The Workshop #4: Dust Control, Poor Man Style

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Blog entry by Milo posted 03-20-2010 12:51 AM 11998 reads 7 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Adventure in Jointer Repair Part 4 of The Workshop series Part 5: Workbench almost done! »

Poor Man’s Dust Collection

Hey everyone,

Sometime I think I am the most cluttered person on the planet. Well, maybe not up to the level of those “Hoarder” people you see on TLC, but pretty close. I’m the type that puts things down without paying attention, then spends 20 minutes looking for it. Ear plugs, pencils, rulers, Allen wrenches, etc,etc,etc. You get the picture.

Well, one of the things I wanted to get a handle on was dust control. Never had much more than a shopvac to use the for that, and when I moved into my new shop, I decided to try and do something about it. Plus the wife had read something about what dust does to woodworkers over time, and that was that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the bucks to go out a big dust collector and cyclone from so I started looking around for what I could do on my own. I lucked out soon after moving, and picked up a standard air handler from a garage sale for $50.00. It’s a small 1.5hp similar to what Delta puts out. After that I came up with two ideas of what I wanted. An overhead dust collector and blade guard and a cyclone.

I saw this blade guard idea,, and used to to make the guard, then went poor man/simple man for the overhead holder. It’s just a standard bolt slider directly above the blade. I adjust the guard to slightly over the height of the wood I am going to cut before I start. No floating guard. I really like it because I feel a lot more confident pushing boards through with that guard in place. I’m still needing to tweek it a bit, it’s not as stable as I’d like, but my dust mess has dropped considerably.


That orange and white thing you see in the picture above is a home-made cyclone, and it really works! Its nothing more that an orange HD bucket, a 1 gallon white bucket, a large funnel, a two inch piece of pvc (inside the white bucket) and three pieces of dust port intakes. I use this mini-cyclone with my overheard blade guard on the table saw. It’s sorta cool watching the dust go spinning around in the big funnel. ;-)


The best thing I did though was make a Thein Cyclone separator. I made a circle cutter our of a piece of ply and my small router. It took a little tweeking to get the measurements right (It’s actually stilll a little too big for the trash can), but as you can see from the trash can, it works GREAT. I was AMAZED with how well it worked when I planed down a set of rough boards. If you have a small shop, and want something to help with dust control, I highly recommend making one of these. Phil Thein makes his standard with 2” ports for a shopvac. I made mine with 4” ports to fit my air handler. Oh, the small cyclone has a 4” port on top. I just move the intake tube and move it back and for as I need it.



I use the small cyclone on my dedicated dado and router table. It works well for general clean up also.

The best part it I don’t think I have $150.00 – $200.00 in all of this. Including the dust handler, you could by everything you need at HD or Lowes. You may need to order the hoses and connector somewhere else. You could do all of this with shopvac supplies and get it all at a big box store, and use pvc connectors of the cyclone lids.

If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer.


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

6 comments so far

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3559 days

#1 posted 03-20-2010 12:53 AM

Wow, something weird happened with the pictures. Here’s a direct link…

Please let me know if you can’t see the pictures.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3528 days

#2 posted 03-20-2010 01:45 AM

very good work! i’m putting this in my faves.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3548 days

#3 posted 03-20-2010 03:58 AM

I looked at the link to the overhead blade guard/dust collector. How have you been satisfied with it so far?

I am interested in making one for my table saw since the good manufactured ones are crazy expensive.

View stefang's profile


16214 posts in 3574 days

#4 posted 03-20-2010 11:58 AM

It looks like you are up and running with all those dust gadgets. I’m sure it will be a lot healthier in your shop. When you told about dropping and losing tools nyou could have been talking about me. It’s so easy for me to make pencils and other tools disappear that I should have been a magician not a woodworker. It is my hope that before I die (of dust inhalation) I would like to set up a proper dust collection system in my shop too. Good work Milo and you are setting a good example for lazy people like myself.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3559 days

#5 posted 03-20-2010 04:10 PM

Big Ike – Thanks!

Greg the WhoDat – So far so good. I took a very simple route making the overhead collector, and actually had a luck mistake in that I made it shorter, length wise, than how it is shown in the original plans. Because of that, it doesn’t interefere with my splitter. A big plus since I am paranoid about kickback. I need to work a bit more on how the guard attaches to the adjustment beam.

stefang – I have to show your post to my wife. She won’t believe someone thinks I’m not lazy… ;-)

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3325 days

#6 posted 01-11-2013 08:02 PM

Milo, good idea and plan, one of the good things on my Ryobi table saw was the clear blade guard, but it does
not have an air intake on it. As soon as I can build a dedicated shop, instead of sharing my shop with my
pickup,I am going to try to assemble an overhead setup like that. My present dust collection started with a
1 HP, 14A motor I found in the alley attached to an enclosed 10-5/8” impeller. I routed it into the shop with a 6” stove pipe that ys into 4” and a 2” clear hoses routed through two Thein separators, one for each.
The smaller line hooks to the Ryobi, and with the blade guard on gives satisfactory performance, but I think
the overhead one will work better. The Ryobi set up does not lend itself to zero clearance blade inserts and
tends to swallow thin cuts of wood, so I have a small 8” Delta saw with no riving knife or blade guard that gets
used for small piece work.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

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