do i need a dust collector?

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Forum topic by Glenn posted 12-21-2011 02:19 AM 3459 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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141 posts in 3410 days

12-21-2011 02:19 AM

I picked up a single-stage dust collector today after about a year and a half of waffling on the purchase. And now I’m thinking about taking it back tomorrow because I’m just not convinced I need a dust collector based on my situation, and I tend to think of it as an overgrown shop-vac, which I already have. I’m working out of a detached, unheated 18’x18’ garage. 99.9% of the time, I just raise the big door and do my woodworking. When it’s pretty out, I usually pull all the stuff out onto the driveway because I like being outside in the fresh air. I only have four tools that have integrated dust collection ports: bandsaw, tablesaw, miter saw, and belt sander. Everything else (planer, jointer, drillpress, lathe, router, etc.) just lets it fly all over the place, and there’s not much I can do about it. When I’m in the garage working, I always wear a nuisance mask. Opinions please, on whether the collector is really all that necessary. Thanks for the input.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

32 replies so far

View syenefarmer's profile


492 posts in 3104 days

#1 posted 12-21-2011 02:28 AM

You may not need a dust collector but a leaf blower probably would come in handy to blow out the shop every now and then.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2529 days

#2 posted 12-21-2011 02:44 AM

I also work in a garage, leave the big door up and have a dust collector and never use it. I did use it for years, but then wanted to see how my shop vac would do. I tried selling it but no takers, so I out it apart and it’s in my attic. I hook up my shop vac to my planer/jointer and it works great.

I am just a medicore hobbiest though.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3197 days

#3 posted 12-21-2011 02:49 AM

I think … you need something, but … open garage, good ventilation, and a NIOSH certified face mask (P100 is best) is probably just fine.

If you have to close the door to work, I’d recommend doing better than that, though.

-- -- Neil

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3167 days

#4 posted 12-21-2011 02:51 AM

I’m surprised that the planer and jointer don’t have dust ports.

For me dust collection is a primary concern, because I already have lungs that tend to respond strongly to irritants and I am just starting out on my woodworking ‘voyage’, and want to still be capable of working with wood when I retire. I would not want to be working with just a mask on. Do you get streaks of dust and gunk inside your mask? If so, you’re likely getting the same stuff in your lungs.

At the very least, I would collect the dust to prevent it from blowing all over the shop, driveway and yard, possibly irritating my family members and/or neighbours.

BTW I also work in a detached garage, and like to work with the door open when weather permits, but that’s only spring and summer really. And if I am doing something particularly noisy I prefer to have the door closed to spare my neighbours.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3092 days

#5 posted 12-21-2011 02:55 AM

I also work out of a two car garage with the main door open almost all the time – and use fans for cooling in the summer. Unlike some of the previous responders, however, I can’t imagine working without my DC. It gets ~90% of the sawdust, shavings, etc that I used to have to sweep (or vacuum) up every day.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View jumbojack's profile


1677 posts in 2647 days

#6 posted 12-21-2011 03:32 AM

I let my place go until the dog has trouble walking through. Then I broom and leaf blow it. I usually net about 30 gallons.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#7 posted 12-21-2011 03:49 AM

I’ve found it just saves a lot of work. My shop is a detached building, and I always used to drag my planer outside every time I wanted to use it. Now its hooked up, I hit 2 switches and plane away. Of course, living in the north east, this time of year I can’t just open the doors (well I could, but I’d freeze top death)

I have no idea what you’re situation is, but I’d think you’d find it very convenient. It just makes cleanup so much faster and way less frequent.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3410 days

#8 posted 12-21-2011 03:57 AM

Coincidentally, folks, a leaf blower and broom is exactly what I’ve been using up until this point. I figured that the collector would be a convenience regarding cleanup, but I’m not sure that the price justifies the convenience, especially given that I have so few tools that I can hook it up to. I don’t really think it would do any good as far as air quality goes, and I’ve never had any problems so far. Well, there was that time I was working with MDF, but that was an exception. Most of the time, the door is up. But a dust collector doesn’t really function as an air cleaner anyway. So I guess I’m talking myself out of it. Thanks for all the input!

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3789 days

#9 posted 12-21-2011 04:00 AM

I know a woodworker that didn’t use anything but the shop-vac. After some health problems (and test, x-rays, etc.) his doctor told him that he had spots on his lungs….. more than likely from the woodworking…...... Not much you can do about that either. Yes, you need chip collection AND an air filter (that’s just if you like to breathe).

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2699 days

#10 posted 12-21-2011 04:43 AM

The dust collector is exactly what the name implies. There are devices made to attach to machines that don’t have direct connect ports manufactured into the cabinet. These often function like a funnel that the chips fall into then can be vacuumed and carried away. A lot of the fine dust goes into the collector also. Then there is the extra fine stuff that is suspended in the air. It is there with the door up or down, open or closed. You need air filtration to remove this dust. These should have a filter that will remove 99+% of the dust down to .5 micron. This filter should be certified by a third party and not the seller. I had to go to the hospital from cutting just a few boards in a basement with no mask. If you use the disposable mask it should have the N95 rating. If air leaks past the mask then you inhale it. I have a friend whose wife had lung cancer and she did nothing to deserve it. Already insurance companies are asking about wood working hobbies and whether you use air filtration. Don’t make them outlaw wood working. Already you are thinking this can’t happen. Thought those thoughts all my life and it is happening.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3092 days

#11 posted 12-21-2011 04:55 PM

Glenn -

Even if you don’t connect your tools to a DC, it can be used as a central vac. I have two blast gates with reducers to 2.5”. I can use a shop vac hose and attachments to clean up when I need to. SWMBO claims that the shop gets vacuumed far more often than the house. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2910 days

#12 posted 12-21-2011 05:18 PM

The DC is one of those things that I thought I did not need but now that I have one I don’t know how I went so long with out it. It did take me a bit to realise the value of it.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#13 posted 12-21-2011 07:48 PM

I bought the Ridgid vac with the detachable leaf blower built in.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3410 days

#14 posted 12-22-2011 03:48 AM

FWIW, I took the DC back today. I decided I didn’t need a power tool to clean up—my two arms and a broom have been working fine up until now. The main issue I was concerned about and others pointed out its the danger of breathing dust, but it seems like an air filter its the better choice to combat that, so that might be what I eventually purchase. I made myself feel better by upgrading my 18v Nicad driver to a Li-Ion one. Tired of the battery being dead everyone I go to use it.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View Paden501's profile


35 posts in 2374 days

#15 posted 12-22-2011 05:19 AM

If you’re not going the DC route, I at least suggest a separator for your shop vac. It will save your filters in your shop vac from getting clogged.

You also probably would be well served to get a dust port for your planer. I had to order mine separately for my Delta, and I’m so glad that I did. between the dust port and the separator, 99% of the chips made by my planer get swept right up into the can. Even better yet, my shop vac goes a loooong time between needing a filter change/cleaning now.

Here’s the one I bought for reference:

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