Silence Your Shop Vac
Most vacuums are screaming banshees. A simple box stops the madness
Sanding used to give me the choice of two evils: I could use the sander’s onboard dust bag and let my lungs be the final filter, or I could attach a shop vacuum and replace dust pollution with noise pollution. To solve both problems, I built a particleboard box and lined it with acoustic padding. With the vacuum inside, the noise reduction was so great that I had it tested by a sound engineer. He registered an amazing 25-decibel reduction (see chart) to a level below that of an average conversation.
The vacuum can be switched on and off from outside the box, it will work with tool-activated vacuums, and I can now sand at will without creating either air or noise pollution.
Make the box in a morning
The concept and the design are simple. Acoustic panels absorb 50% or more of the sound that strikes them; the sound not absorbed is bounced into other parts of the box, gradually reducing the noise. The internal surfaces of the walls and top are lined with acoustic padding, and the exhaust from the vacuum passes through a baffle to extend its contact with the padding before exiting at the rear of the box.
Noise-containment box. The dimensions shown give an internal space of 20 in. deep by 20 in. wide by 24 in. tall. Click to enlarge.
The box shown here holds a 5-hp Ridgid vacuum, but the size can be adjusted to fit any machine. You’ll need the internal dimensions of the box to be at least 4 in. greater than the dimensions of the vacuum to allow space for the padding and for easy removal of the vacuum for emptying. For this size box, you’ll need a sheet and a half of 3/4-in.-thick particleboard or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The greater density of…