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Is it a short-term solution to use a shop vacuum, such as the big boy from Ridgid, as a dust collector for my table saw, planer and jointer until I can get the funds to get a dedicated dust collection system?
Micheal--with the tools you mentioned, the short answer is NO!
Between the volume of air flow needed, volume of dust/chips produced, and the chances of clogging the 2 1/2" hose, the shop vac is just not going to do the right job, particularly on your planner and table saw. On the other hand, I've used my shop vac, with great success on portable sanders and my router. I think you could probably use it on the jointer, with shallow cuts.
I've had a small DC, which didn't cost as much as some of the premium shop vacs. It's been fantastic. Adapted each of my tools to fit a standard 4" quick disconnect fitting, so I just roll it around and hook it up. Does a great job, both for the high volume of dust from planner and table saw, down to a 5 micron filter bag---it really keeps the air clean, and it's actually quieter than a shop vac. I got the Penn State because it included 5 mircon bags and now they offer an upgrade to 1 mircon, at the time you buy it. By all means, check out what Rigid has. I've never seen one, but overall, they put out a good product as well---to me, it was the filtering capacity that made my decission.
The JET DC1100C has a 2 micron filter on top of it! Just got one this past weekend. Use a seperator with it, and you are in business for sure! My shop vac could not keep up with my TP1300. Now I have no worry at all...........
Yes it is. The filter can be purchased for any 20" DC system for $200. I bought the DC-1100C for $400. The regular DC-1100 was $290, so I got teh filter for $110 as I see it. It filters down to 2 microns. The JET rep says it is expected to last a min of 6 years, so that does not come out too bad in the long run. I used it last night. Had SWMBO watch the filter area, and we could not see any bypass. Seems to be the way to go........
From the money being talked about, I think you ought to let your fingers walk over to the Penn State site. If you know you want a 1 or 2 micron filter now, you should consider them, since they have a trade up option on buying the DC. For a few extra bucks (less than half a new equivilant bag) you can simply order the unit, with the upgraded bags. They've had great reviews as well. Very quiet.