DUST all over everything...

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 08-29-2012 10:13 PM 2117 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2315 days

08-29-2012 10:13 PM

I know it’s a workshop and not my living room, but geeeeepers.

I have a small shop (16×18) I use a dust collector. It gets a lot of dust, but…. BUT … (and it’s a big but)... I still have a coating of dust everywhere. Now, granted, I’ve been using the shop almost every day and it’s been pretty crowded in there as I’ve been building cabinets and counter tops and all kinds of stuff for our kitchen remodel. Cutting the laminate flooring was the worst. HDF dust …. yuck. Also granted, I’m not always the best about cleaning up. I get so busy, I work ‘til I’m worn out and then I go in and shower and go to bed…. then I get up and start going again.

I started cleaning in earnest because I ordered a jointer (GO654 from Grizzly) and REALLY needed to get out there and clear enough room to assemble it and park it. EVERY horizontal surface out there is dusty. I’m vacuuming with the shop vac, and cleaning everything up, but I see pictures of some shops and guys have a collection of planes hanging on the wall. Or I see some sawdust on the floor but all of the machines look clean.

Am I really just a slob and need to change my ways? I don’t have the funds to buy an air cleaner for the shop and I strongly suspect it would help. I’m going to be looking for plans to build something. But it seems I’ll still have dust all over flat surfaces. Does an air cleaner get all of the fine dust your DC system doesn’t get? Only the stuff I keep in cabinets isn’t dusty. Maybe I need to build more cabinets. I seem to do best with shallow cabinets (like a foot deep or so). I know I need SOME storage deeper than that, but I also know I’ll cram a deep cabinet full of crap and forget what’s in there.

Can y’all toss me some ideas on how to get organized and cleaner? How do you keep your shop clean? I know they aren’t meant to be spic-and-span clean, but ….. I have a lot of dust. :)

All comments, suggestions, ideas, are appreciated.

26 replies so far

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2998 days

#1 posted 08-29-2012 10:34 PM

I don’t have the headroom for an overhead air cleaner. I installed a 6” centrifugal fan and ran two four inch ducts off a T piece in the ceiling at either end of the shop, over where I saw and spray to keep the air clean. The volume of air drawn through the fan is the equivalent of changing all the air in the workshop about 16 times an hour. It’s vented directly outside. It made a big difference to the very fine dust and overspray, and didn’t cost a lot.
The filter bag on your dust collector might be allowing very fine dust into the air, you could try a pleated filter if one is available to fit. The only other suggestion I have is to connect your shop vac to everything, everytime you do something.
My Makita half sheet sander sends out a jet of dust if it’s not connected to the shop vac. Routing mdf is one of the dustiest operations you can do as well, so attach the shop vac to the router if you can.

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4121 days

#2 posted 08-30-2012 12:24 AM

renners brings up some good points. A pleated filter does a good job. If you route or sand without dust collection that’s very problematic.

Effective dust collection happens at the source. Overall I’m very happy with my dust collection, but I too have a long way to go. My miter saw is a good example of poor dust collection. I can capture most of the dust, and what I can’t capture finds it’s way all over the shop. I don’t have good collection when I use a router either, so it gets all over the shop.

To help, I’ve constructed a simple plywood box that houses three furnace type filters. The front uses a cheap filter that collects the large stuff, then two higher quality filters (merv 13) that gets the smaller guys (~1 micron.) The back is closed with a dust port installed (via a quick connect) that I hook up my dust collector. The filters are expensive ($14 per). The front filter is about $2.

I go through the same ritual before I start finishing a project. I’ll open my garage door, use my air compressor to try and blow as much dust out as I can, and then will run the air clearer for a while prior to applying the finish. This is not pretty, it’s what I do.

Oh BTW, I do try and keep the shop clean, but in reality when I have the choice I’ll work on the project and procrastinate over the cleaning.

-- Nicky

View djg's profile


160 posts in 2191 days

#3 posted 08-30-2012 12:37 AM

An air cleaner will help some. However there are several important components to dust collection. The first step is collection of the dust at the source. To do this you need a massive volume of air 800-1000 CFM at the machine and running through 6” ducts. The large volume of air will insure that you capture dust the attempts to escape from the shrouds of your machines. You need well designed shrouds for your machines an 6” duct ran directly to the machines. modify your ports if you must. Use a vacuum where you must. For example a miter saw is one of the worst tools for dust and the hardest to capture because it goes everywhere spinning off the blade as you cut. This machine needs both a dust collector and a vacuum. This all costs money and I know about that all too well. I spent 9 years working in filth. The only saving grace is that I always wear a dust mask regardless of how long I am in the shop. I decided to change my ways. To get the most dust you need to be conscious of creating it. Regardless of whether you need to make one cut or twenty cuts, turn on the collector. However, if your collector can’t pull 800-1000cfm at the machine, you will always have a dusty shop.

Being clean is a matter of perspective. Your shop can look clean but have dangerously high levels of sub micron dust that you can’t see. Read Bill Pentz’s site. Best thing I ever did.

-- DJG

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2951 days

#4 posted 08-30-2012 12:40 AM

I know what you mean about dust over everything. I will be moving to a new shop soon and am planning to install a dust collection system with 6” pipe as mentioned here: I had a 4” system and it just got the big stuff not the fine dust. I also have an air cleaner and it only gets what is near the ceiling where it is hung.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5002 posts in 2522 days

#5 posted 08-30-2012 11:11 AM

Someone mentioned it, to capture the finest dust, you need to move huge amounts of air, but you also need to separate that dust from the airstream and that takes tight filtration; 1 micron or better. Even 5 micron filters will blow a lot of the fine particles back into he shop. That said, even a world class DC system can’t capture everything. There will be hand held power tools (and a few stationary ones) that just seem to be designed to defy dust collection (try hand routing MDF, and catching all the dust). That’s when an ambient air cleaner will help, I ran mine for several hours before doing any finishing to reduce the dust nibs I would have. They do’t do much for personal protection though, by the time an ambient AC catches the particels they have already entered your lungs, to some extent. So catching and containing as much as possible at the source is still the best first step.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4247 days

#6 posted 08-30-2012 11:47 AM

As others have said, a good dust collection system includes air filtration, as well as a good dust collector.

I, on the other hand, use the poor man’s system. When the layer of dust on everything aggravates me enough, I go through the shop with a damp rag and a bucket of water. Wipe everything down, rinsing and wringing the rag frequently.

Don’t do this to your cast-iron surfaces, of course, but it works fine on everything else.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3107 days

#7 posted 08-30-2012 02:01 PM

I work in a two car garage shop and fight the same battles you do. Things that help…

1) A half face respirator. I use a 3M 7500 series with P2091 cartridges..very comfortable and affordable. Amazon had a great price and free shipping.

2) A $20 box fan with a furnace filter strategically placed near the area I’m working.

3) All MDF work and a majority of the sanding is performed outside (only forgot to close the garage door once)

4) A leaf blower…no kidding…move the cars, open the door, and dust. If done on a rainy day the dust is immediately put down by the rain and doesn’t blow back into the shop at all. Even on dry days, very little blows back in.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2305 days

#8 posted 08-30-2012 02:02 PM

Dust collectors are good, but they take up a lot of space. If you only have a (16+18), I would suggest getting a air filtration system. You can make your own and save a lot of money, or buy one for about $200. If you are going to only get one air filtration system, then you should buy it. But if your putting more than one filtration system, you should make them, you will save a lot of money. A shop take a lot of cleaning, my mom gets upset when I get sawdust in the house, that’s just they way it works. Hope this helped.


View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2315 days

#9 posted 08-30-2012 02:12 PM

The piles are getting SMALLER! :)
Just spent another 2 and a half hours cleaning the shop. MOST of it is now vacuumed. I have a 35 gallon metal garbage can full of crappy scraps and a couple piles of nasty old pieces (strips) of T-111 and/or plywood. That stuff is so bowed I’ll never use it and it’s not wide enough to even make a shelf. I’m saving plywood pieces that look like they could be used for something down to about 1 foot square. I have a handful (ok maybe TWO handfulls) of pieces on my rolling clamp rack to use as cawls. Hung a cabinet for stuff that I don’t want to freeze. I can load it all in a box and take it inside for the winter when the time comes. I think I actually have ROOM for a jointer now.

Still more to do. I have wood on “lumber rack” that’s probably just taking up space. Like some 3/8” t&g beadboard planks. I have some clear pine I completely forgot I even HAVE. I know that as soon as I get rid of the stuff I’m tossing, I’ll come up with a use for a piece of it … ain’t that always the way?

But the shop looks better and as I get stuff put away and organized I see that it will be easier to do the next task. Just another half hour and I think I’ll have my table saw cleared off and the workbench that serves as outfeed for it. hehehhe.

But at some point I gotta stop and get a big pork shoulder ready for the smoker!

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3069 days

#10 posted 08-30-2012 02:23 PM

I, on the other hand, use the poor man’s system. When the layer of dust on everything aggravates me enough, I go through the shop with a damp rag and a bucket of water. Wipe everything down, rinsing and wringing the rag frequently.

I just go through the shop with a 4” Paintbrush, when I get all my wiring fixed i will just go through with my Air hose & blow it all off & out the door…

A10GAC – Leaf blower great Idea !!!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View MrRon's profile


4800 posts in 3272 days

#11 posted 08-30-2012 06:43 PM

A clean shop is a shop that doesn’t get much use. No DC is 100% perfect at collecting dust. Try running the DC in the dark and using a flashlight, observe how much dust comes from the DC filter.

View Murdock's profile


128 posts in 2513 days

#12 posted 08-30-2012 08:43 PM

The things I do have more or less been said already, but here it is anyway.

Since I do not (yet) have ‘real’ dust collection. I use my shop-vac attached to whatever machine I am using at that time. I also use that vac to do basic cleanup.

Then every so often when I think it is getting bad, I use the leaf blower method. Put a 20” box fan in the door blowing out on a relatively calm day (or the dust blows back in), put on ear, eye, and lung protection and blow away. I then leave the fan running for a while because some dust stays hanging in the air.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2514 days

#13 posted 08-30-2012 08:45 PM

Glad this topic is active. I came across Bill Pentz’s site yesterday and it put the fear of sub-micron dust into me. What really struck a nerve is how I could be carrying the most dangerous and damaging invisible dust into my house and letting my wife and 2 year old daughter inhale that stuff. Both of them have allergy issues and I sure as hell don’t want to be responsible for making them suffer.

According the review here, this particular dust collector from Harbor Freight is a great deal, provided you include a few upgrades, including a pleated filter and a cyclone separator. But this is the internet, so naturally I have questions.

DJG mentions – ”The first step is collection of the dust at the source. To do this you need a massive volume of air 800-1000 CFM at the machine and running through 6” ducts.”

According to the specs on Harbor Freight's website, this DC system pulls up to 1550 CFM, which certainly sounds good compared the 800-1000 CFM minimum. However, it uses 4 inch rather than 6 inch ducting. Is the extra power adequate to overcome the smaller duct size? Should I look at modifying it somehow to accommodate 6 inch ducts?

Also, if anyone owns this particular unit, can you comment on the noise level? Would it be necessary to build a small enclosure to house a DC system like this for dust containment and noise reduction?

-- Brian Timmons -

View Murdock's profile


128 posts in 2513 days

#14 posted 08-30-2012 09:00 PM

Most of the time you can remove the factory supplied Y at the machine to get a larger duct. Others here would be much better at answering the specifics behind airflow though a smaller duct.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5002 posts in 2522 days

#15 posted 08-30-2012 09:30 PM

Factory CFM specs on almost all DC’s are about as true as the 6.5 HP your shop vac has. The HF DC is considered one of the gems of their line, but don’t get carried away. It’s realistically a 1.5 HP motor (check the amps) with a 10” impeller (unless they changed it). If you check other units in this “class” you find they typically have 11” impeller’s. Hook that to a 4” line and you get 400 CFM. I’m not knocking it at all, just saying to get the 800 CFM that Pentz suggests is going to take a whole lot more “oomph”. The reason you see such varied opinions (more so on DC than other aspects of our hobby) is that everyone has a different set of expectations. They range from avoiding sweeping the floor to those who want to capture every possible spec of dust, and each of us has found (maybe) the solution to what we’re after. So there’s no errors in the assessments offered, but be sure they judge on criteria similar to yours.

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

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