Dust Collection

Adust collection system has one aim: to capture most of the wood dust created at each of your woodworking machines and prevent it from ending up on the shop floor, or, worse yet, in the air. There are a series of variables in every system that must be coordinated to ensure a strong enough flow of air: the power of the collector; the location and requirements of the machines in the shop; and the type, size, and layout of the duct work.

The design of a central system begins with a simple bird's-eye view sketch of your shop, like the one shown below, arranging the machines and collector in their preferred locations. Then, draw in a main line running from the collector through the shop. Sketch in branch lines as needed to accommodate each machine and any obstructions—joists, beams, or fixtures—that may require special routing. For the best air flow, keep the main line and branch lines as short and straight as possible, and position the machines that produce the most dust closest to the collector. You may choose to run ducting along the ceiling of the shop, or, to increase the efficiency of the system, at machine-table height along the walls.

Since in most home shops only one woodworking machine will be producing dust at a time, 4- or 5-inch-diame-ter duct is sufficient for both the main and branch lines. There are several suitable types of duct available for dust collection systems. The best choice is metal duct designed specifically for dust collection. However, many woodworkers opt for plastic pipe, typically PVC or ABS. It is easier to seal and assemble (and disassemble for cleaning), less expensive, and more readily available.

Because plastic is an insulator, however, static build-up inside the pipe can reach dangerous levels during use—possibly high enough to ignite the dust pass ing through it. To prevent this, ground all plastic ducts by running a bare copper ground wire from each tool, inside the duct, to an electrical ground. As a safety precaution, have the system checked by an electrician. Smooth-wall rubber hose and flexible plastic hose, frequently used as branch ducts to connect machines to the main line, are other duct options for the home shop. Most of these products also require electrical grounding.

A central dust collection system requires a selection of fittings to route and join lengths of duct and dust hoods. The inventory on page 79 illustrates the elements of a typical dust collection system. If you run the main line along the ceiling, you can secure it in place with wire straps nailed to furring strips mounted between the joists.

Fittings directly affect the efficiency of the system, so choose them carefully. As a rule, gentle curves are better than sharp turns, so use Y fittings instead of

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