A tip I submitted for improving the operation of metal dust gates was published in Popular Woodworking a year or so ago. They have given me permission to post this tip for the benefit of those who might not have seen it before.
This tip allows you to avoid having to use two hands to position and secure a standard metal dust gate. The concept is to hold the gate in any desired position with rare earth magnets rather than with the small screw included with the gate.
There are two ways to go about this.
The simplest way is to remove the small bolt and locate a couple of large earth magnets on the gate housing so that it will hold the gate in any position. Directly opposite the bolt location works well, as does a pair on either side of the small bolt hole. Wherever they are put, they should lie flat against the surface of the housing.
A little more complicated way – but the one I prefer – is to use a single, smaller magnet set into a hole drilled into the housing somewhere near the center-line of the sliding gate. The old bolt location works fine, but anywhere along that line works well. I use a 1/4” x 1/8” or 1/4” x 1/4” magnet in a slightly oversized hole – letting the magnet slide directly against the steel gate. One disadvantage of this method is the blackish wear-line created by the gate sliding against the magnet as shown in the photo. I believe a small piece of ‘slick strip’ would avoid that problem – but from my experience I believe it’s more cosmetic than significant. To avoid damaging the sliding gate, this method requires dismantling the gate. I found that to have a side benefit since these mass-produced gates often have burrs on the steel sliding gate and casting imperfections that prevent the gate from sliding smoothly. With the gate disassembled, it’s a simple matter to clean those up.
In addition to the magnet, you’ll see in the following photo that I’ve added a simple wooden pull. That makes it easier to grip, and it also helps avoid static shocks in cold weather. Finally, I’ve equipped all my gates with a micro-switch operated system to the dust collector on and off as the gate is opened and closed. This has saved me many a step. I was a bit pessimistic as to how well these tiny switches would hold up, but I’ve had the system in for several years without a problem. The micro-switch system can be obtained through Penn State Industries, and possibly from other suppliers.
This one really works for me!
-- Dave O.