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Thoughts on the Dark Side of Dust Collection

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 09-27-2015 12:12 PM 1851 views 1 time favorited 57 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


09-27-2015 12:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

As you have all probably noticed…dust collection is one of the MOST frequent topics around here.

That suggests to me that the whole topic simply hasn’t been solved yet…or perhaps to put it another way, the “everybody knows” solution maybe works well enough (if you can afford it), but has significant downsides to it.

This thready is purely a “thinking out loud” area for questioning that well trodden path. I don’t offer ANY claim of understanding it better than the experts out there or the many who have shelled out big bucks to go down their path. I just think there SHOULD be a better way, and want to invite some discussion.

I don’t think it is fair to point any fingers or demonize the players in the currently well trodden path of throwing horse-power at it and the inevitable “my hose is bigger than your hose” thing. This path is quite predictable, and with enough time, energy and MONEY…can yield a workable solution. I don’t have any doubt of that; it can be done.

But is it the best way?

Like many of you, I have been “messing around” at improving the “dust situation” in my little hobby shop. Probably like many of you, I have been disappointed with the results so far.

My dabbling and experimentation so far suggest to me that the crux of the problem is the ill-conceived notion that dealing with the visible and annoying dust/chips/shavings should be combined with the solution to the invisible health threat (and cough inducing) airborne dust problem.

Simply put, you have to filter a huge quantity of air to solve the later, and you have to suck really hard to solve the former. Putting those two together creates the horse power and hose size wars we’re all familiar with from this forum.

My own first experiment along this path will be the following: The theory to be tested is that the same or much better dust/chip/shavings remediation can be accomplished with a 2” hose and a cyclone/separator and heavy-duty shop vac…and the same or better air cleaning can be accomplished separately with way less than a horsepower worth of box-fan-with-half-micron-filter type air cleaners and a similarly equipped downdraft table for sanding.

Seems to me this kind of a solution would accomplish the goal for a much smaller price tag.

Since I already own most of the stuff to try out such a system, I plan to work on putting it together and will compare its performance to the (somewhat disappointing) 1.5 HP 4 inch system I have cobbled together so far.

I would really welcome any insights from folks who have already experimented with this dark side of dust collection.

If you are one of the many who have already spent the big bucks doing it the “normal” way, please realize that the “normal way” is already well represented and documented on this forum. If you will permit me the space, I would like to keep this thread about information on and experimentation with alternative solutions. thanks :)

So, what have you tried, and what were your results?
Also, can you recommend a low-cost way to test the air cleaning results? (besides my current method of counting coughs after ripping a bunch of MDF)

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.


57 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#1 posted 09-27-2015 12:17 PM

For the last statement (question), I’m not sure you would consider it cheap, but to me the best test is with one of the Dylos meters.

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

View jonah's profile

jonah

687 posts in 2765 days


#2 posted 09-27-2015 12:36 PM

There’s no way any shop vac will keep up with a planer with a 2” hose. It’s just not physically possible. The chips are big enough that it’ll basically instantly clog. You’d need insane levels of airspeed in that hose to prevent that, and that’s not obtainable in reality.

You realistically need lots of airflow in a 4+” hose to clear planer chips. My 2HP dust collector sometimes gets clogged on my DW735 planer – which has its own exhaust fan for the dust port!

As far as filtration, having replaceable filters probably isn’t ideal if you’re planning on moving a ton of air through them. You’ll be replacing filters constantly. You’d probably do much better with a washable/electrostatic one similar to what’s in most HVAC systems.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

394 posts in 686 days


#3 posted 09-27-2015 12:56 PM

, i had to seriously downsize a few years ago and have recently been rebuilding my shop tool inventory.
funds were tight. go me a big super sucker shop vac.not the exact brand name there, but no reason for folks to try and start debating shop vac super sucker action by brands.
my planers just a little delta lunchbox. made an adapter to hook up my big super suckershop vac, built garbage can seperator with thein tophat. even tapered inside of adapter so flow would be smooth!
built an adapter for mt ts,too!
i added a dc to my shop a few weeks ago.

shop vac motors arent designed to run constantly like dc motors,too.

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#4 posted 09-27-2015 01:02 PM


...

You realistically need lots of airflow in a 4+” hose to clear planer chips. My 2HP dust collector sometimes gets clogged on my DW735 planer – which has its own exhaust fan for the dust port!

...

- jonah

Thanks Jonah. My experience with my 735 has been somewhat the opposite of yours. In fact, the internal fan of the 735 was enough to push all of the chips into a homemade trash-can separator through a short hose…with no suction hooked to the separator. I planed several 8” wide boards and made half a can of chips…no clogs. This was walnut; perhaps other types of wood make more obstinate shavings.

Perhaps this is an example of the smaller sized DC units being “weak” on both the airflow and suction sides. The smaller DC units provide only moderate amounts of airflow and lousy suction.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

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JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#5 posted 09-27-2015 01:21 PM



For the last statement (question), I m not sure you would consider it cheap, but to me the best test is with one of the Dylos meters.

- Fred Hargis

Thanks Fred. $200 for the least expensive one. Not huge, but not really quite under my bar for “cheap”. May have to consider it in order to do a science based comparison. Though to be fair, my coughing technique will probably be enough to gauge the first few experiments…until it gets good enough to be worthy of better science.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#6 posted 09-27-2015 01:27 PM

As a tributary to the question of using a meter to see what level of dust is in the air with different solutions in place…what about ways to actually SEE the dust so as to be able to better place the air cleaning solutions?

Maybe some sort of a lighting technique?

For example, I would love to be able to get a picture of the dust-cloud coming off of each tool as it bites into some wood. Might lead to much better placement of filtration.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

1959 posts in 1455 days


#7 posted 09-27-2015 01:38 PM

I think there are some good solutions with smaller machines but airflow is important.

These are my thoughts on dust collection…

You got to have a large enough air flow and for my machines a 2hp collector and 4” duct is a minimum. I would like a 3hp and 6” duct but do not have the budget.

The dust collection hoods and adapters are equally important. Collecting dust at its source is the first line of defense. Once small particles are in the air it is very hard to collect them. While design the ductwork is very important making custom pickups on machines is very helpful. This is especially important with things that produce fine dust like any sanding operation.

One has to adapt their dust collection to their own needs. As I get older, I need better dust collection and air filtration as I am less to let of breathing dust.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3025 posts in 1264 days


#8 posted 09-27-2015 01:46 PM

When I used a DC plus cyclone, I had continual clogs with my planer. Also, having a DC with ductwork means that I use dust collection 95%+ of the time. When I had to drag a shop vac around the shop, I was more at 60-75% of the time. i’m a big fan of a DC with ducting and blast gates. Works great. I also like having a big drum on my Thien baffle and exhausting outside. Means I don’t have to mess with emptying every couple of days like I had to with ShopVac.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Shane's profile

Shane

294 posts in 1278 days


#9 posted 09-27-2015 01:49 PM

Give the expense of good dust collection I’ve basically made the decision that I’m just going to keep my mask on at all times in my shop. Someday I want to get a good system but I can afford it right now

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CharlesA

3025 posts in 1264 days


#10 posted 09-27-2015 01:51 PM



Give the expense of good dust collection I ve basically made the decision that I m just going to keep my mask on at all times in my shop. Someday I want to get a good system but I can afford it right now

- Shane

That works. What do you use? I really like the 3m 6000 series when I wear one.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1297 posts in 1415 days


#11 posted 09-27-2015 02:06 PM

I find it uniquely interesting the number of people that spend the money a machine, but consider DC an option. I feel the same way about 220. I got my first planer and instantly bought one of these. mine is a C-man, but it works great for chip collection. it was a must, the idea of a shop vac never crossed my mind. since then I built this. I will say it performs great but if I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now I probably would just save until I had enough $ to buy a clearvue. the 6” pipe (more the fittings) was costly, but well worth it.

View AZWoody's profile

AZWoody

697 posts in 691 days


#12 posted 09-27-2015 02:08 PM

I don’t know I would agree with your statement that it’s a problem that’s not really solved since it is a topic that’s brought up frequently here.

The problem is that people want to do it on the cheap, with machines that are not designed to meet the airflow requirements for fine dust collection. Also, many equate chip collection with dust collection and it’s just not the same.
Many of the threads on here are asking how to make a system work with a shop vac or the harbor freight dust collection system.

To do it right costs money. People will spend many, many thousands of dollars on machinery for a shop but want to spend $200 on a dust collector and think there is some magical way to tinker with it to make it work like a $4000 dollar system. It’s just not going to happen. I have tried it, tested airflow on different setups with a couple different size dust collectors and in the end, airflow is king. I ended up with a 5hp motor with a 16” impeller and 6” ducting.

I also have a decently sized shop to have to cover, 20’x40’ and 4” ducting just wasn’t getting the airflow I needed.

Trying to reinvent the wheel only leads to spending more money in the long run.

To do it right is not cheap and takes a lot of time and work. Most tools are not designed for proper dust collection. They need modifications to get ports for the right size hoses and most people just do not put dust collection as a true necessity. I didn’t see the need to do the extra work until I started getting nose bleeds after every session I was in the woodshop. If you go and read Bill Pentz’ website, it was a trip to the hospital to get him on that track.

I don’t think you need to go read every page of his website, but he has done a lot of the work and can glean the basics of what it takes from there.

View Shane's profile

Shane

294 posts in 1278 days


#13 posted 09-27-2015 03:25 PM

I use the MSA Safety Works 817664

That works. What do you use? I really like the 3m 6000 series when I wear one.

- CharlesA

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#14 posted 09-27-2015 04:07 PM

To clarify my position…I completely agree. A 4” hose and 1.5HP DC system simply doesn’t work well…for either chip collection OR fine dust collection. It is a failed attempt to reduce the cost of a huge expensive 6” – 3HP system (which I am told, will work well, if properly done).

A 4” – 1.5HP system lacks the airflow for good fine dust removal .
A 4” – 1.5HP system lacks the static pressure for good chip removal .

A shop vac with a simple trash-can separator and a 2” hose, however (in my experience so far) actually does do a good job of chip removal. It has high static pressure, which contrary to widely held opinion is what is needed to pull chips through a pipe. My gut tells me that it would also do a decent job of grabbing the fine dust at the tool. That remains to be tested. Clearly it doesn’t move enough air to be effective in taking out the fine dust that is circulating in the shop.

That’s where I’m proposing a gaggle of high-volume cheap air filter boxes (a box fan with a filter) comes in to clean up the air. Unlike a big-honking DC, these air cleaners are pretty easy to place out of the way (usually hanging from the rafters) and can be dispersed around the shop near the worst fine dust offenders.

For what it’s worth, I have very preliminary “cough test” results this morning. With the shop-vac/separator system I described above, and nothing but an open garage door to “filter” the air, my MDF ripping this morning had MUCH better sawdust removal than the shop-fox DC and also much better “cough test” results. Not perfect, but much more comfortable. Much better than yesterday with the shop-fox hooked to the tablesaw and running continuously.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3025 posts in 1264 days


#15 posted 09-27-2015 04:14 PM



To clarify my position…I completely agree. A 4” hose and 1.5HP DC system simply doesn t work well…for either chip collection OR fine dust collection. It is a failed attempt to reduce the cost of a huge expensive 6” – 3HP system (which I am told, will work well, if properly done).

A 4” – 1.5HP system lacks the airflow for good fine dust removal .
A 4” – 1.5HP system lacks the static pressure for good chip removal .

A shop vac with a simple trash-can separator and a 2” hose, however (in my experience so far) actually does do a good job of chip removal.
- JeffP

This is diametrically opposed to my experience going from a Shop Vac to a HF with 4” PVC ducting. I have clogged the planer exactly once with the DC—it happened every time i planed more than 2 or 3 passes with the Shop Vac. My bandsaw is dust free inside where it used to build up significantly over time. my table saw collection isn’t ideal, but that is as much because I use a 113 contractor saw and haven’t spent the time to close it up for better suction.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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