Simple Shop Vac to Hovercraft Mod

Hovercraft Shop Vac from MAKE Volume 29

Hovercraft Shop Vac from MAKE Volume 29

Shop Vacs are essential in the workshop, but sometimes the casters seem to have a mind of their own. How about using the vacuum’s discharge air to make it obediently float behind you? That’s exactly what maker Bill Wells did, and his how-to appears on the pages of MAKE Volume 29. Bill essentially took off the wheels, attached the vacuum to a hover deck made of MDF, installed an additional hover hose to direct the discharge air, and added a hover skirt made from old exercise mat foam. Check out the full mod on Make: Projects. Build one and never be annoyed with those casters again.

Hovercraft Shop Vac Illustration: MAKE Volume 29

Hovercraft Shop Vac from MAKE Volume 29

From the pages of MAKE Volume 29:

We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE Volume 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.


10 thoughts on “Simple Shop Vac to Hovercraft Mod

  1. Jeff S. says:

    Wow, brilliant! The only downside I can see is if you’re vacuuming up sawdust on the ground. The vacuum would blow it all over the place.

  2. Alan Dove says:

    I have fond memories of my mom vacuuming the house with an old Hoover Constellation. The fun part was watching it drift effortlessly across the hardwood floor, then get dragged by hard yanks on the hose to get it across the shag carpet, which completely stopped it from hovering. For a shop vac, though, the idea is perfect.

  3. Ken says:

    Interresting idea, until the vac is unplugged and you need to move it somewhere where there isn’t a power supply. Casters work (for good or bad) with or without power.

  4. MAKE | Aerofex Hoverbike on its Way to Star Wars Speeder Status says:

    […] Simple Shop Vac to Hovercraft Mod 0.000000 0.000000 Share this: Pin ItMoreEmailShare on TumblrDiggLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. […]

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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