Small shop dust management

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Forum topic by jtrz posted 12-21-2017 07:04 PM 1115 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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174 posts in 1976 days

12-21-2017 07:04 PM

I’ve got a small little basement shop and I need to improve the dust situation so I have a few questions for you all.

My old shop vac needs to be retired and I’m looking to replace it. My work space is small so I don’t want a really large one because it is always getting in the way. The new one will primarily be attached to my various tools. I’ll just use my old one for general dust cleanup. Oh and I can’t spend a whole lot of money, like I really don’t want to spend more than $60 or $70. I don’t mind moving it around to each tool because my shop is small enough so if it is a smaller model I would be ok if it didn’t have wheels. It would also be nice if it has a blower option because my air compressor is out of commission

I was looking at something like this but I don’t know how something like this compares to the normal roll around shop vac:

So does anyone have a favorite small shop vac they can recommend? It would also be great to find some kind of auto switch for it so if anyone has a recommendation for one of those that would be great. I’ve had trouble finding them at home depot and lowes. Here in Louisville, Ky my only other store options are Woodcraft and Harbor Freight. There is a Mendards not too far as well.

Next question has to do with my box fan dust filter and where to place it in my shop. Obviously this type of filter isn’t ideal but it’s all I’ve got right now. There is a small crawl space next to my are of the basement that is under the front porch and and closed of except for a small access door. it has concrete walls and the porch slab as a ceiling and I was thinking that it would be great if I could get some of my dust vented into that area. I don’t have a window anywhere near me so I really need somewhere to at least aim my DIY dust system.

It seems like it might work but there could be something I’m not thinking of that would make it problematic or just a terrible idea.

I should mention that I’m not using the shop all the time so the amount of dust I create is probably a lot less than most of you all but it is enough that I want to improve things.

Last question has to do with the tool that creates the most dust in my shop. My router. It is a skil router and I really like it. It performs well. It’s powerful and sturdy. But it doesn’t have any sort of hose attachment. here is what it looks like:

What would the be the best way to catch at least some of the dust from it? It is my main offender with dust and since I share the basement with my roommate (he owns the house also) I don’t use the router as much now that it is cold because of how much dust it creates.

Any ideas for any of these questions would be greatly appreciated as always.

Thanks guys

-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

8 replies so far

View Andybb's profile


2784 posts in 1406 days

#1 posted 12-21-2017 07:27 PM

Auto switch for tools/vacuum. This is the one I have and it works great. The nice thing about this switch is that it has a by-pass switch that allows you to switch the vac on without having a tool running.

I use a large shopvac that I put into a wheeled plywood cabinet lined with carpet padding that my drill press, scroll saw and grinder sit on attached to a home built cyclone system. Very quiet.

You can order the attachment for your router, or build a DIY one.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View jtrz's profile


174 posts in 1976 days

#2 posted 12-21-2017 07:35 PM

Thanks for the reply.

I may get one from woodcraft as I ‘d like to get it today so i can get to work asap. The big box stores, at least in my area, don’t ever seem to carry something like this.

-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

View jtrz's profile


174 posts in 1976 days

#3 posted 12-21-2017 07:38 PM

that home built system is interesting. How did you build it?

-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

View Bill_Steele's profile


714 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 12-21-2017 07:48 PM

#1 dust collection: My guess is that those little vacuums you showed are not the best choice for shop cleaning. I think they are designed to be primarily portable and as such you give up some performance for portability (e.g. good to clean out your car or maybe light cleaning at a job site). Although it is a little outside your budget—I would suggest something like this >|THD|google|&mid=s5pzNKcS0|dc_mtid_8903tb925190_pcrid_195274179091_pkw__pmt__product_203820088_slid_&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuOOZ1eib2AIVlrjACh1zfgaNEAQYAyABEgJWCvD_BwE

I have one of these in my basement shop and it works very well. I would also suggest building a cart for it and adding a pre-separator (e.g. small cyclone or Thien baffle) sometime down the road. Maybe something like this ->

#2 Box fan placement: I assume your box fan has the air filter(s) attached to either the input or the output side? I think the intent of these ambient dust collectors is to catch fine dust that is suspended in the air. I would try to mount it to the ceiling OR don’t mount it—just keep keep it freestanding and move it next to you when you are doing something especially dusty like sanding or using your router. I have one of these mounted to the ceiling ->

#3 Dusty router: I think the best way to reduce/eliminate the dust with a router is to use it in a router table with a fence that can take a dust collection hose. I get almost zero dust when I do this. If you have to use it free-hand, perhaps some sort of vacuum shroud or something to focus the energy of the shop vac?

I’m not even sure that will be all that effective—especially with an under-powered vacuum. I agree the router puts out alot of dust and shavings—especially when used free-hand. I have a Triton router that has a built in dust guard that works very well. Maybe someone sells a dust guard that can be mounted to the router?

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4451 days

#5 posted 12-21-2017 08:05 PM

Router dust collection modification:

View jtrz's profile


174 posts in 1976 days

#6 posted 12-21-2017 08:11 PM

So what sort of HP should I be aiming for? I know the higher the better but what should be my starting point

-- Jeff | Louisville, Ky

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3212 days

#7 posted 12-23-2017 04:34 AM

Before you go off and buy new look around some. Craigslist has these in my area fairly regularly for 1/2 off or better.

For the air filtration system look at a WEN, try the Home Depot website. Basically a Grizzly painted black. Had mine for a year, works well in addition to dust Collection system and some clean up on occasion.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View LesB's profile


2572 posts in 4246 days

#8 posted 12-23-2017 09:39 PM

You can build a good air cleaner yourself using a squirrel cage blower from an old home furnace air handler. A local heating contractor can probably get you a used blower, free or cheap. Or check Craigs list.
Mount it in a box so you can put furnace type air filters on one side for the intake air and leave on opening on the exhaust air side. I have mine set into a rolling floor cabinet so I can move it around the shop. I use 2 filter layers. The outer is coarse grade and the inner is a hepa grade filter 25” square. In the winter it does double duty cleaning the air and circulating the heat from my wood stove. The top also serves as my sharpening station with a grinder and slow speed sharpener on it. A ceiling hung box would also work.

-- Les B, Oregon

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