My wife is very allergic to saw dust and I seem to generate quite a bit even
though I use a dust collection system. Do air cleaners in the shop really
help? If so, what should I look for or stay away from?
Yes! I built a "sanding table" from ShopNotes plans, and it doubles
as an air cleaner. It rests on swivel wheels and houses three furnace
filters. The top is pegboard. It contains a 1/4 HP squirrel-cage
If you want one el-cheapo, bungee cord a furnace filter to a box fan
intake side. Be sure to change the filter often, else it will burn
out the fan motor prematurely.
Always use your DC to get the sawdust at its source. I noticed that
pine sawdust gives my nose fits more than other wood types, but ever
since I bought a Dustfoe 88 (mask) no more allergic reactions.
I have a small full time shop that I was having a lot of dust problems
with and part of my improvements was the addition of an air filter. My
opinion is that you start by making sure your at the tool collection is
as good as possible and still throw on an air filter because it won't be
as good as it should be. In my shop I work on a lot of long millwork so
when I do a little touch up hand sanding it can go everywhere. Also my
radial arm saw is a bear to collect from (I tend to avoid using it
whenever possible). But in general stuff slips by the dust collector
here and there.
As far as what to buy, it depends on the air volume in your shop. Most
vendors have suggestions for figuring out what you need, but I found the
information in "Woodshop Dust Control" by Nagyszalanczy to be very good.
The book is twenty dollars well spent. Look closely at the percentage of
particles the vendor claims to filter at sizes like 1 micron. If they
won't spec it, don't buy their product.
I would say though that most home shop dust collection is pretty much in
the chip collection realm. Collectors generally come with 30 micron bags
which will help keep the floor clean, but not your lungs. The new Jet
canister line is pretty nice though and I get good results from mine.
Also if you use a shop vac for collecting from hand sanders, take a good
look at what type of filtering it does. There are models that can take
HEPA filters and those can really cut down on the fine dust in the air.
My old shop vac that was advertised as collecting 99 percent of all dust
would make a small cloud of fine dust out the exaust port.
As a matter of interest, was she really tested for a reaction to saw dust? If
so what kind of wood dust was used?
As stated elsewhere, the sander is the main culprit when in comes to generating
particles that are small enough to stay suspended long enough to migrate
throughout the house. A properly designed sanding table or attaching your sander
to a shop vac with a clean stream filter will all but alleviate the problem.
At one point when I was not doing any woodworking for a few weeks I noticed the
dust build up in the living space (on tables ect) was about the same as when I
was WW. So I bought a large air cleaner to remove general house dust ( and any
fugitive saw dust that made it upstairs) and my asthma and AR were
significantly reduced. Cheers, JG
Besides dust collectors and air filters look for ways that the dust is
entering the living area of your home. Ideally there should be no
connection to your house. have you sealed and weatherstripped the
door to the shop from the house. You should not be using any heat or
airconditioning ducts. If the shop is in the basement you need to
seal gaps in the floor above. Also do you change your clothing before
entering the house and who is doing the wash.
I had a similar problem and have implemented all of the above with
very good results.
Yes...they do work. Look at the Delta and the Jet models plus there are
others all about the same price range. The Delta has or now comes with a
washable electrostatic filter ($50). When I got the Jet, they did not offer
the metal, washable filter but the Delta fit the Jet I got and it works
great. The $50 may seem like a lot for a filter but it's not compared to
the cost of the replaceable filters after a few months.
I have a small shop (12' x 20') and the air cleaner (3 speed) makes quick
work of the airborne dust. No, not perfect but sure was worth the
investment. After you clean the filter a few times, you'll know how
effective it is. Besides, most places have 30 day money back guarantee's if
you don't like the product. If you live near a WW store, go look at them.
One of the magazines had a review and test of them. A couple of brands did
better than some others by a wide margin. I'll try to find it later, but
perhaps someone else has the info. It was just a month or so ago.
Lee Valley and Delta did good, Grizzly did not participate, a couple of
brands did poorly. It will be worth doing some searching for the info.
There is no substitute for grabbing ALL of the dust coming from a tool,
running it through a GOOD dust collection system that SEPARATES the dust
from the air stream, then FILTERS the air coming from the blower. By far
the best way to do this in most small shops is by using a cyclone approach.
Bill Pentz has designed an excellent cyclone separator unit that is very
effective in separating dust, even the fine stuff, from the air stream,
with enough effectiveness that you can use a very fine filter system down
to 0.3 microns to return clean, breatheable air into the room. No need
for a room air cleaner. Just get rid of the dust.
Be careful when shopping for dust collection equipment. The static
pressure and CFM specifications for most "popular" systems are largely
meaningless. Also, a 4-inch hose cannot move enough air to trap the
dust generated by a 10" table saw. Bill Pentz's site lists the CFM
requirements for various types of tools, but you MUST have CFM performance
AT a specific static pressure to have any significance, and the big
importers don't provide that kind of information.
Also be aware that a cyclone must be designed with specific proportions
in order to do what it is supposed to. Few cyclone sellers have that
kind of expertise. Just because it's called a cyclone and looks like
a cyclone doesn't mean it will do an exceptional job of cleaning up the
air in your shop.
See http://cnets.net/~eclectic/woodworking/cyclone/Index.html for more
I am currently manufacturing a cyclone kit as well as a welded steel blower
housing that are both fully compatible with each other and with Bill's
designs. He and I have been collaborating on this project. Contact me
directly for further information. I am not interested in spamming the
group with advertising. More information will be appearing on Bill's
site about my work in the near future.
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