Justify the need for a dedicated Dust Collector over shop vac

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Forum topic by Luke posted 06-03-2011 10:18 PM 2481 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Luke's profile


289 posts in 2105 days

06-03-2011 10:18 PM

Hello all,
I guess I’m feeling a tad bit guilty, I buy tools, its my hobby. I’d love to say that wood working is my hobby, but I think its collecting tools that help me do woodworking.

Harbor Freight had a sale on Memorial Day on the 2 HP Dust Collector for $140. I bought it.

My garage gets dusty no doubt, but mostly because I don’t clean up every day. I guess I’m just having a hard time justifying a dust collection system over my already functional shop vac.

The bottom line is my job keeps me very busy and between work and my 2 month old boy, I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time in the shop. Therefore what is your take, is the dust collector worth it, or should I just stick with my shop vac.

I have a Ridgid 3650 2” Hose port
An open based Craftsman Jointer
A dewalt 734 and an older Delta Clone bandsaw.

I spent $140 on the DC, not including any hoses and such (which I havent bought yet)

I also really want an Earlex 5500 HVLP. I want to paint my cabinets, stain some projects, and dye a maple entertainment center that is in the process of being built.

What’s your 2 cents on my debacle?

29 replies so far

View Kevin's profile


462 posts in 2623 days

#1 posted 06-03-2011 10:38 PM

It will help with the jointer, a TS also. It should be a descent improvement over the shop vac as long as you plan your runs correctly and only use 1 machine on it at a time.

I am planning on buying one soon, my shop vac just can’t handle the 8” jointer I have for very long. Personally I’d say good buy at least for now for what you are doing. Sure you can get by without one, as someone can get buy without a TS and just use a circular saw or jigsaw. It comes down to effeciency really.


-- Williamsburg, KY

View ellen35's profile


2719 posts in 2850 days

#2 posted 06-03-2011 10:49 PM

Your hearing will last longer with a dust collector. You’ll want to hear that son of yours sneaking into the house when he is 14!!
The scream of the shop vac would drive me crazy.
You don’t have to empty the dust collector nearly as often. Therefore, you can spend whatever time you have actually making sawdust instead of emptying the sawdust.
Is that enough????

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Tedstor's profile


1625 posts in 2050 days

#3 posted 06-04-2011 12:15 AM

With a good collection bag, the DC will likely keep the air a lot cleaner in your shop.
A jointer produces a tremendous amount of debris. I can be ankle-deep in chips in no time. A shopvac isn’t really designed with that type of volume in mind. For $140, I predict you’ll have no regrets down the road.

View Minorhero's profile


372 posts in 2023 days

#4 posted 06-04-2011 12:40 AM

Wood dust is harmful therefore it is a safety issue. You have a family, never feel bad about improving your safety, never skimp when it comes to protecting yourself from harm.

View 8iowa's profile


1540 posts in 3179 days

#5 posted 06-04-2011 02:28 AM

I’m trying to read between the lines here, and it seems that your jointer and bandsaw do not have ports in which to hook up the DC. Im not sure about the 734. If this is the case, your DC usefulness will be considerably reduced. The jointer and planer have by far the greatest generation of dust & chips. If this puts you back to using the shop vac to clean up after them, you haven’t gained much. In my opinion you do not need a 2 HP dust collector for the table saw alone.

A ceiling mounted air cleaner would do a great job of taking the small, and most harmful, microns of dust out of the air. Paint fumes & overspray are a separate consideration. Paint rooms and enclosures need to have explosion proof equipment because of the fire hazzard.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Don W's profile

Don W

17870 posts in 1985 days

#6 posted 06-04-2011 02:42 AM

About a year ago I built a bigger shop, allowing me to pick up a dust collector off craigslist. I’ve had most of my tools for a long time, so I had to build the dust collection for a lot of them. Like you, I tend to get as much enjoyment out of fixing, building and rebuilding tools as I do using them. With that said, I love being able to flip on the dust collector and run the tools. When i used the vac, I used it when I had a lot of work to do, so working from tool to tool the vac usually didn’t follow. I’d keep the collector and build the shop out around it. After the piping, the next expenditure I would recommend would be the remote control for the dust collector. (assuming the collector will be inside)

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Minorhero's profile


372 posts in 2023 days

#7 posted 06-04-2011 03:48 AM

Ah I missed that part. You can build a dust port for your jointer easily enough. It won’t be perfect but it will get the vast majority of the dust.

View Manitario's profile


2393 posts in 2301 days

#8 posted 06-04-2011 04:07 AM

Wood dust is a known carcinogen, and you will read on this site of other members who have developed lung problems as a result. Whereas a shop vac will appear to do a good job at clearing the visible shavings it does not have the CFM to clear the dust that poses a problem. As well, most shop vacs (and most DC for that matter) do not have filters that catch the 1 micron and smaller particles that are the danger.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Woodwrecker's profile


3910 posts in 2993 days

#9 posted 06-04-2011 04:17 AM

Hey, it’s tool and you like to buy tools.
Isn’t that reason enough?
If you set that HF up right, it’ll have your shop vac screaming to it’s momma!
And Ellen was right, would you like to spend your time making things or emptying your shop vac?

Just keep buying stuff, your helping the economy! LOL

-- Eric, central Florida

View gfadvm's profile


14928 posts in 2108 days

#10 posted 06-04-2011 05:31 AM

I love my dust collector! Why? Its in the garage adjoining my shop so I dont have to listen to it. It has much more capacity so dont have to empty near as often. Its much more efficient at catching the fine dust. I dont have it plumbed all over my shop so I do have to drag the hose from tool to tool but this is less hassle than I anticipated. In my opinion the remote control is a must at under $40.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2097 days

#11 posted 06-04-2011 02:19 PM

I bought that same dust collector over 10 years ago…and its still going. When I bought it, it came with 30 micron bags, which my shop ended up with a fine dust everywhere. I changed the filter bag out with 1 micron bag which made a huge difference but still pump finer dust through out my shop.

I’m in the process of installing the CV max cyclone from clearvue to replace my under sized dust collector for my shop.

Out of all the cheap crap that Ive seen come out of China, the 2hp dust collector IMO is a great value.

-- New Auburn,WI

View rsdowdy's profile


105 posts in 2614 days

#12 posted 06-04-2011 04:10 PM

I just bought that same dust collector last week! The top filter bag is a horrible 5 micron bag…it will make some nice finishing cloths. Call and buy the Wynn Environmental ( )filter for 100.00 that is .05 microns. Your lungs will thank you.

If you have not done so, everyone should go to and see the dangers of wood dusts. He has put an amazing amount of work into letting us know about the dangers of dusts.


View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4403 posts in 3378 days

#13 posted 06-04-2011 05:37 PM

I have the DC, and am pleased. I added good bags from Highland Woodworking (the “felted” ones), and threw the originals in the trash. The DC is probably the best value at HF.


View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2793 days

#14 posted 06-04-2011 05:55 PM

Dust is a big health issue, and a DC is the right tool for the job. It’s also a quality of shop life issue. You can justify the cost of the DC by calculating the Kleenex savings from not having to blow you nose as much. ;-)

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Bluepine38's profile


3336 posts in 2503 days

#15 posted 06-04-2011 06:47 PM

If you adapt an angled 2-1/2” hose pickup to the open base on your Craftsman jointer, and put a 4” to
2-1/2” adapter on one inlet of the 2HP HF dust collector you should have a lot better system than the
shop vac.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

showing 1 through 15 of 29 replies

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