Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

The Shop Dust Storm


I spent many hours in the workshop the last few weeks doing wood working. The table saw and the HB2 router have been making copious quantities of wood chips but also and more serious - wood dust. I have never owned a full size dust collection system; Shame on me.

I have known the hazards for a very long time, but because of the cost and the space required for a four (4) inch piped (or hose) system, I never took that step. I use a large 2 ½ inch hose Shop VAC to pick up the chips, but that does nothing for the dust. I do use the shop vac on tools with the smaller dust ports.

I have noticed a lot more problems and irritation (as I age) from working with wood dust. One of the reason I enjoy metal machining is the almost total lack of dust except for carbon when machining cast iron. There may be some dust but perhaps the cutting oil helps suppress it. Wood on the other hand is very friable.

I have taken up wearing a dust mask when doing wood cutting and have purchased a filter system (still need the mask) for doing sanding and high speed rotary work. It works but doesn’t gather chips and dust off the table saw. The HB2 CNC router is the worst dust machine I own. It is like a Texas dust storm.

I hold the shop vac hose near the HB2 cutter when milling wood. Milling the plastic materials such as Corian™ are not nearly so bad but also should be collected as they are produced. However, the screaming shop vac is no pleasure to be around when running.

So I am at the point with the HB2 router that I really need to invest in a quieter and effectively better dust management system. I have nipped at the edges of dust management but it is time for the main event.

Shop vacs max out around 200-300 CFM. Most are down around 150. The high CFM vacs are the 80-90+ db screamers. I have found a 700 CFM, 4 inch collection system with a one (1) MICRON filtration system. The best part is the sound level is 60db at three (3) feet, about the same as normal conversation level (reasonably quite).

The older bag style sawdust collection systems are usually good to 30 micron filtration, sometimes worse. Newer filters are 2-5 microns. One micron is outstanding. Health reasons demand the 5 micron and less rating as preferable. It’s been proven the smaller particles that remain in the air and can (and do) cause lung problems including cancer. Personal dust masks have become the norm in active wood shops. Check the link again and you can see that 30 microns (30-600) was at one time considered the acceptable limit for sawdust filtration.

The 700 CFM is generally good for only one machine at a time, but that is all I need. I am only one person. I can move the hose. A commercial shop would not make the same choice.

I really want the low noise for the HB2 router. There are runs on that machine that can be four (4) hours long. I don’t want to listen to a screamer running that long. One reason I use the Taig spindle is because it is very low noise. A 60db vacuum would be no worse than a (monotonous) radio playing in the background.

For the table saw and other intermittent tool use, the collector can be turned on and off. In a small shop an on demand system is a much more hearing friendly than a continuous running system.

The need for a good dust and chip collection system is eminent. When I gather the funds and make the purchase, I will provide a user report. I’ve explained why it is needed. I should have done it a long time ago.

UPDATE: The Shop Fox Dust Collector

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