New definition of woodworker= Vacuum operator

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 05-10-2012 08:51 PM 2068 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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220 posts in 2445 days

05-10-2012 08:51 PM

I’ve had my shop set up in my basement for about 6 months. It is separated from the rest of the basement by 5 mil plastic sheet from floor to ceiling, so the dust is contained. I have a Steel City contractors saw with a vacuum attachment on the bottom. That catches a lot of dust but a lot still excapes out of the top. I use a thin kurf blade with a zero clearance insert as I am mostly cutting plywood so the gap there is minimal. It also means I can’t use my riving knife. Is there a way to inexpensively rig a vacuum to the top side to pull the dust while the blade is cutting. I have an air cleaner and run it on full power when I use the saw, but I still spend a lot of time vacuming. It seems I spend 1/2 hour cutting and a hour vacuming. Any ideas?
I appreciate your input.

17 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4949 posts in 3986 days

#1 posted 05-10-2012 09:18 PM

There are some over-arm guards that will help. I don’t have one, nor do I see one in my future.
Have ya got a dust collector for your TS? Not a shop vacuum, a bigger dust collector.


View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2445 days

#2 posted 05-10-2012 09:43 PM

Hi Bill, yes I have a Jet dust collector, it is located 5 feet from the saw on the ceiling.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2995 days

#3 posted 05-10-2012 10:51 PM

Have you considered a track saw? Hooked up to shop vac you’d hardly have a spec of dust.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4032 days

#4 posted 05-10-2012 10:59 PM

Just be a woodworker and learn to live with sawdust. In your pockets, in your shoes and socks, all over the dash of your truck, in the dryer filter and on the floor next to your nightstand. It really is a wonderful substance to have in your life. Try it!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View intheshop's profile


58 posts in 2864 days

#5 posted 05-10-2012 11:01 PM

Bill mentioned an overarm blade guard, and I’m with him – I have the Penn State. I know you said inexpensive but this is about $200 as I recall, but well worth it. And figure out a way to get your riving knife into the game. You might just need to extend the slot in the insert.

-- Fast is fine, but accurate is final. The real trick is learning to take your time when you're in a hurry. - Wyatt Earp

View RoughLumber's profile


11 posts in 2234 days

#6 posted 05-10-2012 11:59 PM

John, I too have a contractors style saw (Grizzly). I have a vac hood mounted under the blade, which is hooked up to a central dust collector. I do still get a fair amount of dust on the top side of the blade. One thing I plan to do is build a box to seal around the motor and belt housing. This will help isolate the airflow to the blade area only. It the saw is sealed, essentially making it a cabinet saw, the air will be drawn down through the blade.

The over-arm guard is a good idea, as well as the trac-saw. I would be concerned that the over-arm guard would be difficult to work around. Plywood does dust more than dimensional lumber, so I can only imagine the mess it makes.

Good Luck,

-- RoughLumber, Maryland

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2857 days

#7 posted 05-11-2012 12:03 AM

Check out the Sharkguard by Lee Styron. I installed one on my saw and now it is virtually dust free, even while cutting MDF.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2445 days

#8 posted 05-11-2012 01:08 PM

Thanks guys for your input. The track saw is a great idea, but I’m going to have to stick with my TS (only have so much funds to spend unfortunately), so I need to find a solution to that. The sharkguard is a good idea and seems the simplest, but I would have to give up using a thin kurf blade and use a standard blade in order to use the riving knife. The Penn State overarm is not dependant on using a a riving knife but seems kinda complicated. Neither seem ideal.
Roughlumber, you reminded me that I forgot to reseal the TS gaps when I readjusted my table top. I had previously sealed all gaps with a clear industrial tape, so without it my vacuum is losing the battle. I think I will for now focus on improving my undertable vacuum system with the tape. Also, I’ll shorten the run from the table to the vacuum, which should help with pulling a good vacuum. Also I am using an old Sears wet dry vacuum so I know I don’t have the best source of vacuum. I have a heppa filter on it and it clogs pretty fast so thats another thing to help get a higher vacuum. Do you think using a Dust Separator would help the vacuum filter stay cleaner?
Thanks again for your input. I’ll post results of my improvements.

View RoughLumber's profile


11 posts in 2234 days

#9 posted 05-11-2012 03:30 PM

John, I spent my entire career in the Industrial Filtration business. If you are using a Sears shop vac as the dust collection system, then you will want a seperator ahead of the vacuum. The heppa filter is great, but there is not enough surface area to support the heavy dust load, and the dust on the filter restricts the airflow. There are a couple of seperator options that I know of: 1.) a drywall bucket with an inlet and outlet. 2.) The same set-up but for a metal trash can. Both inlet/outlet tops should be available from Rockler and/or Grizzly. Not sure if the drywall size has the same size hose as your shop vac, but you don’t want to go any smaller in dia. than you already have. Otherwise, you will have too much of a pressure drop. Your idea of moving the vac as close to your tablesaw as possible is an excellent idea.

Best of luck,

-- RoughLumber, Maryland

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2711 days

#10 posted 05-11-2012 03:35 PM

from someone trying to settle on proper dust collection in my shop your reply above to the question suggests you have an filter, not a collector…from what I read, the filter would be “secondary”, picking up the fine airborne dust that escapes the “primary” collector.

“collection” is very confusing particularly in the wide discrepancy in prices of units that appear to be nearly identical. as a firm believer in “you get what you pay for”, I am leery of grabbing the cheapest unit because I feel I’m obviously missing something like quality of construction. but I’m also aware of “sucker born every minute”.

and also from what I read, shop vac is not ideal for collection at the source, rather better suited for clean-up. but don’t “poo-poo” the crafstman unit…I’d take that over the comparable ShopVac unit any day (I have one of each).

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2445 days

#11 posted 05-12-2012 01:49 PM

Roughlumber, thanks for the suggestion of adding a separator. I’ll look up one on the Rockler site. Hopefully that will keep the hepa from getting plugged. Between that and sealing up the TS and moving the vacuum closer to the saw should improve things.
Teejk, I’m not sure what you mean. What does a collector do that my Jet air filter doesn’t do?
Thanks, John

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2711 days

#12 posted 05-12-2012 03:26 PM

John If I read correctly you are describing a ceiling mounted air filter. I don’t think they are meant to collect massive amounts of chips/dust at the source like a dust collector but rather the fine airborne stuff (I guess the filter is “step 2” ...from what I read, a properly designed “collector” system is very efficient and I wonder how many bother with the filter unit).

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3111 days

#13 posted 05-12-2012 04:02 PM

Please visit this site it will explain the idea of a separator and give
you a good idea of what a dust collector is.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View RoughLumber's profile


11 posts in 2234 days

#14 posted 05-14-2012 03:29 AM

I think I understand your questions – At least I hope I do. The topic of collecting the dust and/or chips in a woodshop can be a bit confusing. One of the reasons for the confusion is the terminology.

My definitions are: Dust collection System – The entire system, ductwork, cyclone (mechanical separator), dust collector, fabric filter (bag or pleated cartridge), motor, and fan.

Dust collector – Motor with a fan, and a fabric filter bag or pleated cartridge. Also has a bin or plastic bag for the dut to collect in.

Cyclone or mechanical separator – filters by cyclonic action forcing the dust downward into a bin. Often placed ahead of a dust collector, which is used as final filter. May share the dust collector motor and fan.

The most basic form of a dust collector is a Shop vac. They can work quite well with a high efficiency filter. The biggest problem is that most tools will generate too much dust for a small system like this. The filter clogs, and the dust collection bin fills too quickly. Especially if you are using a planner.

I suggest doing a lot of thinking before you invest in a dust collection system. The amount of horsepower you need varies greatly, depending on your shop layout, and the length of ducting you need. The number of turns also make a difference due to the pressure drop at the turns. Wood Magazine had a great article years ago in the April ’97 issue. If you can get a copy, that would help. Also there is a inexpensive book available through Grizzly that is quite helpful.

Do you need a dust collection system? If your workshop is in the basement, then you most likely do. That is unless you do woodworking with only hand tools. Power tools generate lots of dust. But, the biggest reason would be for health. The airborne dust particles that stay suspended in the air long after you shut-off your tools is very harmful. A detached workshop has little impact on your home, but the health issues are still there.

If you do decide to install a dust collection system, make sure the ductwork is grounded. Wood dust will explode, and if you use plastic ducting, it does create static. Wrap plastic ducting with grounding wire and connect the groundwire to something that is well… grounded. Metal ductwork does not need to be wrapped with wire, but it does need to be grounded.

Hope all this helps,

-- RoughLumber, Maryland

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8090 posts in 2354 days

#15 posted 05-14-2012 04:02 PM

I’ve got a DC hooked up to my contractor saw with an air filter unit mounted to the ceiling right above. I’m convinced that unless you hook up at least a 2.5” line to a saw gaurd, you’re not going to solve the problem.

Shark Guard is probably you least expensive option if you’re going to buy.

Still, thay’re beyond my means, so I’m planning to design and build my own retro-fit to the stock blade guard.

The key is to make it rigid enough to avoid it flexing and throwing your splitter out of allgnment.

Yet another project on the list….

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

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