Shop Air Filtration

Advice on an air filter setup for capturing fine dust that escapes the dust collection system. December 24, 2009

My woodworking shop measures 30' x 48' x 12' and I have no air filtration at the moment. I've been to several other shops that have air filters and comparatively, they're immaculate! I'm tired of hacking and coughing from ambient dust. I've spoken with a JDS rep and he recommended (2) JDS 8-12 units. I've also spent time looking at Jet and Delta products. I really need to buy something and soon, but I want to get the best bang for my buck as well. Does anyone have opinions on the various brands or the appropriate model for my shop size?

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Forum)
From contributor A:
You didn't mention any dust collection. The first step is central dust collection, properly filtered, hooked up to every piece of equipment you can, with blast gates to keep efficiency high. Oneida is my preferred supplier of small to medium shop dust collection. They'll do the engineering if you send them a floor plan and related info. First, collect at the source, then filter the air if you need to. Most shops that have good central collection don't need filtered air except when hand sanding, and a good sander with dedicated vacuum will take care of that, such as Festool or Fein.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for helping. I do have a central collection system that picks up a lot of the machine dust, but I also do a lot of hand sanding to clean up cross grain, etc. from my wide belt. Additionally, I just have "extra" dust from my table saw and other dust creating tools that doesn't get picked up by the collector.

From contributor B:
Most dust collectors do some good. Some dust collectors do a lot of good, but some dust escapes from most. If your DC exhausts into your shop, it is only as good as the return filter and if it is not down to 1 micron you are just re-circulating very fine dust, which is the most harmful. Air filtration is necessary but the dust in the air is not captured until it gets to the filter and you are still breathing it. I know you won't like to hear it but some sort of mask or filtered air breathing system is the only way to keep your lungs really clean. 1 micron filtration is what you should try for. My shop is clean in the AM as I let the air filter run for 3 hours after I leave. As soon as I turn on a machine in the morning I put on a dust mask.

From the original questioner:
Just to clear things up, I have a dust collector that is well within the necessary CFM capabilities for the tools and size of my shop. I sweep up regularly and do my best to keep my shop and tools clean of dust. I wear either a high-grade dust mask or a respirator when sanding and working with chemicals. All of the necessary precautions are taken to preserve my health and I'm well aware of the potential consequences. The reason I'm looking for an air filtration unit is to take the ambient dust out of the air so it's not ending up on my tools, lumber, and floor where it will get kicked up back into the air when I'm not wearing a mask. I appreciate the sage advice that's been posted, but the information that I'm looking for is what air filtration unit to purchase to make my already fairly clean shop even cleaner and safer for me, my workers, and my visitors.

From contributor C:
I've got two of the large size Jet filter units. I have had no problems with them. I let them run for four hours after I'm gone. Letting them run does make a big difference. Add a piano hinge to the side door. This makes it so much easier to remove the sock filters when cleaning. Attach the remote near the unit so it still works. Then you won't have to hunt for it, as I have done more than once.

From contributor D:
I've got two of the JDS Airtech 2000 units on either end of the shop - one by the machining area and one by the sanding area. I have them plugged into ceiling outlets and use the pull chain when I need them on. I think they are pretty well made units that function well, but are certainly pricey. I've also got a 7-1/2 h.p. cyclone that will suck your socks off if you get too close, but as you said there is always ambient dust that escapes. The JDS units take care of that quickly. I've also got one of the small Jet units, (had it from my first shop), but it's far too small and underpowered to do much good.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the tips. Both Jet and JDS are at the top of my list right now. I've heard a lot about poor shipping on the Jet machines, but no other problems. As for the JDS it's all been good except for them being very loud when they're cranked up. It seems like using at least 2 units is the better way to go so that's certainly the route I leaning toward. Price is the issue at hand, but as has been mentioned in this forum many times, can anyone put a price on health? Thanks for the input and more is welcome.

From contributor D:
The JDS units are pretty noisy when cranked up, but I very rarely use the second speed. The units work great at the low speed. The high speed is good when you have forgotten to turn on your D.C. It is still noisy, but tolerable.

Second, if you have a little patience, you can find them used and save yourself a bundle. I bought mine for $200 each. Since it's pretty much just a furnace fan, there's not much to go wrong.

From contributor E:
You could also look into a downdraft sanding table if you have the room. It will take care of your sanding dust and you can leave it run to act as an air filter when doing other machining. I built my own. It is the same height as my table saw. I use it as an extension table when ripping sheets of plywood.

From contributor D:
The best places I've found to keep an eye on are Craigslist and ebay, but any local want ads are also handy. If you keep an eye out and are patient you can find a lot out there. My latest purchase is an industrial 3h.p. tilting spindle shaper. It is over twenty years old but looks and runs like new. It came with over $1000 worth of cutters. I paid $2000, and it makes my new Powermatic 5h.p. shaper (retail $2900+) look like a toy.

From contributor F:
I bought a downdraft table. This filters the air but also stops a lot of dust from going into the air while you are sanding, routing, etc.