. Most machines have a filter that allows the dust do drop down off the filter when they’re turned off. This allows some ‘cleaning’ of the filter ready for next use. Using it without occasionally turning it off, giving it a shake and then turning it back on, means that the airflow to the motor get reduced to the point where the motor is no longer sufficiently cooled and becomes prone to failure.

I’d still strongly suggest getting something like a Dust Deputy. They really do work and they both increase the dust capacity of your vacuum and reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to clean the filter.

I have both a shop vac style ryobi brand vacuum as well as a commercial dust collector. The big assed collector is used on my thicknesser, my router table etc. the shop vac is used on the x carve - it’s happily sucked for a couple of year without a problem - and I use it a lot.

If you’re looking for hose alternatives, try a pool shop - lots of hoses, lengths & joiners etc. probably not any more flexible than the shop vac style hose, but worth a look.

I have been using a ShopVac brand vacuum with a Dust Deputy cyclone. I usually run it for an hour at a time and the vacuum still works. Even after running it for 3 hours straight once, it still works great. This is with running on weekends. So maybe I have ~100 hours? Its almost 2 years old.
Anyway like already stated by a few others, with a proper filter setup (aka cyclone) a shop vac works pretty good IMHO.

I have one of these ( http://www.harborfreight.com/13-gal-1-hp-industrial-portable-dust-collector-61808.html ) mounted on the wall using a TV mount and it works very well.

I replaced show vac with JET DC-650BK and it takes about the same foot print, bit longer but at the same time more narrow, obviously much taller.
The shop vac I used was peaking at 11 amps and this thing runs smooth at 7 amps. The sound difference is huge for me, this thing when running with 4 inch pipe produces comparable sound to window AC unit.

I used 4 inch Home Depot PVC, they a bitch to get home but they cost very little and they cut easily with any saw.
Various joiners can get price and you want to use two 45 degrees as opposed to single 90 for each turn.
You can get a lot of fancy attachment for just about any power tool in your shop for not whole lot and if you up to it you can CNC your own gates and attachments very easily as well.

For end run to the dust boot I used this stuff:

Overall I can’t recommend this enough, this benefited both my sanity and health !

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I think that most of those cheap/small shop vacs don’t die from excessive brush wear. Rather, they probably “die” because the thermal fuse blows or the on/off switch is faulty. Both of those are fixable.

The thing about the thermal fuse is that most of those vacs use the same exact motors from China, which usually have a 10 Amp / 120C thermal fuse on one of the coils. The fuse is easily replaceable, but you do have to take the motor out, chop out the dead thermal fuse, and solder or crimp on a new one, but it’s not hard. I successfully performed this surgery on my little Ridgid vac a few months ago, and I’m not an electrician by any stretch.

So, it seems reasonable to me that you can help improve the life of your shop vac in that respect, by reducing the load on the vac motor, which will reduce heat. Things such as: Using a dust deputy; Using a thinner dust filter to improve air circulation; Forcing air into the air intakes to improve cooling. Has anyone experimented with that last idea, I wonder?

For those of you who are considering the shop vac route, Home Depot has a pretty good deal on a Ridgid vac. I have both a 3hp dust collector and several of these shop vacs which have been holding up well. I prefer to use a shop vac with the Xcarve because of the heavy current draw on the dust collector.

It’s a “Deal of the Day”, so the price is probably only good today. ($69.97 w/ free shipping)

Ridgid shop vac at Home Depot

I have been using that exact same shopvac for over a year with my X-Carve. The trick is to keep it clean and use a separator to keep the filter from getting clogged up. I know the sentiment here is to use a dust collector instead of a shopvac style collector… but this one has been holding up very well for me.

I was looking into getting one of these.

Can you estimate how much quieter it is over your shop vac?


I measured the shop vac at about 92 db, the HF sust collector is about 74db so that is an 18db drop. Plus the frequency of the HF is much lower so the sound it produces is not nearly as grating as that high pitched squeal from the shop vac.

The dust bag is here

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The HF dust collector takes a 19-1/2" Dia. x 30" long dust bag. The one you linked to is 14 X 24 and it fit correctly?

Thanks for the Db measurements. 74Db is not to bad and with the enclosure I’m designing it should drop to around 44Db once I get the resonant frequency. With coupon the HF dust collector drops down to around $180, so I’ll probably grab one soon.

Thanks Phil. Looks like a dust collector is the way to go. They’ll probably be on sale over the upcoming holidays, so I’ll pick one up then.

I checked my order history, this is the one I ordered

it is 20 x 31

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Thanks Allen. Do you think that one is washable?

You do not want to wash these filter bags. Just shake them out good when you empty the dust bag. They are cheap enough that you can buy a new one every 6 months if you run it every day.

Plus your wife would probably kill you if she caught you trying to put that bag in the washing machine. I am sure it would make a huge mess.

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Why would the manufactures list them as being washable?

Here is one such example;


The bag is made of a woven fabric so technically it is washable, but washing it would really reduce it’s filter ability. The fine dust that collects in the weave acts as an additional filtering material.

If you really want to clean it, you could turn it inside out and use compressed air to blow it clean. But I would not recommend even doing that. It just does not need that much care.