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Shop Vac Hack

Use this simple 6-step project to replace shop vac filter bags less often.  You probably have most of these items on-hand in your shop or garage.  This project pays for itself, and total cost comes in under $10.


2 – 5 gallon buckets with lids

Vacuum hose (an extra one not attached to your shop vac)

PVC pipe (use measurement of hose diameter)

Frisbee or Tupperware lid for baffle

Hot Glue Gun & Glue

Project Cost < $10

  1. Cut away the interior of a 5 gallon bucket lid.  Dig series of pilot holes and use a utility knife or coping saw to cut out circular shape interior.

  2. Put the lid ring you just made and slide it up from the bottom of one of the buckets until it stops, and trace around the outside of the bucket where the ring naturally stops.  Cut this away by drilling pilot holes and using a utility knife or coping saw.   Allow the bottom to fall away – this will not be used in the remainder of the project.  Hot glue this lid into place – glue from the top and bottom.  (Picture of the bottom below)

3. Using a hole saw or a forsner bit, cut a hole for your PVC pipe diameter near the mid-point of the bucket you just cut in step 3.

4. Insert the PVC pipe until the side of it naturally comes in contact with the bucket.  Carefully hot glue the inside and outside of the     PVC pipe and the hole in the bucket, as well as where the PVC pipe runs into the wall of the bucket. 

5.  Cut away a 1 ½” thick piece from a 1/3 of the diameter of the frisbee or Tupperware lid.  This is the baffle.  Push it down into the      bucket, angling the opening downward, and hot glue into place.

6.  Attach this contraption to the top of the second bucket, and attach the second lid to the top.  If the hole in the lid does not fit your        shop vac hose, use a piece of the PVC to create an adapter.  You will attach the vacuum hose from the supplies list to the side            adapter.  The vacuum attaches to the top, and you will use the second hose on the side port that will collect dust.

This will save you money on shop vac bags by separating out the larger particles and dropping them down into the bottom of your second bucket.  You just pull the top bucket off when you are done and empty the bottom one into the trash. Pro tip: use a clear-ish bucket for the top so you can stare at the debris swirling around for hours of entertainment.  A translucent bucket for the bottom will allow you to see when it is time to empty contents.

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