Chip Collector Cyclone

Dust collectors do a good job of keeping the dust and chips off the floor and out of the air, and saving broom handle time.  But when it's time to empty the bag the good times are over.  Dust gets all over and fills the air, usually along with much cursing.  Installing a cyclone ahead of the dust collector is an easy way to add value to your dust collection system.  The cyclone will catch a very large percentage of the dust before it gets to the bag, and will also keep any larger pieces from passing through the dust collector impellor which might do damage.  A commonly available accessory is a plastic cyclone lid which is placed on a 30 gallon trash can.  These do work, but the 30 gallon size is small and you still must dump the dust into a different container for curbside pickup.

This cyclone is a step up from the plastic version.   I have it mounted to the wall above a green waste container.  As the cyclone separates the dust from the air stream, the dust falls out the bottom and collects in the green bin.  When the green bin is near full, I can remove the flex hose connection and remove the lid, then roll the bin out to the curb for pickup.  I have a window in the lid so I can monitor the dust level in the bin.  Allowing the bin to fill and backup into the cyclone would be a real mess.

In our area the city allows sawdust to be placed in the green waste containers.  This is wise on their part because dry sawdust is a great counterpart to lawn clippings in the composting process.  Not all communities allow this so we are fortunate.

Here you can see the plumbing involved.  The air flow from the machinery flows into the cyclone from the horizontal pipe on the back side.  Then the clean air flows out the top of the cyclone and I have it plumbed vertically down toward the floor where it then goes to the dust collector inlet.  The chips and dust fall out the bottom.
Here you can see a closeup of the lid on the green waste container.  This lid is simply sitting on the bin with weatherstriping for a seal.  Weight of the lid keeps it in place and vacuum when the system is running ensures a very tight seal.  You can see the inspection window near the front of the lid.
Prior to my installation of this cyclone I used the green waste bin itself as a cyclone.  This worked surprisingly well, even though the design was poor.   Because the barrel is square at the top the cyclonic effect must have been erratic around the corners.  The biggest problem was that once the barrel was about 1/2 full, the air flow would cause the dust pile to become airborne again.  In effect, the longer the dust collector ran, the more dust would be drawn out of the bin and back into the ducting.  You can get a glimpse of the old system on the dust collector page.   This new system promises to be much more efficient.