Thein cyclone – one week update

I’ve been working on cleaning up the shop a bit, and I started a project the other day that I unfortunately can’t talk about right now (but will soon). This created an opportunity for me to test out the new cyclone and put it through it’s paces for an average project. I jointed, planed ripped and crosscut some soft maple plus some white birch ply, plus cleaned up a bit of dust and debris that was lying around after the cyclone was done. Mostly larger chips, but some fine dust as well.

While I was using the table saw, on the larger cuts, I had a significant amount of fine dust on the floor under the saw after I was done. I will have to investigate the downfall here, but I contribute some of it due to the height of the boards I was cutting – difficult to get all the dust off the top of the table with the guard up high. For the jointer, I simply vac’ed up after I was done each time, and I had the vac hooked directly up to the planer today. In respect to the planer, using the old short table saw lead from the old separator worked well and most of the chips went into the can and there was little to vac off the floor. Very pleased, as that is my messiest tool normally. If I can create a chute for the jointer, I’ll be living large.

With trash day up coming, I decided to empty the can today and see what my results were. The can was probably about half full (15-18 gallons or so), but was nearing the lower shelf of the cyclone, so it was time to empty. I’ll take emptying the can once a week or so versus having to empty the bucket a couple times a day in some cases. As a curiosity, I also pulled the vac and checked the container.



I’m impressed. Nothing in the vac at all after a week. With the old system I’d undoubtedly have some blow-by, and risk suffocating the filter. As for the filter, it does have a bunch of dust on it. I should look into replacing this shortly, I’m considering a HEPA CleanStream washable filter. Just a couple bucks more than the Ridgid version, I think it could be a good investment.

If you were still on the fence after the last entry, this one should make you go get your materials soon. For under $50 (can included) you can make your own separator that is cheaper and has smore capacity than alternatives in the marketplace. Highly recommended.

Thein cyclone – part 3

(Don’t shoot me, I forgot to take pics of assembly)

It’s done. I cut out the holes for the inlets this afternoon, and realized that my 6″ bolts were going to be too short. I drove up to Lowe’s and exchanged them for 8″ ones, increasing the cost of the project by around a buck. Oh well. I drilled three holes for the bolts, and made sure everything would fit fine. I secured the inlets to the top with a glue gun, including the pass-through inlet to it’s lower portion below. I’ll have to go back and use RTV to really seal it up, but I didn’t feel any leaks. More for my peace of mind than anything else. I added a handle to help me remove the lid (aligned with a handle on the can).

All that was left was to empty out the small separator and the vac and give the filter a good dusting. I’ll be replacing the filter with a HEPA unit soon, but it will work fine for now. I dumped the buckets on the floor to test how well the new cyclone worked. You can see the results below. Supremely happy. I’ll also state that this is the last time I do a project with MDF. It gets everywhere, and I assume that includes my lungs. I’ve not felt well the last day or so, and I chalk it up to forgetting to put my mask on. It would have helped some, but the dust lingers for far longer than I would have been comfortable keeping it on.

I’ll have to take into account the new can when designing the layout of the shop. It’s too big to keep under the saw, but perhaps it can simply reside in the corner or incorporate into the planer cart. That would be something, as it would be somewhat of a large circle I complete – I had at one time made the planer cart simply a large separator.


The bag got sucked up accidentally and passed through. Compared to the pic below, that’s about it though.






Thein cyclone – part 2

Thursday I got some quick time to work a bit more on the cyclone, and I got a bit further on the project. I’m hoping I can be done on Friday. The only thing left is to cut the holes for the PVC and assemble it. I set up my router with the smallest straight bit I had, and used the Craftsman edge/circle guide I had bought ages ago on clearance and never got the chance to use. The widest, uppermost part of the can measured a 20.25″ diameter opening. So I set the guide up with a 10.125″ radius and attached the pivot to a sheet of MDF about where the middle was – or enough to avoid all the existing holes I had from the UTS project. I used the router and circle guide and routed a shallow ‘moat’ at that 10.125″ distance. Once I was happy with the depth, I adjusted the radius a bit wider (by feel, no measurements) and made a wider concentric ‘moat’ (moat meaning partial-thickness cut) about a half-inch out. I was satisfied with that distance, so I moved the radius back in slightly to take care of the section between the two cuts. That done, I adjusted the radius back out to the outer line and kept increasing the depth of cut until the circle came free of the rest of the sheet.

What this process did was make my circle, and a perfect rabbet along the circumference where it would sit on top of the can. I then tested it by resting it on top of the can. Well, my cut was so perfect I had a little trouble getting it back off the can. I might have to sand that down just a little bit, but I couldn’t ask for much better. Happy with the top piece, I marked prospective locations for the two PVC pieces to insert through. One is right in the middle, the other is right at the edge. I might have to move that one in just slightly.

Moving on to the second piece of MDF, I set it up similarly except I made the circle smaller so it could fit inside the can. I also didn’t need a rabbet on this one, so it was just a matter of dialing in the diameter. Once I had the right diameter for about where it needed to be, I marked a straight line out from the pivot point to the edge. This was my reference to make the 120º line. Between these two points on the short arc, the diameter did not change. On the long arc I measured in 1.125″ for the radius and I made a couple of cuts until it was full thickness. What this did was make that pie piece longer to catch the debris and take it along the can where centrifugal force will take it along the edge to where the arc is smaller, where it will then drop down into the can. That’s the theory, anyway.

I will say one thing – I hate working with MDF. I might cut it on the table saw, but that’s the last thing I will do with it inside my shop. Any other unfortunate incident where I’m forced to work with it I will work outside in full gear. It gets everywhere, and knowing me I didn’t think to put on my respirator. Yeah, dumb. It’s the last time. Part of the reason I’m making it out of this is to use up what I have and whatever is left gets tossed.

I forgot to take pictures of the progress, mostly because I had dust everywhere. Tomorrow I will clean up and take pictures, and those will head the next post. These are from yesterday.




New project – Thein cyclone

In the aftermath of my workbench project, I’m loathe to take on another big project right away – in scope and in cost. Yet, I am itching to make improvements to my shop, as indicated by my two master plan threads I just made. The first real improvement I’d like to make is new shop doors, but I’ve decided to do something to help keep the shop clean – a new separator for the shop vac.

My Woodstock separator works really well, and I still have no problems recommending it to anyone looking for a 5-gallon solution. However I noticed during this last project it was no match for the amount of debris I was making with the jointer and planer. For a project this big, I needed something bigger to separate all the debris and keep it from passing straight through to the vac, as the vac filter was getting supremely clogged up. I could have upgraded to the larger Woodstock lid, but I decided to try something I’ve had an eye on for awhile – Phil Thein’s separator cyclone.

Much more information than I can provide here is at his pretty detailed website. I’ll be spreading this out over 2-3 posts, as I don’t know how long this will take me with other activities I’m required to do. Hopefully I can have it up and running in a few days.

My materials list is as follows (with local pricing):

(4) 45º slip elbows (@$1.45) – $5.80

(1) .5″x5′ S40 PVC Pipe – $1.47

(3) 3/8″ x 6″ hex bolts (@$.94) – $2.82

(3) 3/8″ hex lock nuts (@.18) – $.54

(6) 3/8″ wide fender washers ($.18) – $1.08

(1) 31-gallon galvanized trash can – $24.98

Running total (with tax): $38.89

Minus the can (which I would have bought anyway), this project is at $12.41. In the limited time I have available today I will be measuring the diameters needed for the baffle and making sure I have the material on hand necessary. I’m planning to use up some of this MDF that’s taking up space.