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Dust Control

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After many years of faithful use, my beloved Craftsman 6  hp, shop-vac has sucked its last shaving.  Its last request was that I take yet another shop-vac as my little helper around the shop and not digress to the 'broom' for any longer than grieving would require.  That was two weeks ago, and now, I'm ready.  Ready to get out there and see what new low pressure horizons lie ahead. 

Seriously though, the loss of the vac has been tough.  My shop has never looked so unkept.  I've been looking at new vacs here and there and have been kicking around the idea of installing a central dust collecting system.  What I've discovered is that I need a new vac sooner than the time it will take to do all the research.  I hate to buy anything and wish later that I had done more homework.

So, I'm asking the all knowing list for recommendations on current brands of shop vacs or dust collecting equipment appropriate for a small but busy rod shop?  Has anyone purchased one of the Grizzly dust collectors or recently purchased a new shop-vac?  Anyone not happy with vac equipment?  Any tips?  (Jim Harris)

    A one hp Grizzly dust collector should serve you well, but buy or make a first stage barrel to collect the bulk of your shavings in before they get to the impeller blades or you'll keep clogging up.  Good article in one of the old Fine Woodworking magazines.  Some hardware store in GA had plans in their catalog for making one on the cheap.  (Brian Creek)

      In addition to making the system two-stage as Brian suggested, make sure your dust collection system is grounded, that is, the collection piping is grounded so you don't get static creating a spark igniting the dust and shavings.   If you use plastic pipe, run many grounding wires.  (George Bourke)

        PS: Sawdust is about as explosive as grain in grain elevators and it seems one of them goes sky-high every year.  Just put a little flour on your fingertips and toss it into a candle flame.  (George Bourke)

    I have the Rigid 5 HP shop vac and the Rigid portable air filtration set up. While not a large unit, the air filter works like a charm. I think you will need a good shop vac as well. I think these two are a cheaper alternative to a central system. The 5 HP vac works great for the mill and roughing beveler. It sucks up shavings without clogging. I bought both at the Home Depot.  (Bob Maulucci)

      Are these systems vented to the outside of your shop or do they exhaust back into the room?  (Mike Canazon)

        I let mine exhaust  into the room. I thought about exhausting outdoors or putting the unit in an enclosure outside, but then realized that there would be enormous heat loss from my shop in the winter and A/C  loss in summer. The negative pressure would pull in air from the outside. It would be like a 1 1/2 hp air pump on my shop.  (Steve Weiss)

    For me a two stage system makes the most since & works well. The first stage collects the big chunks and the second collects the dust in a filter. I have a set of plans for a two stage system around here someplace from an old "Wood Worker's Magazine" article. Any shop vac could be used for the final stage instead of the power house suggested unit located between the first and second stage. (Don Schneider)

    I just purchased the Grizzly G8027 dust collector ( the smallest one with an upper and lower bag) in January.  My shop vac has been relegated to the garage.  With a 3" hose it will suck up just about anything that gets in the way.  MUCH quieter than a Shop vac when running with a lathe or when sanding by hand and using it to pull off the dust.  I have gotten very sensitive to wood dust over the years and this thing is a life saver.

    I had built one years ago from old clothes dryer parts and a fiber drum, but it was scrapped several moves ago.  If you are seeking to run an entire shop with multiple tools running at once, this one would be too small (low CFM), but for 1 tool at a time in a small shop it works great.   They have what they call floor sweeps, which is a trap door at floor level and is designed to sweep stuff over to it and it sucks it up.  I also vacuum with mine but keep the pets and small children away.  (Kurt Clement)

    I've been using one of the Grizzly dust collectors for about 7 years now and it works great.  I have the 2 bag, 110 volt version.  I had to buy the .5 micron bags for its original intended use, because I was cutting and routing a lot of balsa for a model airplane kit business I used to own.  I set up the shop using the 6" flexible hose, "T" and "Y" fittings, and about a half a dozen "gates" to hook up to my individual machines.  It didn't catch all the dust, but it caught about 95% of it.  I ended up also building a ceiling mounted "fine" dust catcher, made out of a couple of really fine furnace filters, and a squirrel cage fan unit.  I'd say that caught about 99% of the rest of the real fine balsa dust.  Balsa dust is really nasty stuff, in that it's so fine, and light, and it gets everywhere.  I ended up also wearing a respirator whenever I was cutting and routing the wood, otherwise I'd be coughing for a week, and blowing out balsa nasties in my handkerchief at night.  Cane and the woods we use for rods shouldn't create that fine of a dust, so you shouldn't need to go to those extremes.  I also have a "T" drop with a gate and a bench top collector, so I can sweep the crud on my bench right into the mouth.  Don't need a dust pan....  I've got the same setup to one corner of my work shop floor, so all I have to do is sweep the floor mess over to the collector.  No need to bend over if you don't have to.  The nice thing about the flexible hose, if you ever rearrange your shop like I just did, you just move the hose.  With the solid pipes, it makes it a bit more difficult.  If you do go with a dust collector, make sure you run bare copper wire through the ducting from the dust collector to each individual machine, so that you ground out the static build up in the hoses or pipes that you use.  It's pretty amazing how much static electricity can build up in those hoses or pipes.  I've heard stories of dust explosions and fires caused by the static electricity build up.  If you have any other questions, let me know.  (Mark Wendt)

    You can also mount the final filter outside if you wish. I can't find the article so I went to the Wood Magazine web site. They do not have that back issue but you can get a pretty good idea of how it works, see a picture of it and order the plans. What's that saying about chrome & trailer hitches?  The 750 CFM should be more than you will ever need. The expenses in these thing are the blower & final filter.

    Wood Magazine http://www.woodmagazine.com/

    Idea Shop 3 - Dust-Defying Cyclone, Nov 97, Issue 100 Page 54 Look under  downloadable plans:  Cyclone Dust  Collector Plan. $7.95 http://store.yahoo.com/woodstore/cycduscol.html

    In issue: April 1997, Issue No. 96, Page 58, Article "Lowering the boom on dust" tells you how the different systems work. I do have a copy of this one.  (Don Schneider)

    In outfitting my "Bamboo Shop" I purchased a Sears on the Wall vac. It is made by Shop Vac for Sears. It goes on the wall and has a very long hose (~40 ft) with the standard tools. It seems to do the job and lets one clean my whole shop area without moving the vac - a big plus for me.  (Frank Paul)


I've spent most of the past week rearranging my shop so that a couple more workbenches could be added.  I literally took everything in the shop, except the lathe, outside and dusted it off, then wiped it down with a damp rag, before bringing it back in.  Threw out two huge garbage bags full of junk, much of it belonging to my better half.  My shop looks so nice right now that I'm thinking of taking some pictures for future reference.  [;-)]

Therein lies the problem.  I could not believe there was so much dust.  Filled up the Shop Vac a couple of times.  Top shelves had more dust than I could ever imagine.

Here's the question...  Do any of you have suggestions for keeping the dust semi-controlled? I'm very familiar with woodworking dust removal systems, but in my tiny 6.5'x18' shop that's a little like a $100 saddle on a $5 horse.  I'm pretty diligent about using the Shop Vac, and I have one of the small hepa filter arrangements from Wally World near the varnishing area.  It seems to me that almost everything related to bamboo rodmaking creates clouds and clouds of dust,  from check splitting to polishing out the varnish.  (Harry Boyd)

    Just smack your pant leg or your shirt sleeve and look to see how many dust particles fly off. Or just move your light bulb that you work under.

    My trade is Heating and Air and I think the best thing you can do is use an electronic air cleaner attached to your furnace, and then put a Exhaust Fan on the opposite side of shop, then all dust will collect on opposite side of your shop.  (Dave Henney)

    I too have suffered from a bad dust problem in my shop. My breathing has gotten so bad that I had to stop making rods for nearly a month. I previously had bought an air cleaning system for $250.00 with the hope that it would take care of the problem, wrong! What I've finally done is to first clean the entire shop, then I put doors on the front of both of my workbench's. This has really helped to keep the dust from settling on all of my shelves and tools, being as the shelves are behind the doors. I also added shelves and now keep almost nothing on the top of my workbench's. Nearly everything is stored behind the doors so the dust don't end up settling on the tools and materials that were perviously on top of the benches. I can actually now see the top of my workbench and can easily clean it with little effort. I've also stopped all sanding in my shop. If I need to sand anything, I now take it outside, no matter how cold it is. Haven't quite figured out! what I'll do in February when it'll be 30 below?  (Jim Bureau)

    Here’s a funny thing. I work out of my garage to make my rods. It is a wood shop with sanders, table saw etc. My wife is a fantastic tole painter. I taught here how to use all of the tools, this way I do not have to do it.  Dust is a way of life here. One way I deal with it is I open up the garage door and get out the leaf blower. I set that sucker on tornado power and have at it. It looks like desert storm with all the crap that comes flying out of my garage. I let the dust settle and do it again. When my wife comes in and starts up her belt sander I just walk out. The last thing I want to hear when I am planning is Whrrrrrrrrrrr! The crazy part is even if no one is working in the shop everything gets covered with dust anyway.

    Thank God for the drain tube for finishing.  (Adam Vigil)


I have considered purchasing one of the muffler systems for shop vac or vac systems. They claim a 50% reduction in noise. Has anyone used one & found it up to claims? Any place to get a discounted one?  (Chad Wigham)

    A trivial point, but when considering the cost recall that a 50% reduction is only 6 dB. In other words, if your vac is like mine, and is ~95 dB SPL (very loud), it will only drop to ~89 dB SPL (almost as loud).  (not a whole lot on the loudness scale for the money.)  If it dropped it by 90% (~20 dB to 76 dB SPL), that would make a real difference. (David Smith)

    I had a Shop Vac brand and it was so loud I'm sure OSHA would not let you work there. I solved it by buying a Fein  from Woodcraft when they were on sale. They are quite quiet to start with.  (Dave Norling)

    I have one. It seems like it is just as loud without it attached!  (Bob Maulucci)

    I use a muffler, Shop Vac brand, on the same. Never put a dB meter to it, but 50% seems about right. It no longer screams in my ears. This is a small one, just about a 45 degree elbow, about 6-8" long overall; not the one that reaches down almost to the floor. A little loss of suction power I think, not much. Makes the vac sound tolerable for a short period.  (Rick Funcik)

    These posts on shop vac mufflers got me to thinking.  What is the best, quietest, shop vac?  I abandoned my old Montgomery and Ward shop vac when I oved to Colorado.  Even with ear plugs the old one was very loud and disruptive. It was literally a pain to use.

    My basement finishing, including rod shop, is close to being completed and I'm in the market for a new vac.  Does anyone have suggestions for a new model that has sufficient power and still allows one to hear themselves think.  (Mark Cole)

      IMHO all shop vacs make to much noise. If you are doing the finishing touches on your shop anyway, is it possible to mount your vac in another room/space, run the hose through the wall along with a remote switch?  (Don Schneider)

        I would think you'd want it in another room anyway, regardless of noise because the exhaust does stir up any dust.  (Unless, of course, your workshop is in a Class 100 clean room.  (George Bourke)

        It would be possible but, I'm looking for something more portable that I can use to clean the car and move around as needed.  (Mark Cole)

          Could it fit both your quietness criteria and your portability criteria just to have the Shop Vac hose hooked up to PVC that runs into your shop and the  Vac turned on and plugged into an X-10 outlet.  Then, for shop work you can control it from another room (your shop) with any of the cheap X-10 controllers and for portability you unplug the Shop Vac and pull the hose off the PVC, what could be easier???  (George Bourke)

      As a woodworker as well as a rod maker, I can tell you that some of the best and quietest shop vacuums made are by Fein.  They are available  at  Woodcrafters  and  other  woodworking stores.  The mini-turbo wet/dry vac sells for $149.95  with accessories and its noise level is advertised at 63 db at 3.5 feet.  This model filters down to 1 micron.  The next up model, the Turbo II Vac includes an electronic switch that automatically turns on the vacuum when you turn your power tool on.  It sells for $229.95 plus accessories.  The larger model is quoted at 58 decibels.  I attended a bandsaw demonstration that had a  14" Delta  bandsaw plugged into the turbo I.  Several people in the front row placed their hand on the vacuum to be sure that it was running as you could not hear it above the bandsaw.  Both models   can    occasionally   be   found   on  sale.   Watch AmazonTools.com.

      These vacuums will do a great job of keeping your shop clean without a lot of noise, but my experience is that a shop vac is the wrong tool to pick up bamboo plane shavings.  These large balls of twisted shavings will quickly clog a small diameter hose.  They are better picked up with a dust pan.  (John Sabina)


It didn't use to bother me much, but these days it's driving me nuts -- the dust.  I think most of the problem comes from using an orbital sander, but lots of other activities seem to produce dust I guess.   Anyway I've had it and seem to always be vacuuming with not much result.  So I'm thinking of getting one of those ceiling mounted air filtration units. Woodcraft has a Jet model at a pricey 200 bucks.  Will this kind of unit solve the problem?   Anyone with some experience or recommendations.  (Bob Milardo)

    Hate to say it, but I'm not so sure the ceiling mounted dust collector will help much.  I put one in my shop about a year ago, and I still constantly vacuum, wipe, and cuss the dust bunnies.  Mine is a $300 Delta model.  The Jet may be more effective.  (Harry Boyd)

    While it may help, the best thing to do is control the dust at the source. Check out the Grizzly catalogue, they have many kinds of dust collectors for different power tools and some that work for sanding areas. A small dust collector will work better than a shop vac for these kinds of collection systems, they are designed for the larger piping.  (John Channer)

    I have a Jet and a Delta 1 HP dust collector on each side of the shop that collect dust directly from the tools. I also have a Rigid air filter that runs in the shop most of the time. I make a lot of saw dust, and it helps but does not cure the problem. I still sweep up pretty regularly. I think Jeff Schaeffer has one of those Jet units hanging in his shop, maybe he will chime in.  (Bob Maulucci)

      Todd Talsma's brother-in-law is a professional sawdust maker.  The shop where he works has dust collection that exhausts into two feedlot-sized silos through 4' diameter main ducts.  They still have to sweep up all the time.  Dust  is, well, dusty!  (Brian Creek)

    I have a ceiling unit AND a dust collector.  Both help, neither is perfect by any stretch.  Still have to wear a dust mask, dust myself off when I leave the shop, sweep/vacuum often etc.  (Neil Savage)

    The Jet has made a difference- I usually run it whenever I am sawing taper jigs or sanding reel seats on the lathe. And if I remember to turn it on, a couple hours before dipping then off to let everything settle. Two other tricks: 1) installation of HEPA filters on both my ShopVacs and 2) regular changes of the furnace filters. I spray the furnace filters with PAM no-stick cooking spray and it makes a huge difference in how much junk they pick up.

    The only dust problem I have not solved is how to keep SWMBO and the teen age daughters from letting the three dogs down into the basement every time I am right in the middle of the final dip on a rod that has to be ready in time for a fundraiser. The miserable curs head right under my feet as I am seated in front of the dip tank and begin fighting. Then they race to their kennels and pull their blankets out and parade around with a lot of head shaking and tug of war. And let us not forget about the eau de skunk that was added Saturday night, and seems to get worse every day.

    Most rodmakers polish out dust, I polish out fur.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    To remove the 90% of the dust from a room every 10 minutes you need to filter the room air 14 times an hour. For example: a room that is 10' x 10' x 8' requires a filtration rate of 187 CFM (800x14/60). If the unit produces this volume of filtration, it is worth the money to relieve the discomfort.  (Lee Koeser)

    I put in a JDS cleaner a couple of months ago. I haven't had the opportunity to test it severely, but I can tell you that it has reduced the visible dust in the air, as seen through streams of light, etc.  (Larry Blan)

    I have the Jet unit in question and absolutely love it. It works great.

    I don't have individual devices at each shop installation so I simply turn the Jet on and use a regular shop vac. My shop vac gets all the heavy stuff and the Jet gets all the airborne stuff. I've been working with MDF lately and if you've ever used it, you know how much powder it leaves. The Jet has left my shop clear of the powder that usually deposits the next day.

    By the way, I don't have mine ceiling mounted but have it sitting on a table. I'm going to devise a rolling closet of sorts which will allow me to store the unit against the wall in my "shop" (garage) and let me roll it out when needed. The closet will let me store stuff or even hang rods to dry.  (Jim Lowe)


I now am the proud owner of a dust collector. Since I have gotten it I have been reading of the dangers they pose, mostly static. Does anyone know where I can get some information to safely set up a dust collection system?  (Rich Jezioro)

    Before getting too concerned about the static electricity and explosion issue check out this link.

    I think you have to sign up to read it but there is a free trial period.  There you will also find several articles on setting up a system.  (Rick Hodges)

      If you have, or have access to "Fine Woodworking" it was in issue #153.  (Neil Savage)

    Everything I've read talks about dust explosions a la wheat flour processing plants. BUT, no one can cite an example of this EVER happening in a home sawdust collection system.  If you're like me, and wear suspenders WITH your belt, you can drill a tiny hole at each end of each pipe and thread a bare copper wire in one end of each section, along the inside and out the other end. Knot both ends so the interior wire doesn't curl and foul the flow of dust and leave a foot or so dangling. As you connect the sections, connect the pigtails, then connect the one at the end to a ground.

    Don't permanently fasten your sections, as that HEIGHTENS the likelihood that you'l get a blockage somewhere in the line! I've not had one in the 3 yrs or so it's been running, but there's always that chance.

    I was too cheap to use the metal piping, which I find is outrageously expensive, and was advised to get the 1/4" thick 4" black ABS waste pipe instead of PVC - the extra thickness is apparently a foam which deadens the sound of "waste" exiting the house, so everybody doesn't do an Archie Bunker-like double take every time the toilet flushes. I was told this by a shop teacher who said that otherwise the little cut-offs whizzing through sound like ricocheting bullets in the rest of the house.

    You can also go to here to get a pretty comprehensive overview of the topic. You needn't take ALL his advice, but like the NY Times, it's "nice to know it's all there".  (Art Port)

    BTW, unless you bought the  $20,000  model,  with  the angstrom-sized pores, you'll also hear a lot about how the dust that gets THROUGH the filter bags is the stuff that'll do you in anyway, but what-the-hell, we do what we can, right?

      I don't know about you folks, but my dust collector doesn't get it all anyway.  It does help a lot though.  (Neil Savage)

      That's exactly how I did it.

      Some ideas:

      There are grounding kits available but due to their ridiculous cost, I used the copper wire that is normally used for the "invisible fences" for dogs, about #18. Stripped off the insulation (easy) with a knife and wired 'er up exactly like Rich.

      Lacking the height in the crawl space adjacent to the shop, the dust collector had to go in the shop itself, which is directly underneath the den (all noisemaking activities must stop at 9:00 PM when her movies begin).  I wanted to come up with a way to keep down the DC noise when I am in the shop.  Built an enclosure from MDF (cheap and heavy, good for sound deadening) with a full height door.  Removed the casters from th DC and installed them on the cabinet.  In the door, I made a frame for a standard 24 x 24" HVAC filter, so the air has a route for escape.  This filters (most) the exiting air and hopefully traps what the filter bag misses. Seems to work.  

      Also added the remote control. Quickly found that I would not walk across the room to turn the DC on and off for small cuts (woodworking), and thus it did no good. The little remote was about $30 on eBay and works great.  BTW, when I first got it, I would setttle down in the den after shop work, with it in my pocket.  Would click and turn on the DC downstairs, the wife would say "What's that"? I would quikly turn it off and reply that I heard nothing.  Drove her nuts for a few nights........ and you can guess the rest........  (Carey Mitchell)

        Here's a pretty impressive video on a home made separator using a garbage can .. (Ron Hossack)

          I bought a small cyclone collector lid which fits on a five gallon bucket from Woodcraft.  Cost was less than $30, shipped.  I've been quite impressed.  Sure helps keep the shop vac filter from clogging.  (Harry Boyd)

            A heavy duty box fan and a matching household HVAC filter makes an economical filter for small dust particles.  Just turn the fan on and let it suck the filter up against the cage of the fan on the intake side.  A heavy duty fan with a steel cage is required.  The junkie fans WalMart sells are down right disposable.  The motor would probably burn out from the additional load or the plastic cage would collapse into the fan.  I picked up an old box fan at the flea market for $10 several years ago.  You can spend as much as you like on the filters.  The air cleaning efficiency of this high tech system is totally dependent on the quality of the filter.  (David Bolin)

            Woodcraft and others also sell a bigger lid that fits a 30 gallon metal trash can.  It's designed to work with a dust collector, in case you didn't get a cyclone model.  All the big stuff falls in the can and the dust goes to the collector.  (Neil Savage)

            I've seen them at woodcraft but this is a true cyclonic action and pretty cheap to build ...   (Ron Hossack)

          That is not a dust collector, it is a cyclonic separator.  Works as advertised, too.

          Back when I was in the toner business I had to figure out how to keep a clean and healthy shop while vacuuming lots of particles ranging from 2 to .1 microns. I used  Sears shop vacuums costing $125 and put a filter in it costing $280. Then I got a small commercial version of the cyclonic separator and found I could get by with just the after market goretex vacuum filters available for $30 +/-. I am having a little difficulty discerning exactly how the underside of the lid in the video is configured, but it sure looks cheap to make.

          I did a little checking and found that someone is selling one very similar to mine on the dreaded ebay. Selling now a lot cheaper than what I paid. If interested check out this auction. (Steve Shelton)

            Here's a pic ... scroll down. (Ron Hossack)

              Now I understand it  completely. Looks even better than I thought initially. Love the price on putting something like this together.  (Steve Shelton)

    In the wood working industry you don't usually hear about explosion because the resultant fire stays within the collection tube, at least for a while,  from the stories I have heard, I envision a sound like a jet engine. All to often the shop is burn to the ground, but these shops are small compared to a silo explosion so the public is not aware of them. This should be a very real concern.

    The industry experts that I have talked with STRONGLY discourage the use of plastic tubing, such as ABS, PVC or poly styrene, due to static electricity build up. All seem to agree that short sections of flexible plastic to connect machinery probably don't pose a great risk. All seem to recommend the use of steel tubing that is grounded regularly, and even with steel tubing many installers encourage the use of these expensive grounding kits. At least once every few years I read about a shop lost to dust related fires in industry publication.

    I would encourage you not to discount the risk, it is very real.

    Now in reality, I have two portable type dust collectors operating regularly on the 10' hose that comes with them, and have never had a problem, thought from time to time I have seen signs of static electricity, in which case I shut them down for a few minutes. I don't think bamboo shavings are the hazard actual dust from a sander, saw, or shaper might be.

    I think a greater risk might be rags saturated with finishes or solvents getting sucked up and causing spontaneous ignition later in the day or evening, another regular cause of shop loss. We have even had a few high rise fires caused by saturated rags, or paper towels.

    You might Google Norfab Ducting and see what you can find out there.  (Greg Shockley)

      FWIW, I regularly get static shocks from my shop vacuum hose, and it has a wire in it.  (Neil Savage)


My “shop” is a small utility shed and doesn’t really warrant a full size dust collection system.  In the past I have used a small shop vac to suck up whatever I needed to and swept up the rest.  Well, I burned up the shop vac and now I’m needing a new one.  Is there a particular one that works better for sucking up small particles like cork dust and saw dust?  I’m guessing I burned up the motor in the other because of the fine particles but I’m not sure.  (Greg Reeves)

    The new Shop Vac models that have a bag and filter would be much better.  They are yellow and black.  Much quieter too!  (Scott Grady)

    I use this one and it works quite well.

    I can't bring myself to shop at Home Depot, personal reasons... Lowes Kobalt brands are as good as anything HD has to offer... and they have SERVICE!. This is just a lower end, but powerful vac. Others have more options, but I don't see the need.

    The only problems I've ever encountered are long splintered pieces, which have a tendency to hang up in the hose. The bags are efficient enough to prevent a lot of bypass material (dust) getting through, and there's a secondary filter to prevent burning up the motor. Mine has lasted several years.  (Mike St. Clair)

    I use a Ridgid (Home Depot Brand) shop vac for my mill and for cork dust. I use the HEPA filter and then I use filter bags also. The bags collect almost all of the particles. They are made for cold ashes, dust and fine particles. Anything that makes it through the bag gets caught in the HEPA 0.3 micron filter. The HEPA filter is a little pricey but it lasts a long time when used with the bags.  (Jeff Fultz)

    For the last 15 years I have used my Sears Craftsman 5HP 16 gallon Shop Vac on construction job sites and the shop.  I've replaced the filter maybe 3 times and the electrical plug twice and it just keeps going.  (Doug Alexander)

      I'll second what Doug says. I'm a carpenter during the day and have used Craftsmen shop vacs for the last 26 years. I burned up one doing remodeling work sucking up plaster dust and I've killed one more since I've been making rods. The larger ones have pleated paper filters that are easy to knock the dust out of and it's pretty easy to tell when they need cleaning, plus they don't cost a fortune.  (John Channer)

        Although I detest SEARS, I have to say the only shop vac I have ever had that was worth a damn was a wedding gift 7 years ago, the 5hp 16 gallon craftsman vac that will suck drywall of the walls.  It really is a great vacuum.  I install pools in the summer, and use it to clean filters, sand, wet leaves and in the shop for dust, etc.  It is only now, 7 years later that I need a new filter.  I think it costs something like $22.00, which is a bit less than some of the other models I have seen.  (Don Peet)

          If you look around in the area of the filters for Shop Vac's, you will find that there are pre-filters and filters for dry wall dust. These will keep you from burning up the Vac's. There are also Pre-Filters that are a porus sheet of paper like material that if you put it over the filter and secure it with a big rubber band will make it very easy to clean the filters, even the pleated ones. These sheets are much cheaper than the filters, but can also be washed out carefully and reused several times. I haven't bought a filter in years using these. I have one sheet left and probably will need to buy a new pack of three next year. My biggest problem is finding where I stored the other two from a Three-Pack when I have to replace the one on the Shop-Vac.  (Dick Fuhrman)

        I have had a 16 gal. Craftsman for about 30 years and it's still going strong.  The only down side is it's awful noisy.  I wear "ear muffs" when I use it since my hearing isn't too good anymore anyway.  I do wonder about quality now though, mine is "made in USA and I'm 99% sure they are made offshore now...  I usually don't buy the service contract since it's mainly a money maker for Sears, but I might be inclined to get one on a shop vac today.  (Neil Savage)

          I have a noisy Sears, earmuffs when using. When using it with a router or other power machine simultaneously it's ear plugs and ear muffs.

          It's bad enough with my wife complaining about my hearing loss without making it worse.  (Henry Mitchell)

              I had a big, noisy Craftsman and replaced it a few years ago with a small, quiet Fein.  I usually don't buy top-of-the-line anything (I'm cheap) but I made an exception in this case & its a quality tool I use all around the house.  You don't need to buy the expensive Fein bags; the Shop Vac brand fit the Fein just fine.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

                I've been at woodworking shows where they're used heavily and it's funny to watch guys in the front row of a demo reach out and touch the Fein to see if it's really running! You shouldn't even use the words Fein and Shop Vac or Craftsman in the same sentence, they're so different!

                I've pondered hard and long about getting one, but the cheap part of me is still outweighing the quality part, so I ain't got one yet. But I see the day a-comin'! Prob USE the damn thing a lot more often, too!  (Art Port)

    Consider installing a cyclone system between the shop vac and the beveller/saw dust maker.  The cyclone system traps, at a guess 95%+ of all the saw dust. This never gets as far as the shop vac to jam up the filter/motor..... so it runs a lot more efficiently and with a lot less mess, and the air that you breathe will have a lot less in it.

    Oneida Air systems is worth a look, and the wood shop supply stores sell a simpler version that works very well also. The extra link between the cyclone system and shop vac allows for it to be further away from you and helps cut the noise a bit.  (Peter Jones)

      You can always do a homemade one that works outstanding.  See here.  (Ron Hossack)


Most dust problems can be controlled by using positive air pressure with your dip/drain system.  Most of the big box stores have relatively inexpensive filtered air purifiers that can be ported into your system.  By blowing filtered (dust free) air into your system it prevents dust from being pulled in.  Start it up before you uncap your varnish tube.

Or, if your ingenious, you can construct one from an air conditioner filter a square the size of a muffin(computer) fan which are cheap.  (Ralph Tuttle)

    No dust problems.  I built a 4' X 8', 10' tall room in my shop, put a high quality dust filter in it and the dust bunnies and specs disappeared.  It's SUPPOSED to be pretty much air tight, but I did find a spider on a rod the day after I dipped it... I HATE SPIDERS!!!   ALL SPIDERS SHOULD BE DEAD!!!  If it had been a snake on the varnish, no problem, could have picked it right off of there, but a SPIDER!!!

    By the way, if you come to my shop, do NOT joke around by doing something like throwing a spider at me.  Harry, Dennis, Mark, and a couple of others were in the shop one day.  Harry spots a spider.  With a cigarette in hand and a couple of other guys smoking, I doused about a third of the front room in the shop with paint thinner trying to kill the spider.  If you throw one on me, there will be an instant reaction that I would not take under normal circumstances!!!  (Bob Nunley)

      All that work and you couldn't get rid of those itty-bitty 8-legged things?  The paint thinner incident was pretty funny though...  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

      Spiders, huh?  If you are ever in our part of California, you should never visit my workshop.  The electricity is a bit dodgy, so I run no more than one power tool at once which means there is no dust collection.  Leads me to refer to my workshop as the "California Dustbowl."  What does that have to do with spiders?  Well, we have so many in our area that the workshop often looks like a bad Halloween decoration project with gobs of dust hanging from webs all over the place.  The result is that I use a finishing method that is unaffected by either dust or spiders or flies, etc.  Works for an amateur, but the unfortunate part is that it takes too much time and fussing for a professional.  It involves Gorilla Glue, so everyone can assume I have lost my mind, even though the finish looks good.  (Tim Anderson)

        So Tim, what is your finishing method "unaffected by either dust or spiders"?  (Grant Adkins)

          I know I should not admit this heretical fact, but the finish is rubbed-on Gorilla Glue.  Please, nobody should try gobbing Gorilla Glue on a blank thinking it will produce anything other than a horrible mess.  I have developed a procedure  for rubbing-on very small quantities to achieve very thin coats and the final finish is many coats.  Each coat sets up hard in 2-3 hours, but immediately upon application is dry enough so that no dust or bugs will stick.  So, after application, I hang the sections up in the workshop and can apply another coat after about 3 hours.  (Tim Anderson)

            And the thinner is . . . (?)  (Steve Yasgur)

              No thinner.  Simply straight from the plastic bottle.  (Tim Anderson)


My rodmaking space is a room in my home (Manstown) which also doubles as a living space.  I am in need of a quality dust extraction system.  Even though I hook up the shop vac to my JW Beveler, or jerry-rig the shop vac  when using the lathe, dust gets everywhere.  Is there a decent portable system out there?  And, looking at Festool dust extractors -- are they just glorified shop vacs?  I'm not too worried about expense -- my health is worth more than just saving a few dollars.  And, yes, I wear a good quality dust filter mask.  (Walt Hammerick)

    A good dust collector, much like a good vacuum, will get most but not all of the dust.  You can put up one of those filtered air fans, and that'll take out some more of the dust.  But there's only so much dust they'll collect.  There's plenty of operations we do by hand that generate dust, from planing to sanding, where a vacuum or dust collector isn't running.  (Mark Wendt)

      One approach to handle this is to build a thin box with one side being pegboard. A vacuum port on a narrow edge gives you a downdraft which removes dust  when sanding.  Adjust the size to your needs.  Internal supports may be necessary, depending on your use and size.  (Dave Burley)

      About 2 years ago we refitted our sculpture studio here at school. We installed a new vacuum system from Oneida. The engineer/contractor who did the job suggested I get rid of my two secondary filters I had hanging from the studio ceiling. The had double filters and a squirrel cage fan. The engineer said that he had received several reports and papers suggesting that they were not all they were cracked up to be. It seems that they help to keep particles floating around in the air much longer allowing for the inhalation of the particles. We took them down and only use the Oneida system and our dust problem, while still there are considerably lessened. I am pleased with what we decided to go with. I have no financial motive in saying this. The system and refit cost us quite a bit but we have a much healthier studio environment for our students now. I kept one of the squirrel cage fans from the one filter to use in my next heat treating oven. I may be wrong about all this and the engineer who did the refit gained nothing by having us remove the filters.  (Phil Crangi)

    There are smaller dust collection systems such as this one.

    That can handle my surface planer and every other wood working machine except my lathe times. I prefer 1,000+ cfm but space isn't such an issue for me.  (Rich Jezioro)

      Dust control also includes the "small stuff", the dust that stays in the air and then settles on everything.  I use a Air cleaning system in addition to regular dust collection.  I think a lot of JDS, they are efficient and priced right.  You just hang it from the ceiling.  It circulates the air in the room and cleans it.  Down to just a few microns.  (Doug Hall)

        Regarding dust "down to a few microns": Given the choice, from a health point of view, down to 1 micron is better. I'd consider 1 micron mandatory for anyone with asthma or other chronic lung disease. Five microns is small enough that it can still get past our biological filters and down into your lungs.  (Henry Mitchell)

    In a living area, I suggest any dust redistributor you get has a 1 micron filter. These are available from filter manufacturers , looks like felt and in many cases get better with use.  Below 5 micron dust is the bad stuff your lungs can't cough up.  If it at all possible, locate you dust collector outside to avoid the dust and as importantly the noise..   Harbor freight has the least expensive, and works well.  (Dave Burley)

    The other 'Big' name in quality dust vac systems is Fein, or if you really want to go overboard, check out Oneida dust extraction systems.  (Jim Sency)

    I've found a good aide to dust collection.

    Duct tape a good quality A/C filter to the back side of a  $9.95 Wal-Mart box fan.  It's amazing how much dust it will eliminate from the shop.

    Not a solution by itself, but a great aide to whatever collection system you use.  (John Dotson)


 

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