New Woodshop Construction #2: My "Green" Dust Collection System

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Blog entry by Patrick Jaromin posted 02-06-2008 03:43 PM 63784 reads 10 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Setting Up Shop II, or How I Spent My Winter Vacation Part 2 of New Woodshop Construction series Part 3: The Monster in My Closet »

Not “green” in the environmental sense, mind you…but green in a very literal sense. I’ve spent literally months planning out most of the details of my new shop, since before they broke ground. One of the features I was most anxious to include that I was unable to have in my shared garage space was an honest-to-goodness central dust collection system. One of the earliest decisions I needed to make: metal or plastic?

Metal of Plastic?

I first read Sandor Nagyszalanczy’s oft recommended book “Woodshop Dust Control” where he makes a strong argument against the use of plastic PVC piping for ductwork citing the risk of explosions that could ruin your day/shop/life/etc. After reading this book it was clear to me that metal was the only way to go. That was, until I began researching actually purchasing the stuff. Expensive. What’s more, the stuff they sell at the “Big Box” stores is too thin…so the only real way to do this with metal ducting, beyond finding a local supplier (which I was unable to do) is to meticulously plot out the whole thing and place one big order to have shipped to the shop. While I’m no stranger to meticulous planning, I’ve never setup a dust collection system before and was not 100% sure I could plot this out perfectly without actually attempting to fit some pieces together first. In fact, I was pretty darn certain that I couldn’t plan this out to the last screw in advance of ordering the materials. I just knew I’d get half-way done with the install and either change my mind or realize I needed some other type of fitting(s) to finish the job. Without a local supplier, I’d be forced to place an order—likely a small one—and incur additional shipping charges and delays. Time’s too much of a premium to lose an entire day because I can’t get what I need. This realization sent me searching for alternatives.

It didn’t take long for me to find some interesting forum discussions online…but the clincher for me was this extremely well-crafted article. The upshot of reading this article was that I was now certain that I would definitely use the cheaper/easier-to-find S&D PVC piping for my system. Fortunately or Un- I was now also paranoid about what I could appreciate was the most dangerous aspect of my dust collection system—a smoldering fire in a collection bag. (Mental note: daily emptying of the bags is a must. But I digress…)

A bit of searching locally initially indicated that my local “Big Box” stores carried only up to 4” diameter piping. My basic math says that I’d really be better off using a minimum of 5” ducting for the main run. As S&D pipes aren’t offered in 5”, I opted for the next size up…which, as I mentioned, I was unable to locate locally. That is, until an unrelated and rare trip to Menards where I discovered all the 6” and 4” fittings and pipe I would ever need. Excellent.

Goin’ Green

Menards stocks their PVC piping in an outdoor lumber yard. This meant that I placed an order off a sheet with a nice picture of white 6” PVC pipe listed as ASTM 2729 S&D. When I got into the yard, however, the pipe was actually the green stuff..ASTM 3034/SDR35. The Menards product number on the sticker on the pipe and the label on the bin matched my receipt, so I’m not sure if there was a mistake in their inventory or their labeling…or if they for some reason sell the 3034 and 2729 interchangably (seems unlikely), but I didn’t see the 2729 anywhere so I figured I’d use the somewhat heavier, green 3034 that I had paid for rather than start the hunt over again. I purchased a few 10’ lengths of the 4” thin white stuff from Lowes as well figuring I’d at least have white drops.


I purchased my blast gates and quick disconnect fittings from my local Woodcraft store and started the assembly. What I discovered during the assembly was that the thicker-walled SDR35 was a significantly snugger fit for the pipe fittings. Also, while a special coupling is required to attach the blast gates to 2729, they fit perfectly in the green stuff. So, while the 2729 is a bit cheaper and much lighter, I save money overall with the SDR35 since there are no adapters needed to fit the blast gates to the pipes. Serendipity.

Assembly continues apace. I’m currently roughly 50% complete with the core installation, that is the main 6” line is 80% complete and half the drops are essentially in. I still need to build the hoods for the RAS and CMS and work out the details of the fittings for the router table, which will likely take more time than the assembly time to date. I’ve still got the two cameras capturing the process and have been sure to move them as needed as there’s no one position that can capture even most of the shop. Editing of the time-lapse is ongoing and I will be posting the completed video when the job is done, natch.



(originally posted at

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

31 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4097 days

#1 posted 02-06-2008 03:45 PM

The dust collection makes me jealous. I’ll get you yet!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 3886 days

#2 posted 02-06-2008 04:42 PM


What a shop and duct work!

Enjoy your new DC system.


View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4049 days

#3 posted 02-06-2008 05:22 PM

Very nice setup.

-- Hope Never fails

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3768 days

#4 posted 02-06-2008 05:38 PM

Patrick, Fellow Naperville woodworker!!! Beautiful shop…


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3986 days

#5 posted 02-06-2008 06:41 PM

Lookin’ great! Very nice shop by the way.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

770 posts in 3906 days

#6 posted 02-06-2008 06:44 PM

That set up looks great. I am looking forward to the updates which you will keep posting I hope.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3830 days

#7 posted 02-06-2008 08:53 PM

Todd – sure you’re jealous…I’ve seen your work and the work you’re doing on your shop. Trade ya my dust collection system for your skills any time! Thanks.

Tom – That makes at least 3 of us from Naperville that I’m aware of. blackcherry a friend from my neighborhood. Almost enough of us for a picnic! Are you or have you been involved with the DuPage or Fox Valley clubs?

Thanks all.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3988 days

#8 posted 02-06-2008 09:34 PM

Man that’s one spiffy lookin’ shop! Good job Pat!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 3956 days

#9 posted 02-06-2008 09:48 PM

I just wish my house looked that nice on the inside, let alone a shop.


I am just starting my dust collection layout and appreciate the info you provided.

What size/kind of dust collector are you using? Are you using a cyclone?

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3830 days

#10 posted 02-06-2008 10:32 PM

Kevin- I had originally planned on a cyclone, but decided I’d rather save the money for other (shop-related) things. Instead, I picked up an old (~15 years I believe) 2100CFM 3HP Single-stage WoodTek for ~$200 via—you can just see it in the background of pic #2. The dust collector will ultimately live in a small 3’x6’ room behind the wall next to the TV (where the 6” drop terminates in the 3rd pic) that was designed to house a cyclone…so someday. From the description of your workshop, sounds like you’ve got plenty of space for whatever you’d want—more than 2x the size of mine…just wish you had posted some pics ;)

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Grumpy's profile


23917 posts in 3849 days

#11 posted 02-07-2008 12:30 AM

Thats more like a home than a workshop Patrick. All you need in there is a bed, or have you one tucked away in there. I never thought of using pvc, I have the flexible hosing. Great idea, thanks for sharing.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#12 posted 02-07-2008 02:38 AM

That is a really nice job, Patrick. It does give me some ideas for my shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3988 days

#13 posted 02-07-2008 03:43 AM

Ideas like maybe finishing the walls?! LOL!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3768 days

#14 posted 02-07-2008 04:38 AM

Yes, I did go to a FVW meeting last summer, it was ok, but have not been back since. Planning on trying the DuPage club, if I can remember when and where.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4085 days

#15 posted 02-07-2008 05:33 AM

Well thought out and laid out system. I always went to great lengths to ground my PVC system but after reading the same article I don’t bother and it hasn’t made a difference. Do you really empty the dust collector every night? I have actually gone to using 2 smaller (650 CFM) collection units on either side of the shop each hooked to about 2-4 machines. Each machine has it’s own remote control. Result is less overall duct work, more versatility in system set up and same CFM as a large cyclone unit at less than 1/3 the cost.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

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