dust collectors: needed power?

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Forum topic by mzimmers posted 07-21-2013 06:54 PM 1591 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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218 posts in 5250 days

07-21-2013 06:54 PM

Hi -

I’m sure this question has been bandied about ad nauseum, but I have to ask: how much dust collector do I need? I was looking at the PC400AP at Lowes. I hear people saying to avoid the 1 HP units, and I will do that if necessary, but…here is my situation:

1. never using more than one tool at a time (unless you count the dust collector)
2. all my tools – table saw, miter saw, router table – have 2 1/2” fittings
3. I’m really short on space, and would have to run 220 if necessary

Like I said, I’ll go bigger if it’s really necessary, but…in the opinion of the wise LJ folks…how much do I really need?

Thanks for any input.

-- M. Zimmers

16 replies so far

View bbc557ci's profile


670 posts in 3409 days

#1 posted 07-21-2013 08:38 PM

I’m sure this question has been bandied about Oh, maybe once or twice LOL. Do a search on the site here and you’ll see a conversation or 2 on dust collectors :o)

I bought a Harbor Freight 2 hp unit a few months ago and hooked up a cyclone to it. It works/runs well and gets 99% of the saw dust, but does not catch allot of the real fine dust due to the 5 micron bag (5 microns is bigger than some might think). What ever you decide on, you’ll likely want a 1 micron or less bag/filter.

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View Fred Hargis's profile (online now)

Fred Hargis

7356 posts in 3828 days

#2 posted 07-21-2013 08:53 PM

If you leave the 2 1/2” fittings on your tools, I’d say you need to skip the DC and just buy a vac. Most DC’s can pull ~400 CFM through 4” pipe, reduce it to 2.5” and you get pretty much nothing useable. So, if you don’t want to upsize those ports, having a DC isn’t going to do much to improve your life…..I probably didn’t mean that to sound as harsh as it might; but I’m big on good DC.

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

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3621 days

#3 posted 07-21-2013 08:58 PM

I use my HF DC for my table saw right now. It’s the only thing I have hooked up and really the only thing I need hooked up. The miter saw has a hood and the band saw doesn’t aerate dust. It’s the sanders that cause a problem in my shop and I’ve not found a way to DC those and still be able to use them.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4566 days

#4 posted 07-21-2013 09:16 PM

A shop Vac with a Dust Deputy upstream is really all you need for the tools you have. Mine could keep up with my planer but the bucket filled quickly with chips. Mount the DD on at least a 10 gallon drum and you should be OK. Right now, my miter saw is the only thing hooked to it. No problem with the bucket filling too fast.

Google “Dust Deputy”. It works great because the vac stays empty and everything else goes into the bucket/drum.
Lots of folks on here have posted in many threads about dust collection. So git-to-searchin’! :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 3921 days

#5 posted 07-21-2013 10:14 PM

I have a 1hp DC that I use between the planer and bandsaw. I just move the hose between the two machines. For single machine applications like that, it does work fairly well. My shop layout didn’t help too well with moving the DC to the jointer and TS. I ended up getting the HF 2HP and dedicated it to those two machines. I will eventually run another branch to the router table (once I build a new one, that will have a 4” hook-up) and the OSS Sander (right next to the router table) The OSS has a 2.5” connector. What I have heard is, if possible, run 4” hose right to the machine and the reduce at the point of hookup. This will give you the best chance of it grabbing the dust from the machine.

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View mzimmers's profile


218 posts in 5250 days

#6 posted 07-21-2013 11:27 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, guys.

One element I didn’t mention: I can (and intend to) move whatever tool I’m using right next to the DC unit, so I won’t have a long hose reducing the suction power.

Fred: the ports on the saws are integral and can’t be replaced, though I could put a 4”-2.5” adapter on them. Would that make a difference, or is the 2.5” bottleneck a deal-killer?

The Dust Deputy is intriguing. Anyone else have an opinion on them for my particular use model?

Thanks again…

-- M. Zimmers

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4987 days

#7 posted 07-21-2013 11:30 PM

I have a 1HP unit and it keeps up with planner and tablesaw. It has problems dealing with the jointer. Also, the flexible tubing that I use to go from machine often results in the chips bunching up and clogging the whole thing in front of the wye.

If I had the circuits in my shop, I would definitely go for 2HP to get at least 1100 CFM. My 1Hp does 650CFM and its not enough.

-- Yves

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Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3283 days

#8 posted 07-22-2013 01:24 AM

I started with the C-man version of this back when it was $100. I have used it for at least 10 years until I built my 3Hp cyclone. It performed great for chip collection. In order to keep the shop clean, but left the fine dust behind. I think if you are moving it around it is the best way to go with the dust right hose. it will have the same power as the PC but it is way more compact and portable. I would also recommend a top hat separator for ease of emptying.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4566 days

#9 posted 07-22-2013 02:10 AM

Here ya go. A review from an unbiased view.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Fred Hargis's profile (online now)

Fred Hargis

7356 posts in 3828 days

#10 posted 07-22-2013 12:24 PM

I often see folks mention they can’t replace ports to upsize them. I would do whatever it takes to make them larger…at least if you want to capture dust. That might mean cutting holes, replacing parts, or in many cases it may be easier, ,most jointers only require replacing the plastic flange on them. My drum sander had a 4” port on the hood, and that wasn’t enough (for me) I took the hood off and cobbled together a complete replacement so I could have a 6” port. Ain’t pretty, but man; does it work good!

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

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4306 days

#11 posted 07-22-2013 12:40 PM

Best bang for the buck is the HF 2hp unit. It runs on 120v, but needs a 20amp breaker. Cost about $140 with a coupon from a wood working magazine.

Ditto on enlarging the ports.

The next best method, and the only workable choice if you don’t want to enlarge the ports is a big shop vac. The shop vac will work alone, but having a inline drop out box or cyclone is a great accessory to make the vac better.

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4420 days

#12 posted 07-22-2013 01:32 PM

I have a 1 HP Dayton DC that handles most of my dust Cabinet saw and planer. I have a Ridgid 6HP,14 gal shop
vac pulling through a Dust deputy that handles my 6” jointer and 8” table saw, but it has too much power and
collapses the hose when I try to use it on my Millwaukee ROS, so I wound up having to keep my old small shop
vac for use with my sanders, sometimes you just cannot simplify life easily.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3621 days

#13 posted 07-22-2013 01:44 PM

I found it best to use the HF DC when I use my ROS’s. I put the hose on the bench in front of what ever I’m sanding. My shop is in the garage so I open both doors and put a fan blowing across my body which keeps the dust that the DC didn’t get from going in my face. ROS’s are just messy and you cant control it any more than you can control the jointer chips.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

10021 posts in 3663 days

#14 posted 07-22-2013 01:46 PM

Dust collectors use fan type blowers to move large volumes of air with relatively low static pressure (suck power). The key to thier sucess is matching the piping system well to the blower. If you have small pipes, long pipes, lots of 90 deg bends or redcution couplers, the piping system can have too much resistance to flow and the DC blower won’t move enough volume to be effective.

Shop Vacs are just the opposite. They generate large static pressures, but don’t move large quantities of air. They are ideal for moving material though small pipes and will collect chips and debris. But they will not move enough volume of air to get the fine dust (with is the stuff that actually gets into your lungs and can cause health problems).

In your situation, I would suggest getting a big and powerful shop vac., a HEPA filter upgrade for it (with a spare) and either make a Thein style seperator or buy a Dust Deputy type set up. The cyclone will help greatly to prevent the chips and debris from clogging up your HEPA filter. This should help you get the lion’s share of the visible debris.

Then I would put a ceiling mounted air filter in, to clean up the shop air of the fines.

You probably still want to ware a good quality dust mask when sanding, etc…

This is not an ideal setup, but is a huge improvement over nothing, or just a stock shop vac.

To take advantage of a larger DC, you really need to think “system” and size the pipes and hook ups to support that kind of air flow.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View mbs's profile


1719 posts in 4275 days

#15 posted 07-22-2013 01:51 PM

I agree with the other posts about using a shop vac if all your fittings are 2.5”. Closing down a 4” hose to 2.5” doesn’t work as well as a shop vac. It’s not logical but it’s true. And it’s a lot less money and space to use the shop vac.

Don’t get me wrong – I like big dust collectors. I have two of them for my equipment that uses big fittings. And I have a 4” hose that goes into a couple of 2.5” fittings but it doesn’t work as well as a single shop vac would – It was convenient though since the DC is already setup. You can see some pics towards the bottom of the workshop thread. For your application, I would use the shop vac.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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