Dust Collection - Metal or Plastic

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Zoomie posted 06-26-2012 06:28 PM 6000 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am preparing to install a dust collection system and have determined, mostly because of cost to go with a 2HP bag system, no cyclone. I wanted to use 4-6” PVC for ease of installation and for cost but have read some concerns about static electricity building up with sawdust and the pipe potentially causing an explosion. For all of you out there with a dust collection system can you clue me in on whether this is a real concern or not. I could go with metal ductwork but even the catalogs sell PVC or plastic piping as an alternative so I am confused. Again I am just an amatuer/hobbyists and my machines do not run daily or for very long periods of time. Thanks for the info

8 comments so far

View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3226 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 06:40 PM

Yes, a PVC static explosion in the workshop is a concern. So is a stray satelite de-orbiting suddenly and smashing through the roof of your house and killing your gold fish… The odds are about the same…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2459 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 07:09 PM

I have heard it both ways. It can happen, but in our small shop environments, its unlikely. You could ground out the pipe, but using copper connected to ground.

Plastic PVC is darn near as expensive as metal pipe. I have a mixture, the metal is the final runs to the dc and is gounded, that way any static is discharged before it hits the dc.

If a cyclone is out of your budget, take a look at the Thien separator. Great performance for the price and not too difficult to build. I was nervous about my first build, but it came together nicely.


-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View captferd's profile


172 posts in 2387 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 07:52 PM

Been there, done that. Just finished a dust collection system myself. The first one I had in my old shop was pvc. I used it for about twenty years. Never had any fires or explosions but I sure did get zapped pretty good alot especially with the sanding equipment. Grounding wires were a waste of money, didn’t work for me. The new shop I built has metal heating pipe. The big difference is that I don’t get electrocuted by this one. My advise would be to go with the metal for this reason. But other than that I have no problems with pvc. If interested you can see my blog on dust collection. Just click my bog button and you should find it easily.

-- CaptFerd

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2185 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 09:09 PM

I would get metal 25 gouge ducting, if you have the patience to install it, or buy that nice premium Nordfab Ducting.
For dust collection, you shouldn’t be so picky about cost.
If you don’t get a cyclone, Get a Hepa or Merv 13+ Canister filter.
Also, Make a cyclone from sheet metal or a Thien Baffle.
Thats the best idea because those filter bags are like fine dust movers.
They allow dust to get through the bag as they are not so good.
But, For the Canister filters, Get a seperator to keep it clean as it is nearly impossible to clean.
The bags also can pop if something sharp gets through…
Here’s some links: For the quick connect ducting, For the seperators if needed. (Onieda Also sells Nordfab ducting and ducting, Also filters :D) (If you want to build a Thien Baffle)

Hope this helps!


-- My terrible signature...

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2774 days

#5 posted 06-26-2012 09:18 PM

See this:

I’ve researched this quite a bit and every professional I’ve read says that they know of no fires ever started due to static in PVC pipe and that the biggest reason to ground them is to keep from getting static shocks.

However you decide to go, this is a very good thing.

Good luck with it.

View robscastle's profile


4963 posts in 2198 days

#6 posted 06-27-2012 12:26 AM

Hello Zoomie,

Static electricity

Static electricity is produced by friction from moving materials past it or through plastic or similar insulated matterials.
Wood dust and wood particles moving in this environment in particular when warm and dry , will produce static eletricity.

If they generate enough static electricity a spark will be produced as a result.

That spark may have the possibility of igniting air contaminated with fine dust particles so you have the fuel, the heat, and an ignition source.

Whether or not it is a sustainable combustion is debatable however all the elements for a fire are there.

As some of the LJ comment use metal ducting and the problem is neutralised.
However if you use plastic, (and there are many products available for this use) you should consider grounding all your machines (the source) and the installation of a flexable conductive wire within the ducting can also be used.

You can also paint a continious strip/stripe of metalised paint on the fixed section of the ducting to reduce the risk.

Any fire in a wood working shop is not a welcome sight, and its not just the timber and timber products its more the additional fuel sources present that provide a unknown risk until it happens.

So I summary you should do your level best to reduce the fire risk to minimum, if you do not have the skills ask somebody independent to do it for you.

You will be impressed/surprised as to what a second pair of eyes not familiar with your area finds as identifiable fire risks.

To ground your machines is reasonably simple, the flexible ducting a little more difficult, but can be achieved.
Have a look at my photos for the way I did it.

-- Regards Robert

View sillac's profile


644 posts in 2758 days

#7 posted 06-28-2012 02:47 AM

You can look up Bill Pentz, he has some good stuff on static electricity and pvc piping. Also lots of other info on dust collection. Good Luck

-- Steve in Oregon,

View Allie1234's profile


3 posts in 1047 days

#8 posted 07-14-2015 02:15 PM

Plastic is the cheaper option. There is a good selection at

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics