Call for advice - dust collection

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Forum topic by juanabee posted 10-03-2016 04:25 AM 771 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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113 posts in 4250 days

10-03-2016 04:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dust collection question shop space

I can’t claim to be a novice any more, but I still need some advice on a shop decision, and LJ has never disappointed me.

Have a look at my present dust collection and separation system.

Don’t get a hernia laughing at it, I already know how dorky it looks. I have a very crowded 10’ x 20’ foot shop, and I need to move everything I can off the floor. My leaf blower/cyclone/bucket setup was my first shot at dust removal. It actually works, and is definitely better than a broom and snow shovel that I was using before. But it’s a pain to switch out hoses, bump my head on the leaf blower, and my cyclone/bucket/hose storage takes up precious space.

Now I am thinking of buying a dust collector like the HF 2HP unit that folks here seem to be “OK” with and mounting it outside my shop in a powered lean-to I would attach to the end of my shop (see 2nd photo.)
I would port the intake through the wall, and distribute the vacuum using pvc ductwork along the ceiling, with drops and blast gates at appropriate locations. The dust and chips would go through the separator/filter and return through another nearby port I would cut in the wall. Zero footprint, less loss of warm air in the winter, and hopefully much better dust removal and filtering. (Sorry, couldn’t figure out how to rotate the image)

What is your advice? Will this work? What should I watch out for? Is there a better idea I should look into? All entries are welcome.

-- "Life's nonsense pierces us with strange relation." Wallace Stevens

4 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7229 posts in 3735 days

#1 posted 10-03-2016 11:12 AM

What you want to do would be just fine, but I would filter that air before it returns to the shop. I don’t have a clear picture of how the return air would get back to the shop, but just an opening from the lean-to into the shop area with a filter in it would work very well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Robert's profile


4734 posts in 2723 days

#2 posted 10-03-2016 01:21 PM

I can see from the pic you definitely have a huge dust issue. I hope you have good ventilation and are using a respirator especially when cutting MDF.

Tell us what machines you want to collect so we can advise.

My immediate response is overkill for a shop that size. Plus, assuming you’re exhausting outside, your pulling outside air into your shop. Don’t know where you live, but its a big consideration in winter.

I think you would do well with a small portable machine. Running ducts in a shop with a low ceiling height can make working even worse.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View dbray45's profile


3414 posts in 4019 days

#3 posted 10-03-2016 01:52 PM

The HF dust collector, along with the filter from PenState (what I have) works well. It is on wheels for move-ability, and is probably much more quiet.

If you can use 4” metal ducts instead of the hoses, you will collect a lot more of the dust.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2162 days

#4 posted 10-03-2016 02:22 PM


Yours sounds like a workable plan. A separate structure attached to the shop to house the dust collector, central PVC duct work with blast gate controlled drops to individual tools, and returning the filtered air back to the shop should work fine. But all this is fairly general and the devil is in the details.

Some further considerations of these details could help achieve the results you are after…

A design of the auxiliary structure that permits full access to the dust collector would make inevitable service of the dust collector easier. At some point service of the unit may be required. Pulling the dust collector out of the structure could be a difficult time consuming task. If possible, building the structure large enough so that the unit can be services without disassembly or removing the unit could be really appreciated down the road. An alternative would be inclusion of service access doors or panels that can be removed.

Since the dust collector will process conditioned air (I assume), insulating the structure could prevent condensation within the unit. Prolonged periods of non-use, like when doing a glue-up, could be long enough for the dust collector to cool off and promote condensation.

Designing the structure to make emptying the dust collection bin easier and quicker would be appreciated every time the dust bin must be emptied. Having the ability to monitor the dust collector from inside the shop would allow you to know that it is time to empty the dust collection, before chips make it to the filter.

Ensuring the return air vent is considerably larger than the intake would ensure the return air side of the dust collector would not reduce the performance of the collector. An enlarged air return would reduce the velocity of the air re-entering the shop. The lower velocity of the return air would have less of a tendency to blow loose dust around the shop.

Upgrading the filter bag to one that removes smaller dust particles than the standard 5 micron bag would be an option that could protect your lungs.

It was not clear from your post whether you intend to add a separator. If not, adding a separator to remove the heavier debris before the air stream makes it to the filters would prolong the period between filter cleaning and thus keep the dust collector operating at peak efficiency.

A scale drawing of the shop which includes the location of ceiling obstructions and the location of your various machines would take some time to develop. But this scale drawing could pay big dividends. The routing of the dust collection pipe can be overlaid on the plan and any issues would be immediately apparent. It also makes it easier to optimize the duct work layout; minimizing the length of runs and the number of turns. Once the optimal duct work layout is known, a bill of materials is easily obtained.

I found that marrying standard dust collection fittings to PVC required re-molding the PVC to the right size. The PVC can be softened with patience and a heat gun. The inside diameter can then be expanded by dropping the heated end of the PVC pipe over a shop made die. Likewise, but a little more difficult, the outside diameter of the PVC pipe can be shrunk with a shop made mold, die, and some clamps. If you also wish to dissipate static electricity, aluminum HVAC tape can be applied to the PVC pipe, ensuring electrical continuity, and then connecting the aluminum foil tape to ground.

Good luck with you upgrade. I think when it is all said and done you will be glad you added central dust collection.

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