Dust collection advice for basement workshop

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Forum topic by ctjim posted 04-05-2016 12:11 PM 653 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 205 days

04-05-2016 12:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dust collection dust

Hi everybody – brand new member here and I’m hoping you can help with a dust collection question.

I’m a weekend warrior type looking to get more into woodworking – to date, I’ve really just done small home renovation projects (building a garbage hutch, molding, etc). I finally decided to get more organized and setup a proper workbench in my basement. I started that project yesterday and am concerned by the dust situation.

My basement is made up of a main area measuring 25’ x 17’ and a smaller area off to the side measuring 8’ x 11’. The small area is where our water heater and washer/dryer are – it is not closed off from the main area at all. In the main area we have an oil tank and our furnace. Water heater is electric, furnace is oil with forced air heat. No central air. There are also two crawl spaces but I don’t have dimensions at the moment.

The basement has a few windows but they do not open. There is one door leading up to a sunroom. Directly above the basement is our living room, and there are two air return grates in the basement ceiling.

As mentioned, I’m not doing heavy duty work right now – I’m at a very small scale. My commonly used tools are a Bosch 10” portable table saw, a P-C 690 router, a DeWalt 10” miter saw, and a handheld drill. I also have other hand-held power tools (jigsaw, circular saw, sander, etc).

I’m mostly worried about the dust created when using my power saws and router (any sanding I would try and do outside). Currently I hook the saws’ dust ports up to my shopvac. The router has no dust port so I just vacuum up afterwards.

My main worry is the tiny particles I can’t see, along with dust getting into the furnace and getting blown through the house. I’m probably going to get one of the Jet AFS-1000B air cleaners—likely overkill, but I think the peace of mind would be worth it.

Do you think the shopvac is sufficient as a DC system for my small tools and weekend usage? If not, is there a small scale DC I can buy that won’t cost an arm and a leg? And is an air cleaner like the Jet worthwhile in my situation, or am I wasting my $$?

Thanks for all the help!

9 replies so far

View RobS888's profile


1981 posts in 1268 days

#1 posted 04-05-2016 02:00 PM

I have a Delta air cleaner that was around $300 that works well, many on LJs use the Harbor Freight duct collector.

If you can built a small room for the collector and use a flexible hose at first, then if you get more involved into Wood working you could set up a fixed DC lines. I put a large filter (18×18) in the door to let air back into the basement.

I use a large shop vac for sanding I have a hepa filter inside of the shop vac with a leg of one of my wife’s nylons on the filter. It makes it easy to get the dust out of the crevices. I have a hose and swivel connector I bought from Rockler that makes it easy to use the vac and orbital sander.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View JBrow's profile


750 posts in 343 days

#2 posted 04-05-2016 07:21 PM


For the tools you mentioned, I would think that a Shop Vac would collect sufficient dust. A dirty filter will of course reduce suction allowing more dust to escape from around the tools. Adding a Dust Deputy cyclone (or similar cyclone product) to the Shop Vac would separate dust keeping the filter clean longer and thus greatly extend the period between filter cleaning while maintaining suction. Also equipping the Shop Vac with a HEPA filter would keep most of the captured fine dust out of the air. The cyclone and HEPA filter upgrades would cost about $150.

I have no experience or knowledge concerning a shop filter, other than fine filtration and CFM are factors to consider in making the purchase. Noise level would be a secondary factor, since it will run long after the cutting is done.

Even with the Shop Vac and upgrades, fine dust will escape and remain floating around long enough to affect the mechanicals and the laundry area. Even if a few thousand dollars were spent on a dust collector, this problem would remain. It is extremely difficult to capture all the dust generated by the tools at the tool. Dust will always escape. In the basement shops I have had, I made an effort to isolate the mechanicals with walls and gasketed doors. Even with that, regular maintenance and cleaning of the mechanicals is probably a good idea.

View MadMark's profile


970 posts in 876 days

#3 posted 04-05-2016 07:37 PM

Whatever you do put a 0.5 micron filter on it. The dangerous to your lungs stuff is in the 1-5 micron range.

Sawdust does not explode in any dust concentration you can breathe.

DC’s are quieter than shop vacs. Less scream and more roar.


-- Madmark -

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 815 days

#4 posted 04-05-2016 11:32 PM

Unless you have a combustion-style heater or water heater down there…port your DC outside!

That will make a very big difference in the performance of whatever DC you choose and no matter how you pipe it. It will also save you big money and hassle on filters.

In addition to “filtering” the air that goes back into your shop even better than an expensive 0.5 micron filter, it will also create a negative pressure in the shop. That is a good thing, because it will almost completely eliminate dust moving from your shop up into the rest of the house. Many of the people who have bought or rented an air quality meter have been shocked by how much dust their shop sends up to be with the family in the rest of the house.

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

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


108 posts in 317 days

#5 posted 04-06-2016 12:03 AM

Clear View Cyclones make some of the best dust separators. For your area, a dedicated sanding/sawing, routing area with a CVC Mini would probably work great. Also, if you have any basement Windows, you can install inexpensive box fans and build them into the window with plywood to expell airborne dust and any fumes that may be floating around. That’s what I did in my shop, and after blowing the whole shop out with air to clean it, there’s no airborne dust within 1 minute.

View Dabcan's profile


250 posts in 2094 days

#6 posted 04-06-2016 12:10 AM

Maybe you could put a filter on those cold air returns?

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View ctjim's profile


4 posts in 205 days

#7 posted 04-08-2016 12:54 PM

Thanks for all of the replies everyone!

I think I’ll be sticking with the shopvac for the time being…I don’t mind the noise at the moment. The Dust Deputy and the pantyhose over the HEPA filter seem like good ideas to reduce the number of times I’ll need to change the filter.

Still thinking of getting an air cleaner to run during and after I’m working to try and capture any airborne particles before they get into the rest of the house. I’ll take a look at the Delta.

Thanks again!


View clin's profile


486 posts in 419 days

#8 posted 04-08-2016 04:10 PM

From the description it sounds like the entire basement is part of the air return to the furnace. This would mean that any dust made in the basement is going to be directly added to the entire house heating system.

I can’t really think of a worse situation.

While many do not like his message, have a look at Bill Pentz’s website on dust collection and health. It is scary, but it is a good kind of scary.

As with all DC, there really are two issues. One is how to best capture the dust, the second is what to do with it after it’s captured (filter the air back into the room or exhaust outside).

Bill has studied this and concluded that you need a >3 HP DC system with optimized ducting to capture the bulk of the dust coming from high-speed cutting tools like table saws and routers. The issue is the fine particles get thrown off at such a high speed that you need to move a lot of air to overcome this.

A shop vac CANNOT do this. I actually use a shop vac, with Dust Deputy and HEPA filter. It works well at getting most of the visible dust. Probably a proportional amount of the fine dust. But it really takes very little dust to contaminate a space.

Exhausting outside is best since you do not have to worry about how clean the air is after you have basic chip and large dust collected. However, you have to be careful. As mentioned this will produce negative pressure which will help to keep air from flowing out of the basement into the house carrying dust with it. But it could also cause problems with your furnace. Worst case is it draws combustion gases back into the basement and kills you.

I room filter is certainly helpful, but it is not a cure-all. It just makes things better.

Probably the most fundamental “rule” of dust control is to not mix the dusty space in with the home ventilation. If it were my house, I’d figure out a way to duct the air returns to the furnace and remove the basement from effectively being a large duct. Then address the DC like any of us would. More is better.

-- Clin

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


108 posts in 317 days

#9 posted 04-09-2016 11:16 PM

After reading your post while not in a hurry, I see the issues the others are talking about, especially the negative pressure. I wanted to add that the CVC Mini will work with many Shop-Vacs, also drasticly reducing filter change and being much easier to empty. Should you upgrade to a dust collector (Bosch or the like) it will still work.

Hope that helps as well!

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