New Woodshop Construction #3: The Monster in My Closet

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Patrick Jaromin posted 02-18-2008 09:27 PM 6411 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: My "Green" Dust Collection System Part 3 of New Woodshop Construction series Part 4: A Short But Productive Weekend »


OK, so maybe not exactly a “monster,” but the old Woodtek 3HP double-bag dust collector I bought sure does sound like one…and appears to live up to its 2100CFM (free-air) rating.

I’ve finally finished the main duct work runs and over the weekend I cut the hole from the shop into the external “dust collection closet” and ran the 6” main through. As I had feared, the dust collector argued mightily against being confined in such cramped quarters. The closet is <30” deep and ~60” wide with a standard 36”x80” door. The two-bag collector simply wouldn’t make the tight turn through the doorway. Fortunately I’d half suspected this would be the case and was already mentally prepared for the situation…which likely saved my neighbors an earful.


The solution: disassembly.

I removed the upper-half, post-fan section that holds the bags to the blower and then removed the lower half, including the motor from the base. I’d already purchased a length of 6” flexible hose that I’d planned to use to join the collector to the 6” S&D piping…figuring that it would likely be a rather convoluted angle and possibly too tight a fit for a hard plastic 90-degree elbow. By mounting the base directly to the floor of the closet, I also gained an additional couple inches – making it now possible to use rigid fittings. Ultimately the hookup turned out to be “do-able” using rigid piping as well, eliminating the need for the rather pricey 6” flexible hose. Anybody need any 6” hose.


Though I don’t have any tools for measuring CFM or static pressure, my quick test sweeping some sawdust piles into the floor sweep at the very furthest end of the longest/narrowest run and hearing the swooooosh as the debris found its way swiftly into the waiting collection bags was enough to convince me that the system should do just fine. I’m hoping to do a test using the planer tonight—if it can keep up with the 13” planer, it should have no trouble with the other tools.

My one real disappointment is with the on/off mechanism. I outfitted the 240v 20A circuit with an X10-controllable outlet and programmed the “D” button (for “Dust collection” of course) to send the appropriate on/off commands. It worked the first couple times I tried it, turning the collector on and off as expected. However, the third time I tried using the second keypad (linked to the first) and this time…nothing. I went back to the first and tried it a few more times. Again, nothing. I recall reading some forum posts (don’t recall where) by some unhappy woodworkers/X10 enthusiasts complaining about the poor reliability of X10—specifically in the context of dust collection systems. I was planning on purchasing a “Long Ranger” or similar system and using a combination of manual switches and blast-gate mounted microswitches in the future…apparently this will need to happen a bit sooner than I’d anticipated.

As usual, the entire installation process—well, the indoor portions at least—was covered by my trusty D-Link wireless cameras. Here’s the finished video:

UPDATE: Last night I completed the “planer” test as planned. I hooked up my Rigid 13” planer to a port at the end of the run and took some fairly decent passes on a 9” piece of poplar. The dust shroud was empty. I opened a couple other blast gates and repeated the test. Still clear. Looks like this “monster” will do the job!

(originally posted at

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

13 comments so far

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3901 days

#1 posted 02-18-2008 09:40 PM

Wow, that sucks! ;)

(it’s a compliment)

-- Happy woodworking!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4015 days

#2 posted 02-18-2008 10:00 PM

Looks great! I’ve been using a ‘Long Ranger’ for about 7 years and it’s still working great.

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#3 posted 02-18-2008 10:10 PM

This is an interesting video. Once again you moved on this project with incredible speed. But it does look like a shop expansion is going to be necessary. This is the safest install for a dust collector. Any fines that do escape will be in the closet and not in the work area.

I’ve got a couple of questions (1) are you going to leave it like this and (2) did you glue the pipe runs together?

All in all this is a nice addition to your shop and at 2100 cfm I agree with Blake- this thing does suck. Just don’t leave any loose papers or let any small children or animals anywhere near an open blast gate.

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

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3860 days

#4 posted 02-18-2008 10:34 PM

Yes, Blake, it sure does!

Glad to hear that Gary. I’ve been considering it but didn’t want to commit to the system until I’ve had a chance to work with it. I’m thinking it’d be much easier/safer to buy the long ranger starter kit for the relay than to wire up my own…and then I can just attach micro switches from Radio Shack to my current blast gates if I wish to use it that way. I’m also considering the remote control route..and/or just putting simple low-voltage switches in strategic locations. It had no trouble at all sucking up a good size pile of dust with at least 2 other gates open…so I don’t know that I need a system that requires me to close all other gates. We’ll see!

Scott- The only issue with the install is that I haven’t yet vented the closet…and I do need to. It was noticeably harder to close the door with the unit running…and you should hear the hiigh-pitched whistle coming from the air squeezing through the weatherproof door! I’m just not 100% certain if I want to vent back into the shop or into the outdoors. I realize I’d loose heat, but I’m really more concerned about my lungs than my heating bill! As for your second question—no glue was used and I don’t really plan to glue it up..I want to remain flexible. The friction fit feels very good and a casual inspection didn’t reveal any leaks. I’m sure it’s not perfectly air tight, but it didn’t seem to matter in my short test. That’s one of the things about the SDR35 (ASTM3034) vs. the ASTM2729. The green stuff fits much tigter in the fittings than the thinner white. If I’d used the 2729, I’m certain I’d have needed to tape and perhaps glue all of the seams.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#5 posted 02-19-2008 12:36 AM

In my mind venting to the outside is the way I am going to go when I put in a bigger system. I agree that health concerns outweigh any negatives.

I am glad to see you did not glue the joints together. If you had, it makes removing a clog very difficult. I had a neighbor who put his dc piping under a concrete floor because he didn’t want it to show. He happened to get a chunk of wood stuck in the piping one day and needless to say he quit using the system rather than jackhammering the floor and had to run all new pipe overhead.

Thanks for the tip about the pipes as well.

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

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3860 days

#6 posted 02-19-2008 12:52 AM

Scott- I’m lucky that a woodworking friend (and fellow LJ’er, blackcherry) stopped by one day and strongly suggested I put in some access points for cleanout. Heeding his advice, I used a 6” wye instead of a 45-degree elbow in one location and capped the 6’ pipe at the main ends so that I should be able to get a fish tape in there if necessary. If that doesn’t work, yes, I should have no trouble taking it apart…though I’m sure I wouldn’t be that happy about it!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4093 days

#7 posted 02-19-2008 07:40 AM

That is a very efficient looking DC system. I really like the appearance of your shop – the walls are really comfortable looking. You should be able to produce some good quality time in that environment.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Matt (Upper Cut)'s profile

Matt (Upper Cut)

264 posts in 3840 days

#8 posted 02-19-2008 07:46 AM

And not I am really jealous!

-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks,

View Harry72's profile


53 posts in 3794 days

#9 posted 02-19-2008 05:10 PM

I got an idea for you to improve the extractor situation in its enclosure its what I did with mine(same machine by the looks).
What I did was I turned the fan upside down so its at the top
The before shot…

The after shot…

This will shorten your pipe run by 8~10’ with 2 less 90° bends and give you more room to remove the plastic bags… and free up a little storage space(good spot for the aircomp… you can see the red of my AC in the pic)at floor level!
To do it you need to reverse the shroud rings that hold the bags(easy to do as the bolts line up!), otherwise the cone’s in the shrouds will be upside down stopping the fine dust falling down into the plastic bags.
And make a metal frame that holds the fan housing and bag shrouds supported off the floor not the frame work of the shop.(it will vibrate your shop, it’s what I’ll be doing next as mines pretty loud vibrating the whole enclosure I have it in)
Also some PFC filters will gain you extra CFM by a fair margin.

The only problem I can see for you will be an extra hole in the shop wall so the fan shroud can sit in the middle, not offset like it is now. But there maybe a salvation make the old hole bigger put a furnace filter and use it as the return air!(but go the PFC’s 1st)

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3860 days

#10 posted 02-19-2008 06:11 PM

Wow, Harry…thanks for the tip and the pics! Great idea.

It certainly would make it much easier to empty the bags. I’m pretty certain you’re right that mine’s the same…the holes should line up as yours did. I may have to use a custom offset—maybe an airtight box since I placed the hole based on a workable arrangement of the main line on the inside of the shop. If I move the hole over even an inch or so, the main line will get jammed up in the corner and I’d have to use flexible hose to make the turn…something I really want to avoid. Something to look at when it gets a bit warmer outside…there’s no room to work in the closet and we’re in single digits right now!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3878 days

#11 posted 02-20-2008 01:44 AM

Patrick that is one great dust collection system. You sure are a fast worker, that video makes the mind boggle.

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

View JasonK's profile


56 posts in 3822 days

#12 posted 02-21-2008 11:16 PM

I’m curious about static buildup with the PVC. Have you experienced any static charge yet? If so, how do you plan to deal with it?
Also, any plans to paint it? Sure is a shame to see all that green pipe in that beautiful new shop!!

-- Measure once; Cut Twice, Three Times, Four Times...

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3860 days

#13 posted 02-22-2008 04:02 AM

Grumpy..glad you enjoyed it.

Jason- I haven’t used it “for real” yet and my tests were too short to build up any static. I highly suspect it will be an issue though as even with a humidifier running it can still get dry in the house when the temp drops as low as it’s been lately. I plan to just use it as-is for a bit and see for sure…but I’m thinking I’ll end up doing what many have done—running a wire around the pipe and connecting it to the collector and tool to ground. As for the color—I have considered painting it, but with everything else I have to do that’s way down on the list. I’ve gone back and forth in my feelings about the look…and it’s starting to grow on me. I may just leave it.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

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