Wet/Dry Vac as a Dust Collector?

I would like to hear some opinions on using a wet/dry vacuum as a dust collector. For many years now I have had no "system", just my kids following behind me. With my newly purchased band saw, there's a lot of very fine saw dust now and I think that a DC of some sort is in order ( especially because I can see this crud floating in the air ). Sears has a 16 gal vac on sale but I'm eyeballing the 20 gal mostly because I HATE to buy too small. This is something that the "boss" and I have been thinking about off and on, so I think a pass in her direction will be caught. Any opinions out there? Thanks in advance, Jon H
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I use a large Rigid vac with a HEPA filter. Does a fine job, although w/o dedicated blast gates swapping hose from machine to machine is a big headache. But for now, does fine. Only complaint is that filter clogs frequently. Suggest you rotate between two so that you always have a clean filter ready to swap out. One day I will have a real DC system..
Note that most shop vac filters do not scrub to 1 micron, the really small stuff that you breath in and gets trapped in your lungs. You will still need to wear proper face mask..

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C Carruth wrote:

<snip>
If you have one of the canister filters (like the CleanSweep) try stretching one leg of an old pair of panty hose over the filter. It will keep the larger debris out of the pleats making it easier to knock the dust off the filter.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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You really need a 1 or 2 HP DC that moves a lot more air volume than a shopvac. Look at PennState or Grizzly, one with a metal prop. I recommend one that can be rewired for 220v. Looking back, I should have got a remote switch for my DC a long time ago, they are great. Bandsaws produce a lot of fine dust. Get a Dustfoe 88 mask for your health. Forget the shopvac unless you want to clean out your car or to clean up a carpet spill.
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JonH wrote:

I started ww with nothing, moved up to a shop vac, then a low-end DC, and hope to soon have a high CFM cyclone. Here's why:
http://cnets.net/~eclectic/woodworking/cyclone /
My mother developed lung problems after she got social-security age. Keeping dust out of the lungs is probably a good idea in my case.
-- Mark
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There are so many threads on this it could keep you busy reading them for the next year. However, in 25 words or less: A shop vac works great for keeping the shop looking clean, however, the real reason for a DC system is to keep dust out of your lungs and a shop vac isn't the best choice for that. [ok, 37 words]
Unfortunately since a shop vac is what, around $50, and a DC system will run you several hundred this isn't what you wanted to hear. Or more accurately, isn't what the boss/tight-end wants to hear.
If you do buy the shop vac a nice addition to it is a poor man's cyclone (metal garbage can with a home-made or bought "cyclone" lid). Again, lots of info out there on how to do this. Spend an hour or two doing a Google search for info.
--
Larry C in Auburn, WA

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Larry C in Auburn, WA wrote:

Larry -- According to this site:
http://cnets.net/~eclectic/woodworking/cyclone /
the cyclone lids do little good. I'm not trying to be a smart a** but before I came across this site I was in the process of building a multi-bag conventional system into the rafters of my garage/shop. The site opened my eyes to the dangers of itsy-bitsy wood dust, and since there is family history of lung problems, doing better than a "stock" 450 CFM DC can do is a good idea IMHO.
A DC that gathers enough CFM from a table saw to get rid of the micro dust will keep a garbage can cyclone scoured.
-- Mark
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Pluswhich, shop vacs are LOUD, to the point of discomfort in a small shop. I've seen some mufflers sold as accessories but don't know if/how well they work. Check out a Grizzly and other catalogs, they sell small, portable DC units for only 2-3 times more than a big shop vac.
-JBB

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J.B. Bobbitt wrote:

<hammering the same point> The problem is the small DCs don't get the real harmful dust. See: http://cnets.net/~eclectic/woodworking/cyclone / </hammering the same point>
-- Mark
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The newest shop vacuums are much less noisey.
I was surprised to find (when I replaced my old 5 gal 1 hp Shop Vac) that all of them now come with built in mufflers and air difusers. I bought a muffler (Rigid fits most others) for my 5 gal and it worked a bit, but still nowhere near as quiet as my 16 gal 5.5 hp Sears shop vaccum. Unless they're housed away from the machine room, a big dust collector is almost as loud. Ear plugs or muffs are still recommended for extended use of most machinery anyway.

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Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to encourage a shop vac. In fact, I tried to steer him towards a DC system for the very reason you site. In the part I wrote that you didn't include in your reply I said a shop vac is good for keeping a shop clean, but not for keeping dust out of your lungs. However, I said IF he did go the shop vac route he should buy or make an imitation cyclone system. It's cheap and one of his concerns was filling up a 16 gal shop vac. A garbage can cyclone works very well for keeping most of the dust/chips out of the shop vac which effectively greatly increases the size of the collection canister.
Hope this clarifies my post.
--
Larry C in Auburn, WA


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Larry C in Auburn, WA wrote:

I have a shop vac and a low-end DC. The point is that for dust generators such as a table saw, the shop vac and the low end DC don't gather the really long-term dangerous dust.
The OP talked about his children in the shop. My children are nearly gone -- one started Army basic training this week, the other has less than 3 years of high school left. When they were younger I wasn't a woodworker. IMO the OP should be aware that "conventional" dust collection methods don't do much regarding the really long term dangerous dust.
Perhaps we're agreeing violently. <g> I admit to being sensitive to dust -- I grew up in a house with a pipe smoker, I worked with asbestos powder as an insulator, my family has a history of breathing problems, I smoked some of the wacky weed in college, and I've smoked tobacco for over 10% of my adult life.
IMO the OP should be aware that sucking up ALL the fine dust is a good idea with kids around his ankles.
-- Mark
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I agree w/ Mark. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, but my folks were chain-smokers. Once air conditioning became a realistic option in cars, they never let us roll the car window down again. And I grew up in the haze of the eastern San Fernando Valley before the Clean Air Act. My personal smoke inhalation during college was limited to 2, ok.... 3... acres, tops.
We need to protect our innocent bystanders.
-JBB
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J.B. Bobbitt wrote:

How did they light 'em? <rim shot>
(Gotta do SOMETHING during Monday Night Football!)

LOL! Nearly had to clean off the monitor!
-- Mark
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Yes, we're agreeing about the difference between a shop vac and of a DC system.
--
Larry C in Auburn, WA

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I am using one now, and I don't recommend it. It gets about 75% of the dust, which is not good enough. And it requires frequent cleaning because the filter is so small. And of course, they are very noisy.
I plan on getting a real DC real soon.
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Sear's newest "value" 16 Gal (5+ HP) is a great shop vac and dust collector when coupled with a cyclone lid and a metal garbage can for a two stage dust collector. Perfect for hooking up to a smaller shop system and/or band saw ... it's almost TOO powerful for my chop saw, before you're ready for a larger system. An ambient air cleaner is a must as well.
What impressed me about the Sears value model is that it had everything I was looking for and the price was right - and it was relatively quiet compared to my old 5 gal Shop Vac - the new models all have built in mufflers (but still test around 90dB, I think).
Get the 1 micron bags instead of replacing the cartridge filter with a Hepa filter, (you use both filters at the same time) it's cheaper and easier to dispose of fine dust.
Also, Sears sells a shop accessory appliance timer, basically you plug it into the wall, your machine into the top and the vac underneath and it will turn the vac on automatically when you start the machine and run a few secs after you shut off the machine to clear the hose. Not as quiet as a Fein, but about 1/5th the price.
Hope this helps.
Wayne "JonH" <> wrote in message

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ShopVac makes a fine poorman's dust collector. You'll probably want to get a few adapters etc. for easier setup. See any of the better catalogues for fittings that work with your hose size.
Mike
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Well, I must thank all of you for enlightening me as to the dangers of the dust in my shop. I had no idea that this was such a hazard. I need to kick myself in the head ( very hard ) because, in my line of work, we are always being told/taught/trained about working safely. All too often this is not carried home and that's where many people do get hurt. I have been fitted ( at work ) for a North respirator with correct cartridges plus dust filters that fit on the outside of the cartridges. I guess that I'll be putting this on from now on. Until I scrape together more $$$ AND find some space, I'll go ahead and buy the Sears vac as a means to "keep my shop clean". If nothing else, the vac will keep the "secondary dust" ( that which would be kicked up and scattered about ) to a minimum. AND I'LL KEEP THE KIDS ( 8 and 10 yrs old ) OUT OF THE AREA! Once again, I thank you for setting me straight. Jon

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===================================Hard to disagree with keeping the "kids" out BUT I AM GLAD that I did not do that.... !
I have 3 Children ..now all in their 30's the two boys have there own shops and my daughter keeps me busy in my retirement furnishing her home.. lol...
Looking back at the EXTREME amount of plain old fashion pleasure I have had with the "kids" in my shop
There is absolutely no way I would NOT do it again...
Today I know my grandkids can spend time with me in my shop because I use 2 Dust Collectors, and two air filters and have rigged my shop vac (and enclosed it in its own "box" to cut down noise) to fuction like a central vac system with those little orange blast gates and clear pipe sold at the borg...
This entire process took years to set up and I honestly did it NOT for health reasons but more to have a clean place to excape to and relax ...BUT now that the Grand Children are at the age where they like to HELP" gramps in the shop I am glad I did....
BTW: I changed the filters last week in the air cleaners and already the new filters have a light covering of brown dust.... (working with walnut making tables etc for the daughter)
Tell me they do not work...
Bob Griffiths
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