I was "making my rounds" one Saturday and stopped at a local
HVAC contractor. This contractor has a display set up in
the back of their shop that consists of a large heavy metal
container with no top and partially open on the front. A
nice man with a big truck comes each week and empties it so
the contractor can display new items for the following week.
Anyways, this week there on display were two brand new
blowers. One was sitting atop a tangled pile of black iron
pipe and the other was poised next to it and off to the left
slightly a kilter so as to draw your eye to it. I don't
know who set up this display but it certainly caught my eye.
Some people have called this "dumpster diving". This isn't
dumpster diving as they were both there on top by the front
of the opening. I prefer to call it "dumpster reaching".
My attempt at getting a blower for naught didn't work, so I bought one on
Ebay, plus a variable speed switch (from "greatsam" total $125). The
squirrel cage fan turned out about 5 times bigger than I had expected, but
it moves a lot of air! There was (hopefully still is) a site decribing my
box, but I lost the url. My wooden box is 15Wx24Lx20H, and has dual
filters on each side (20x24, one each regular=cheap and
Filtrete=expensive). It works beautifully, but it is big.
Did a Google search: I got something like this from this seller, plus the
variable speed switch from him. He had great support when the wiring
instructions weren't clear to me:
(sorry about the wrap)
I have no affiliation with this guy other than as a satisfied customer.
Before you do anything irreversible, I recommend that you spend some time on
Bill Pentz's web site at:
I know the link contains the word "cyclone", but there is much more information
there than just about cyclones.
Wichita, KS USA
sorry.. we beat my original post to death and I thought everyone had
read it and was tired of it.. *g*
I'm getting back into wood working after a lot of years away from it..
working in a 2 car garage that is still shared with wife & laundry
machines, so I have about 2/3 of it..
no heavy stuff yet like jointer or planer, and won't be adding them
for quite a while.. (we hope to sell the house and move to a more
I use 1 RAS, CMS, shopsmith mostly for drilling and routing, and small
power tools like drills, biscuit jointer, etc..
Besides 2 shop vacs, I'm not using any DC at all.. I did just get the
old portable swamp cooler out of the shed and I run it (blowing out
the garage door) when ever I'm making dust...
If I add a jointer or planer, I'll also add a cyclone type separator
to the system.. right now, even the space a DC takes up is a
If anyone reads this far down, I will probably get flamed for saying this,
I find my DC almost useless on my TS and CMS. It really only works well on
my router table, jointer, and planner. If you don't have those tools, I
think you would be wasting your space and money on a DC. (I don't know about
a RAS, as I don't have one)
On the whole, I find my air cleaner a much better investment than my DC.
I'm actually thinking more of the shopsmith and router table..
I've tried using the shop vac and building hoods and stuff for the RAS
and CMS and they just seem to spread the mess...
It's amazing how much a good shop vac near the router bit on the SS
(think drill press) keeps the dust and chips down, so I'm thinking a
DC would really work well there...
Kind of a new experience, TRYING to buy something that I know sucks..
The RAS is a really tough one, because something that works at all
when you 1st turn it on becomes almost useless as soon as you slide
the saw away from it on a cut..
A DC moves much larger volumes of air, at somewhat slower speeds, than a
shop vac. If your saw(s) can direct any portion of their chips/dust
towards a hood, or a plenum, then the DC will/should be a big improvement.
CMS is a challenge, however, unless you can move LOTS of air. The tool
wasn't really designed for chip collection, and I don't know how it could
be seriously changed for that, without turning into a RAS. There's a
fellow posts here, handle of Rumpty, who seems to be the world's RAS
expert. I'd bet a Google search would dig up some info.
Just changing the pitch and volume of the scream of the shopvac is a MAJOR
improvement in my enjoyment of the hobby.
We had a pro shop with several dust collectors dedicated to tools and each
tool requires specific solutions. I found a 3 HP dust collector wasn't
enough for the table saw. We tried everything. The final solution was
actually a smaller dust collector and using an overhead guard to cover the
blade. We kept thinking bigger is better but found that smarter wins. The
chop saw was an adventure in itself. It took months to get it right.
We wound up building a box around the back of the saw and the sides come
forward to the front fences on both sides. At the front to the right and
left of the saw are two sliding doors. When the saw is at 90 degrees the
doors are closed, when the saw is set for miters we have to move the doors
to clear the saw. We are using a 2 horsepower DC with a hose to the box and
a hose under the table. It collects almost everything. We can use this saw
for hours without dust escaping.
OK. The RAS, the CMS, the biscuit jointer, the routing and drill press
functions all produce larger chips, as well as 'fines'. The chips are what
messes up the shop, and have to be dragged out and dumped regularly. The
'fines' are what drifts everywhere, causes your breathing and allergy
issues, and means more work for whoever does the cleaning and dusting in
the house. You need to take care of both. Your gear produces all the same
stuff that bigger machines do, but maybe not quite so quickly.
If you buy a HF DC at about $150, consider that you are buying the
beginnings of a kit. You will want to replace the lower bag with a heavy
plastic bag, and the upper with either a filter (see the Bill Pentz site
that others have recommended), or with a better, 2 micron or better, bag
($30 and up). This deals with the 'fines'.
The chips are best dealt with using a trash can 'cyclone' seperator. These
can be assembled from purchased parts, or plumbing stuff from the hardware
store and scrap plywood or MDF. The one I finished yesterday was a
Rubbermaid Commercial trash can (*), two 4" S&D sweep 90's, and a 4" toilet
flange, and a 24" round of subflooring plywood. Hooked up to the 1.5 HP
DC, (**) there was NO visible collection of stuff in the plastic bag, after
3" of chips in the trash can. I'm planning to add a 2.5" port next week,
to handle the router table plumbing I've had for a couple of years.
Budget another $50 to $75 for piping and flex tube, clamps, hangers, caulk
flue sealers, etc. Like any other plumbing project, it will take three
trips to the supply house at a minimum.
Information here on the wReck was very helpful in putting my system
together - much better than most of the magazine articles I've read over
the past several years. Thanks, folks!
(*) Rubbermaid seems to believe that here is where the profitable portion
of the woodworking market lies.
(**) I bought a Delta 50-850, from the local Rockler retail site. They are
right near my home, and are really much easier to deal with, if something
should go wrong. Harbor Freight is a 40 mile drive, across a bridge, and
an uncertain 'customer experience'. Besides, Delta Grey color coordinates
with the drum in (*). And I got a discount for Delta Days.
sorry, but I don't think they allow ram diesel owners in the wreck...
I ordered the DC and starter kit last night... another $210 ding on
the ol' credit card...
It would be cheaper and more effective to get one of those trolls from
the dodge group to just walk by and inhale once a day..
Realizing you are cramped for space, I'm going to comment without regards to
space. The biggest space saver is no dust collector at all. Since you want
one, you think its important enough to allocate some space for it.
Ok here goes. You will have the best space utilization if you put the dust
collector in a corner or against the wall some where and put a network in
overhead. If you go with portable and drag it around, it will have a much
bigger impact on your space utilization.
Now having said that, I like the idea of getting something substantial 1 1/2
hp or larger. My dealer actually tried to convince me to settle on a 1 1/2
hp unit, even though I made it known I could pay for the 2 hp. I bought the
2 hp (Jet) and have never, ever regretted it. As a dust collector fills up
and filters get dirty, your collection efficiency goes down (like a vacuum
cleaner does when the bag gets full). A larger unit has more reserve and
provides enough capacity even when its degraded by partially full bags and
Getting control of the dust in my shop made a huge difference in my
enjoyment of every minute I spend there. Now I need to figure out how to
control the mess when I get going with my No. 8 hand plane. :-)
I'm planing on something like Ken Vaughn has in his shop, which is
larger than mine.. 3 or 4' hoses on each "station" that connect to his
Doing measurements this morning, and figuring that a DC is about 40
gal water heater size, I have an empty wall area behind the shopsmith
that is about 12' or so from the RAS & CMS... it's sort of up for
grabs which needs DC more, the RAS or the shopsmith, since I do a lot
of long edge routing on the SS..
I think that if I have the DC available to the SS & RAS with blast
gates (see, I did learn something here), that most of my ]large] dust
concern will be met..
Then, the next project will be to build a filtration system..
Bottom line is still whether the $190 2 hp, 1 micron bag
or the $150 2 hp 30, micron bag would be better for my needs..
I'm kind of leaning towards the $190, after looking at grizzly and a
few other pages that folks here recommended, because it seems that
even though it's HF, it looks like my size machine for what I'm
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