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Long Road To The Perfect Dust Collection Set-Up

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Forum topic by John L posted 07-12-2015 05:04 AM 2065 views 1 time favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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John L

148 posts in 629 days


07-12-2015 05:04 AM

I originally thought I would post this after I had made my final dust collection setup. But the road has been so long, with detours and frustrations, that I am going to make it a “work in progress” and post on things as I go along. And I am currently at a place where I am stumped and need some help from all those self-proclaimed motor repair experts.

This all started some time ago, with my old Craftsman table saw, which I purchased new in 1981. I added accessories to the thing, which included a dust collection setup offered at the time by Sears. It came with a plastic bottom plate, where a 2 1/4” shop vac hose could be attached to collect the sawdust right from the cutting blade. Also, it came with an impeller fan/housing, and hoses, which were attached to the belt assembly and the motor. The motor would also turn the impeller, and suck out sawdust from the rear of the tablesaw, at the gear system behind the rotating blade. Also, the same impeller sucked sawdust from the blade guard on the top of the table. It was all complicated, and at the time did a pretty decent job for my needs. Here’s the table saw from a few years ago.

As you can see, the 3” hose from the blade guard had to make a long journey up and around to the right, then down and back to the motor assembly on the other side of the saw. The bottom hose was straight forward, running to my 16 gallon shop vac. I had pretty much sealed the motor housing as best I could, stuffing weather stripping in the crooks and crannies. The “Lasko” cardboard I used to stop up the front of the motor housing. And most of the back opening was also blocked with clear plastic.

But over time it just wasn’t enough . The older I got, the more my allergies tended to bother me. So last year I upgraded, of sorts, with a Thien dust separator, mounted on a 32 gallon plastic trash container. Here’s what I came up with.

It looks like your standard Thien seperater, but I wanted it to be big enough to properly separate as much dust as possible. So, I made it 10 inches tall, and sunk part of the seperator down into the container.

I used 10 inch wide sheet aluminum, which comes in rolls, and is sold at Lowes and Home Depot. I just followed the general directions, sealed the thing, and put it to work. It finished out to just less than one inch shorter than the bottom of the right table saw extension, located next to the built in router table. When I needed to empty it, I just Pulled out the trash container, wiggled in between the round steel support and the water heater, lifted off the top, and drug the filled container out into the open. Then I took a 39 gallon trash bag, and turned the thing over, and emptied the contents into the bag. Then I was ready to go at it again.

It seemed to work pretty well, except it just wasn’t anywhere close to 100%. The impeller working off the saw motor, didn’t suck enough sawdust from the Blade guard, because it just didn’t have enough power. And too, the shop vac couldn’t keep enough of the fine dust within the container. I even bought one of those nice Ridgid hepa filters, but the really fine stuff kept making its way up to the house upstairs.

Now the allergies are getting worse. My eyes are sore all the time, I cough needlessly, and even worse, Charlie my Shih-tzu is having trouble with his allergies getting worse. He is 8 years old, and sometimes when he gets close to me, my eyes start burning, due to him expelling toxins from within. He has black gunk coming out of his eyes. I just can’t allow this to keep going on.

And this brings me up to now. I recently purchased the Harbor Freight single stage dust collection system, with intent on jazzing it up like many have done before. Some modifications appear here, and there are others all over the internet. The Harbor Freight system seems to have acquired a cult following.

Well, I decided to go “be-bop Delux” and make a two stage separator system , with Thien separators before and after the motor. The first one would be the trusty 32 gallon container, with the Thien sitting on top.

Above it would be the motor, and the exhaust would go into the green metal portion of the Harbor Freight filter collection. But I modified this by making the green metal portion an enlarged Thien separator.

The white plastic material would sit five inches below the top of the plastic bag, allowing more drop for the fine particles, which in theory would catch more before the air headed upward. Here’s the thing finished and sitting ready for installation.

I really like that white plastic sheeting. Its easy to rip on the table saw, bends easily, and yet quite strong. I picked it up at Home Depot, in a 4×8 sheet for right at $35. In time, I will almost certainly find more use for it.

Everything seems to be going along very slowly, but surely. I had my custom platform(21×42), mounted on better wheels than the ones coming with the dust collector. So I decided to see how it all fit next to the table saw. I got it in place, but the platform jacked it up way too high. I was unable to remove the rip fence and make cross cuts beyond the saw extension. I do this all the time, and I would be in a world of hurt if not able to do so. Further, the motor and hose was also an inconvenience.

Sigh, I needed to drop back and punt. So I came up with another solution.

In front of the table say, to the right of the floor freezer acting as out-feed table, and in between it and the stair well, there was more than enough room for me to place the unit. But it was occupied with a bunch of vintage tube audio equipment resulting from my carefree days on Ebay about five-six years ago. All of that would have to be moved. Here’s what the area looks like now.

It seemed to be the best solution. But I still had some problems. The 32 gallon container was just too tall, at 27”. Add that to the Thien separator, and it would get in the way of my extending the rip fence to its ability to go out over 25”. The separator just got in the way. Also, the platform on wheels, would not turn the corners if I decided to back it out and get in there for some work. So, I wrote off the wheeled platform, and began looking for something not as tall as that of the 32 gallon container.

Back to the searching. I began looking for something with less volume, or less height. Finally, I came up with the 20 gallon little brother to the Behrens 31 gal. Galvanized Steel Round Trash Can. For some reason, most places don’t carry it because they favor the 31 gallon big brother. Eventually I located one at “The Tractor Place” about thirty miles out of Raleigh, at Fuquay Varina. The 20 gallon container had a 21 inch height without the lid, and that was just great.

So I started out the door to make the long trip. But before I left town, I decided to go to Lowes, which is only two miles from my home. I wanted to check out the Real height of the 31 gallon container, just to be sure. I took my tape measure with me, and it was just as high as the plastic 32 gallon containers. Sigh. But on the way out the door, something caught the corner of my eye.

One of the very few positive things I ever took away from Ranger School was the fine art of Patrolling. And with that comes an acute sense of “Situational Awareness”. One learns to see things quite clearly, out of the corner of one’s eyes, because your life may well depend upon it. Well, I saw something that made me stop. And there, tucked in the corner at the front of the store, behind a bunch of rectangle storage containers was a stack of blue containers that just might fill the bill.

And sure enough, they were 20 gallon tubs, and even lower than the twenty something dollar metal trash cans in FV. And on top of that, they were only $6.98 each.

It was an Ugly Blue, and was squat looking, but it was still 20 gallons, and only had a 16” height, which would give me all the room I would ever need. I bought it immediately, and forgot about the metal can. On top of it all, the opening was 19”, and just might allow my current Thien separator to fit into it tightly.

And By George it did!

But just barely. So I broke down the separator, and cut off two inches from the bottom. Then I lowered the outer ring to 3/4” above the bottom of the separator. Holy Cow, it actually fit snug and perfectly. I almost fell on the floor out of total surprise. I was on a roll, by George. Nothing was going to stop me now. Here’s what the monstrosity looks like. Its one Ugly Duckling, to be sure.

The bottom had been removed to do some adjustment

Its by far the ugliest thing I have seen in a long time. The tub’s squatiness, and the large size of the separator make it look totally out of proportion. Its definitely not a work of art. But by moving the separator out of the tub, and cutting its height by 2 inches, it is more practical. And the tub is 20 gallons, believe it or not. That means that I can fill it up to about the 15 gallon line before needing to be emptied. With the 32 two gallon separator, it sat five inches down into the container, which cut away its carrying capacity to about 25 gallons. That meant I could fill it to the about 18 3/4 gallons, which is not much more than the present setup. For all that, I will gladly forgo the 3 3/4 gallons for the drop of over 10 inches in height.

But its still Ugly as Sin!

But alas, I come to the present, and my terrible predicament. I had based this new location on the assumption that I would do like some of the folks did by building a plywood wall to the bottom of their cart, and then bolting the motor to it, whereas they would attach a hose to the motor intake, and the first separator’s outtake.

And then I realized that this wouldn’t work. With the motor attached to the stairwell, the exhaust would be facing outward, over the outfeed table, not in the direction of the second Thein separator. Oh NO! What do do?!

I then took the extremely light weight motor over to my 12ft work table and began to see if I could rotate the housing ninety degrees. I took off the outer housing plate, and exposed the impeller assembly. Removing the hex head screw and washer was no problem. And this is what it looks like.

But from there it all went down hill. The impeller was as good as one with the motor shaft. I applied WD-40 to the shaft, used one of my “T” pins to remove any gunk between the fitting, and then attempted to pry the impeller loose with two of my Wonder Bars. Out of all this trouble , it only moved about 1/32 of an inch.

So here is my question to the self-proclaimed motor experts out there. How do I remove the impeller from the motor shaft, without using at least a pound of C4 and destroying everything within 15 meters of the motor? I’m not sure which tools to use, and all the right moves. This is the only way I am going to be able to rotate the exhaust housing so as to make it point in the direction I need.

I need help here. Please help me.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann


45 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3944 posts in 1958 days


#1 posted 07-12-2015 11:41 AM

I had to remove the impeller form My Oneida (twice, as it turns out). The first time it was, as you say, one with the motor…so I took it to a motor shop and had it done. They used a torch to heat the impeller and drive it off. This worked well since my impeller was aluminum…not sure how well it would work with a steel on, but they only charged me $15. Fast forward about 12 months and I had to do it again. This time I sat the motor on my bench with the flange of the blower housing overhanging the edge of the bench. Then with a large brass punch, I started hammering on the motor shaft, it moved a little with each blow and I eventually got it off. I did rotate the housing with every other blow.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#2 posted 07-12-2015 12:25 PM

That’s an interesting idea. If someone doesn’t come up with an alternative I can use at the shop, I’ll take it to someone I used in the past.

Fred, I think this has been one of the most frustrating projects I have done in a very long time. It seems as though every time I fix one problem, two more crop up. Most of the trouble is due to the fact that finding tubing which can easily fit is such a blooming mess. Nothing seems to fit, even if it is supposed to. I’m learning more than I ever thought about hoses and fittings.

Incidentally, I got the pictures fixed.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View Rayne's profile

Rayne

470 posts in 1005 days


#3 posted 07-12-2015 02:21 PM

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but can you use a gear puller to remove it from the shaft?

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#4 posted 07-12-2015 02:37 PM

Have you tried unbolting the motor? Maybe they nuts are welded to the housing?

Is there a parts diagram that might show this?

If there’s a lip on the impeller shaft, then a puller would be my choice.
Just make sure there are not roll pins, set screws, or retaining clips hiding anywere.

Not to insult your intelligence but is there no way to avoid all this with a work around to route the house or position the unit differently?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1592 posts in 889 days


#5 posted 07-12-2015 03:25 PM

The performance of the Central Machinery DC system is marginal, at best, with one separator. I do not think that adding a second one is doing you any favors. It reduces power too severely and its short stature is far more likely to continually stir up the fines you are trying to prevent from getting to the filter.

Done right, and you do not even need a plastic collection bag.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#6 posted 07-12-2015 03:37 PM

Using two separators may be charting new territory. I haven’t seen them used in other projects. However, the other projects use the Wynn filter, which will tend to ‘load up’, and would pretty much tend to slow down the system as well. I haven’t heard any complaints from the users to the best of my knowledge.

One thing I haven’t mentioned about this project is that I intend to vent the remaining fine dust particles out of the back of the house. The ductwork will be a 25 foot 6” air conditioning duct, which I have already picked up. The biggest draw in efficiency, the best I can tell, would be the front end of the system, where it would be attached to the table saw, or other floor tools as I use them. The intake would be downsized and the air flow restricted. But there will never be two tools in use at the same time.

Right now, my biggest obstacle will be getting the motor mounted and hanging from the stairwell, and pointed in the right direction. If there is not enough power to draw the dust from the table saw, and this is going to be the biggest challenge, I will have to try other approaches. I’ve got to get rid of all this fine dust that is left in the air, and moved to the rest of my home. These allergies are causing Charlie, and myself, a good deal of discomfort.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3944 posts in 1958 days


#7 posted 07-12-2015 04:11 PM

If your going to vent outside, I skip using the second separator, and the filter as well. Let it all blow out, this will increase air flow at the tools as well. As for the tools have those puny ports, don’t be afraid to increase the size at the tool.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#8 posted 07-12-2015 04:19 PM



If your going to vent outside, I skip using the second separator, and the filter as well. Let it all blow out, this will increase air flow at the tools as well. As for the tools have those puny ports, don t be afraid to increase the size at the tool.

- Fred Hargis

I may eventually have to do that. But I’m going to try it this way first.

I’ve read some other threads, in which the titles broached the subject of venting outside. And as to be expected, there are members here, who are orthodox practitioners of the High Church of Environmentalism. Some of them were screaming about the immorality of this dreadful sin. So I thought I would see just how little I would be sending outside, as an experiment.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#9 posted 07-12-2015 07:54 PM

John L -

The ins and outs of what you’re DC engineering are way over my head, but having installed a couple DC systems, what you are trying to do is certainly not conventional and therefore I wouldn’t proceed without seeking advice from those of us who have done it. IMO I don’t think you’ve a big enough unit for what you’re trying to do. Any kind of separator, be it a cyclone or thein, will degrade the system’s CFM’s considerably and considering you’ve got a low end motor/blower unit there, it compounded even more.

Also, adding 25’ of 6” AC duct seems to me is going to produce some back pressure on the system. I would use 6” DWV PVC.

More important than anything about the engineering of your system is YOUR LUNGS. I failed to mention this before, but if you are having this much problem with dust allergies, your lungs under assault every time you use your shop.

1) You haven’t mentioned wearing a respirator. I sure hope you are using one. None of us can 100% depend on our DC’s to catch all the dust. With your condition you definitely need to be using one all the time, no matter what you get going with your DC.

As an animal medical professional, I am reasonably sure your dogs condition is probably not related to wood dust unless he is physically in the shop with you. There are tons of other allergens around he could be having trouble with. I suggest changing clothes before you come inside your house you are carrying dust on them. If this stops it, you have your answer. See below re: AC unit,too.

Shih Tzu’s as a breed have more eye problems than others. One is called keratoconjunctivits sicca or “dry eye”. Wood dust would aggravate this condition, even different species of wood can be more irritating than others.

I recommend having your veterinarian check him out.

2)Is this a free standing shop or a garage shop? If the former, skip to 4). If the latter, have you checked to make sure the shop is sealed off from the house? You may even want to consider an “air shaft” type arrangement with an exhaust fan for negative pressure.

3)If the air handle for your house is in your shop, this is a major point of entry for dust. Often times the metal removable panels are not sealed shut. You can build a closet for it or tape the seams.

4)Have you considered installing an air filtration unit?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#10 posted 07-12-2015 09:20 PM

Its not while I am sawing that is the main problem.

First off, I have a basement shop. The central heat and air system is in the basement, so air is circulated from the basement, to the main and second floors. Over time, very fine dust travels throuthout the house, and settles everywhere. I periodically rent a huge 40” fan, set it in an open door, seal the rest of the door and then turn it on. Then I open targeted windows in selected rooms, and proceed to use my air compressor to blow out the dust. But it never gets rid of the dust in the carpet, where Charlie travels.

And I don’t have a respiratory problem, because my current system eliminated the overwhelming majority of sawdust. It is the 1 micron and below that is affecting me long term. And its affecting Charlie, who has the run of the entire house, minus the second floor. I’ve had shih-tzus since the late 80s, so I know about their eye, and allergy, problems.

If I take allergy medication, the symptoms go away, until 24 hours later. But I already take several medications(the curse of being an old fart), and would rather not add to the number. Soon the next medication is there to offset the problems created by the previous medication. Next thing you know, you are taking medications to prevent medications, to prevent medications, to prevent…....................................... Its not worth it in the long run. Sigh….........

I just want to get the very fine stuff out of the house. And that Wynn filter only goes down so far.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View ohtimberwolf's profile

ohtimberwolf

634 posts in 1817 days


#11 posted 07-13-2015 12:57 PM

JohnL
Can you build an extension of wood off of your stairway to mount it to at an angle that you need and not mess with the motor? It shouldn’t be that hard to do unless I’m missing something (and I often do.) I’m a novice. 
larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#12 posted 07-13-2015 01:10 PM

The central heat and air system is in the basement, so air is circulated from the basement, to the main and second floors. Over time, very fine dust travels throuthout the house, and settles everywhere.
I would call an HVAC person right away this is a health issue. If there is a return in the basement sucking contaminated air, that’s a good place to start. See if you can devise a way to have a separate system for basement?

And I don’t have a respiratory problem, because my current system eliminated the overwhelming majority of sawdust. It is the 1 micron and below that is affecting me long term. And its affecting Charlie, who has the run of the entire house, minus the second floor. I ve had shih-tzus since the late 80s, so I know about their eye, and allergy, problems.
Exactly, that is why we should never depend on a DC to protect our lungs. The system you designed is not going to be lung protective (like most DC systems).

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#13 posted 07-13-2015 02:47 PM



If your going to vent outside, I skip using the second separator, and the filter as well. Let it all blow out, this will increase air flow at the tools as well. As for the tools have those puny ports, don t be afraid to increase the size at the tool.

- Fred Hargis

Fred, I am rethinking all this right now. You may have the better suggestion on this. But I do worry about all the dust that may accumulate under the outlet.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 629 days


#14 posted 07-13-2015 02:52 PM

rwe2156, that’s why I fully intend to vent all the fine material outside, and out of the house. The main reason why I initially went with two separators was to ensure that only the tiniest particles left the house.

I’m currently rethinking Fred’s suggestion of just using a single separator, instead of two. If I use only one, I can easily fit it into the area to the right of my table saw.

ohtimberwolf, that may be the only practical way to set up the motor. But if I use just a single separator I can do this closer to the table saw. Thanks.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3944 posts in 1958 days


#15 posted 07-13-2015 02:55 PM

If you have a separator, the big stuff will be caught in it. The only thing going into the wind is the finest particles, which are dissipated by the slightest breeze. There may be an occasional chunk that goes out, but that should be pretty rare (and you’ll hear it go past the impeller LOL). As for the environment, this is all biodegradable; let the others howl if they want. About the worse thing that can happen is for your separator to fill up without you knowing it….then everything goes outside.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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