Small shop dust collection

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 07-11-2013 09:19 PM 4604 views 1 time favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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800 posts in 2103 days

07-11-2013 09:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I know this topic has come up before, so I apologize if I’m retreading well-worn territory (and I’d welcome any links to good threads on the topic). I’m looking for general and/or specific advice on setting up my DC line(s).

My shop is roughly 11’ by 16’. The interior (drywalled) wall is lined with cabinets, tool storage, and lumber racks. The opposite (exterior, concrete) wall will be lined with benchtop tools (mounted to wheeled cabinets) – router table, sander, and miter saw. I have a planer on a flip-top cart (grinder underneath), a R4512 in the middle, and I’m hoping to build a nesting assembly table/outfeed table for it. I also have two smallish (2’ by 3’) rolling workbenches that are the same height as my saw for double-duty as outfeed tables (these aren’t pictured in my sketch, below).

For DC, I have the 2 hp Harbor Freight dust collector (which I haven’t assembled yet) and a shop-vac in an enclosed cabinet with a Rockler Vortex mounted on top. I was planning to run a straight hard line across the back wall, with flex tubing running to my bench tools via y-branches, blast gates, and 4”-2.5” reducers. I don’t really have a plan for the table saw or the planer; the table saw will stay where it is (except when nested), the planer will probably get rolled around as needed.

Generally, what is the most cost-effective material to use for DC (with the Harbor Freight model)? Can I use PVC/plastic, or is there really a legitimate static-shock fire concern in a shop this small? Also, should I dedicate the shop-vac to a particular tool (e.g. the table saw), perhaps splitting the line (with blast gates) to a long flex hose for general cleanup?

Basically, I’m looking for any advice or guidance on the most efficient – and cost efficient – way to manage dust collection in a small shop. For convenience, I slapped together this rough sketch of my shop layout, which is incredibly not to scale (but at least shows my likely tool configuration).


-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

39 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2965 days

#1 posted 07-11-2013 10:39 PM

Your planer may not work well with a dust collector. Mine works better with a large shop vac, or just roll it outside and clean up afterwards with the leaf blower.

The HF collector does its best work with a 4” and a 2-1/2” port connected at the same time. The fan inlet is 5” diameter and the cross section area of those two lines are almost equal to the fan inlet.

I have the Sears twin (21833) of the Ridgid 4512 since about a year before they started selling the Ridgid model, but I don’t think they have changed anything but the paint color. And I find the HF collector works well with this saw on a 4” flex connection to the port on the bottom of the cabinet. You can use the 2-1/2” connection on a flex hose to a crosscut sled if you build one. Otherwise, when you use a sled the bottom connection does not have any air flow from the top of the sled.

I also have a Rikon 10” bandsaw that has a 2-1/2” dust port so sometimes I have it connected to the smaller flex.
This flex is also switched over to my belt/disk sander sometimes.

The 4” hose is sometimes switched over to my jointer.

Bottom line, although I designed and installed a PVC system, I think the DC works just as well rolled around and hooked up to whatever I’m working with at any given time with a short section of flex hose.

I’m selling my current home and farm and moving into town. I already have a new shop designed and I located the DC in the middle next to my TS, BS, and sander. Don’t plan to waste any time or money on a rigid pipe system.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2684 days

#2 posted 07-12-2013 01:48 AM

With your small shop it looks like a lean to outside with the DC/chip separator in it with a single 4” hose thru the wall would be a better answer than piping DC to all your tools. It would be quieter, dust that comes thru the filter would be out of your shop, and less expensive to do. I have my DC/chip separator and my big compressor outside my shop and love this set up.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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

View 69BBNova's profile


341 posts in 2211 days

#3 posted 07-12-2013 05:08 AM

I have no advise, even though my tools are in my bedroom…

But when I saw the layout and it saw 11’ x 16 ’ not to scale I cracked up laughing because I read


I’ve got to start sleeping again.

View kizerpea's profile


774 posts in 2362 days

#4 posted 07-12-2013 12:35 PM

Yep for sure ..a lean to on the back would be great. save room an keeps most of the noise out of the shop


View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2917 days

#5 posted 07-12-2013 01:20 PM

I have the HF DC. I use mine rolling around with a 10’ flex. It’s annoying, but it’s efficient and cheap. I have cheap flex, but I’m likely going to upgrade to the Rockler Dust Right

You can hard pipe it; many HF DC owners do. Use 4” Sewer and Drain PVC.

Come up from the DC, pipe one main line and branch to each tool. Use two 45s and a short section of straight pipe instead of a 90 elbow. Use Wyes, not Tees. You can use a short section of flex to the tool, but it’s better not to. Use blast gates on each branch. While it’s usually the case that you only have the one open to the tool you are using, sometimes you find that with some machines on some runs, it’s better to have some other open port.

There is no static safety issue, period.

UPGRADE YOUR FILTER. Get the Wynn Environmental .5 micron. It’s a drop in replacement and seriously improves your safety. It also improves your airflow!

Read about the Thein baffle. You might want to plan one in to your DC. It makes cleaning easier and keeps more dust out of your filter. You can build it into the ring of the DC or have it outboard with a separate drum. The latter makes a smaller installation and more airflow, the former may make your ducting easier and avoids sending chips through the impeller.

A more radical idea, which probably where I’m going, is to wall mount the DC with the motor flipped. This gets you a straight run to the ring and the intake is easier to manage (and closer to the ceiling)

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2103 days

#6 posted 07-12-2013 04:42 PM

Thank you all for the advice. Right now, putting the DC outside in a lean-to isn’t really an option. My shop is in a lower-level room (split entry house), and I don’t really want to bore through my concrete walls or have my DC outside in the MN winter.

For now, I think I’m going to take brtech’s advice and use 4” S&D pipe to run a line straight along the wall from my DC to my bench tools. I’ll use 4” to 2.5” Y-branches to connect short flex hose to those tools (with a 2.5” blast gate at each Y-branch), and if I have to turn corners I’ll use two 45s instead of a 90. I’ll also run a 4” to 4” Y-branch with a blast gate to run a length of 4” flex tube to my table saw.

I’ll dedicate the shop-vac (which is on a mobile base, with a Vortext) to general shop cleanup and I’ll use it with the planer, which is also mobile (and the Vortext does a great job of separating the chips).

In terms of upgrades, I do plan on making a Thien baffle when I have time (anyone have a link to the simplest design for one of these?), and I will upgrade the filter.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2917 days

#7 posted 07-12-2013 04:48 PM

Sounds reasonable, although I would try your planer on the DC and see if it works better than on the shop vac. I have a Rigid lunch box planer, which works much better on my DC than on my shop vac, YMMV.

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2103 days

#8 posted 07-12-2013 04:55 PM

I’ll give each a try. I think what I’ll do is run the 4” S&D pipe along the wall with all those Y-branches to the bench tools, and then end it with a blast gate to 4” flex tube that can go to the planer, the table saw, or anything else that happens to need a 4” connection.

This is my shopping list so far – what do you think of these products, and what do you recommend for blast gates?

(I already have plenty of 2.5” tubing with various couplers/adapters from my juryrigged shop-vac DC.)

Thanks again!

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2917 days

#9 posted 07-12-2013 05:12 PM

I use these:

You can get these from a lot of places, with prices all over the map.

The Rockler hose is pretty good.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2908 days

#10 posted 07-12-2013 06:07 PM

Just stating the obvious here… Why put you DC at the FAR end of your shop? The closer you can get it to the center, the better it will work for each tool hooked up to it and it will have the SHORTEST run in all directions. With a single 10ft hose, I feed my TS, Router, Jointer, BS, and horizontal mortising machine. My planer requires a 20ft hose. My MS is attached to a dedicated separator/shopvac unit. I just move the hose as needed. Granted, I have a larger shop, but moving the DC hose is easy and takes just seconds to swap.

I would seriously think about eliminating the MS and building a TS-Sled to do your crosscuts. A sled is more accurate and would be a big space saver in such a small shop. And then park your DC unit in that space next to the TS and central to all other tools. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2103 days

#11 posted 07-12-2013 06:34 PM

Mike – all your points are well-taken, and were it not for a few omissions on my end they’d be dead-on right.

First, the shop actually is a bit more crowded than it appears in my drawing, once you factor in my poorly-scaled rectangles as well as some things I didn’t include (like a rolling cabinet/outfeed table, plywood storage, and other miscellanea). This means I need to keep things placed as efficiently as possible, and there really isn’t room in the shop center for the DC. Plus, with a shop this small I need to keep things against walls as much as I can because otherwise there’s not much room to move. But on the other hand, the small shop size means that the DC doesn’t have to run more than 12’ from that corner to hit each of the bench tools, with maybe a few feet of 2.5” hoses running off the wye-fittings to the tool ports. So it actually isn’t a long-running line.

That said, you make a very good point about distance, and so instead of running a line to my TS and jointer from the END of the wall-mounted line, perhaps I should put a 4” splitter right at the DC and just run flex tubing to the TS and the planer from there, rather than from the end of the wall line. Does this make sense?

Second, I do have a few crosscut sleds but I actually use my miter saw a lot – especially since we just moved into a house that needs some work, and I’m going to be using it for things like trim and crown molding. I used to do more fine woodworking, but with the new house I expect to be doing a lot more rough and finish carpentry – and for that, I think the miter saw will be more efficient than the table saw.

But again, the things you said are 100% true. I just didn’t give out full context :-).

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8029 posts in 2323 days

#12 posted 07-12-2013 07:04 PM

I think you plan is as good as you’re going to get with the limited space and the equipment you’ve chosen.

Run a 4” line down the wall and blast gate 4” ports to each appliance on the wall…. then hook up with the largest size flex you can. For your MS, make a box around it to trap the debris and hook up a 4” line to the back or bottom of the box.

The small hook ups to most miter saws (with exception of the newest German ones) don’t cut it. But if you run your shop vac to that port and your DC to the box/shroud/big gulp, you’ll get most of it.

On the TS, a ZCI makes a huge differect in how much debris gets slung off the top.

Upgrade your HF DC with a pleated filter, and if possible invest in a ceiling mounted air filter.

Even given all of these precautions, you’ll still want to keep some nice dust masks (the kind with a rubber flapper valve) on hand for especially messy tasks.

Good luk with you shop DC.

-- 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

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2965 days

#13 posted 07-12-2013 07:34 PM

”perhaps I should put a 4” splitter right at the DC and just run flex tubing to the TS and the planer from there”

The HF collector comes with a double 4” WYE fitting right on the fan inlet. That’s what I was referring to when I said you could run a 4” line to the TS or Jointer and have a 2-1/2” left for other tools. They can both be open at the same time; that is one 4” and one 2-1/2”.

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2103 days

#14 posted 07-12-2013 07:42 PM

Thanks Matt! Some more good advice – I’ll use 4” to 2.5” reducers plugged into my tools ports, connecting those tools (via blast gates) to the main line with 4” flex tube.

I do have a ZCI, so perhaps I’ll need to rig up an overhead dust collector for the TS. I’ll look into the pleated filter for the DC, and although I can’t afford a ceiling-mounted filter right now I do have about 20 brand new furnace filters that I was planning on using with a box fan to make a better-than-nothing ambient air filter. Even with all of this, I plan on using my respirator for the messiest tasks.

One question, for anyone: what, exactly, are the right adapters to get for my port-to-hose conversions, assuming I’m connecting everything to 4” flex tube? I don’t want to make a mistake with outer/inner diameters, and just from looking online (without hooking things up to my tools) it’s a little confusing. If it helps, my miter saw is a DeWalt DW713, my sander is a Ridgid oscillating belt/spindle sander (EB4424), and my router table is a Bosch RA1181. My planer is a DW734 and my table saw is a R4512.

Edit – crank, thanks for that heads-up. I haven’t put my DC together yet, so I didn’t quite catch your meaning.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3225 days

#15 posted 07-12-2013 07:59 PM

I mounted mine on the wall and put a Thien chipo separator in a barrel upstream of the HF machine. That way, the bag in the dust collector stays basically empty unless I fill up the drum and don’t realize it. I also added the Wynn Nano filter to the HF unit.

I am currently reorganizing my shop (one car garage). I have built a dedicated miter saw station with lowr cabinets and room on the table for n oscillating sander and a belt sander. A shop vac sits undrneath the table and is connected to a Dust Deputy. When I get through all of the tools will be piped to the Dust Deputy.

My table saw, planer and 6 inch jointer all connect to the HF machine via 4 inch hose. I don’t have any issues with the dust collector not keeping up. I can see the dust/chips going through the hose, swirling around in the plastic translucent drum…and nothing in the DC bag.

New Harbor Freight Dust Collector

My Garage/Shop Makeover blog.
Hope you get some ideas from these links.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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