Shop-made Vortex Dust Collector Woks On

From the August 2011 issue #191
Buy this issue now

In April 2011, I blogged about a new dust collector from JET (read it here). I also wrote about the new collector design in the August 2011 (issue #191) “Tool Test” column (download a copy here). The company hung a cone-shaped device in the housing area to improve dust collection by keeping the majority of the dust in the bag and out of the filter – an unclogged filter results in better collection due to better air movement. I was and am convinced that JET’s new design really works.

In the comments to that blog, it was suggested you could simply install an inverted salad bowl to convert any dust collector to the improved version. Half jokingly, I wrote that if anyone did install a salad bowl or other device into a dust collector, I would post photos. Someone did, and here it is.

An e-mail from Tony S:

Glen,

I have a Jet dust collector with the canister filter. I used the photos in your article as the inspiration to retrofit it with a baffle. It took me a while to find the right part at the right price. I found a 14″ wok at the store for $25. I mounted it with a piece of 1/16″ thick perforated steel from the “erector set” section at Home Depot. I mounted it with 1/4″ machine screws and put Locktite on the threads. The wok is suspended from the steel strap with two 1-1/2″ long pieces of 1/2″ copper pipe and held together with long machine screws.

I cleaned as much dust out of the canister filter as I could when I reassembled the dust collector. I planed down a few boards, most notably a 4/4 rough board down to 1/2″. Then I sized up the boards on the table saw and band saw. Milling added 6″ to 8″ of dust to the bag.

It was amazing to see the dust drop to the bottom of the bag. I don’t remember that happening before. I pulled the canister off to see if the baffle had done any good. Much to my surprise, the filter was cleaner than when I installed it!  And because of the shape of the wok, no dust collected on its top side.

I think a 14″ wok most closely matches Jet’s Vortex design when compared to other household items such as salad bowls or even a flat piece of steel. The key is to shop around for a cheap wok. Most of the ones I saw were priced around $70.

Thanks,

Tony Strupulis

Nice job, Tony. It actually worked. It’s great to see woodworker innovation and someone stepping out there to give it a try.

I can’t imagine the noise you would have heard if your wok came loose and began flapping against the housing underside. If any other woodworkers attempt to retrofit their collectors with kitchen apparatuses – salad bowls, woks or spatulas – please make sure your connections are secure. And do send photos.

— Glen D. Huey

From the August 2011 issue #191
Buy this issue now

13 thoughts on “Shop-made Vortex Dust Collector Woks On

  1. Charlie

    Why not just make a Thien baffle and install it ? Use something thin, like 3/8″ Masonite, and don’t go any lower then the bag ring. It would save you some money, and time trying to find a Wok. Plus it would probably work just as well as the Wok,l if not better.

  2. lawrence

    I did a similar “upgrade” a couple of days ago with a wok lid (shhh… don’t tell my wife) Today I did a quick peek and wow what a difference. There is NO sawdust on the ledge and the inside of the filter is cleaner than I’ve ever seen it. I’m convinced, but will give it some more dust over the next week or so and will post pics on the forums of the results. I also plan to remove the wok lid and do a side-by-side test run with a couple of cans of mixed sawdust– everything from long shavings to MDF dust.

    Thanks for the tip, this could save me a lot of cleaning-up time as a clean filter really affects suction.

    Lawrence

  3. tomruff

    Hi Glen,

    While I can’t prove greater effectiveness, I want to claim the prize for cheapest DIY vortex for a dust collector.

    I retro-fitted my Sears Craftsman 2HP Dust Collector with a teflon-coated sauté pan I picked up at the local dollar store for, of course, $1. I removed the handle and will save it for some future jig creation. The sheet metal connector cross member, bolt and sheet metal screws I used to attach the pan to the DC were leftover hardware. I have not calculated the electricity cost to drill the necessary holes, but I would submit that none of your other respondents have either. So I will proudly claim that my assembly cost was $1 and my upper felt bags produce little in the way of dust when slapped after use. This is less than I pay for a replacement collection bag, but I re-use those, of course.

    In case you have any doubts about my frugal nature, the dust collector itself was purchased new from a Sears outlet store for $75.

  4. George West

    Late checking e-mail, but if anyone is thinking of trying this idea, which I will be doing soon. Look at an Odd Lots/Big Lots store, or in this case the land of the $6.00 wok. I`m sure the quality of the woks cooking potential isn`t at issue here, just something of that shape, and strong enough to hold up.

    Great idea Tony, and thanks Glen for passing it along.

  5. Sean A

    I think Andrew is right on this one. For those of use without a good local Chinatown, the go-to online place for woks is, wait for it, wokshop.com. They have some really inexpensive woks, and the owner is a hoot. Anyhow, I look to many weeks of online forums debating whether the wok should be round bottom or flat, or whether carbon steel is better than cast iron (^:

    Looks like a great DIY solution, with a pretty high return on minimal investment of time and money. I’m going to give it a shot.

  6. Dusty

    How about putting a coat of paint on the wok assemble to reduce the chance of sparks if the DC sucks up some ferrous metal?

    I wonder if it would work on those 30 gallon trash can pre-collectors? If nothing else it would keep the 90 degree elbow from fallen into the can and getting thrown out with the saw dust.

  7. Andrew Yang

    The key to finding a cheap wok is to look for an authentic one. Stay away from Western kitchen supply stores and venture to your local Chinatown. Authentic woks shouldn’t cost much more than $20. My 16″ wok was $12 if memory serves. This would be one instance where you’re looking for a “Made in China”.

    1. Niels

      “This would be one instance where you’re looking for a “Made in China”.”

      hahahaha! this has got to be a first on this blog/magazine!

      thanks for posting this!
      I have that same DC and I emptied the bag yesterday. not a pretty sight inside the canister. I’m definitely going to be trying some sort of wok-hack in the near future

COMMENT