downdraft table

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Project by awlee posted 11-27-2013 01:36 PM 4458 views 28 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In an effort to capture all the dust that spews whenever I sand, I made a downdraft table. Besides gobbling dust, it had to meet some other requirements, including being light enough for me to lift easily onto my workbench, a large enough top to accommodate decently sized project pieces but not so large that my dust collector, at 650 CFM, couldn’t create enough suction, and an easily removable top.

Figure 1 shows the final table. The carcass is made of pine and the top of MDF. The rough dimensions of the carcass are 24” x 24” and about 4” deep, the top about an extra 1.5” all the way around. The dust port is 4” in diameter and can be hooked directly to a dust collection hose. I tried to find good advice about the hole patterns—how large, how many, how far apart—and there are many suggestions, though definitely no consensus. I settled on 3/4” holes, drilled in pairs, and spaced about 4” apart. Because the top is easily removable, I can quickly change it for a different top with different hole patterns. The table is light, most of the weight from the MDF top. All the surfaces are finished with Danish oil.

Here’s how I made it:

Figure 2 shows the pine box with angled supports for baffles. The baffles help the dust slide toward the center suction hole and also cut down on the interior area and, one hopes, make the suction more powerful and efficient.

Figure 3 shows the simple joinery and also the dowels I inserted in each of the corners to accept the MDF top.

Figure 4 shows the bottom panel, which is just a 1/4” scrap plywood that has been inserted into grooves. I didn’t glue the bottom panel; it just floats.

Figure 5 shows the baffles in place and two oak strips that stretch across the box to help support the top. The top just sits on the box—no other attachment than fitted loosely onto the dowels.

Figure 6 shows some stops I made to help hold the project pieces in place.

I’ve sanded on the downdraft table several times now, and I must say that the results are just okay. The suction isn’t nearly as powerful as I’d hoped. I definitely do not capture all of the dust. I’ve been resisting investing in a more efficient system—something like a Festool sander and dust collector—but, for health’s sake, may need to think more seriously about that. I’d certainly appreciate any wisdom from the Lumberjocks group about any aspect of the table, whether I should try a different hole pattern, more powerful dust collector, smaller box, maybe even a different way to capture dust altogether.

9 comments so far

View juststeveb's profile


34 posts in 1822 days

#1 posted 11-27-2013 02:13 PM

Did 9/16” holes on mine n used door weatherstrip foam tween box n removable lid…amazing how much suction you lose on cracks ya really cant see. Run some silcone round the bottom panel will prolly help also

-- we stand behind our work but never under it...(love seeing the look in customers eyes when they hear it)

View bigfoot11's profile


81 posts in 1824 days

#2 posted 11-27-2013 03:15 PM

I agree, seal the bottom panel along with your baffles. You are likely losing a ton of air just from those, especially since you didn’t glue in the bottom panel. Weatherstripping is a great idea. You can also use the metal tape that HVAC installers use.

View rodneyh's profile


147 posts in 2806 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 03:41 PM

I’ve had really good luck with mine (posted), and the top is simply peg board. I’d spend the $5 for a piece at Lowes give it a try. Your perimeter & cross pieces will easily support it.

View BusterB's profile


1970 posts in 2150 days

#4 posted 11-28-2013 12:17 AM

Nice build….one of these has been on my to-do list ever since my buddy whitebeast88 (Marty) posted the one he built. I really like the thicker top on your version instead of the 1/4 pegboard you see on quite a few of these. I work like a bull in a china shop so I am thinking the extra thickness would not be a bad idea…lol Great job

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2332 days

#5 posted 11-28-2013 12:32 AM

great sanding table,i like the design especially with the dowels i was wishing i’d done the same the last time i used it.nice work…

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10521 posts in 3175 days

#6 posted 11-28-2013 03:31 AM

Very Nice Work Indeed! Thanks For Sharing!


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View OldRick's profile


72 posts in 1835 days

#7 posted 11-28-2013 12:47 PM

I see another project I need to try. Loved the mini dogs. Great idea.

View BanjoChris's profile


104 posts in 1825 days

#8 posted 11-28-2013 03:22 PM

Very nice!

Thanks for sharing.


View prospector45's profile


150 posts in 1872 days

#9 posted 11-29-2013 01:18 AM

Great build. Will be very handy in the shop.

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