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I am also looking to add dust collection to my shop, only with poverty in mind. It's about 500CF, but I'm never really just in there sawing for hours on end. I was wondering if it would just be easier to stick a 1 micron bag on my tablesaw and get a smallish air filter. It seems like all the heavy duty ones are a lot more machine than I would need. Thanks for any help,
-Thomas
 

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Hi Thomas. The big question is what you are trying to achieve. if you want to properly protect your lungs from the fine dust that's the dangerous stuff (to EPA/medical/EC stds) you have to prevent it getting out into the room from the saw (nothing to do with room size), which means you have to create a decent volume of fairly fast moving air around the blade area. (the blade will otherwise fling it into the room) The saw (or any other piece of kit) also needs to be properly set up for dust collection.

Published test info http://www.billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclone/DCBasics.cfm suggests that this requires about 1,000cfm (cubic feet per min), and that it can be done with around a 2.5 - 3 hp blower sucking through the shortest possible (max 10ft) of 6 in flex hose. No point of course if your filter is like most coarse enough that it just dumps the same fine dust back into the workshop - which is why it needs good filters and ideally a cyclone as well to prevent them clogging - the above link talks of this too.

If on the other hand you just want to pick up wood chips you can get by with about 400 cfm - which is a 1 HP or slightly larger chip collector sucking through a short length of 4 in flex hose and using a coarse filter. None of which is going to be much good from a health point of view.

You can get over the filtration issue if you can exhaust to the open air, but bear in mind that if you do this you have to draw outside air in to replace it and this tends to be not a runner (heating/bills) if your weather gets cold.

There are lower standards which lie somewhere in between, but the bad news seems to be that there's no quick, dirty, cheap and safe solution - even for a small shop….
 

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PS One route to saving money is possibly to dig up a suitable fan, ducting and the various bits used and build it yourself. Bill Pentz's pages have lots of info.

I'm building one of his 5hp fan and cyclone systems for not much more than a 1hp commercial mobile dust collector - there's no way i can afford to buy a commercial system offering the same performance as they very quickly get into costing several thousand once you go for the required capacity. (Euro in my case)

ian
 
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