Dust Collection: Ideal vs Adequate, Stationary vs Portable

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Forum topic by CharlieW posted 01-27-2013 09:22 PM 5020 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 2190 days

01-27-2013 09:22 PM

Let me start off by saying that my experience as a wood worker has been more along the lines of inexpensive power tools and a shop vac. Now with retirement I am converting my 3 car garage to a wood shop so I can really develop my skills and maybe along the way make some nice furniture that will be around for a while. I will be attending classes and investing in some nice equipment. I’ve narrowed down my options on equipment and the floor plan somewhat but the one area I’m really spinning on is dust collection. As I’ve read the reams of data and the multitudes of opinions I have to admit, I’m not even close to figuring out what I need. It’s certainly not as simple as just selecting a cyclone, I had been leaning towards an Onieda and then read that some folks disliked it and then I had more or less settled on a Clear Vue 1800. That was until I read about the noise level making the whole house vibrate like a sub woofer and the dozens of options for ducting, bends, reducers etc each one critical to the performance of the system. Of course there are ways to mitigate the sound but that just added to the complexity of this whole notion.

So as I sat back, pale and glassy eyed, I started thinking, why not just get one of those portable systems like ? Do you just wheel this thing around to the equipment when you are going to use it and hook it up. Is this a viable simple solution or am I missing something. I know its not ideal, but is it adequate? am I trading off so much in performance or functionality that this will be a mistake that I regret? You guys have way more experience than I do with this stuff so I really appreciate your input.

ps: Thanks to you shop veterans who take the time to answer questions that must be repetitive each time a newbie joins the forum. As a newbie, I really appreciate your advice!

35 replies so far

View Holbs's profile


2037 posts in 2268 days

#1 posted 01-27-2013 10:15 PM

i am no shop veteran (shop nOObie is more like it, still learning).
but i am at the point you are, when it comes to dust collection. Sure, you can spend $1500+ on some ultra dust collection model which does not include the air flow infrastructure. Or, as you noted about portable units, can hook a more portable, economical dc unit right up to the machine (as long as 850+cfm).
But what i have learned here on LumberJocks is think long term, if buying something new as an investment. Your portable dc unit will work, but you have one more power cord on the floor to watch out for, wheeling the unit around to the machine you are working on. Over, and over, and over again.

As i set up my shop/2car garage for this coming spring, i will be looking for a 3HP dust collection system on Craigslist or some super sale deal like at Harbor Freight, that is not portable with 6” ducting throughout the shop. If nothing pops up that my wallet can afford, i’ll look for 2HP dc’s.

some of those laguna dc system do come on wheels, but do you really want to huff and puff and push that thing around all the time?

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3210 days

#2 posted 01-27-2013 10:31 PM

How much you are willing to spend and how many tools you want to run at one time are two main questions I would have.

I built a couple of pattern shops at the foundry where I worked for 30 years and we had 2 to 6 people working in these areas. The collectors ranged from 2000 CFM for the 2 person shop to 10,000 CFM for the 6 person shop.

With careful planning and dampers you can set up so that only one machine is being serviced by the collector at one time for a one person shop.
OR, as you suggested, you could get a small unit and move it from machine to machine.

For me the choice, after cost consideration, would be noise and hassle tolerance.
If I had to listen to a small fan (or a shop vac) screaming all the time I’d be less likely to turn it on.
Likewise, if I had to move things around and clear the floor every time I wanted to roll the collector from the jointer to the table saw, for instance, I’d probably be less likely to move it; especially for a quick crosscut or two.

I have my shop in my basement so another factor for me is my wife wanting to know what the +&^* I’m doing if she sees dust drifting up the stairs. So, in this case, I am more likely to do some of those things I just said I was not so likely to do.

Now, I have a Harbor Freight, 2hp dust collector. It can be bought , with a coupon found in the back of many woodworking magazines for as little as $149. It’s almost identical to collectors sold under at east four other brand names for 2 to 3 times the price. I have it setup so I can collect from my table saw and band saw at the same time, or switch it over to the jointer and belt/disk sander. It can handle a 4” and a 2 1/2” connection simultaneously. This arrangement works well for me, I like it. If I do an upgrade it will be to add another 2hp HF collector so I can not have the switch, or to add a couple more pairs of machines to the list. I don’t want a 6” pipe in my ceiling and since I work alone I don’t need a 3 or 5 hp machine on a big pipe.

Many other LJs on this forum have ithe same collector. Many have replaced its bag with a cartridge filter. Many others have added a pre-filter cyclone or drop out chamber to improve its effeciency. I love building machines and things like this so it is a good option for me. Your mileage may vary.

In a perfect world I would have a dust collector outside the shop (for noise reduction) and vent it back into the shop through a HEPA filter. This would save having to condition (heat or cool) all the air it sucks out of the shop.

You also need an air filter. Those can be built for little money, or you can buy a comercial unit, but either way be sure it collects the under .5 micron dust. These units just circulate the air in the shop and get the fine dust out. They typically run all the time when you are in the shop and make very little noise and use very little power. I think the air filter is just as important as the dust collector; if not more so..

Good luck with your shop and welcome to Lumber Jocks.

View DIYaholic's profile


19750 posts in 2914 days

#3 posted 01-27-2013 10:37 PM

I’m lazy, so I will be ducting my shop!!!

Ok, being lazy has almost nothing to do with it. It is about smooth, quick and efficient use of shop time. I would rather make sawdust and projects, than spend time setting up equipmment and moving a dust collector and hoses around. This especially comes into play when you have everything setup for a repetitive operation and then find you need to make one small cut on a different machine. I’ll just make the quick cut without dust collection…..Why do I have a dust collector???

However, as you are just setting up shop, final tool/machine locations will probably change. Running the main trunck lines and using flew hose may make sense and then when you nail down machine placement, install the drops to each machine. This gets you up and running and leaves flexibility for future shop arrangements.

As important as getting dust at the source is (best option), an ambient air cleaner will get what is missed. This will serve two purposes, the first is protecting your lungs and the second is a cleaner shop.

Good luck on your shop set up!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2924 days

#4 posted 01-27-2013 10:58 PM

I dunno…something is better than nothing for those of us that are not so concerned about the health aspects (I baled hay, bagged oats and worked around sawdust for years) as we are spending too much time trying to keep a shop clean.

My biggest criteria is the ease of emptying the thing. Having relied on shop vacs (after the fact) I would say that I put 10% of the material back in play. I’m toying with the idea of a portable to start.

View CharlieW's profile


28 posts in 2190 days

#5 posted 01-27-2013 11:58 PM

Wow, great input guys. I will be getting an ambient air cleaner to go along with the cyclone and I have a CT26 for hand tools. Going to continue to read the posts to try and sort out what will be best for me. Thanks!

View AandCstyle's profile


3185 posts in 2496 days

#6 posted 01-28-2013 01:22 AM

Charlie, since you are just getting into woodworking, I would suggest you “grow” into it rather than “go” into it. I have seen a number of people spend thousands of dollars on woodworking tools only to find that it wasn’t really for them. Then they try to sell the machinery at a loss.

You mentioned that you will take classes and that is a great idea. See what appeals to you the most and then determine what you need to pursue that particular interest. For example, you might decide that you really enjoy working with hand tools so a super dust collection system wouldn’t be necessary.

Working alone means that you will only be using one machine at a time. If you are organized, you can avoid having to change connections from one machine to another too frequently. However, since you are new at it, it will be difficult to be that organized. I agree with Randy that changing hook ups is a pain.

It will be difficult, but whatever you decide to do, buy your last machine first, i.e. try to never need to replace/upgrade any of your purchases. Good luck!

-- Art

View mnguy's profile


208 posts in 3637 days

#7 posted 01-28-2013 01:37 AM

I think there is a lot to be said for a largish, portable DC with ~1.5 hp as an excellent ‘starter’ for your new shop. You may find that most of your work is on a handful of tools, and you would want them located near each other, where you wouldn’t move the DC much anyway. For example, I have my table saw and joiner near each other, and a wye on my DC with a blast gate and hose to each of them. When I need to connect to a different tool farther away, one of the hoses is extendible; yes, I get some pressure drop, but it works well for me. Part of my choice is my small oddly shaped shop; duct work could be more trouble for me than a convenience.

My advice; start with a good portable, and if you are moving the DC all over all the time, move up to a central cyclone with ductwork and put it outside the shop for maximum quiet.

Congrats on your retirement and on your new shop space!

View mbs's profile


1657 posts in 3179 days

#8 posted 01-28-2013 01:46 AM

The advice could be much more specific if we had an idea of the equipment you’re considering and the furniture you plan on building.

You may want to make a disclaimer up front on the equipment decisions you’ve made unless you want a lot opinions on brands. e.g. PM66 saw, delta radial arm saw, 6” jet jointer…..

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View GT350's profile


370 posts in 2221 days

#9 posted 01-28-2013 01:51 AM

I would definitely go with plumbing it in rather than moving a dust collector around. Usually when I start working with a piece of wood if it fits on my 6” jointer I will flatten one side on that. Next I will run the other side through the planer, then back to the jointer to square one side to the faces. Next to the table saw to make the width even now I usually will run that side through the jointer. I would hate to be moving that dust collector for every operation. I use 4” PVC pipe with blast gates at every machine that I just screwed together so it is cheap and easy to move if you decide to move a machine. I am not sure which dust collector would be best but I built my cyclone dust collector from the plans in Wood magazine. I think it is very important to have the ceiling mounted air filters. I built two and they work great.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2424 days

#10 posted 01-28-2013 01:54 AM

With a 3 car garage, I dont think you want to be hauling a cyclone around your shop. If its square, i would suggest putting at least a 3 hp blower just outside your shop with 6” pvc to your machines. A 3-5 hp blower can be had on craigslist for as litter as $120. In my small shop, I put a HF dust collector outside with 4” pipes to most of my machines. I would HATE to have to move it around to each machine. It is so nice to be able to quickly jump from machine to machine without being disturbed by moving your huge dust collector. I did mine pretty cheaply mostly with stuff I had laying around the house.

View Marty5965's profile


158 posts in 2185 days

#11 posted 01-28-2013 02:00 AM

Don’t have much to add to the great advice here, except to say, if you put a zero tolerance guard on your table saw, make sure you have dc over the blade. You will be amazed at how much dust doesn’t get sucked down that huge hole…erm, that isn’t there anymore.

-- Marty, Columbus, OH, learning every day....

View CharlieW's profile


28 posts in 2190 days

#12 posted 01-28-2013 02:12 AM

ok, so I haven’t finalized all of my equipment decisions yet and was going to save this for another thread but here’s where I am so far:

Drill Press – Delta 18-900L to be delivered Friday
Jointer/Planer – Hammer A3-31 – final decision pending a visit to their showroom in the next 2 weeks
Band Saw – S400P (MM16) or Grizzly G0636XB or Hammer N4400
Table Saw – I have no idea yet but either Hammer, Sawstop or Grizzly…I think
DC – No idea yet!

I sold my boat so I have some funds available to be applied to a hobby closer to home :)

View History's profile


399 posts in 2221 days

#13 posted 01-28-2013 02:37 AM

In a portable DC I think that the Delta 50-760, 1 1/2 hp portable with an onboard separator is the best bang for the buck. I’ve owned a used Grizzly G1029 2 hp portable, and a new PSI 2 hp stationary cyclone, sold them both and am very happy with the Delta setup for my needs, which is in a two stall garage that we also park our vehicles in..

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2872 days

#14 posted 01-28-2013 02:59 AM

I have an oldish Delta 50-180 with a whopping 1hp motor. It works well enough for me, in my tiny shop.
A small DC like this would not work for a centralized system with piping. Since I hook this up to a single machine at a time, and only use 8 ft of hose, 1hp is plenty. I’m not suggesting you buy a unit like mine. I’m just pointing out that a low horsepower machine is fine if you opt to hook your DC up to one machine at a time. IMO, you don’t need a big money, high power DC unless you’re setting-up a centralized unit…......or running a long collection hose.

View Manitario's profile


2705 posts in 3122 days

#15 posted 01-28-2013 02:47 PM

Charlie; welcome to LJ’s and welcome to the often contentious world of dust collection. Like everything in life, there are a lot of different perspectives/opinions on what constitutes “dust collection”. Really, your choices in dust collection come down to what you want it for. If you want it to keep your shop clean, then your cheapest, easiest option is a small canister DC like the 2 hp HF DC. This will adequately remove chips and larger dust particles from your shop. If your goal is to keep the air clean you will have to step up to a larger, higher HP DC unit in order to have the airflow needed to capture the very fine dust. My own perspective is to treat the DC as part of your shop infrastructure; buy the best you can afford; set it up and don’t worry about it again. Personally, having to drag a portable DC around would drive me crazy, especially a large unit like the Laguna cyclone.
I have a Clearvue cyclone; it is well made, performs exceptionally well and the customer service and support is excellent. I am confident that it is the first and last cyclone I’ll ever need to buy. It is loud, but no louder than the tools I use; I built a small, insulated cupboard for it in the corner of my shop which cuts down on its volume.

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

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