UPDATE – Clear Vue now has an updated version of their Mini CV-06 that performs MUCH better than the one shown in this video. Check out the review here!
A cyclone separator is essentially a bucket with a fancy lid. When connected to a vacuum source, the lid creates a cyclonic suction that collects large dust particles minimally, and the small dust particles at best. By adding one of these to a standard shop vac or dust extractor, you can collect much of the dust before it ever reaches your vac’s filter. So why would you want to do this? One reason is safety. Many times, a filter will get clogged with both large and small dust particles, eventually clogging up the system. This could lead to dust leaking through the system and being expelled back into the shop air. By removing the large particles and even some of the smaller particles, your vac filters don’t have to work as hard and are less likely to become clogged. At the very least, it will take a lot longer for a clog to occur.
The second reason is to save money. I never run my shop vac or dust extractors without a filter bag. Disposable filter bags wind up costing me a lot of money over time. By separating out the chips and dust BEFORE the vac, I can simply empty the bucket over and over and the fill rate on the disposable bags drops dramatically.
I’ll be reviewing the following cyclone separators: The Oneida Dust Deputy, The ClearVue Mini-CV06, and Rockler’s Dust Right Vortex.
The ClearVue CV06 comes in at the highest price point of all three of these units at $149. The Dust Right Vortex is $89 but can often be found on sale for $69. The Dust Deputy Deluxe kit retails for $79. Oneida also carries other kits costing as much as $199 for the Ultimate model and as little as $39 for the DIY standalone cyclone body.
Winner: Dust Deputy
One of the greatest frustrations in dust collection is dealing with various port and hoses sizes. Fortunately, all three kits come with their own short length of hose for connecting the cyclone to the dust extractor. I had no trouble connecting all three units to both my Festool CT33 and my Rigid Shop Vac. The port for the tool connection was a bit of a different story. I had three hoses to test: my large Festool boom arm hose, my 36 mm Festool hose, and my standard Rigid shop vac hose.
Mini CV06 – All hoses connected with no problem.
Dust Right Vortex – All hoses connected with no problem.
Dust Deputy Deluxe – The large Festool boom arm hose and the Rigid shop vac hose both connected with no trouble. But I was not able to securely connect my 36 mm Festool hose. The diameter of the hose port would have worked just fine, but this particular one does not allow the Dust Deputy’s port to penetrate far enough for the friction fit to engage.
Winners: Dust Right Vortex & ClearVue Mini CV06
The one major drawback of a cyclone separator is that you now have one more thing to lug around the shop. Since it is essentially tethered to your vacuum source, the whole setup and be quite a pain in the neck. Many folks make custom carts specifically for this purpose. But the manufacturers of these units didn’t leave us hanging.
Dust Deputy – Includes casters for rolling around as well as an attachment kit for mounting to a dust extractor.
Mini CV06 – Does not come with casters but does come with an attachment kit for mounting to a dust extractor.
Dust Right Vortex – Includes easy to attach casters but does not include a mounting kit.
Winner: Dust Deputy
All of these units are plastic. Nothing really fancy about them, but there are some minor differences to consider.
Dust Right Vortex – Sturdy thick plastic with a twist-on lid. Only thing I don’t like about it is the crappy rigid plastic hose. This is the type of hose that will either kink or crack if stepped on. Since it also holds its shape, it will decrease mobility somewhat.
Mini CV06 – Initially seemed to have the highest build quality. The plastic cyclone was made from thicker plastic and the lower profile offers less of a chance of tipping. The lid is fantastic on this unit as it twists and threads onto the bucket. Once the threads are engaged, you have to pull a small lever to twist it back off. The kit included a high quality flexible connector hose too. Unfortunately, these positive aspects were overshadowed by the fact that the bucket collapsed under pressure. While this could be circumstantial or pure bad luck, it happened.
Dust Deputy – There really isn’t anything remarkable about the build quality. At the same time, there isn’t anything overly negative. The kit comes with nice flexible hose equal in quality to the Mini CV06. My one complaint about the Dust Deputy is the lid. The simple pop-on pop-off lid is very likely to detach at a very inconvenient time. But if one were to adopt the policy of never picking the unit up by the cyclone, this should never be an issue.
Winners: Dust Right Vortex & Dust Deputy
The performance test was very simple. I sanded a soft maple board with 80 grit paper for 5 minutes straight. I then made three cuts at the sliding compound miter saw. I figured this would be a decent mix of small and large dust. The sandpaper was changed between each test and I did my best to keep even pressure on the sander.
Dust Right Vortex – A moderate to heavy amount of fine dust found its way into the dust vac compartment.
Mini CV06 – A moderate amount of fine dust found its way into the dust vac compartment.
Dust Deputy – A minimal amount of dust found its way into the dust vac compartment.
To say I was surprised by these results would be an understatement. It isn’t often that the cheapest option in a tool test is also the best option. Both the Mini CV06 and the Dust Right Vortex will get the job done, but the combination of price, overall quality, and performance of the Dust Deputy make it the clear winner here.