Dust collection help for the beginner...Please

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Forum topic by JasonZahn posted 12-17-2014 04:06 PM 2193 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1458 days

12-17-2014 04:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dust collection safety hf dust collector beginner dust collection shop safety air quality

Greetings All!

I’m glad to finally be an official member after many months of snooping around on the site. I hate to start off with something so exciting, but here it goes…

Preemptively, let me say that I realize that dust collection is a controversial and often beaten-to-death topic in the woodworking community. After getting serious about formulating a collection system that would enable me to collect large chips and fines effectively, I dove into research and have been a bit overwhelmed. Between forum posts, and visits to sites such as Bill Pentz’s, I’m drowning in info but not sure if I’m headed in the right direction.

I figure it’s best to outline what I had been tentatively planning on, and then hopefully some of you can chime in and let me know what tweaks I might consider, or heck, maybe you’ll tell me to trash the whole plan and head in another direction…

First off, I’m a beginner one man operation working in my ATTACHED two car garage, and my initial plan would be to make the DC mobile and hook to one tool at a time as needed.

1) I’ve been strongly considering purchasing the 2 HP HF unit, on sale right now with coupon for $159

2) scrap the HF bag and order a Wynn filter

3) install a trash can lid pre-separator between the tool and unit

4) upgrade shop vac and hook to dust deputy set-up for small tools

5) ceiling mounted air cleaner

These were my initial thoughts, but I’m second guessing them after reading some of Mr. Pentz’s literature. It seems that he really only recommends cyclone collection vented outside of the shop.

I’m wondering if I should try to vent the HF unit outside, if it’s even possible, and what issues that might bring with it, or if the HF unit (as Pentz suggests) isn’t even adequate to begin with.

I don’t want to fool myself into believing that I’ve installed an effective system to capture dangerous dust. I’ve figured that what I’ve outlined above will run me around $600-700, so while not at all “cheap” on my budget, is doable. If the cyclone is the true answer, I suppose I’ll have to do some more saving, as I’m not willing to sacrifice future lung performance or health issues, and especially since I’m working in a space attached to my home.

Any and all advice, criticism, etc is welcome.

Thanks to all for such a great site, and the truly unique and finely crafted work that you produce.


19 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5176 posts in 2694 days

#1 posted 12-17-2014 04:29 PM

If you’re serious about capturing the finest dust, I’d consider a larger unit. But that’s only part of the plan, since you will need ductwork to support a large air flow. I’ve been all over the Pentz site and don’t think I’ve ever seen him recommend that exhaust outside is the only plan, but if possible that’s a good way to do things. Remember, you also pipe out the heated/cooled air when you do that; so most of us just skip that part. With good filtration, you can do really well with an interior system. Do check his site about airflow, flex hose, etc. Even with a world class DC, if you choke it down it just isn’t going to catch that dust. Also, even with that world class DC you don’t get it all, so the vac is a good idea. I also like the ambient air cleaner, but not for health reasons. By the time it gets the dust, the stuff has already made it to your lungs. But it really helps keep the shop cleaner, and also helps reduce dust nibs in your finishing efforts. Lastly, you’ll get 100 different opinions on DC…..and none of them are wrong. We all just base our input on our own criteria; you’ll need to wortk yours into the suggestions somehow.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5124 posts in 4161 days

#2 posted 12-17-2014 04:46 PM

I have a setup similar to your first blush equipment. I used good quality felted bags on my HF unit, HEPA filter in my Ridgid (big) shop vac, an ambient cleaner modified from an old smoking room air cleaner. I also have ceiling fans in the shop.
This has been my system for over 10 years, and works very well and for minimal bucks.
As you said, everyone has a different idea of success.


View chrisstef's profile


17761 posts in 3207 days

#3 posted 12-17-2014 05:07 PM

Ill be setting up almost the exact same system in my shop shortly minus the Wynn filter. I cant imagine that I will capture every spec of dust and every shaving that comes out of all the machines but the way that I see it 80% is better than none.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View OSU55's profile


1966 posts in 2190 days

#4 posted 12-17-2014 05:13 PM

I have the system you are planning, and it works to my satisfaction. I hook it up one machine at a time to the router table, planer, and TS. When doing a lot of work on any machine, enough dust usually escapes from the machine (not the DC or filter) that I still wear a mask. Part of that is probably tool setup, but part of it is unavoidable. So really the DC ends up being more for keeping the shop neat vs keeping stuff out of my lungs, but it’s worth it.

I agree with the comment about an ambient cleaner – the dust has already been available to your lungs, but it does clean the air before finishing. I have a drop down spray booth with a 100cfm HVAC blower in a metal box with 2 20”x20” filters, and I use the blower as an ambient air cleaner. I turn it on an hour or so before starting to finish.

The only sanding I do is with a 5” ROS and attach it to the shop vac – I see very little dust escape this setup – or by hand and I use a mask then. IMO a mask is the very best protection for the lungs.

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1625 days

#5 posted 12-17-2014 05:38 PM

If you go the HF route, here is a design you might like. Here is the project folder.

And here is a link that will cover most, if not all, your questions about dust collecdtion.

I also only use it on one machine at a time. If you want to build a ducted system, I suggest a 3HP minimum.

-- Brad, Texas,

View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1458 days

#6 posted 12-17-2014 07:21 PM

Thanks to all of you for the replies thus far.

Fred- in going back over some of Pentz’s stuff’ I was slightly off: he says, in a round about way, that if you’re using anything other than a Clearvue cyclone, he recommends venting it outside.

To those that are operating a system identical to or similar to what I’ve proposed, how many of you still wear a respirator in the shop?

And, what do you guys think about the risks if sending a bunch of dust fines into the house by operating in an attached garage?

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 2202 days

#7 posted 12-17-2014 08:52 PM

I previously had a small 110v unit on wheels that I would hook up to each individual tool but mainly it only worked to catch the big stuff (see my latest post that shows how I used it to make a ceiling mounted air clearner) I now have a grizzly 1029 that catches a lot more stuff. It came with a pseudo-cyclone lid that mounts on top of a metal can to separate the larger stuff but unfortunately I notice that using it lowers the CFM significantly. I point this out because this unit is a true 2HP machine unlike the HF you mentioned. My guess is that if you try to use the HF machine which is likely more like a 1.5HP you will probably lose a significant amount of flow once you have a cyclone and heavier duty filtration like the Wynne. I know many around here have had good experiences with the HF but my recommendation is that if you can afford it go with as big a unit as you can, particularly if you have access to 220V. Regarding the air cleaner it is true that you should not rely on it but you can build one on the cheap (see mine, with parts and everything I made it for under $80) and run it when you leave the shop to clean your air for next time.
hope this helps

View OSU55's profile


1966 posts in 2190 days

#8 posted 12-17-2014 09:27 PM

My shop is my attached 2 car garage. The only dust or chips that get in the house are the ones my wife points out that I tracked in with my shoes or fell off my clothes.

Regarding air flow – I measured the flow of my HF with the bags it came with (clean) and the Wynn filter – just about exactly the same flow (used an HVAC duct flow instrument). The Wynn filter will not reduce flow anywhere near what bags will as things load up (any bag type filter). I already had a Thein separator with 4” fittings I had used with a smaller DC. Rather than build a new one, I put a 5” fitting on the exit and called it good, and use a ~10 ft 4” flex hose to the machines. One thing you could do is build your separator with 5” fittings and use 5” flex to the machines. A downside is the 5” flex is just more difficult to move around. I would like to have the 5” system to measure flow and compare directly to the 4” I have, so maybe one day I’ll build that.

As to the “clearview or vent outside”, I don’t observe any dust escaping from the DC or filter (observation with light beam looking for dust). The dust is coming from around the cutting tool of the machine, so I’d have to say it’s inaccurate. The Wynn filter works.

Something to ponder – a larger DC will provide a bit more flow at the machine, but will only be incrementally better at capturing all the dust, i.e. still fine dust in the air that can do damage. Is there actually anything gained, other than 2-3% less dust to sweep up?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5176 posts in 2694 days

#9 posted 12-17-2014 09:36 PM

Actually, a larger DC won’t provide any more flow at the machine, if it’s choked down to 4”. But a larger DC with 5” or (even better) 6” ducting to the tool will provide a huge increase in air flow. You won’t catch all the fine dust without that flow, it’s really that simple.

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

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2688 days

#10 posted 12-17-2014 10:32 PM

rg33, looking at the specs of the 2HP HF unit, it shows that maximum draw for the motor is 20 amps. I’m not sure if that is LRA, but it is actually more than the @1500 watts than is required for 2 HP. (basically, 746 watts equals 1 HP).
The Grizzly unit draws 12 amps at 220V, (that would equal 24amps at 120V+/-) which is 4 amps more than what the HF model states.

Now, before anyone hollers, there are a lot of variables in this that haven’t been taken into account. I know that there are going to be losses due to friction, inefficiencies and the folks who made, ordered and designed each unit. The interesting thing though is that both units seem to be built in China.
Looking at the Grizzly Impeller, it appears to be a more efficient design, but that would only cause the motor to draw fewer amps to do it’s job.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3271 days

#11 posted 12-17-2014 11:07 PM

It’s tough to read Pentz’s site without thinking the guy is a fear-mongering crackpot on an all-day infomercial. Fortunately, the magazines have done enough dust collector reviews and stories to confirm that anything less than a high-end 3+ HP system with sub-micron filtering will do very little to help your air quality.

If you’re spending less than $2000 (excluding 6” duct, etc.) on the dust collector itself—e.g., anything less than a 3HP Oneida or ClearVue cyclone system—just get the minimum that will clear chips and dust from your tools, then buy a good respirator. Anything above and beyond a minimal dust collection system won’t really improve your air quality enough to matter. Skip the disposable dust masks (even the more expensive ones) and get a quality, well-fitted respirator with replaceable P100 filters. Wear it while you’re producing sawdust and for at least half an hour after all the tools are off, assuming you don’t have anything actively circulating the air (like a fan, HVAC, or air cleaner).

I use a HF DC to clear chips and sawdust from my tools but even if I bought a Wynn filter I wouldn’t trust it to keep my lungs clean. The dust collector is too weak to overcome the inertia of wood particles ejected in the opposite direction by the saw blade. Anything less than 3HP can’t capture the fine, invisible dust, and even if it does, most canister filters can’t filter it. The Wynn filter can do sub-micron filtering but not technically to HEPA specifications.

A few magazine articles suggest that some of the higher-end, 3HP and larger systems can capture and contain a good amount of the ultra-fine dust (as measured by an air quality meter), but you’ll never capture all of it—partly because most tools are designed with dust collection as a secondary concern. I think even if I did have a $2000+ dust collection system I’d still wear a respirator.

If you get a system with canister filters, the benefit of a separator or cyclone is that you won’t have to clean or change your filters as often. I’m not sure how effective a cyclone is at containing the particles that are too small to see—the YouTube demonstrations only show the visible particles! :D The downside is that you sacrifice static pressure.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View Grumpymike's profile


2332 posts in 2516 days

#12 posted 12-17-2014 11:18 PM

there is a lot of meaty information on this site about dust collection. I agree that Mr. Pentz is the guru to be listened to.
However, let’s be real here. Pentz’s systems are designed for the commercial shops for the most part and over kill for most of our shops.

I suggest you consider going back to your plan A. Here is why.

Back in the 60’s I used a shop-vac and cleaned up when I was thru working … and then later added dust ports to the machines as they were added to the shop and so on … fast forward …

I now have a HF dust collector (with Winn filter) piped (with 4”PVC from the big box) to the major machines in my shop plus 2 shop-vac type dust collectors.
The HF is pre sorted with a Thein type separator on a 30 gallon drum and the vac’s have the a Vortex separator.
The latest addition (this year) is a Grizzley air cleaner that is mounted to the ceiling.

So, My system that is similar to your plan A works just fine in my shop; it has evolved over several years.

Let’s think a bit here … If you vent your DC outside, you are blowing 4” or 6” of air out of your shop, so if you are moving 600 CFM thru your DC you are putting around 300 cubic feet of heated or cooled air outside your shop, and where do you think the replacement air will come from?? Yep outside, and now you have to pay to heat or cool that incoming air … Our average two car garage is about 400 sq. feet … well you do the math, it adds up to $$$.

In my opinion stick with your original plan, it’s a good solid plan.

(The answer to the math question is that there is somewhere around 3200 cu. ft. airspace in your garage. At 600 CFM it takes 5.33 minutes to completely change the air in your shop. Assuming that you have 8’ ceilings and 400 sq. ft. and a bunch of other stuff. )

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View brtech's profile


1052 posts in 3123 days

#13 posted 12-17-2014 11:35 PM

My shop has the HF 2HP, a Wynn Filter, a Shopvac and a Rikon air cleaner. I do not have the Thein baffle or a Dust Deputy.

I’m sure I’m not getting enough CFM to get clean air, but it’s not bad. I use a respirator with P100 filters when I am doing anything that generates a lot of dust. I use a single 10’ length of flex and move the hose from machine to machine. I’ve looked into hard piping, but I think it would cost too much, and be too much of a hit to airflow for not enough convenience.

I don’t have the baffles or DD because they lower air flow in exchange for making it easier to clean out the sawdust and chips from the DC and vac. I don’t think that is a good tradeoff for me, YMMV.

Someday, I’ll get a 3HP with cyclone, but I’m comfortable with what I have.

View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1458 days

#14 posted 12-18-2014 02:40 AM

Thank you all for giving me some good, solid advice. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments. I’m thinking that for now, I’ll prob be going with my original plan, with the goal of upgrading at some point in time where I have a larger budget and more time to spend in the shop. I’ll also be going with the 3m 7500 series respirator.

I’m a beginner hobbyist without the budget to dump several thousand into DC, so I’ll have to do the best I can with the addition of the respirator mask.

Thanks again for all of the great info.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2135 days

#15 posted 12-18-2014 03:41 AM

A) You are never going to capture all the dust, so don’t expect to. There will still be a bunch floating around

B) Pollution is bad too and we all breathe it everyday. That said, sawdust is dangerous and can be bad for you to breathe in. Don’t freak out though. A cheap 3M respirator is honestly the best protection against airborne dust. Way more effective than any DC setup ever will be. get one of those if you are really concerned. $30 or $40 on amazon and they provide the best protection.

C)I very much agree with putting the actual dc machine outside if at all possible. That way anything that gets through the filter just floats away into the atmosphere. When I do a permanent setup, I will do my best to do this.

D) I think the 2 HP harbor freight with a wynn filter is a good way to do one tool at a time like you plan on doing. If you are going to start doing multiple tools, you might not have enough power. It is more complicated than that, but that basically is it. I could go into static pressure and stuff, but I have no idea what I am talking about. Just leave it at it won’t be enough power for multiple tools and long runs. I almost did the 2 HP HF with the Wynn filter and the separator. Then I realized how dumb it would be to spend $700 or $800 and lots of hours on it when I could just buy a cyclone for double that and it would handle more tools and work better and be premade. If you don’t plan on expanding anytime soon (ha!) you could use that HF setup for a long time and it might be worth it. If you think you might start to setup permanent workstations and ducted runs to multiple tools, I think a prefab cyclone from oneida or penn state clearvue is a better option.

E) Seriously, buy a respirator.

Good Luck

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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