Dust Control Initiative – Take 3

As noted in a previous post, with the demise of my Shop-Vac (again) I’ve once again decided to improve dust collection in the workshop. The shop continues to be a dust-bowl despite my previous attempts.

Current semi-functional system

  • a 1 hp Penn State Industries (PSI) dust collector collected to a 12 foot long, 4″ diameter overhead PVC duct with blast-gates/drops for the tablesaw, router table, lathe and bandsaw. 1 micron cloth bas filters. I also have a garbage-can based 2-stage separator in front of the collector. PSI unit is way too weak for this system and doesn’t really work. 1 micro cloth bas filters. Very hard to move the unit around since my shop is very tight on floor space and oddly laid-out.
  • a JDS air cleaner mounted on the ceiling. Works absolutely GREAT!
  • a Shop-Vac that I hook to portable tools and sometimes to the jointer. I seem to get about 1 year per Shop-Vac before they break.

Due to the nature of the low beams in the ceiling of my basement shop and the strange “Z” shaped floor-plan, a single central system does not seem practical. So, I’ve decided to try and come up with a “hybrid” distributed system.

Plan for the “new” distributed system

First, I don’t want to spend a lot of money, but I am tired of spending money on things that don’t work just because they were more reasonably priced. So, the stuff that I buy from now on for dust-collection will be “better” brands/stuff (like my JDS air-cleaner) so that I won’t be back in this position again in 2 year. Sorry PSI, sorry Shop-Vac.

The new system will evolve through time, but I am going to try to control the dust one “machine-station” at a time, rather than trying to solve the problem in one swoop.

Here is the new plan:

  1. I will reduce my 1 hp PSI dust collector to serving only the table-saw and bandsaw which will both be located within 5 feet of the collector. The PSI 1 hp unit has just not proven to be strong enough to work with the overhead PVC ducts that I installed a couple of years ago. It has been nothing but trouble, and in fairness to the PSI unit, it was not really designed to handle a system like that. I think that if I strip the PSI unit down to these 2 machines (with blast gates) located within 5 -feet, it will work fine. I will leave my Long-ranger remote installed on the PSI unit also. I will remove the 2-stage garbage can collector so that the unit is more mobile and can be easily wheeled out to service other machines, particularly the lathe and jointer. The bags will need more clean-out, but that is the price that I will have to pay.
  2. I have purchased a Fein Turbo I shop vac as a replacement for the old Shop-Vac unit. The Fein is outstanding in terms of suction, noise (quiet) and fit and finish. It is worth the money. Also, the Fein has a 16′ long, very flexible, hose (1 1/4″) that can reach most of the shop since I now have located the Fein centrally. This will allow me to attached the Fein to all hand-held tools (random orbit sander, hand-held router, etc), plus the router table, workbench and use it for general pick-up without moving it. Also the Fein has a 1-micron filter and a vacuum bag, so it is well suited for sanding work. I will not use the Fein for general shop-vac tasks. I will use it for saw-dust only. I will get a cheap vac for general non-workshop cleanup, etc. If you are going to buy a Fein, check out Walter Tool Company, they have great prices on Fein equipment.
  3. My JDS air-cleaner will remain as-is. It is a great unit and is doing its job well. One note, I’ve noticed that I can clean the intake filter on the JDS without removing the filter by running the hose from the Fein over it while it is off. It is as good as new in seconds. Since the Fein filters down to 1-micron, I am not sending the dust back into the air either.
  4. I am trying to get Shop-Vac to repair/replace my old Shop-Vac since its less than 1-year old (but I do not have the receipt). If I managed to get it fixed, I will dedicate it with a HEPA filter to the “sanding station” in my shop. The sanding station includes the Delta BOSS spindle sander and the Delta 12″ disc sander. Both machines are plumbed for 2 1/4″ hoses, so it will be easy to semi-permanently affix the Shop-Vac for this purposes. I need to have a “fast and easy” solution for the sanding station, because otherwise I get lazy and use the sanders with no dust collection attached because “I only have a little bit to do”….so it must be an always there solution.
  5. Eventually, the PSI unit will be replaced with a 1 1/2 or a 2 hp unit and then the PSI will move to the other end of the shop and be dedicated to the jointer only….no hurry on this for now.
  6. I will rig up a 2 1/4″ line off of the 4″ hose to the tablesaw (from the PSI unit) to allow for dust collect through my blade guard as well as from underneath. Since I use a zero-clearance insert in the saw, a lot of sawdust remains up top.

About mattsanf

Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania). Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics. Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.

Posted on January 8, 2007, in Tools and Shop. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. How do you control the static electric charge build up in the overhead dust collection duct work? As the saw dust flows through the PVC duct it tends to build up a static electric charge. The potential problem is fire or worse explosion. Consider when the dust collector is running in the air stream is saw dust (fuel), air (oxygen) and all that is needed is ignition. A static electric spark can produce the needed ignition.
    Most of the commercial dust collection systems use metal duct work to prevent the static electric charge build up.
    I have been using the Delta ShopMaster AP400 Dust Collector in my woodshop. I have a review of the dust collector at my blog http://www.wood-working-hobby.com. It is a two bag single stage dust collector. In my shop I don’t have a dust collection duct work. My woodshop isn’t that big. I connect the dust collector to each tool individually.
    Keep us posted on how your dust collection system evolves.

  2. Hi Toni,
    The concept that static in PVC home-woodshop systems can cause an explosion is basically a myth.
    See: http://tinyurl.com/3x6ty9
    A fire or explosion is more likely to be caused by a piece of metal (like a screw) being picked up by the vacuum and causing a spark on the metal impeller. Many people “ground” their PVC systems not to prevent explosion, but to prevent nuisance static shocks to the user. I have done this. It is easy to run a copper wire through the PVC pipe to a ground.
    I am not an expert, so anyone that follows my advice does so at their own risk! But, you are more likely to be hit by lighting than have a problem with static explosion in your dust collector.

  3. Wayne Duchscherer

    Why all the hassle of dust control and what works and what doesn’t? I built my own cyclone from the Woodcraft plans magazine many years ago with a 1 1/2 hp Penn state blower.Did everything myself.Very simple and extremely effecient in my 2 car shopThe most expensive pieces were the motor and the spiral pipe then the metal blast gates but you don’t need to spend alot and you’ll never be sorry. The only mod I made was to cut a clear plexi long narrow window slot in the garbage can so I could see when the can was full.NEver regretted building this particlar one.Rarely ever see more then a small dustpan of debris after a full day in the shop with planers,jointers,routers and everything being used.Do it right the first time and it’s be your last investment

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