WT187 – Realistic Dust Collection

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On today’s show, we’re talking about your dust collection questions.

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– Nick – “Sparkling Shannon was talking about cutting out the protective grill on his 1.5 HP dust collector to prevent it from getting clogged with shavings. As he mentioned, the predictable side-effect of this is that if you suck up a chunk-o-something, it’s going to make a hell of a bang, and possibly even damage the impeller blade. I’m sure you all have some experience with diet separators, but it bears mentioning that it is a simple solution for those of us without cyclonic dust collectors. A bunch of companies make them either as stand-alone units (like the Dust Deputy – featuring a link to TWW — or the Laguna DS16), or as a lid that you attach to an Oscar-the-Grouch-style metal trash can (Woodcraft and Rockler have versions of this, and it is what I chose for my shop). With one of these placed in-line before the collector, you can suck up anything with impunity (screws, wood scraps, knitting needles, etc), and it will drop in the separator before getting to the impeller blade. It also means changing your DC bag a lot less often during planing and jointing, as the heavy chips stay in the separator, leaving the DC to deal only with the fine stuff. You do lose a bit of suction in the process, but I take it out of the circuit for operations that I know generate only fine dust (bandsaw, table saw, sanding, etc).”


– Keith – “I have a small garage shop – about 325 square feet. I’m constantly vacuuming, sweeping and wiping off dust from every surface in my shop. My CT36 is hooked up to my Kapex which does a decent job and i have one hooked up to my ETS 125 which does a great job. My shop-vac runs back and forth to my Ridgid table saw, router table and Dewalt thickness planer when they are in use. It’s time to invest in a dust collection system. I narrowed it down (right or wrong) to the Onieda Dust Cobra and the Jet DC-1100VX-CK Cone Dust Collector. The Oneida is about $200 more, but only has 245 CFM compared to the 1100CFM on the Jet. I don’t get it. I’m not looking to have hard ducting to all of my machines – portability and hooking up each machine as i use it is fine with me. I just need suction. Lots of it. I know you don’ t like recommending specific brands, but is there a noticeable difference you see in these 2 machines that might help me sway one way or the other? Any advice would be great. Thanks!”

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11 replies on “WT187 – Realistic Dust Collection”

Be careful with the box fan set up. Like a dust collector with a 30 micron bag is actually a dust spreader – a furnace filter can simply spread the fine dust everywhere.

I actually use 2 of these to filter my shop (shop made) and it works amazingly well. But, a standard furnace filter doesn’t cut it. In fact it makes things worse. Whatever the fan is pointed at is covered in dust. I use a MIRV 14 hospital grade filter. Those are expensive to I have a standard furnace filter (MIRV9) right behind it to keep the larger particles off the expensive filter.

Over the last year I have really concentrated on reducing dust in my shop which is a 20×20 garage. I have a dust collector but also bought a CT36, TS55, and a Festool sander to help out. In addition I have adapted my smaller tools to the CT36. My dust collector has a cyclone unit in front of it. I don’t have one of the large air cleaners but I do use a combination of a box fan with a high quality filter that is protected by a regular filter and a also use a small downdraft box. The first box I built was based on the Rockler downdraft panels (http://www.rockler.com/downdraft-table-panels). They have free plans for it. I have two adapters on it now. One for the dust collection (4″) and one for the 50mm hose to my CT36. When I am hand sanding I can use either to pull fine dust down into the unit. I can also turn it on its side when using an ROS and the CT36 connected to it works great. An improvement was an insert I built to close down the interior space to the downdraft box to that the CT36 could really pull in a lot more. Creates a nice breeze. You can also connect a shop vac to the type of box or embed it in a table top. Would be a good option for some people. I have sanded, stained, and made fine cuts while using this box and have no problems with it.

That 70″ w/c max suction on the Onieda Dust Cobra would be 70″ of water column, inches of water column being a unit of measurement for pressure, Not the distance from the unit to the machine.

One thing to keep in mind is that our lungs are designed to filter dust and particles. The dust you can see is mostly harmless. The harmful, potentially cancer causing particles are ones that are too tiny to see. The particles in cigarette smoke, for instance.

Unfortunately, it’s best to think about dust collection as a clean-up convenience, not a major health benefit.

I have a history of bronchial issues (not related to woodworking) that I prefer not to aggravate or worsen. Thus this summer I have promised to upgrade the dust collection & dust abatement in my shop.

So a big thanks for such a timely topic for me!

Also, has anyone purchased and used a Demo Air Net? I have one and love the thing. Granted it is only a 5 micron filter but with a medium fan it has made a big difference in the amount standing dust in my 20’ x 24’ shop.

One way to move from intuition to data regarding the mount of dust in the air is to use a particle counter. Dylos makes one that sells for about $270 on Amazon. It’s bit pricy, but it gives me immediate feedback about whether to gear up with the respirator, based on the actual air quality as measured by the number of small particles (i.e. the harmful ones) that are in my air NOW. Also, it is pretty amazing to watch the counter go from insanely unhealthy to good while using the ceiling mounted air cleaner. I’ve heard that some woodworking clubs have purchased one for their members to use to get better informed about the risks they’re facing; seems like a great idea.

I’d distinguish between suction and air movement. A shop vac (or dust cobra, or festool dust extractor, they’re all the same principle) is designed to suck a low volume of air through a small hose with high static pressure (suction).

Dust collectors are designed to suck a high volume of air through a large hose with lower static pressures.

“A shop vac (or dust cobra, or festool dust extractor, they’re all the same principle) is designed to suck a low volume of air through a small hose with high static pressure (suction).” That has been true for a long time, but advances are coming. Many shops have a combination of larger floor standing stationary machines and smaller bench top tools. One needs high volume, the other high suction. Oneida-Air now sells cyclone dust collectors that offer both high volume and high suction. A seldom=appreciated benefit of such systems is that they can allow smaller main ducting in some cases, and can also help avoid the need to open additional blast gates when smaller tools are connected to the ducting system. The high suction will pull through more air than the strictly high volume cyclones now in common use.

I’m in the planning stages of setting up a dc system and I’d like to instead of rolling around a dust extractor I want to run a 4 inch pipe along the ceiling then connect a2 inch flex hose which can be pulled down like a hose reel and then when I’m not using it the house will be up and out of my way. Does anyone know if this will work good enough to be effective? Great topic. ..

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