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Dust Collection System

For too long i was using an old Rigid shop vac with to clean up the wood shavings and chops that was produced from my work it was loud, and obviously clogged quickly.


I then put the $40 down (expensive i know) for a home depot 5-gallon bucket top that separates the large chunks and shavings of wood so they do not clog the shop vac filter. It did a pretty good job. I stored the shop vac underneath the table saw and kept the 5 gallon bucket right next to it. The lid on the 5 gallon bucket does not secure at all the the top of the bucket, so i had to duct tape it, and duct tape the bucket to the steel beam holding up my house in the basement. The 1 major problem was that whenever i needed the shop vac, i had to lift or tilt the cast iron table saw, which was dangerous and tiresome. the 1 minor problem (but could be major down the line) was the volume. It was LOUD and it was 6 feet from where I was working, so headphones were a must. I didnt like wearing headphone if i didnt need to, i liked hearing any yelling or screaming coming from upstairs just incase there was an incident that I would need to respond to.

So I looked into a dust collector. About 40 days into my search, i found one in my price range. I had to travel 50 minutes to get it in New Jersey, but for $60, I got a Woodtek 1/2 hp with a decent 4” flexible piping, and some crappier black flexible piping. SO much quieter it was, loved it! But there was still a problem of the hose length and constant dis-connects and re-connects, and hoses lying on ground posses a tripping hazard in my very compact shop. So i pondered for a while the least expensive way to run 4” piping. I know i wanted to move the Woodtek to the other side of the basement and plug it into an outlet on its own circuit breaker (well it was being shared with the fridge) and run some kind of piping to the other side of the basement.

My basement was split into two parts separated by the stairs in the middle. On the one side was my shop, were I do all my work. On the other side was food storage and random item storage and wood drying storage. Well my wife decided to let me have some more of that area. So she cleared off 1 of 5 food storage shelves and i moved a ton of stuff upstairs into the garage, and garage attic. Then got cheap tall shelves for $20 and re-arranged the area to hold more wood. I have several oak, red oak and some kind of maple logs outside awaiting to be cut down with the chain saw so that I turn them into bowls. after I cut them down, they can be stored on one of the three shelves to dry out, or turn them while wet, then let dry. Anyways, I also made room for the dust collector. First, i found schedule 20 PVC pipe which runs about $10 for 20’ at depot, when compared to about $20 for 20’ of schedule 40 PVC. and the couplings were cheap as well. over a 4 week period, i got a system hooked up and mounted to the 2x10’s in the ceiling with twine and screws. I made a system with 9 drops, and i figured I would put all the items that require the dust collection on the one side of the basement, and on the other side would be any storage or stand alone tables on the other side. After I finally got the piping installed, I moved the dust collector to the otherside of the basement and connected it.

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So, the first test i did with the new system was with the Delta 6” Benchtop jointer. the jointer was at the end of the first run. When I was testing it, the dust collector didn’t have enought power to bring the large shavings all the way up the flex pipe without my wiggling it to get the wood shavings to make it all the way up. Next time I used it was on to the ground to test pickup up large shavings off the lathe. From what I can recall they were picked up ok. Then a week later I went to use the drill press, which is the last gate at the furtherest run-off from the dust collector. It BARELY worked. All the dust was sucked up, but only the lightest shavings would be pulled into the 4” tube, only to settle about 4 - 6 inches in. Soooooo… maybe the dust collector wasn’t powerful to enough with all 9 blast gates and possible air leaks. So i researched the collector is a little more detail, and I found out it only pulls over 400 cfm. So, i thought about upgrading. I sold the Woodtek for $80 and got the Harbor Freight 70 gallon 2hp dust collector. I got it with the 25% off coupon, so I only ended up paying something like $150, minus the $80 sale, paid $70 :) man does this thing SUCK! (in a good way). First I setup the Harbor freight. It wasnt too hard with the limited instructions. anyone with a bit of hand one skill can do it. All pieces were there. Then I went to disconnect the woodtek, and you’ll never guess what I found…. A CLOG! It appears as if the orignal shavings from the jointer were so large, they got caught on the metal intake grid, and then more saw dust and shavings got caught on that piece and it grew until it got so big that it blocked airflow. But, I already had put together the HF DC, and it worked fine on the 20amp breaker, So i kept it. Bear in mind, i did upgrade the 5 micron outfeed bag to a Powertec 1 micron felt bag so i can save my lungs!

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Nick Valenza