[From a thread originally posted here. - VM]
While there is a lot of info on the subject of vacuum systems that can be located on the various forums, not many walk you through the process of putting one together. I researched vacuum systems, read every post I could on the subject and tried to get an idea of what it would take to put together an affordable system. While I am sure there are many different ways to construct a vac system, here is a simple system that works and cost less than $200.
The normal disclaimer: I have learned what I know through active participation here on Family Woodworking & SawMill Creek forums and trial and error. The following photos offer only a few of the many possible ways to hook up a vacuum system. Most importantly, if something doesn’t look or ‘feel’ safe to you – DON’T do it!
At this point I want to give credit to two folks who helped make my vac system become a reality:
Vaughn McMillan, (familywoodworking.org) from whom I borrowed the design of the cart, and
Tom Steyer, (sawmillcreek.org) who not only listed and sourced the individual components I needed but designed and built a custom rotary adapter to fit my Jet 1642 lathe. Thanks Tom! Without your detailed assistance my vac system would still be in the research stage! Tom makes adapters for several popular lathe models. You can
contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Sawmill Creek.
The following items were obtained from Surplus Center (www.surpluscenter.com)
(in the form of Description, Item No., Qty)
Gast 0523 220VAC Vacuum Pump, # 4-1540, qty 1
Air Filter, # 4-1565, qty 2
Vacuum Gauge, # 21-1583-CA, qty 1
¼” NPT Brass Ball Valve, # 20-1486, qty 1
1/8” NPT Air Silencer, # 4-1657, qty 1
Bushing ¼”x1/8” NPTF, # 455-HH, qty 1
The following items were obtained from Menards:
3/8” ID x 20’ Vinyl Tubing, # 6840442, qty 1
½” ID x 10’ Vinyl Tubing, # 6840455, qty 1
¼” NPT x 3/8” ID Hose Barb, # 6801821, qty 7
3/8” NPT x ½” ID Hose Barb, # 6801847, qty 2
3/8” x ¼” Brass Adapter, # 6805940, qty 2
¼” Brass Elbow, # 6805827, qty 1
¼” Brass T - Female Threads, # 6805115, qty 2
¼” NPT Brass Barrel, qty 1
9/16” to 1” Hose Clamps, qty 10
20A/250V Standard Plug, # 3635362, qty 1
20A Double Pole Switch , # 3637535, qty 1
20A/250V Single Receptacle, # 3638974, qty 1
2” Rigid Casters, # 2171995, qty 2
I also picked up a Fram G2 fuel filter from Wal-Mart for less than $3. It’s used as an small air filter for the relief valve. There are a few other parts such as junction boxes, PVC conduit, outlet covers, etc that you can pick up at your local home improvement store as needed.
I wanted the vac system to be portable so that when finished using it I could store it out of the way of my lathe. I modified Vaughn’s idea of a cart/hand truck and used scrap pieces of lumber I had on hand. I am sure with a little thought and planning you can come up with something that fits your needs.
Attachment 17485 Attachment 17486
Building the System
I installed the Gast pump such that the input/output were oriented to the left which placed the pump wiring close to the wall of the cart and out of the way. The pump was mounted to the ¾” plywood using ¼” bolts and lock washers so it wouldn’t vibrate loose.
On the front side I installed a junction box (for power) at the location I wanted the pump wires to come through the wall. A ¾” hole was drilled through the junction box and plywood wall for the wiring. A second junction box (for the on/off switch) was then installed directly above the power box. I installed a short piece of ½” PVC conduit that I just happened to have left over from installing the 220 VAC drop for my lathe.
For the power hookup I used pieces of an old 50’ 16-3 outdoor extension cord. I cut a piece about 12’ long and installed the 220V standard plug on one end and routed the other end through the pump side of the wall and into the power junction box. From there I threaded it through the conduit and into the on/off switch box. A 3’ piece of the extension cord was then run from the on/off switch box back through the conduit and into the power junction box.
The on/off switch (220VAC double pole/single throw) was then wired with the long power cord connected to the input side of the switch and the short 3’ piece connected to the output side of the switch. Pulled all the excess wiring back down into the power junction box, installed the switch in the box and attached the cover plate.
Next, using wire nuts, I wired the Gast pump to the 3’ piece of orange extension cord. Made sure all the connections were secure - then installed the cover. If you have to ask how to wire the pump to a 220 VAC line – PLEASE get someone qualified to make the connection for you! While I have no problems showing you how to make point to point connections on the vacuum lines (worse that can happen is you lose vacuum), if you hook up the 220 VAC wrong and it could get serious!
This is where the fun begins as there are any number of ways you can route the vac lines. A simple overview of what we are going to do - connect the lathe to the vacuum pump, provide a filter to keep the wood dust out of the pump, install a gauge to monitor the vacuum and provide a means to regulate that vacuum.
Starting at the lathe we have to use a special vacuum chuck. These need to be different sizes and can be either bought or made in your shop. I will give an example later of a simple homemade chuck that works great.
In addition to the pump you need an adapter that provides a means to attach the vacuum hose to the spindle. There are a number of adapters out there that fit different lathes but I decided to go with the adapter Tom Steyer designed as it allows me to just plug it into the handwheel without having to bolt it on or buy yet another threaded adapter. I also love the fact that when I am done using the vac system I simply pull the adapter from the handwheel and wheel the vac system away!
Step 1: Connect the rotary adapter to the input air filter using the 3/8” ID vinyl tubing. I used about 4’ of tubing but the amount is up to you.
Remember to use pipe tape for all your threaded connections!
I installed a ¼” NPT elbow at the adapter in order to route the vinyl tube away from the lathe. I then connected a ¼” to 3/8” barb to that elbow so I could connect the vinyl tubing.
The air filter has a ¼” NPT input connection but a ½” output barb – don’t ask me why they are different cause I don’t know. I installed a ¼” to 3/8” barb on the input and slid on the vinyl tubing. I actually used a hair dryer to warm the vinyl tube before sliding it on the barb and it helped a lot! I then secured both tube connections with small hose clamps.