Small-Capacity Dust Collection System

A woodworker with a small, one-man furniture shop gets advice on a dust collection setup for his minimal needs. January 24, 2014

(WOODWEB Member):
I am a one man shop. Basically a hobby, but I build some serious furniture. I need a dust collector and presently have nothing for dust collection (except my lungs). I have considered a 650 CFM bag type collector with a Super Dust Deputy hooked to it, and have also considered a cyclone. I want something that is going to eliminate sawdust and airborne dust. The main dust producers are a Unisaw, 12" planer, router table and a 22-44 drum sander. It will only have one machine at a time hooked to it. Any ideas? My shop is 16' x 26" with a 9' ceiling and plenty of attic space upstairs.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From contributor L:
1100 CFM minimum. With hose losses or filter bag clogging, you will end up with about 600 CFM. A cyclone would fare better.

I hated moving the vacuum from machine to machine. The only way to really eliminate sawdust is to have each machine hooked up all the time. Then all you need to do is pull the gate and flip the DC on. What happens when you are working on the planer and need to do one saw cut? You know what will happen. You won't swap out. Do this a bunch of times a day and you get a lot of sawdust. Trust me. You are lazy, just like the rest of us. Maybe not at first, but you will be.

From contributor J
Any cyclone company that makes particular CFM claims without knowing the details of your duct runs is just pulling meaningless numbers out of the air. How many CFMs of air can you breathe with your mouth open? How about through your nose? Through a snorkel? A straw? A plastic coffee stirrer? The point is that your lungs do not have a static CFM rating, and dust collectors are just the same.

Assuming well-designed ductwork, you probably need a two or three horse collector. I agree with contributor L that a fixed system with blast gates is vastly preferable to a portable collector.

From contributor E:
Eliminating dust is impossible. Controlling it is very doable. I'd get a cyclone. The biggest you can afford and/or fit in shop. Bag collectors suck. Unless it has the canister filter on top and a disposable bag on bottom. I have felt bags on top and bottom and hate them. Very messy to empty.

Do a google search for Bill Pentz. He has loads of info on his site. As stated, manufacturer numbers are under certain conditions. Those conditions are not yours. I don't think you can really get too much suction for the most part. You never know when you might upgrade to bigger machines that'll use the extra suction.

From contributor G:
I have a 1HP, 660 CFM- 2 bag DC for about 4 years now. It's ducted to about 5 locations in a small 500 square foot shop with 4" plastic waste pipe overhead adapted to 4" hose with gates at each station. It doesn't use a lot of power, 750 watts, and I find it acceptable in keeping my shop clean and have no lapses in shutting gates, so that the vacuum is where I'm working only. I added an X-10 remote system for starting and stopping the DC from convenient spots in the shop. I can't see where a larger unit might be better unless the shop is bigger and the ducting is sloppy or leaky.

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