In my personal opinion, one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years is the evolution of dust collection equipment. Dust collection is an important issue for any woodworking shop, whether it is a professional shop or a weekend warrior’s garage. I remember working in many shops that had NO provisions for this! Now, they are within reach of any woodworker, whether pro or hobbi-est.
There is a growing evidence regarding the health-related consequences to shop dust exposure. In all of the discussion and debate, it remains clear that the risks are genuine. Not only are the airborne particles a health problem, but the sawdust and debris can cause physical dangers, too.
As our knowledge grows, it becomes clear that simply hauling out a dust pan and broom at the end of the day is not the answer. If you have ever slipped on a pile of saw shavings you know that falls and other injuries can be as dangerous as breathing hazards.
Woodworking shops produce two general types of dust:
As any woodworker knows, chips and shavings account for the largest volume of shop debris produced. We have all climbed over these piles during a long workday. As the pile grows, the danger they present, along with our annoyance, also grows. A dust collector is a tool needed to minimize this problem.
Basically, the wood dust and debris are captured by a stream of air and are transported through the ductwork, depositing it into the dust collections system’s collection area. A system like this generally consists of a large induction motor and an impeller fan.
The 1HP or greater motor, working with the impeller fan is needed to create enough airflow to move the dust and debris generated by modern woodworking equipment.
Choosing the right system for any situation is a matter of factoring in the actual shop dimensions, the type and number of tools in the shop, and the general work habits of the users.
It is worth taking the time to evaluate this. It is possible that you may find that a more modest dust collections system will suit your needs just fine. You may not need to invest in the biggest, worst, and most expensive system!
If you are working alone in a small shop and looking for a simple, affordable system, a small, portable dust collection option might be just the ticket. A system such as this is moved from machine to machine on an as-needed basis. Keeping it close to the tool being used can improve its ability to draw and move large amounts of debris.
If the woodworking machinery is larger and produce more debris, a powerful collector along with a motion mixer from a quality multidirectional motion mixer manufacturer might be needed. These systems can be placed further away from the individual machines, allowing for a more central placement.
Of all of the debris produced in a woodshop, the minute airborne dust particles are easily the most dangerous. This is why it is usually necessary to add an air filtration system alongside an effective dust collection system.
At its simplest, an air filtration system consists of a fan and a set of specialty filters that remove the tiny airborne dust particles. A common and added functionality is a built-in timer to turn the air filtration system off automatically. Again, the factors governing the choice of the right dust collection system apply to choosing an air filtration system: the size of the shop, number of machines, work habits of the users.
Air filtration system performance is measured by the volume of air it can move in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. Many systems appropriate for a hobbyist shop are rated in the 1000 CFM range. A system that size will filter the sir in a 20′ x 20′ shop more than 12 times in an hour. An effective air filtration system should be capable of cycling the entire volume of air in a shop about 6-8 times per hour.
Many woodworkers tend to place dust collections and air filtration systems in the luxury category, especially when balanced against the *must have* list. However, as was stated earlier, the growing body of evidence and the implications for long-term health should place these firmly at the top of any shop list.