Dust Collection Likes and Dislikes

Darren Wright

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So I'm looking at hooking up the new (to me) dust collector and just wondered what products others are using that you feel have added value to the system you have?

Improvements?
Are you using a remote? If so, specific brand?
Have you added further automation, such as automatic switches or gates with switches that turn on the dc or open when the dc is started?
Are you using a separator/baffle that had made cleaning easier?
Anyone using the spiral pipe over pvc that has show a big improvement?
Any special mods (stove pipe, or baffles) you've done that have added improved performance?
Vent outdoors or within the shop?

What would you change or do differently?
What's been your frustration with your system or setup?
Any products that just didn't do what you expected? (not looking to bash anyone, just want to know pros and cons)

What's your dream setup?
What would make using a dust collector more enjoyable? Any products you've seen, but can't afford or haven't yet bought?
 

Ryan Mooney

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The Gorge Area, Oregon
separator/baffle - definitely helped. I might go with the under the filter baffle if I was doing it again because it reportedly has better airflow. The baffle was a series of trade offs, mostly around separation efficiency vs slot size. The narrower the slow the better the separation, when I first made it I only had the tablesaw and bandsaw hooked up and was getting absolutely stellar separation (I think maybe 1/4" slot.. it's been a few years). Then I hooked up the planer and .. instant clog. So I opened up the slot incrementally until it finally passed planer shavings, but that made the TS and (eventual) sander separation a lot less efficient. Separation efficiency was scientifically measured by removing the filter and aiming the outlet at a clean white felt filter bag.

I remounted the motor on a raised frame with a short chunk of stovepipe so it's a short/straight shot from the blower into the filter assembly. This got me back basically all of the pressure I lost putting in the baffle assembly. The flex from the blower to the filter definitely put a hit on pressure... I"m not sure how much using smooth pipe with a curve would matter as I also flipped the impeller on it's side so it's over the baffle at the same time so it was all sort of "an all in one" mod.

No remote, or any automation. If I had a bigger shop... yeah maybe.. as it is I'm moving the DC to the machine to hook it up with a short piece of flex anyway so.. that's a lot more overhead than turning it on :)

Currently venting through an Wynne 35A274NANO into the shop. Ditching the filter altogether was definitely more airflow but given the "move to the machine" and "half the year I ain't opening the shop door because to hot/cold" it's kind of the best trade off at the moment.

If I was doing it all over again in an ideal world? I'd get a lot bigger DC and plumb it in :)
 

fred hargis

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789
Location
Wapakoneta, OH
I'm on my 3rd DC and have finally found the performance I want...although it stills has a drawback. Anyway, I do use a remote. I've always felt (maybe incorrectly) that the blast gate switches would cycle the motor on/off too many times, I learned in my day job frequent cycling isn't good for motors. But the remotes (I'm on my third one there as well) I've used have made life a lot easier. the first was a Long Ranger. It lasted about 10 years before I dripped the fob once to often on the concrete and then it quit working. I then bought a Shop Fox remote, and it was a piece of junk. The outlet the DC plugged into failed (fell apart, actually) within the first year. then i built my own using an industrial contactor with a coil. The coil switched the unit on/off, and it was switched with a cheap $10 lamp remote. The lamp remotes have probably failed 4-5 times since I started using it; I simply keep a spare on hand and change it out. My DC is a cyclone, but the first one was a bag unit and I built the Wood magazine cylone for it....worked very well but the way i had it set up it had a very big foot print so I went with a commercial design. I'm ambivalent about the difference between PVC and metal ducting, my system is 6" PVC because it was what I could get. I think metal has some advantages, but finding true wyes in metal is not easy (or cheap) so i stayed with PVC. When you price them, look at the fittings first since that's where the mony will be spent. I'm not vented outdoors, though if I lived in a climate where I could it would be my choice. But I heat with LP, and I fear what the venting outdoors would cost in lost heat. My biggest disappojntment was with the first DC and the 5 micron bags it came with. It turned out to be little more than a dust pump, and the finest and most dangerous particles simply wound up all over the shop. I replaced that bag with a high quality one before I eventually moved to a filter system. The only mods I can mention that helped (other than the cyclone I built) is at the tools. Everywhere i could I made the puny factory ports 6". This was sometimes easy and sometimes not. On my jointer I simply put a 6" HVAC "starter collar" on it and connected to the ducts. On my old Delta drum sander i had to completely build a replacement cover. But of all those mods, the one that paid off the most was a pickup over the blade on my table saw. At the moment what would make life better is a closet to put my DC in. It runs at 94 db by itself. Though I always wear ear protection when running tools, I'd still like to dumb down the noise a little.
 

larry merlau

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18,313
Location
Delton, Michigan
4" pvc to machines and close hookups,, 6 or 7" pvc in the floor. fittings are high, had some used metal and to get it going it was going to be to high. i use a remote the one i am using is blue gray color dont know brand right of hand but have a red one for back up the only trouble is battery usage.. as for venting i am going outside, no bag. dream setup would be bigger fan and motor combo. the one thing to watch for is leakage. and like Fred said make the tool connections as straight as you can and make them as big as you can
 

glenn bradley

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9,763
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SoCal
Are you using a remote? If so, specific brand?
-- I have three remotes at various places around the shop. I found taking a step or two to a known location worked better than grappling for it on my body or wondering where I had set it down.
Have you added further automation, such as automatic switches or gates with switches that turn on the dc or open when the dc is started?
-- Altough sexy, these always seemed more expense, fuss and potential failure point than I cared for. I use plastic and metal gates, plan to make a few 6" shop mades. Pace them where you can reach them or a dowel and a few screw-eyes will solve most problems.
Are you using a separator/baffle that had made cleaning easier?
-- Currently on a cyclone for all the reasons tou will eventually find. every separator I added to a single stage system cost me more air flow than I felt it was worth.
Anyone using the spiral pipe over pvc that has show a big improvement?
-- I am not fanatical about it but, PVC was much cheaper when I bought back in 2005. PVC is certainly easier to install and change based on my experience helping others. However, I am more skilled at slipping plastic pipe together than cutting and crimping sheet metal so judge based on your own skillset. The big improvement came from moving to a larger, rigid ductwork and eliminating as much hose as is reasonable.
Any special mods (stove pipe, or baffles) you've done that have added improved performance?
-- Rigid pipe over hose. Larger ports / ducts.
Vent outdoors or within the shop?
-- Used to vent in doors and have the cyclone and filter that allow that. If I had a single stage unit and could vent outdoors that would be my option. If spoil is an issue you could trade the restriction of the filter for the restriction of a separator pre-blower. My new build has a lean-to for my cyclone, no filter and an s-turn baffle for the noise and small amount of spoil that gets past the cyclone. I get about a cup of spoil past the cyclone every 6 months or so and will let this spray out onto the rear of the property.

What would you change or do differently?
-- The thing we never want to hear; buy once, cry once and save the time, effort and money of all the in-between efforts. I may still go to a 5HP cyclone with most everything else staying the same.
What's been your frustration with your system or setup?
-- There are times when it seems you just 'can't get there from here' when it domes to duct path. Fall back, take a breather and approach it again. Use SketchUp or a lot of paper. Watch videos of everyone else's shop. I made a recent change (thankfully pre-install) that saved me a lot of turn-friction and got the idea from the background of someone else's video tour.

Machine Cluster.JPG

Any products that just didn't do what you expected? (not looking to bash anyone, just want to know pros and cons)
-- The filters that come on units when sold are woefully inadequate. My first bagger was destined for the dump when I bought a properly sized filter. I still have it as a tool-specific collector 17 years later.

What's your dream setup?
-- 5HP blower, bin alert, same ducting.
What would make using a dust collector more enjoyable? Any products you've seen, but can't afford or haven't yet bought?
-- Magically turning on and off and emptying itself but . . .
 
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larry merlau

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18,313
Location
Delton, Michigan
the automatic turn on would be nice and have only that one open.. been more than once i had to make a lap to check for open gates that took away some of my sucktion when i needed it the most like leaving planer connected and trying to use the sander,, no go in that combo
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
Well, thank you for all the feedback. It's a lot to digest, but I think I was heading in the right direction for this unit, but also considering what I may do differently in the next shop down at the farm.

So my HF dust collector is next to my table saw and workbench. I run a hoop up over the pathway to it, about 20'-25' total and has a gate for a table saw overhead, but I've not added one yet @fred hargis, but want to. The other collects from below on the table saw. At the ends of the 4" s&d pvc I have about 2' of flex pipe connecting to the saw, same on the collector end. My radial arm has about the same setup and a wye for running a 2.5" hose to the band saw and drill press. I need to insert a wye to drop down to the miter saw, which has been added between the dc and radial arm.

I also have found the bags that come with them are as Fred called them "dust pumps". It was pretty evident on my FIL's system. His system was larger than mine, but everything was covered in dust, I've not seen that since adding the Wynn 1 micron filter.

The new DC will be setup next to the CNC, then run overhead with a wye to collect from the cnc, then across the isle and drop down to collect from the lathe and my dads old table saw, which is setup for box joints. The overhead will also continue another 6' - 8' to a third isle where I have my oscillating sander and a couple of other bench top tools, all at 2.5" connections.

My HF I did the Thien baffle to, but didn't realize there was a difference in the size of the gap @Ryan Mooney, so I'll have to re-visit that now that I can cut a new baffle out on the cnc. I wonder if there is a sweet spot or can make it adjustable. I have tried a couple of designs for checking the "bin full" levels, but still working on that.

@glenn bradley & @larry merlau I did build my own "automatic" system several years back and it's worked well. I think not having to remember to turn on the DC has helped with enjoyment of working in the shop. It's had a couple of very minor draw backs with the current design, mostly tools that don't have dc kicking on the DC, but I'm working on a new solution that I think will fix most of those. I plan to implement it on the new DC and update the old system to it. It's pretty plug and play for the most part, but working through some of setup/management processes still. The new system will also allow each tool to manage its own gates automatically.

As for emptying @Ryan Mooney, have you had a look at the Laguna C|Flux and P|flux cyclones with their foot levered dust bins?
 

Chuck Ellis

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Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the DC. Nothing I can add. My DC unit is a HF unit but because of the noise I didn't want in in the shop itself... it sits in an "outhouse" at the end of the shop, plumbed through the wall with a switch on the wall above my work bench... It does a reasonable job, but not perfect by any means... I still have a layer of dust in the shop from all the years I've done sanding and turning.... the outhouse is coated in dust also as you and Fred are right... the bags are just dust pumps.... I keep a black garbage bag in the lower bag to catch dust, but the upper bag blows as much as it catches. I've thought about putting the filter on top, but since it's outside the shop, I'll just blow the dust out of the outhouse periodically. My friend that I turned with locally had a JET DC with a filter on top... he moved it about to collect from which ever tool he was working with and it seemed to work pretty well... I think it took up about 80% of the dust he generated, but was really noisy.
I run a single pipe, the black wire spiral from my lathe up and overhead to the opposite wall, then along that wall to the end of the shop where the pipe goes through the wall to the DC unit.... I have two wye's in the pipe to catch the band saw and the little lathe.... I gave up trying to catch the table saw... but since I rarely use it except as a catch all table, it works out okay for me.... I don't have a radial arm, just a chop saw on a roll around cabinet that I position in the door way and let it blow out the door.... my planer and router on also on roll around cabinets that I can set up in the door way... one day I may have to wade through a pile of sawdust to get in the doorway, but so far with the amount of rain we've had, it washes away when the water flows down off the hill above the shop.
 

Ryan Mooney

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The Gorge Area, Oregon
Regarding separator slots
I wonder if there is a sweet spot or can make it adjustable. I have tried a couple of designs for checking the "bin full" levels, but still working on that.
<snip>
As for emptying @Ryan Mooney, have you had a look at the Laguna C|Flux and P|flux cyclones with their foot levered dust bins?
I believe there is a sweet spot at least for a given particle size... in general though my very brief experimentation indicated that it was basically a curve. There's a lower cutoff where it doesn't have enough airflow (to narrow) and an upper where it would separate at all (to wide) but in between I think it's basically some sort of curve. I think if I had two DC's like this I'd probably dedicated one for fine stuff (sanding dust.. mayyybe the tablesaw not sure, you can get a few "fall by" larger offcuts in that so might be a problem, probably the CNC) and the other for chunks & ribbons. There's unfortunately not really a clear cut line across all of the tools though so some hand waving involved on the actual design.

I actually do something not altogether unlike the laguna but distinctly more redneck, I'm basically using wedges under the drum to jam the drum up into the separator. Not as "clean" but.. mostly works. It would work better if the drum was actually round haha.

I built a "top hat" style separator over a 30g plastic drum. That has it's ups and downs, the drum wasn't/isn't perfectly round so getting it to seal to the bottom of the separator can be a bit tricky. On the upside other than that dumping is a breeze.

I'm not sure on making it adjustable.. that.. seems plausibly doable.. it's an interesting idea. I made mine mostly out of 3/4" plywood the round upper body is kerfed to allow it to curve curve and then I lined the inside with galvanized sheet metal I got from the big box store. I made the baffle out of 3/4" and lined the top of it with the same sheetmetal. 3/4" is waaay to thick for the baffle so I used an angle grinder carving tool to feather it back so only the very far edge connecting it to the body is still full thickness and the rest was an even slope from the fine metal edge to that (I can't take pictures inside easily.. it's not glued together but it is clamped with a large # of allthread). I could maybe see two pieces of metal and some way to adjust one so it slide out? I can say that having a thin edge and thin baffle does help a lot and that for especially strandy stuff (like planer shavings) small divots in the metal edge caused big problems that required a bit of quality time with a file to work out.
 

Leo Voisine

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East Freeetown, Massachusetts
I have been using a 2 hp Harbor Freight DC for a lot of years. The switch gave out, but I cleaned it and put it back together. It worked.
I have not done any mods.
I use 4" sewer and drain pipe and a pile of makeshift adapters, and off shelf when I can.
I have cheap flexible hose from pvc to machine
I have cheap plastic gates at each machine.
I have one PSI Long Ranger III remote

Likes / dislikes
4" sewer and drain works fine for me.
cheap plastic gates do work, but they suck
PSI remote -- love it ( I hang it on my CNC front panel.)
Harbor Freight DC gets clogged with planer, jointer chips. (I cut out the triangle baffle in the intake port - seems to help)
My system handles the CNC router very well.
The bags are a PITA to clean and empty
I will certainly add in a cyclone to the system - maybe over this winter.
The dust ports on my craftsman 2x42 belt / disk sander has 1-1/2 inch ports. My makeshift adapters from 4" make the DC a bit weak, but I don't blame my DC system. The belt sander is designed to work on a shop vac
 

Darren Wright

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Kansas City, Missouri
The dust ports on my craftsman 2x42 belt / disk sander has 1-1/2 inch ports. My makeshift adapters from 4" make the DC a bit weak, but I don't blame my DC system. The belt sander is designed to work on a shop vac
I have two gates where my 2.5" hoses are connected. I leave the other gate open about half way when using the 2.5" hose to create enough velocity in the main pipe.
 

David Johnson

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Carthage,Mo
Agree with Leo. Use inexpensive 4 inch sewer line and fittings I can find or make. Biggest improvement I've made is to toss bag on my HF DC and installed Wynn filter. Can't prove it but suction is better and Way less dust. The bag always had a film of dust on the outside. Now shop is cleaner.
Using belt sander does pose a problem. From 4inch pipe to 1 1\2 inch doesn't work real well. To much restriction but gets most of dust. Everyday is a little tinkering here and there just make the whole system funner to use. The cheap gates can be a pain as chips clog up track so have to clean out. Found making sure gate goes down seems to solve problem.
David
 

David Johnson

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Location
Carthage,Mo
Leo I've found you have to stay on top of the DC. I thought everything was hunky dory, the found hose to ts unhooked in cabinet and filled up with the saw dust, what a mess to clean out.
Now I'm always checking for proper suction and pick up.
David
 
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