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Dust collector - what would you do differently?

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  • Dust collector - what would you do differently?

    I am relatively new to this hobby, have been collecting tools over the last few years and now finally have a dedicated basement shop of about 450 sqft.

    My next new tool needs to be a dust collector but I am more than a little intimidated by all the info that I have found on the web - particularly the Bill Pentz site and the sites of a few manufacturers.

    I would be interested to hear from you guys who have already been through this decision making process what you would do differently.

    My tools consist of a table saw, planer, jointer, mitre saw, router table (soon) and assorted hand tools. I could probably line them all up so that one straight run of duct 25ft long could hit them all. Ceilings are a little over 8ft and 240 volts would be doable.

    I have considered spending a bunch on a 2hp cyclone and plumbing it with 6" pipe. I have also considered buying multiple smaller units and locating them right next to the tools.

    One priority is to catch as much of the fine dust as possible as this is a basement shop and I dont want the family breathing my sawdust.

    Thanks for your input.

  • #2
    Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

    450 sq '! i have a serious case of work shop envy!

    for a basement shop, consider an air cleaner in addition to the DC. the DC, set up properly, will get most of the larger stuff, but airborn dust might be a consideration for a basement shop. if you want a piped system, minimum size would probably be 2hp. i would humbly suggest checking out this web site, since you mentioned a cyclone:

    the thien baffle is easy to build and saves wear and tear on DC impellers and filters. additionally, the forum thien's site is linked to will provide you with a wealth of info and examples of sucessful and less than optimal set ups. Pentz's articles are amazing and you can't go wrong following his direction.

    there are a lot of DC out there. the Harbor Freight units appear to be thought of as a good value, but check around. occasionally, CL has some really great bargains on lightly used machines. good luck.
    there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.


    • #3
      Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

      Filters, filters and filters.

      I have the HF DC, which I have had for the best part of a year, having bought it when it went on sale, and only recently got it plumbed up to the table saw.

      I don't have enough hose & fittings (those things add up VERY quickly) to have plumbed up everything simultaneously. I have been swapping between TS & planer, which gets very old, very quickly.

      The RIDGID planer will accept a 2.5 hose, so I thought I would try the shop vac. Result: chips everywhere. I was resigned to the fact that the shopvac was just not up to the task.

      Then, I realised the shopvac was very heavy, and on opening it up, I find the bag has burst, and the filter is clogged to death. Being too mean to buy a new filter, I cleaned it up some with a dry brush, and emptied the body, deciding to do away with the bag and just use the body to collect dust/chips etc. I then tried the planer again, and surprise, surprise, the results were as good as with the DC.

      Now on a mission, I went to the DC, and just lightly tapped the filter (upper) bag, and was amazed at how much dust fell into the bag below. Not chips, but fine dust.

      So the next thing for me will be a better filter for the DC, a Thien separator (these can be integrated into the body of the DC), and some more tubing.


      • #4
        Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

        one thing with the collection of fines and dust one should get into a habit of cleaning them when ever an accumulation arises,
        especially if you have reclaimed some lumber and there are finish on some of the dust,

        SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION Is a real concern,

        I made a dust filter one time when I was starting out, and had a box with a series of furnace filters in the top of the building, (I was lucky that I had smoke detectors that were wired together between the house and the shop) as I came in for a break and about 20 Min's later the smoke detector is squealing, we check the house I go to the shop and the filter is smoldering it had not flamed yet but the filters were glowing and creeping across the filters, I was able to get the fire out and nodamage was done but to the filter unit. but it is a real potential,

        using some type of bag filters that are self cleaning or nearly self cleaning and should be emptied when closing down for the day,similar to what was stated in the above post,

        I have read of a number of floor sanders dust bags that caught fire in the night on a job site as well,
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.


        • #5
          Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

          I have a smaller basement shop where dust collection is an issue. Instead of a "system" that I have no room for, I'm sticking with my 12 gal ShopVac hooked to a recently acquired Onieda Dust Deputy cyclone bucket thing. I only have room for bench-top sized planer, table saw, router table, drill press, etc. So I move the equipment and dust collection stuff around constantly to where ever I can make do. It might be tedious to some, but it works for me, and it keeps costs down.

          I was just testing the dust deputy and my just acquired Ridgid 4516 TS. Both worked fine in terms of dust collection and control. The Onieda system works as advertised. And, I use a dust bag in my Shop Vac. The exhaust air from it is cleaner with the bag and with the Dusty Deputy the bag and filter will last a lot longer giving better suction.

          If the shop vac doesn't hold up in heavier tool use, (like my thickness planer) I might go with the Rockler dust collector that hangs on the wall and hook it up to one tool at a time.

          I agree-- an air cleaner would be a good addition.


          • #6
            Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

            Ohh how I wish I knew back then what I know now.

            First off, I'm excessively jealous of your workshop. My basement shop is 12 x 16, and I've taken over another 8x12 patch in the main part of the basement. That less than a 200 sq ft workshop. :-( and another hundred with 'secondary' machines (mostly sanders). My workshop ceilings are at a spacious 74" high (and I'm 6'1"). So full sized DC's with bags aren't even an option...

            Anyway, I used a Ridgid 12gal shop vac for the better part of two years as my primary dust collector. I put a lot of time and money into getting CleanStream filters, adding 2" ducting, and put a ClearVue cyclone on top of a 20 gallon trash can. The last item really was the game changer and was the only reason I kept using that setup for so long. I could collect probably 40-60 gallons (yes, three trash cans full) of chips and what-not before the vacuum filter needed any attention. I can scarcely explain how pleased I was and am with the CleareVue.

            Now, all is not roses in this story. Planing and jointing overwhelm this setup, consistently. Even when I took the ducting out of the equation, and took a hose directly from the cyclone to the planer, it is simply too much material for the hose. If I took off 1/16" on boards of six-inches or wider, it just clogged up the hose, and the chips backed up, and there ya go.. not good. Same thing with the jointer. When I surface a board, I try to make them as wide as possible. Jointing a 6" wide board produced too much, too fast. Again, clogged up the 2 1/2" hose. Sometimes made it to the cyclone but it couldn't choke it down and clogged up the cyclone.

            For these two reasons, and these alone, I wound up buying the HF portable DC, which uses a 4" hose. It's a little jobby, 650cfm (yeah right), but it worked admirably. Only problem: completely craptacular 30 micron bag. I paid $60-$70 for a 1 micron bag from Penn State, which was superb. This was OK in my tiny shop as it sat on the floor under my TS's right side wing and rails.

            So my DC system now consisted of two setups: the shop-vace and cyclone for most task (tablesaw, sanders, router table, shop cleanup, etc), and the 4" Franken-vacuum. And there we go for 2 years. Total cost: $29 for vac (Hellllooo Black Friday!), $29 for filter, $150ish for cyclone, $50 for ducting, $10 for extra hoses, $99 for HF unit, $60 for bag. $430ish when said and done.

            Then, I saw on craigslist a JET 1100 *with canister*, for $275. It's the Dirt Dog 2 micron model, but I'm ok with that, and it was in great shape. Given my tiny shop it was a squeeze to get it in, and involved moving my tablesaw over a bit. But it rocks the casbah. The noise level is *less*, which actually surprised me. It's a lower pitched hum, instead of the shop-vac 'whine'. I left the 2" ducting in place, as it was perfectly sufficient for sanding, TS use, and everything else I was using the shop-vac for. But now I can have two gates open at once, as the total aiflow is higher. It easily handles planing and jointing, and lemme tell you, the floor sweep collection point is my new favorite thing. I miss the convenience of emptying the metal trash can, but I'm working on a rigged up bag-to-trashcan skirt thing....

            Instead of moving around DC machines, or running hose extensions all over the shop, I just have one Rockler expanda-hose. It's the hose that compresses to 3 feet, but extends to 21 feet. I have a quick-fitting blast gate on there which I have a keyed clamp on. I just attach it to my planer/jointer (5 seconds) and time to work.

            Bottom line: In retrospect, since I've now spent over $700 experimenting, I should've just bought a full sized model with canister to begin with, (the new JET versions run about $700) and saved hours and hours of frustration, moving hoses and machines around, hooking up extension hoses, and what-not.

            It's a lotta cash, but as someone has listed in their signature: Buy quality, and only cry once.
            Buy the right thing to begin with, and you'll be happy from the start. Given your shop size, a big-boy DC is called for.

            A more cost effective (?) option:
            The HF 2hp DC is on sale, in store only, for something like $150. At that price, you could easily find a canister or upgraded bag options. Look in most any woodworking magazine in the last two months and you'll see their ads for it.

            Then spend the money you saved on a good air cleaner. This IS a necessity, in smaller workshops especially.


            • #7
              Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

              Thanks for all the helpful replies. My hope is to get into a 2hp cyclone with 6 inch duct to each machine. But obviously the investment there is pretty substantial. For those who admire the 450sqft shop ... I should tell you that this space is pretty much my payoff for agreeing to let my wife buy her big dream house in the country. Look at it that way, and this is the most expensive 450 sqft of cold, dark basment space I have ever seen!


              • #8
                Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

                One topic you all seem to have forgotten..NOISE LEVEL

                Keep in mind in an enclosed area the dust collector can and will be noisy.
                Besides comparing the obvious specifications look at the noise ratings in DB.

                You should be ok under say 80DB but then with the power tool noise and duct collector noise you should look at comfortable ear protection.

                Cactus Man


                • #9
                  Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

                  I just recently got a DC unit after using a shop vac for several years. The unit is a Penn State 1.5hp w/canister. For a canister unit it was surprisingly affordable.It is runs quiet. My RAS makes more noise than the DC unit, and the shop vac was way louder.

                  The way my shop is currently configured I have my DC, TS, and RAS all on one side with the DC hooked to both machines. If I keep this configuration and add more machines I will make a Y connection to the hose from the saws and add a blast gate or two and roll the machines in position for use and then back to storage area.

                  If I had to do it over again I would have gotten a DC when I first got into working with power tools. Makes a huge difference!!


                  • #10
                    Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

                    Just as a courtesy plug (no affiliation, just a happy customer), Tools-Plus is having a 15% off sale around Thanksgiving. If I rememberthe prices right, the JET 1100 *canister* model is around $550 with that discount.

                    I noticed that one in particular because it's basically what I have. 1.5 HP (110v, FYI), 1100 cfm, 1micron canister.

                    Doing a tad more research for ya...
                    Strangely, the JET 1200 cfm model, which is 2hp, 230v, also 1 micron canister is *cheaper* and would come to around $525.

                    Their shipping is CHEAP, at $6.50 an order. Not bad for an item that usually incurs extra fees.


                    Not as cheap as the HF 2hp unit, but far superior quality, and once you've gone canister, you'll never go back.


                    • #11
                      Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

                      I originally bought a Steel City 1.5HP. I didn't like it, it vibrated and was very noisy. I was able to return it and they, after a lot of extra homework the features below are the things I looked at:

                      - price
                      - performance
                      - noise
                      - availability of canister filter

                      I ended up with a 2 HP PennState DC 2000B with a canister filter. It will run on 110@18 amps, but this is not such a good idea, so I decided to run a 220 to my garage.

                      The DC I bought is an overkill for my 1 car garage shop but I'm happy with the purchase and I will be providing a review soon.
                      In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.


                      • #12
                        Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?


                        There are differences of opinion, of course. I got the infamous $150 Harbor Freight collector, and am very, very happy with it. It is the only DC I've ever had, though, so I might be a little biased....

                        The one thing I would do differently is re: the collector tubing itself. I used the flex stuff for the whole thing, and that is a mistake.

                        Get the polystyrene septic tank stuff for all of your straight runs. Simple "Fernco" connectors will get you "back on track" with the DC hoses and fittings...

                        HD has the poly and fernco stuff, at least here...


                        • #13
                          Re: Dust collector - what would you do differently?

                          Capturing the harmful fines is called dust collection. Collecting the wood chips ( usually called sawdust) is a benefactor of an effective dust collection strategy.

                          Regardless of whether you use a shop vac, single stage DC unit or a cyclone DC unit, the fact remains that the single most important consideration in dust collection is capturing the fines (1 micron sized particles).

                          And the most effective means of fines mitigation is capturing them as close to the point of creation as possible. The user has to decide what is the best solution to this endeavor. Budget, space, noise are usually the primary factors shaping this decision.

                          An air filtration system is a good means of scrubbing the shop air during and especially after you have finished your work in the shop.

                          As an example of effective dust collection, a table saw needs DC below the blade and above the blade. Often times the collection above the blade is ignored and fines are ejected into the air with great efficiency.

                          I consider my power tools to be glorified wood dust producers and give substantial consideration as to how the tool creates the fines, where those fines are being directed and how best to capture them. Collecting fines from a band saw is less complicated than table saw. And a miter saw is more challenging than the table saw.