Dust in a workshop is always a problem. There is no simple, cheap, or easy solution. There is no system on the market within a moderate price range that can hope to give you 100% total and perfect dust free working conditions.
All one can hope to do is to collect as much as possible, say 80% of the dust, to give oneself a reasonably dust free working environment. I would like to share with you some simple and inexpensive ideas that might help you.
This particular model is supplied with a cloth dust collecting bag. Remove the bag and attach the vacuum cleaner hose. Just use duct tape. (See following two pictures)
You may need to purchase a second length of hose so that the vac sits out of the way under your workbench. Make sure the hose is kept to the rear of the working area. Attach some light weight string or wire from the hose to a pole or wall hook to keep the hose above and away from the working table
Belt sanders are usually supplied with a cloth dust collecting bag. Remove the bag and attach a vac hose using duct tape. Use a length of pipe or broom handle and tape the hose just above head height to give you a clear working table.
Most band saws can be adapted so that the fine dust is drawn away from just below the saw's cutting table. All that is needed is to make an inlet hose nozzle from a small length of light gauge tubing that fits into the vac hose. It should be about 6 inches (150mm) long, flattened on one end forming a long, flat sided oval with about a 1/4 - 3/8 inch (3-4mm) opening. (Some vac makers supply a similar item as part of their original kit) The air-flow into this nozzle is directed across the saw blade just below the table. Fit the nozzle through a slot cut in a short piece of angle sheet steel and bolt or glue it to the cover/guard. If your are lucky, certain saw models already have this fitting built into the blade cover/guard. Otherwise you make one as described or purchase the plastic fitting. The "Jet" sales people sell this as an optional bolt-on universal can- fit-any-machine spare. The machine shown here is made by "Jet" but with a different colour paint and different brand! Unfortunately, it didn't come with a dust collecting fitting.
RADIAL ARM SAW
Many different brands of saws can be adapted to take a vac hose. The blade guards must be in place (or lowered, as in the case of this DeWalt), otherwise the small air flow from the vac is not effective. As with the other saws, the hose needs to be tied up away from the work area, with the hose going down at the back of the bench to the vac on the floor. You might try adapting your portable electric saw in a similar way.
SOMETHING EXTRA worth thinking about: For safety reasons there is a an extra pull on/push off switch at waist height shown in the picture.It can be pushed off with a foot, knee, elbow or "some other part" of your body! It might save a life! It's connected "in series" with the other switch.
ANOTHER STYLE ORBITAL SANDER
This style model comes with it's own shroud. Dust is sucked up around the edge of the belt right at its source. I'm told that similar kinds of shrouds can be purchased and fitted to many older types of machines.
DOWN DRAFT VAC TABLE & VAC WALL
Here are sketches of the front and rear views of a table I propose to build soon. A standard table design has the top cover changed to "Masonite" pegboard instead of the usual ply or veneer. Lots of small holes. Attach some type of fabric (such as canvas or a similar material that is light weight but doesn't let air pass through it) to the underside of the table. To the other end of the tapering tube fit a wooden block with a short piece of tube out through it's centre to connect with the vac hose. Remember to glue the canvas or fabric to the block using a strong P.V.A. glue.
The top part or "Wall" is made in similar fashion to the table. It can be made as either one continuous curve, or a three sided shape (as sketched) to fit around your work. It could be either free standing and removable, or, glued onto the table top. Use canvas again to attach it to another wood block and tube or attach the canvas to the table if it is set up as a single combination unit.
How big should it be?
Big enough to suit the majority of the items you generally make. Remember, however the limits of the vac you use. The vac in the pictures is an old style "Electrolux" with twin motors inside so naturally this one can be use with a larger unit. If you are limited for space in your workshop, try designing this table so that it has a solid removable top with the dust collection part below when you want to use the sander. I would guess that the average household vac would comfortably handle an area 2ft x 2ft (600mm x 600mm)
How can I make a stronger air flow?
If there is a large area of table unused, cover it with paper.
How do I attach 2 outlets to one hose?
See your local plumbing supply store and ask them to make up a "Y" shape (Works better than a "T") using plastic fittings, or get a dust bucket like the one shown at the "Triton" site.
How noisy is this?
I can work in a room with a vac operating for long periods but I cannot do this with the larger commercial dust collectors. They all have a very high pitched whistling sound which is very uncomfortable and prolonged exposure without protection will leave you considerably deaf.
Here are some more ideas for adapting your portable powertools such as a circular saw, router, biscuit cutter and jig saw when used as part of a "Work Centre" set up supplied Triton Products. They don't make the power tools, only the table and fittings. The salesman assured me that this setup sells for about 1/2 - 2/3 the cost of a similar
Makita/Ryobi version bench. Their web site is: http://triton.net.au
More importantly, I found their idea of collecting the dust and shavings, into a bucket arrangement before going into the small household vac a great idea. It also lets you take two hoses to the job from one common vac hose. These products are either made in Australia or made under licence elsewhere and sold in many countries. The vac is any one that you can find in your local second-hand store, not supplied by Triton.
Workshop vacs are best purchased from second hand stores. Much cheaper than new ones. Many modern vacs have disposable bags. These are good, only if you can find a source of cheap bags. Older style vacs have re-usable cloth bags. Great for wood dust BUT if it is to work well you MUST wash the dust bag regularly, othewise the vac's strength is greatly reduced. Best workshop vacs are the double motor type, or the ones that use a 5 gallon (or 20 litre) drum.
I would appreciate any feedback or comments you have to offer especially if you build the Vac table so together we can find effective working sizes with all the assorted vacs.... Please send comments to:
I have no personal connection with Triton Products other than that we are both from the same corner of Australia but I have seen their products and know that their products are made to a high standard of workmanship
- Bill Judt - for encouraging me to write and giving space in his E-zine
- Kevin Edwardes - the "Shutterbug" -who took the pics and then taught me some basics to enhance the pics.
- Trish McCormack - from my school's Art Dept - who touched up the shading in the sketches.