Dust collection newbie- what should I do for my 12' by 12' basement shop area

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Forum topic by johndeereb posted 02-23-2015 06:23 AM 2047 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 1237 days

02-23-2015 06:23 AM

I’ve been reading for hours about dust collecting and dust hazards etc etc. I found and that has so much information I could be reading for days. I did a lot of research but no answers. What do you recommend I do for my small shop area in our basement. It is basically a corner of the basement, enclosed by 3 walls, but the one side is open wire connecting to the rest of the house. The stairwell is about 8 feet from the shop area and the door is kept open for heat from our wood stove on the other end of basement. I’ve just been using a craftsman shopVAC and point it at the source when sawing etc. and vacuuming up the dust created from whatever. I have sliding miter saw I plan on making some sort of dust hood for. A planer which has a dust port. Also the usual variety of planes, hand saws, drills etc. I don’t usually do large amounts of planing and sawing. I’m not building commercial cabinets, mostly smaller projects.

Anyhow, what do you suggest for dust collection? The best idea I have is to buy a Clearvue mini cyclone to attach to the VAC. Should I have some kind of air cleaner running all the time? I just don’t know what the norm is or what is healthy. I don’t want to go overboard unless it’s really necessary. I read one thing here, and then another elsewhere. I though some woodworking pros here could help me out!

41 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2516 days

#1 posted 02-23-2015 12:15 PM

In your case, that you might be doing is letting the finest dust (the most harmful, healthwise) get into the living section. Your SCMS is almost impossible to control, even with a world class DC. So I have a couple of suggestions, and it will be interesting to see the opinions of others. I would move the SCMS somewhere else, garage, shed, wherever it won’t be an issue. Consider enclosing the shop area completely. You might be able to heat an area that size with a small electric heater, and it will close the dust off from the living quarters. DC is needed, and you may be a little cramped but maybe a small to medium DC (to me, that’s 1.5 to 2 HP unit with at least an 11” impeller) with very tight filtration is needed, but knowing a little more about the remaining power tools would be useful. An ambient air cleaner would also serve a purpose here, but a small shop built unit using a salvaged squirrel cage blower and furnace filters would be fine. I would go back to the Pentz site and go through the FAQ section. He does have a huge amount of techno-babble there, the FAQ section sort of gives you a leg up on what you’re after.

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

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 2701 days

#2 posted 02-23-2015 05:05 PM

I have a 1.5 horse delta collector connected through a Thien baffle to my drum sander and planer. Most other tools I use a broom and a shop vac with a long hose.

For an ambient air cleaner I use a 20” box fan with a 20×20 good quality furnace filter on the “suck” side. I usually vacuume the filter after about 6-8 hours of shop time. After about 4-5 “cleanings” it gets replaced.

My setup is not the best it could be, but with a dust mask I’m not coughing and sneezing either.

View johndeereb's profile


61 posts in 1237 days

#3 posted 02-23-2015 06:19 PM

Thanks for the replies. Unfortnately the only out building we have (other than a chicken coop) is a shed in poor shape, no electric. Building something outside just isn’t in the budget as we moved into a new house (built in ‘69) and there are other more important things to renovate first.

In the warm months, I do take the SCMS outside for anything bigger than a few cuts.

I have thought about enclosing the area however it wouldn’t get any heat then. I guess I could use a small heater. Our basement is 80 or warmer in the winter so I would miss that.

I just got an email about this: A smaller size air filter. Any thoughts on this? I found some reviews and they thought highly of it.

The SCMS is the biggest source of dust. I have been clamping the workpiece and aiming the shopvac right at the source and it gets pretty much of it. I don’t see much coming out of the planer at all when hooked up to the VAC. It has a very powerful fan of it’s own. Those are the main two tools I use other than a belt sander with a bag on it. Drills and hand planes.

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3765 days

#4 posted 02-23-2015 06:58 PM

I guess the question is… Are you fighting fine dust everywhere…. Is it getting into the house (other than on your shoes)??

It can be that the filter in the shop vac is filtering as well or even better than the bags on larger dust collectors for not redistributing fine dust.

A Cyclone, can keep you from filling your shop vac so fast, and slow the rate of plugging the filter…. but it isn’t really improving your dust collection (how well you capture dust at teh source.)

A ceiling air cleaner – will collect fine dust but quite slowly… kind of how a dehumidifier will SLOWLY draw moisture out of the air.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2516 days

#5 posted 02-23-2015 07:16 PM

By the time the dust gets caught by the air cleaner, it’s already infiltrated wherever else it’s going to go (including your lungs). That’s not to say they aren’t useful, and that unit is a pretty good deal, it’s just that I don’t see it as a solution to what I think you’re after.

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

View johndeereb's profile


61 posts in 1237 days

#6 posted 02-23-2015 07:47 PM

To be honest, I wasn’t really worried about dust in the air much until I read the billpentz website haha.

I had wanted to buy a cyclone, just so my shopvac would stay sucking strong and not clogging so quick. I planned on rigging up a hose dedicated to just the miter saw that I could quickly connect the VAC to when I used it. The planner already has a hook-up ready. I haven’t noticed dust in the house, I leave my shoes down there.

I’ve never really seen a lot of dust in the air except rarely when I did a poor job of collection at the miter. After the planer I don’t see anything in the air at all. Things are pretty clean all around the shop area as I clean the floor and bench one in a while as I work.

I’m mainly worried about very fine dust like billpentz site says about. Dust I supposedly can’t see and me and the kids are breathing. Is that all hype or should I really start purchasing expensive equipment for a hobby? I know everything has some danger. The sun’s rays, mold etc. I guess I just don’t know where to draw the line in what is good for me to do and what is overkill.

View bbasiaga's profile


1234 posts in 2018 days

#7 posted 02-23-2015 07:57 PM

I would say that you don’t want to breathe find wood dust if you don’t have to. Scientists know that some fine particles like asbestos can cause major lung problems and cancer. Not sure there has been much direct data on wood dust, though I could be wrong. Note that MDF and plywood dust are definitely bad for you due to their synthetic components. So maybe take that stuff outside to cut.

You face the same dillema every hobbyist faces. Do you need a $5-10k dust collection system to safely enjoy the hobby? I can’t afford that, so I use the HF dust collector I have, with a Hepa cartridge filter upgrade, and wear a dust mask on top of that.

I would consider sealing in your work area with a cheap stud wall and some sheet rock. Ceiling too. Then put in the air filter and get as nice a dust collector as you can fit in there. That’ll localize the problem. And wear a mask in there while you are working. Space heaters are cheap, just keep it clean so it doesn’t light up on you when covered in wood dust! Or run a small heat duct from a nearby header off your furnace.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2516 days

#8 posted 02-23-2015 08:59 PM

You can tell if you have the fine dust around, eventually it will build a coating on undisturbed surfaces. You can also see it in bright sunlight, like coming through a window (if there is one). One last thing, the vac would have captured at least some of it, did you see any flour in the vac debris? Unless you use all hand tools, it’s pretty hard to do woodworking without creating at least some of the fine dust. My concern in your case is the heated air floating up the stairwell. These particles are slow to settle, and move with the smaller air movement…..hence the though of closing off the area.

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

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1422 days

#9 posted 02-24-2015 03:14 AM

For a space heater, use an oil-filled radiator type heater. No exposed heating elements to ignite dust, and no fans to clog up. Just be sure to dust it off regularly.

View johndeereb's profile


61 posts in 1237 days

#10 posted 02-24-2015 03:58 AM

There is some dust on surfaces, but the whole basement has always been dusty. The wood stove makes dust and mess bring wood in and all. There is one window I could open in the summer.

The vac does get very fine dust and it cakes the filter, especially with the planer.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3094 days

#11 posted 02-24-2015 04:39 AM

To help with the vac’s filter getting clogged, you can either get a mini cyclone or use filter bags.

If you get a bigger dust collector and can vent outside, that will be your best cheap option (assuming you also have an air inlet to replace the exhausted dusty air).

If you’ve been getting by fine but are suddenly concerned about breathing dusty air, just get a good respirator with replaceable cartridge filters. The 3M 6000 and 7000 series are popular. If you have facial hair and can’t get a good seal, you’ll need a respirator with an air pump to create positive pressure, but those are pricey.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View johndeereb's profile


61 posts in 1237 days

#12 posted 02-24-2015 05:15 AM

how to folks vent ouside? Make a dryer vent type thing?

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61 posts in 1237 days

#13 posted 02-24-2015 08:31 AM

So after a ton more reading, I think the best things for me to do are:

For now, take my miter saw & planer out to the decking which isn’t too hard. There is a sliding glass door in our basement. Just use the miter saw indoors for occasional small cuts.

Buy a HEPA filter for my shopvac so when I use that it’s not sending under 1 micron dust into the air.

-Close off the shop

-Possibly buy a dust collector, which I have been overwhelmed finding answers on.

My first question, is could I just turn the dust collector on with the hose above the work area? Would that do the same as an air cleaner? I was considering buying an air cleaner, but what I’ve read is the most harmful dust is .5 micron, and all the air cleaners have a 1 micron filter at best. Am I missing something and they are still helpful?

My other question is all the dust collectors only filter to 5 microns at best. I am reading now that some people put on additional filters. It’s all a lot to learn. Can anyone point me in the direction of a dust collector/ filter combo that is about 500 or less, and will filter below 1 micron? Thanks for all the help so far, I really appreciate it.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2516 days

#14 posted 02-24-2015 12:13 PM

Several companies offer DC’s with 1 micron filtration, PSI and Grizzly are 2 I can think if right off the top of my head. An alternative would be to buy a used one and upgrade it to tighter filtration, canister or bag. Depending on what vac you have, look for a Gore Cleanstream filter (at lost of the box stores for about $35). Figuring out which one you need may (or not) be an exercise in measuring and checking the dimensions. I have read that some folks use their DC as an air cleaner, often having one or 2 openings in the duct at ceiling lever and just letting it run. One thing about this is they are a lot noisier than a dedicated ambient air cleaner (by a huge margin). It seems most of the commercial air cleaners do only go down to 1 micron, but they are still useful. Many of these filters build a dust cake on the surface that tightens the filtration up after they have been used a short while. Yes, you want to protect against the finer particles, but that doesn’t mean ignoring the larger ones. Capturing anything is better than capturing nothing. Somewhere around here is a post about this air cleaner at a good price that may be just the right size for your shop. BTW, I think your plan has a lot of merit, and will go a long way toward what you want.

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

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2300 days

#15 posted 02-24-2015 12:36 PM

I own the Grizzly air cleaner Fred Hargis posted a link to above. It does a good job. My shop space is larger than yours, about 10’ x 30’, so it should perform equally if not better in your space. After a cleanup from using the power tools, I turn it on, set the timer and let it do it’s thing. Doing this I’ve noticed a lot less dust settling on horizontal surfaces which makes finishing less of a hassle since I don’t have a dedicated finishing area

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

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