Dust Collection #1: Dust Collection System Overview

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Blog entry by mbroz posted 02-28-2015 12:22 AM 10265 reads 7 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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As part of setting up my wood shop, I decided adding a dust collection system was high on my priority list. I did a fair amount of research (somewhere between due diligence and mild obsessiveness) and did my best to make the decisions that fit my needs. I decided to post some information here since I got a lot of good data and advice from others here (and other sites). Sorry if this gets a bit long.

Please note that I recognize there are many opinions on the “right” way to do things and I am sure I have violated those guidelines in many ways. I’m not claiming to be an expert in this stuff…just a guy trying to improve his shop so I can build stuff and stay healthy while I’m at it.

Dust collection for the following machines (only one machine in use at at time):
- cabinet table saw
- sliding miter saw
- 8” jointer
- 20” helical head planer
- mill drill
- tenon machine (Woofer)
- drawdown table (plus an orbital sander)
- shaper

Obviously, the planer will create the most material, but I think the miter saw and sanding create the most annoying (and dangerous) dust.

Major Parts of the system:
- Blower: a used Jet 1.5 HP I got off craigslist for $250 practially new
- 6” thin wall PVC (S&D 2729 I believe), reduced down to 4” at the machines in most places; almost $800 in pipe and fittings
- some 6” clear flex hose (from Lee Valley)..about $7 per foot I think ($100)
- Lee Valley aluminum “self cleaning” blast gates; 10 6” and a few 4” gates for about $250
- an old 55 gallon drum for collection (free)
- Oneida Super Dust Deputy (metal version for $230)
- miscellaneous dust collection adapters, 4” flex, X-treme tape, etc. from Rockler (maybe $400 all together)
- WoodRiver remote switch ($100)
- cost to date: aprox $2K

Main Design Decisions:

a. Considering the distances and number of corners and machines in involved. I decided to go with 6” ducting. Part of this decision was to allow me to upgrade from the 1.5 HP blower at some point in the future. I used thin wall PVC to help save cost and make installation easier (thin wall PVC is pretty easy to cut and customize).

b. After looking at the cheap ways to go with waste gates, I went straight to the aluminum, self cleaning type from Lee Valley. The 6” gates are $18 a piece. Not cheap, but cheap enough to not build them myself. I am very happy with these gates. Super high quality, they do not get clogged up, and easy to install. Sometimes they can be a little sticky…tapping them with a 2×2 takes care of that.

c. One of my big decisions was the design of the blower and separator cone. In the end I paired the 1.5HP motor from my Jet collector to an Onieda Super Dust Deputy…and….I put the blower ahead of the Dust Deputy in the system. Shocking, I know. Of course, this means that the larger chunks (and potentially screws, etc.) could end up in the blower. I debated this quite a bit…my reasons were 3 fold:
—- It mounted easier because the blower has a 6” input and a 5” output and the Dust deputy has a 5” input and 6” output (and remember this is all hooking to 6” PVC). So this made it pretty easy to hook everything together with no adapters.
—- Mounted together like this, the airflow of the blower and cyclone have compatible spin. Mounting with the funnel first, puts the blower with a clockwise spin and the funnel with a counter-clockwise spin. Pentz says it only makes a big difference with higher volume setups than what I have, but I decided to care anyway.
—- One of the main differences I see is that the collection barrel is under pressure the way I built it (blower pushes air into the cyclone) where it would be under “suction” the normal way. It seems to me more folks should talk about that difference. With the barrel “under suction”, getting all the connections at the barrel air tight is very important for good performance of the system (no leaks) and good particle separation (no reverse airflow in the funnel). Done with the blower in front, and therefore the barrel under pressure, a little leaking does not affect performance. Of course, if there are leaks, it will push dust into the shop.

d. I am lucky that I can run the exhaust end outside without a filter. I am sure this helps my performance a great deal. I get very little dust out there except when I let the barrel over fill…in which case the cyclone stops working and all the shaving head outside….oops :-)

e. I ran pipe high as I could(including mounting the blower over 8’ off the ground). This probably increased the overall distances a bit (drops to machines are longer), but it kept the pipe out of the way.
—I did not concern myself with static buildup after reading much input on the web. It is true that I can get shocked in a few places on occasion (mostly where I have 4” clear flex pipe where larger pieces are being pulled thru the pipe). Maybe someday I’ll ground those areas. Perhaps I don’t get shocked much because most of the pipe is up where I can’t reach it. Perhaps PVC doesn’t build up static as much as metal pipe. Not sure….but the important part is it doesn’t seem to be a problem for me.

- Overall, the system is great.
- The blower is powerful enough to do what I want. I know, all the Pentz data will say it’s not powerful enough…but it’s working for me.
- I meant to get the molded plastic version of the Dust Deputy but somehow got the metal one instead. As many reviews state, it will leak unless you fix it. I spread some high quality silicone calk on all the seams and welds on the inside of the cyclone (since it’s under pressure) and also spread some on the outside in a couple places. It sealed up fine using that technique. Disappointing to get such poor fit and finish, but not too bad to fix.

What would I do different next time?
- Probably the biggest difference would be picking up the blower and funnel from Clear Vue Cyclones. It would have added another $1000 or so to my system (almost 50% increase) and impacted my design a bit.
- Try to incorporate some clear piping. Some clear pipe in the middle of the long horizontal runs, near every machine, and going into the dust barrel would help make sure is working well. Right now I have clear flex hose in a few places (most notably just above the barrel so I can remove the top easily) and I find that super helpful when monitoring the system during use.

What are my favorite things about the system?
- Obviously, it keeps my shop cleaner and (hopefully) me healthier.
- The Onieda cyclone works better than I imagined. It works so well, it’s sort of hard to believe. I get very little dust out the exhaust side of the system unless I let the barrel overfill.
- The WoodRiver remote switch (from Woodcraft) that I use to turn the system on and off. Love this thing! The remote fob comes with a little clip that I hook to my carharts and goes everywhere with me as I work. A quick push to start the DC system and a quick push to turn it off…a HUGE time saver and I honestly think it makes me more safe in the shop. I use the DC system even for little quick cuts on the chop saw and I don’t leave the DC system on any longer than needed (and I think a quieter shop is a safer shop).
- My custom mounting of the blower and cyclone funnel worked better than I thought it would.

- I tried to organize my DC piping so that most branches all start in the same place (a 3 way wye sort of arrangement) so I could place the gates close to each other. I have 3 main branches and switching to/from any of them is a one stop affair. In addition, the branches that have multiple machines on them usually only have 1 common use machine so that most switch overs only require setting the gates at the main junction. For instance, the 2 most used machines I have are the chop saw and the table saw. These are on 2 separate main branches and share their branches with less used tools (like the jointer and the drawdown table).

- My custom draw-down table works much better than I thought it would. Basically, I took one end of my long bench used for my chopsaw (which is simple 2×4 construction with plywood top), enclosed the underside with an extra piece of plywood and some caulk, drilled some holes in the top, and ran 6” flex with a 6” gate into the corner. In addition, I added a wye to the 6” flex and attached 2” hose and my orbital sander. So now I can sand indoors with almost no dust build up. Note: one thing that makes this super usable is the bench I built for my chop saw is higher than standard (43” I think) so I don’t have to bend over at all when sanding (or chopsawing). A lot of my sanding can now be done indoors. Note that I put a gate on the 6” hose that goes into the table top as well as on the 4” wye that goes to the sander; having the 6” gate 90% open, and the 4” gate 25% open seems like the best configuration.

- I ran the pipe runs high. I was worried about accessibility to blast gates, etc. but it has not been a problem. My main 3 way branch is in a spot where I can step up easily and switch the gates. The only gate not easily accessible was handled with a pulley and a couple of lines that come down from the gate.
- I designed the system with clean-outs at the end of all the branches. This has helped a couple times when I overloaded the system and had to open up the cleanout to clear the pipe.
- I added a wye to the drop running to the table saw so I could roll a moveable machine up to it and hook in. This has been very helpful for tools that are not stationary (like my planer and shaper).
- I built a custom stationary floor sweep out of 2x and used a metal flange in front to create a nice ramp for sweeping shavings, etc. into the sweep. In addition, I bought some super high power magnets (about the size of quarters with smooth edges) and stuck them to the underside of the metal sweep ramp; so if I do sweep a screw or nail, the magnets might pick it up before it gets sucked into the DC system. This worked much better than I thought it would. I may buy some more magnets with holes in the middle and use screws to mount them on the inside of the sweep box for even more chance of grabbing nails, etc. Note that these rare earth magnets are VERY strong…I actually had 2 of them come together on a small piece of skin of my hand they stuck together so hard they broke the skin enough to start bleeding. I couldn’t believe it.

- I picked up some special “flex” hose from Rockler that also stays in place after you move it. This was really helpful for the mill drill press…I can just push it out of the way while I’m setting up, and then pull it into place before I start drilling. It isn’t great at holding it’s position, but pretty good.

Some Details:
1. Notes about connections:

a. the 6” PVC ID is a bit too big for the blast gates; to fix that I do the following:
—wrapped the blast gate flange with X-treme tape (I cut the tape in half lengthwise since the tape is twice as wide as the flange on the gates) until the pipe fits snugly (usually 3 or 4 wraps)
—- used a sawsall or jigsaw with a fine tooth blade to cut 6 to 8 1” slots in the end of the pipe (so it will cinch down)
—- drill 6 holes thru the pipe and gate flange and screwed them together (self tapping metal screws are best but I also just used 1” drywall screws at times)
—- one more wrap with X-treme tape to ensure no leaks

b. the 6” PVC and 6” flex are about the same diameter so they don’t connect up; to fix that I:
—- transition from PVC to flex at a blast gate; the PVC hooks to one side as described above and the flex goes right on the other side with a normal hose clamp; this was often a natural place for a blast gate anyway
—- create a transition using a 6” PVC fitting (like a wye, or a coupling). I found that the flex will slide into the female end of fitting if you work at it a bit:
—- I coated the inside of the fitting with some caulk and slid the hose inside the fitting
—- to push the hose in, try pushing on the wire with a the butt end of a carpenters pencil working your way around in a circle following the wire (this is easier with 2 people); once it is in a ways, you can use a longer stick with a flat end (a painters stir stick works nicely if the hose is short enough) to push the flex down into the fitting better
—- once the hose was all the way into the fitting, I used X-treme tape to wrap the outside of the joint to keep everything in place until the caulk dried
—- In retrospect, I think I could have built some sleeves out of sheet metal (flashing perhaps?) that I could have used to connect the flex to the PVC. it’s also possible I could have built a metal cone and tried heating and streching the flex until it fit over the PVC. Having the flex with a coupler fixed to one end is pretty handy though.

c. I bought the PVC with built-in bell ends; this was handy to avoid the need for couplers, but also was very useful when building connectors to custom items like the top of the collection barrel.
—- cut the bell so there is only about 1 or 2 inches of pipe on the small side of the bell
—- in 3/4” plywood (I also did this in a 2×12), cut a 6” hole with a jigsaw
—- shove the small end of the bell into the plywood. As the bell widens, it creates a nice tight fit in the hole.
—- drill 6 to 8 holes into the pipe where it lines up with the plywood edge
—- use a knife to cut the extra pipe sticking out
—- calk both sides of the plywood and use sheet rock screws to attach the bell to the plywood.
Easy, tight seal, and very solid.

2. I followed standard advice and did not glue any connections…just using tape (X-treme or duct tape) to seal up the connections. For the most part I could probably get away with no tape on many of the connections. X-treme tape is kind of expensive, but it’s worth it. Even good duct tape wants to come unraveled after a while and if you have to remove it, it leaves significant residue behind on the PVC.

3. I used plumbers tape (flat metal strapping) to mount/hang the PVC. Mostly, this worked great. In addition, I did pick up some 4” U brackets from Rocker that really helped in some tight areas where I wanted to add extra support or force no-so-flexible-flex hose into place.

4. I did my best to avoid 90 degree bends (mostly by using Wye’s paired with a 45’s for most branching). There are a number of times I violated those rules in the interest of simplicity and/or necessity. I have yet to get a meter to measure air flow, but overall I think it worked fairly well.

5. Good dust collection for my compound miter saw (aka chopsaw) was challenging.
- I finally built a surround with 6” PVC hooked to the top of the surround and 4” connection in the bottom back that has it’s own 4” blast gate.
- I run it with the 6” gate fully open and the 4” gate closed.
- The front of the surround has movable sections that allow me to adjust the miter angles while keeping the opening as small as possible.
- It is more of a prototype than anything and is working fairly well. I’m kind of surprised having the DC connection on the top is working so well. It misses the heavy stuff, but seems to get all the small stuff really well (which is the most important to me). The big stuff builds up in the back and I clean it out occasionally by opening the 4” blast gate.

Of course, this system is not done…I tweak it all the time. But I have built a few projects now with the current configuration and am quite happy.

I will try to add some additional photos in the near future to show some of the details more clearly.

Input is welcome.

-- - mike

12 comments so far

View kajunkraft's profile


197 posts in 3704 days

#1 posted 02-28-2015 01:56 AM

First of all, thank you for this very comprehensive article. It is much easier to read/understand than most of the very “technical” writings.

Secondly, I am about to build a 30’x50’ shop and have been wondering exactly how I was going to set up my dust collection. You have provided a lot of ideas for me.

Several times you commented about placing the trunk lines “high”, which I completely appreciate. However, my building will be on pilings which allows some crawl space underneath. I was thinking about running my trunk lines under the (plywood) floor.

One negative that I have considered is something that you addressed concerning gates. I agree with your concept of shutting off tool runs as close as possible to trunk lines, which could be less productive if the trunk lines were under?

By the way, concerning static, it seems to me that PVC creates more static than metal? However, everything that I’ve read indicates that the typical small-time woodworking shop does not generate enough static to worry about, at least in terms of fire. I currently have metal trunk lines but get shocks from the flex line at my drum sander all the time!

If you’re located anywhere near New Orleans, LA I sure would love to have you come and advise on my new dust collection system! And, from what I saw & read, the whole shop layout in general.

Thanks again for your very informative article.

View mbroz's profile


6 posts in 2678 days

#2 posted 02-28-2015 06:07 PM

@kajunkraft –
Thanks for your response. I’m glad at least some of this experience might benefit others.

For the static, that is interesting that PVC might create more static buildup than metal….maybe I got unlucky in that choice :-). Either way, I also found similar data that indicated static buildup was not a safety issue in most small shops and therefore chose not to focus on it. I too get shocked at one particular machine and will probably work to ground the flex hose for that machine.

For the blast gate question, I think there are 2 aspects that I was trying to address (and didn’t really call them out in the original article).
- The first is the physics behind what I’ll call a “dead branch” of a DC system. This is a branch that is currently closed off at the tool but open to another branch that is in use. I don’t have the links at the moment, but it was a surprise to me to learn that such a “dead branch” still reduces the efficiency of the “live branch” in use. I didn’t try to delve into the fluid dynamics of why this is true, but instead tried to put gates in places that kept the active branch as short as possible with as few “dead branches” as possible.
- The second (and the one I was thinking about above) was convenience. I am convinced that no matter how well I designed my DC system, it was still going to be a pain to constantly switch between machines (close one gate and open another gate). Of course if I had sprung for the bigger blower (and cyclone) this would not be as much of an issue because I would have so much suction, a little inefficiency wouldn’t matter and I could just put all the gates right at the machines (a factor I didn’t take into account in my initial cost analysis). But since my system is designed to only handle one big machine at a time and I often jump from one machine to the next, I find having the gates closely located to each other on the main branch really makes switching machines easier.

As for running the main trunk line in the crawl space, a few things come to mind:
- first off, I remember wishing I could do that in my shop, but a concrete slab sort of limited my options :-)
- despite all my planning, I have changed my configuration quite a bit as I used it and thought of new ways to improve it, etc (note: everybody says to watch out for this, but it’s always humbling to find yourself doing it more than you thought); it seems like you might have more flexibility when running pipe in the crawlspace, or you might have less…just something to keep in mind
- if your main run is in the crawlspace, you obviously can’t have the blast gates located right off the main line and still be able to access them easily; there are remote gates (electronic) that you could look into, but I might be tempted to keep things simple and step up your blower so the inefficency of some “dead branches” doesn’t impact your system performance signficantly and keep all your gates at the machines; then your only inconvience is going over to one machine to close a gate and opening a gate at another. It is interesting that it sometimes improves performance to have more than one gate open at a time, so you might get lucky and be able to leave some machines with their gates open all the time. For instance, my tablesaw is a cabinet saw and is sealed up fairly well so that when it’s gate is open, it doesen’t negate the abiltiy to use some other machines at the same time. Of course I’m not going to leave the TS gate open when I’m running the planer, but something like the mill drill will still work just fine.
- you might want to leave extra room for accessing cleanouts in the crawlspace; maybe this doesn’t make sense, but I would be concerned that if/when things go wrong, stuff rolls down hill (if you know what I mean) and you could find your runs full of sawdust at the lowest spots of the system; it has only happened once to me (barrel filled up and shavings backed up into the cyclone while I was running the planer), but being able to open one end of the main line and clear it with a long 2×2 was very nice

As a side note, I ran across one design site that suggested running your main line at a diagonal across your shop and then run more trunk lines in order to reduce the overall run to a machine and reduce 90 degree turns in the lines. I thought it was a very interesting point and something that I might have overlooked. Of course I didn’t do that (for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into here), but it was a good exercise during my “design phase”.

Sorry for the long winded response. I’m way up in WA state, but if I ever get down to “kajuncraft” country I’ll let you know. Good luck on your shop layout and DC system!

-- - mike

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 3604 days

#3 posted 02-28-2015 07:05 PM

Thanks for the Blog! I have been planning and playing with ideas on how to redo my system.

I would be interested in a discussion about placing the blower (impeller) before the cyclone vs. after. I have heard that a cyclone (Super Dust Deputy) decreases suction, but if it is after the blower then does it affect suction?

On my plastic version of the Super Dust Deputy there is a flange at the bottom to bolt directly to the collection barrel, did your metal version have this? If so how did you connect the hose?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View mbroz's profile


6 posts in 2678 days

#4 posted 03-01-2015 02:47 AM

@JessieTutt -

I agree that placing the cyclone after the blower should create less impact to performance of the system than putting it in front of the blower, but there is still some impact (just like putting a muffler on your car impacts it’s performance). It’s possible that in a perfect system there would be no difference (eg. resistance in front of the blower should have no more effect on performance as resistance after the blower), but I think because air is such a compressible “fluid” there might be a real difference depending on how much backpressure you have on the backside of the blower. Again, I run into aspects of fluid dynamics I don’t understand and have not seen an expert give any data one way or another. The most I found on this was some sites that said it was OK to put the cyclone after the blower and that was good enough for me at the time.

Of course, there is the safety risk of sucking something big into your system and damaging the blower impeller. It’s up to you if you want to take that risk.

This site ( has some good formulas you can look at for determining the effect of various design decisions and of course Pentz has his take that says a cyclone will add 2.5” to 4.5” of static pressure need to your system ( Of course, it’s not easy to get all of these formulas and data translated into something that helps the average Joe just wanting to keep his shop and lungs clean. These sites do discuss the effect of filters and exhaust runs after the blower (but not cyclones as far as I saw) in a system, so perhaps you could get more detailed info from digesting that. If I was a good blogger I would have done a test…but I just wanted to build my system and now it is too late cause I’m not going to take it apart :-)

For what it’s worth, I have a sneaky suspicion that leaky cyclones/collection barrels (with the cyclone in front of the blower) can have significant impact on both “suction” performance as well as “particle separation” performance.
For instance, let’s say the connection between the cyclone and the barrel were leaking a bit. This would create some amount of airflow up the pipe between the barrel and the cyclone, potentially lifting particles up and out of the cyclone instead of letting them drop down into the barrel. Again, this is just my opinion with no data to back it up…and of course even if I’m right, all you have to do is make sure you don’t have any leaks :-)

As for the flange, yes, the metal version of the Dust Deputy has a flange that sounds just like the one you describe for your plastic version. If you look at the photo above that just shows the blower and cyclone, you will see I mounted the cyclone to a 2×12. What I did is cut a 6” hole in the 2×12, installed an extra bell end from one of my straight pipe sections (see my “Notes about connnections” above) and then lagged the cyclone to the other side of the 2×12 with some 1/4” or 5/16” lags (and I caulked it of course). It created a good platform for the cyclone and blower to sit on, as well as an easy connection point for the pipe going down to the barrel.
In retrospect, I probably could have just run 6” flex into the hole in the 2×12 and used screws, fender washers, and caulk to secure/seal the flex hose to the 2×12. If I had to do it over again I would probably do it that way (assuming I had enough 6” flex laying around…that stuff is expensive).

Hopefully, that helps somewhat.

-- - mike

View Deaner's profile


45 posts in 3580 days

#5 posted 03-21-2016 08:13 PM

Great write-up Mike. I’m trying to grow a pair to dissect my new 1-1/2 HP Jet Vortex w/ cannister in order to mount the blower up the wall about 8’ like you did. I can’t quite get my head around putting the blower ahead of the cyclone, so I will put the cyclone ahead of the blower. I too will vent outside, not expecting to exhaust much of anything anyways…hopefully! How high would you have mounted your main runs from the floor if you had 10’ walls? I have 10’ walls, with easy access to my rafter to which I can hang my runs. I kinda want to run my pipe more than 8’ since I can, plus the ease of attaching to the rafters.
Would love to run underfloor like kajunkraft is exploring- but impossible for me.
You have a very nice set-up going for you. It reinforces my confidence and satisfaction that I could expect more out of the 1-1/2 HP blower. Now: what to do with my cannister and bags, lol.

-- Once harm is done, even a fool understands it.

View Deaner's profile


45 posts in 3580 days

#6 posted 03-21-2016 08:17 PM

Also Mike: I was going to leave the 4” “wye” on the Jet blower to run (2) 4” runs vs. pulling the “wye” for a 6” main run. That “wye” seems pretty difficult to get off anyway. :-/

Any thoughts there?


-- Once harm is done, even a fool understands it.

View mbroz's profile


6 posts in 2678 days

#7 posted 03-21-2016 09:14 PM

@Deaner – Assuming you will want to put the blower motor up at the same height as your main run (to avoid extra corners, etc), I would suggest working backwards from the cyclone/blower. Assuming your cyclone is built like mine, you’ll be mounting the intake of the blower to the top of the cyclone. Oriented that direction, the blower motor will stick up another 12 to 18” above the cyclone (I think). One thing to note is I have wondered if it would help me a bit if I had mounted the mainline such that it was slightly downhill to the motor/ any particles that do fall out of the stream are more easily drug along.

That is basically what I did (install the cyclone/motor first as high as I could, and then run the main line). Watch out for getting too close to your eave line for running the exhaust outside. I ended up having to cut a 6” hole through a 2×12…definitely more work than just the plywood sheathing :-).

Note: I don’t really seem to have any issue with sucking material up to main line as long as it’s not a bigger piece..and in that case I am glad it drops back down so it doesn’t run into blower. So if you are worried about that as part of your height decision, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

The double 4” wyw was easy to get off. Sorry, I don’t remember the details, but I remember wondering how hard it was going to be, and then it just came off easy. For what it’s worth, I really feel one of the reasons my system works as well as it does with a relatively underpowered motor is the 6” main line, so if you can get 6” line I would recommend it.

Also note: occasionally I end up exhausing a bunch of stuff outside because if I let the barrel get too full, but other than that almost everythig ends up in the barrel. Also for what it’s worth, having the barrel under pressure (because the cyclone is on the downstream side of the blower) is the biggest source of unwanted dust in the shop now…it’s not bad, but keeping the connections from the cyclone to the barrel well sealed is important to keep that to a minimum. Maybe someday I’ll switch them around and see if there is a difference in performance.

-- - mike

View Deaner's profile


45 posts in 3580 days

#8 posted 03-31-2016 07:52 PM

Thank you Mike, now I have my work ahead of me. I am going with your advice and go with a 6” main and drop to 4” for the runs. I see nothing but advantages with a set-up like yours: freeing up floor space and exhausive manuvering of the DC- no matter how strategically I try to set it, it always needs to be moved.
Installing and reconfiguring for this in my shop is practically a major remodel with moving all kinds of stuff from the walls, clearing overhead access under my rafters, running electrical lines, etc. But it’ll be worth it!

I will post with pics- sooner than later I hope.


-- Once harm is done, even a fool understands it.

View mbroz's profile


6 posts in 2678 days

#9 posted 02-07-2018 09:32 PM

Just wanted to provide a few follow-up pieces of information as I have used the dust collection system over the last couple of years:
  • I am pretty convinced my small-ish blower would never have been successful if I had a filter on the downstream side of the system (currently it just vents to the outside of the shop with nothing but a screen of hardware cloth to keep the critters out of the system). My evidence is I somehow sucked up a rag which got pushed right out to the exterior screen and probably blocked about 25% of the airflow. In response to that blockage, the system performance went down by at least 75% and maybe closer to 90%.
  • I continue to be a huge believer in the remote start/stop switch I installed. It was perhaps the best investment dollar for dollar that I did in this system. It saves time, but more importantly it makes me use the system more often (hey, how much dust could one little cut with the compound miter saw really make :-).
  • The compound miter saw “surround” didn’t really need the second (lower) connection to the dust collector. The top connection is all I really use (with the gate all the way open). On the other hand, the “surround” works great for capturing dust from the compound miter saw.
  • I have experimented with the drop line (a 4” line that comes down from the overhead 6” line) to the table saw (basically to try to pick up dust coming off the top of the saw blade). I have not been very successful. Part of it is the semi-rigid flex pipe I am using is not rigid enough…it doesn’t like to stay in place where I put it. I need the flex so I can move it around based on what I’m cutting, but the hose really needs to be very close to the blade to work at all…any little bump, etc. knocks it far enough that it isn’t doing much. One minor improvement I made as cutting the neck and bottom off a clear 2 liter bottle and taped it to the end of the flex hose: being clear lets me see the blade easily (for safety reasons) and it doesn’t hurt anything if it gets knocked into the blade (except to be pushed out of position for good dust collection). I have ideas for further improvements but haven’t taken the time to try them yet.

I’ll try to add some more photos when I get a chance.

-- - mike

View W2Woodworks's profile


9 posts in 38 days

#10 posted 05-22-2022 04:27 AM

Great information, thanks!
We just built our new 54’x 42’ shop here in North Arkansas. As part of the design, I had two utility trenchs incorporated into the concrete floor. For dust collection, we have two seperate Harbor Freight dust collectors. One pulls from overhead pipe which runs to machines along the exterior walls (CNC machines, miter saws, band saw at present). The other system runs inside concrete slab to the two trenchs and collects from machines that are grouped around same (two Grizzly table saws, planer, Jointer, router and lathe at present).

Similar to your setup we used SWD lightweight PVC pipe for all our runs. Our walls are 10’ and the PVC is in the rafters for overhead system. I had two 55 gallon drums with the quick change clamp lids. I only use one with the plastic Onida Super cyclone as we wanted to test one first. I must say I am impressed at how well it works so another will be ordered shortly. Ours are upstream of the collectors so they are negative pressure but the barrels I have seem to seal really well. We currently have one system that vents thru a bag filter (which will shortly be upgraded to a canister filter. The other system vents outside (bag was thrown away) until such time as we start heating and or cooling the shop. At that point, we will run all thru canister filters to keep the expensive air inside the shop!!

We also did a lot of research on automation for blast gates/collectors. Air pistons and current detectors just arrived and we will be setting up a system to have correct blast gates and collector turn on when machines are turned on. With a larger shop and so many machines such a system is almost essential as it is far to easy to forget to close a gate and difficult to keep up with the remotes for two dust collectors. Fortunately we had the foresight to run both control wiring and pressurized air to the trenches in the middle of the shop.

I’ll try to post more information and some pictures on the automation system once we get the build underway.

-- Jim Wilson W2 Woodworks

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#11 posted 05-23-2022 04:23 AM

@W2Woodworks – Wow, that sounds like quite the shop. Good dust collection is pretty important, especially for a commercial shop, so nice work planning ahead! I’ll be interested in your automated blast gate experience once you get them installed. Would love to see some photos. Sealing those barrels is important I think…for downstream to keep the dust out of the shop, and for upstream to let the dust fall down into the barrel. I do want to cut a window in my barrel and seal it with something clear (I have some lexan laying around that might be clear enough) to see when the barrel is getting full without having to take the top off and turn off the system (especially when running something like the planer that creates so much material). Anyway, thanks for the information.

- Mike

-- - mike

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9 posts in 38 days

#12 posted 05-23-2022 06:47 PM

Second try to post this to thread.

I don’t think our 55 gallon drum lids leak as they are the rolled over style with a cam style locking ring. There is about 1” of surface area between the rim of barrel and lid. Having said that, I may try some smoke to check for leaks. At the very worst I would suspect a little rubber on the rim would resolve any leak issues (think spray on rubber).

We are looking at the Oneida (same company that sells the dust cyclones) drum level detectors. They are laser level detectors that attach to lid of barrel and have lights that can be mounted remotely. We will be building interior walls to close off our dust collectors and compressor to reduce noise in the shop. Having a flashing light on the wall facing the main shop will help us monitor when we need to dump barrels.

In addition we plan to enclose our CNC machines for noise control. We will also build a dedicated paint room with external air draw. That will allow us to vent paint fumes without discharging valuable heated or cooled air from the main shop!

-- Jim Wilson W2 Woodworks

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