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Design features miss the mark

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Review by EarlS posted 04-22-2017 12:35 PM 4760 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Design features miss the mark No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Laguna C Flux 1.5 HP Dust Collector – 3 Stars – it provides good air flow and suction with 2 stage filtration. The rest of the design misses the mark.

Earlier this spring, I ordered a Laguna C Flux, 1.5 HP dust collector ($1000) from Rockler with direct shipping from Laguna. After 2 weeks of waiting for a shipping confirmation I called Rockler and they said they would check on a delivery date. A week later and still no response so I called and e-mailed Laguna directly and spoke with one of their customer service reps. She could not provide any confirmation other than the fact that my order had been received. She had lots of excuses but no answers. I gave her 3 days to provide a shipping tracking number or I would call Rockler and cancel my order. Three days later, and no response, I called Rockler. The Rockler rep looked up my order and told me that Laguna told them it had shipped 3 days prior but there was no tracking number provided so he called Laguna with my instructions to either put the unit a truck and provide a tracking number that day or cancel my order. The next day I received an e-mail from Rockler with the tracking number. It certainly appears that the order was shipped out as a result of his call based on the date stamp on the confirmation.

Approximately a week later, the unit showed up in a big cardboard box.

It took about an hour to open the box and get all of the parts out of it. Most of that time was spent figuring out a good way to get the heavy, bulky main filter and fan/motor assembly out of the box and into the shop without scratching or damaging it.

Assembly took 4-5 hours, in part because the instructions were not in order. Most of the time spent assembling the unit was related to the lifting arms and dust bucket. By the 3rd or 4th step the basic unit assembly was complete.

At one point, I had to remove a stiffener that was installed on a previous step so I could get into the space behind it to attach the bolt for the lifting arm assembly. Another MAJOR irritation was the combination of English and metric nuts and bolts. When all of the steps were complete there were 3 pieces that had not been used, but no nuts or bolts to attach them. After re-reading the entire installation process several times looking at pictures and reading the steps out loud, I finally took the pieces and started comparing the bolt holes to the installed pieces. Two of the pieces appear to be brackets for the lifting arms where they bolt to a triangular bracket that attached to the lower frame. The other flat piece is a modified bracket for the start/stop box.

The completed unit looks industrial; heavy, solid and imposing, except for the rollers. For a unit that is as top heavy as this is, I would have expected much heavier rollers.

The last thing that needed to be installed was the bag on the bottom of the filter. Basically, it is a heavy duty garbage bag.

That’s the best they could come up with on a $1000 dust collector? It was very difficult to get the bag onto the bottom on the filter and then get the metal restraining band on and clamped down. It was worse than the felt bag on the bottom of the old Delta dust collector. Every time it slipped off the filter I got more irritated. The worst part was looking at the dust collection bucket and all of the engineering and cost that went into it and the complete lack of design of anything helpful on the bottom of the filter.

Lastly, I had to buy and install a 30 amp breaker and 20 amp outlet for this unit. Normal operation pulls 18.8 amps with a higher load on the inrush (starting the motor). I also had to remove the 20 amp GFCI outlet as it tripped out the first time I started the unit. Adding to the irritation was the lack of a 110V plug on the motor lead.

That’s right, the unit does not have a 110V plug, you have to buy one or figure out some way to wire it up. These little surprises added another $30 to the cost, plus more time to set things up.

I had 60 BF of rough maple and 40 BF of rough cherry waiting to dimension which covers the 3 most common and largest dust generators in the shop, the planer, jointer, and table saw.

I put a plastic bag in the dust bucket, slid the inner ring inside the bag.

The bucket is on wheels and rolls under the cyclone section where the lifting bar is used to raise the bucket into place under the cyclone. I smashed my knuckles on the lower lifting handle on the buck which is directly in the way of the arm when it is pushed into the locked position.

Strike 1 for ergonomical design. As I stood up, I hit the top of my head on the Y-splitter for the air inlet hoses which sticks out directly above where you have to lean down to grab the bar to raise/lower the dust bucket. Strike 2 for ergonomical design.

Initially, I was going to use both sides of the Y-splitter and use blast gates but decided that I could just switch between hoses for the various pieces of equipment.

I set up the planer and put my ear muffs on. The dust collector sounded like a jet engine when I turned it on. Definitely not something to use without hearing protection. I started planing and after 10 boards (25 minutes) I shut off the unit because the bag on the bottom of the filter was 1/4 full of wood chips. I had to open the dust bucket to check the level because the insert covers the window so you can’t see the level.

It was over full. I tried pulling the insert out and wound up dumping some of the material over the sides of the bucket since the chips and saw dust fluffed up as it was pulled out.

Things went from bad to worse as I pulled the bag out. Apparently, one or more of the little rubber covers that I installed on the 40 metal screws used to secure the various side and bottom pieces together had come off and the sharp end of the screw caught on the bag ripping it.

More dust and chips wound up on the floor as I pulled the bag out. The dust bucket had to be emptied out. Using the 2 lifting handles, I picked it up. Holy Cow!!!! This thing weighs 25 lbs. for a 20 gal can. Strike 3 for ergonomical design.

The filter has a handle on top that is attached to a paddle that is used to clean off the pleated filter, causing the fines to fall into the plastic bag. One issue is that the paddle only contacts the middle of the filter which means the top and bottom areas between the pleats will fill up and not be cleaned. If you have a shop vac, think about how you clean the filter. The pleated filter on this machine looks like it needs the same kind of effort. Too bad it doesn’t use the upper and lower bag design like others do.

I had to empty out the plastic bag on the bottom of the filter because the dust bucket was overfilled. What a chore. After 35 minutes, everything was finally emptied out, and re-assembled. At this point, I decided to use the 32 gal garbage can with the plastic separator lid from the old dust collector as a pre-collector so that I wouldn’t have to go through this ordeal every 25 minutes when planing. With this set up I was able to fill the 32 gal garbage can ¾ full with the dust bucket 1/3 full with no large particle carry over into the filter.

On the bright side, I do notice considerably less dust making it out of the table saw. I also checked inside the saw where there had been a pile of dust/chips is now clear. I also checked around the outside of the saw where the various holes leak dust and they also looked good. I think I finally have enough vacuum to keep the dust inside the saw.

Chip removal at the planer has also improved. There is considerably less chips on the floor than with the old system.

My overall impression: this dust collector does the job with good suction and flow rate with a 2 stage removal system (cyclone and pleated filter). It fails on ergonomics as the dust bucket is very heavy, the handles and air inlets are poorly placed, the plastic bag is hard to install on the filter, the bag and insert idea doesn’t really work, and the filter cleaning paddle is not really sufficient for the job. These are problems that will be encountered every time the unit is emptied. The other issues with delivery and assembly were one-time problems.

For a machine that costs $1000, the design of the machine misses the mark. Too much emphasis was placed on a bucket that can be raised and lowered while forgetting about the other aspects of the unit’s use and primary funcion.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"




View EarlS's profile

EarlS

1521 posts in 2465 days



11 comments so far

View sgmdwk's profile

sgmdwk

308 posts in 1989 days


#1 posted 04-24-2017 01:57 AM

Very detailed review. Thanks for going to the trouble of posting this. I was considering this dust collector. I might give preference to a Jet, instead.

-- Dave K.

View edapp's profile

edapp

101 posts in 1546 days


#2 posted 04-24-2017 12:58 PM

You mentioned one glaring issue i saw when watching the product assembly video that Laguna posted on youtube (I will be purchasing a DC soon, so thanks for the review). The fact that the assembly of the can uses sheet metal screws facing inwards and in direct contact with the plastic liner is asinine. Yes they provide the rubber caps but who would really expect those to last the life of the machine? In my mind this problem will provide a lifetimes worth of headaches for those that want to use the plastic liner. Why not use a nut and acorn style bolt?

I would love to see and updated review of the performance when you do not let the can overfill. One of my concerns with these units is the amount of filtration the short cyclone provides. In my limited experience with a dust deputy, if i let the bucket overfill past 3/4 full, most of the chips start pouring into my shop vac. Otherwise very little makes it to the shopvac.

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

1521 posts in 2465 days


#3 posted 04-24-2017 05:00 PM

edapp – The DC doesn’t carry over chips and dust into the filter until the dust bucket is 2/3 full or so. The problem with that is 2/3 of a 20 gal can doesn’t take long to fill when you are planing. My solution has been to go with the garbage can separator on a 30 gal metal can in front of the DC. That way, I can fill the can up 3/4 of the way and the dust bucket on the dust collector is only 1/4 full, and few, if any, chips carry over into the filter.

I run the table saw dust hose directly to the DC so that I can get every bit of suction through the saw. Since it doesn’t make chips and sawdust too fast, the set up works. I just have to remember to switch the hoses. I tried to use blast gates but they get in the way with the way with “Y” dust collector inlet (see the pictures above). I check the dust bucket periodically to see if it needs to be dumped.

The dust bucket insert is currently residing in the recycling section of the local landfill, and the fancy garbage bags are gathering dust on the shelf. Hopefully, I can use them on the bottom of the filter.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5739 posts in 2930 days


#4 posted 04-24-2017 05:48 PM

Thanks for the detailed review. You bring up some key points. Most notably the irritating bag for catching fines. It makes sense in theory, because you aren’t supposed to (have the need to) empty it very often. However, if you need to empty it every session it becomes a hassle. The way the plastic bag attaches looks very similar to the old bag style collectors… not good.

I started with a small portable collector, nothing fancy, and have since upgraded to a basic 2 hp wall-mounted cyclone. I went back and forth considering a metal drum and a fiber drum when I set up the system. I’m glad I went with the fiber drum, because it’s lighter. I tend to use it without a plastic liner. Therefore, I have to tilt the 55 gallon drum into a wheelbarrow to take the chips out to the compost.

With the Laguna, I’m surprised there are sharps projecting into the bin. It seems obvious that these will snag on a bag over time. Any way you could run it bagless, and figure out a way to tip (rather than lift) for emptying?
I know you figured out using a separator works, but this must be a bummer to need a trash can separator on a newly redesigned and much touted system.

Sorry for the setup and initial use woes. Let us know how it all works out.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View WhereDidIPutThat's profile

WhereDidIPutThat

42 posts in 1453 days


#5 posted 04-26-2017 03:06 AM

Wow, looks like I’ve dodged a bullet. Sorry about your experience, do you plan on replacing this and if so what DC will you choose?

-- palette wood connoisseur

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

1521 posts in 2465 days


#6 posted 04-26-2017 04:53 PM

WhereDidIPut That – I’m going to stick with it since I can’t really send it back and I doubt I could get the price back selling it on CL. The modifications I mentioned will help with most of the issues. It does accomplish it’s primary task of providing dust collection so it isn’t a total loss.

I think there are probably better DC from other manufacturers out there – Oneida and Jet both come to mind. I also recall seeing other DC manufacturers advertising in Fine Woodworking. When spending this kind of $$ you should definitely spend some time looking around and asking questions on this, and other, forums. I’m not sure I trust any of the Youtube reviews since they tend to gloss over problems so they don’t alienate the manufacturers.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

820 posts in 1701 days


#7 posted 04-26-2017 05:06 PM

istExcellent and insightful review. Not the kind of detail and commentary that is available other than from a knowledgeable user that did actually use the product. Thanks.

I have the very normal Pwermatic 1300TX-CX. They are offered for about $850 to $900 in many places. I am very, very happy to have decided to go for that one.

I admit that I am not a dust collecting hobbyist, however. I recognize that some woodworkers are in that group, and that’s good because they learn stuff and share it with the rest of us.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 2227 days


#8 posted 04-27-2017 05:53 PM

Is it possible to turn the screws around so the heads are in, or use a different type of fastener, like a pop rivet?

I agree you shouldn’t have to do this, but if it’s already in place…

View CyberDyneSystems's profile

CyberDyneSystems

288 posts in 2305 days


#9 posted 04-28-2017 03:02 PM

Thank you so much for such a thorough review. I have been looking at units in this capacity/price range. I will avoid this one.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

17570 posts in 3305 days


#10 posted 04-28-2017 10:38 PM

Good review, I’ve looked at these and thought about it. But Laguna customer service is terrible always has been. My buddy has one of their lathes and you couldn’t believe the issues he’s went through. Wiring , directional control. & tail stock. I’ve been to there warehouse for classes and love the bandsaw the make.

But customer service is so bad I’ll never buy they’re stuff. I talked with the owner and he’s aware but doesn’t seem to concerned.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Sark's profile

Sark

74 posts in 477 days


#11 posted 05-31-2017 10:53 PM

I had a Laguna sliding table saw that had lots little annoyances. So I got to know customer service pretty well. And I agree with Ken, their customer service is so bad, that I swore never to do business with them again.

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