Dust-Collector Blade-Guard Retrofit Ideas

Shop owners show off shop-rigged solutions for combined table-saw blade safety and dust collection. September 15, 2011

I have a Powermatic 10" tablesaw and I am getting tired of removing the guard every time I want to set up for dadoes. I have seen guards that mount on the side of the saw and hang over the table surface. It would be great to have such a device that would also be capable of sucking up the dust that comes off the top of the blade. I recently purchased a Forrest Woodworker II blade and cannot seem to get a good rip without burning the wood. It is this guard getting in the way. It can be adjusted, but I have done that several times and it seems to lose its place. If anyone has information on where to get a hanging guard that also collects dust, I would appreciate it.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection Forum)
From contributor N:
The ones we bought are called Brett-Guard, I believe. They have an option for a dust collector attachment as well.

From contributor J:
I use a Beisemeyer on my saw and it works well for my needs. If you don't already have it, you'll need dust collection on the bottom of the cabinet also.

From contributor B:
I have an Exactor arm/guard/dust collector system sitting on the shelf. I used it for a year or two before getting my SawStop 2+ years ago. The guard on the SawStop is so good I put the Exactor in the attic. The Exactor worked fairly well, even though I didn't have enough suction through the collector hose. It swung out of the way when not needed, and was decent to see through.

From the original questioner:
So far I like the Brett-Guard most of all. For those of you who have these types of guards, are they affective and safe to use? Do they get in the way of anything?

From contributor H:
I use a Steff stock feeder as a guard. The dust collection is the crevice tool from a shop vac stuck down between the wheels, into the path of the spray off the top of the blade. This required cutting the stock feeder wheel cover and the crevice tool. This is hooked to a shop vac, which is outdoors. I use a 55 gallon drum as a cyclone to save on dumping the vac. The regular blower deals with the dust under the saw. If you get good at setting up the stock feeder, it takes about 20 seconds to change the height. Well worth it, to me.

Used stock feeder - $400.
Shop vac - $65
55 gallon drum, various hose fittings, and plastic pipe - Free at the dump

From contributor J:
The problem contributor B experienced is common with these types of guards. They have a hookup for a shop vac sized hose that's far too small to work with a dust collection system. And most shops aren't going to run a dust collector and shop vac simultaneously.

My solution was to reengineer the guard to what it probably should have been in the first place. I removed the small plate on the top of the guard which has the 1-1/2" +/- port in it, and replaced it with a plate with a 3" port on it. I also enlarged the pickup in the back of the saw cabinet to a 5" to increase airflow. Of course this all assumes your dust collector has enough airflow in the first place. My system is a good size and I have 1 - 7" drop that splits to handle both tablesaws and a separate 4" drop that handles the guard/s (still waiting to buy a second guard).

From contributor J:
Here's a shot of the guard with the enlarged dust port (sorry, couldn't figure out how to rotate it easily). Much better collection and with these guards, you can flip the whole unit up and out of the way quickly and easily. It can also be slid sideways if needed for extra room changing blades or whatever.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I have been wondering about that issue myself. I have the cabinet hooked up to a 4" pipe and it works pretty well, but I have been wondering about where to connect a 2" hose for the guard. No, I do not want to get a shop vac involved either. The main goal is to get a guard that is safe and efficient to use. Unbolting and realigning the factory supplied guard from Powermatic is time consuming. My shop is very small and I only have room for one tablesaw, so I have to switch from dado blades to combo blades and it is a real pain. I am trying to achieve a clean rip on my boards. I spent a couple hours last night making sure the miter slot is parallel to the blade. I improved the quality of the cut 99% and I have the factory guard set correctly. The problem is I will lose the setting over the next few blade changes. So, I want to make my blade changes faster, but I do not want to run the saw without a guard - it is scary!

The dust removal would just be an added benefit. It would be nice to have because a lot of sawdust comes off the top of the blade and right into the air that I am breathing. Thank you so much for all of your input. It is neat to get ideas from several people on the same subject.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J, is your guard an Extractor? And what would happen if I took the 4" hose from the bottom of the cabinet and used it on the guard? I would have to shovel out the cabinet more often, but I don't know if my dust collector can do both. And what about kick back?

From contributor J:
It's always good to have the guard in place. I used my saw for years without any guard and although you get used to it, I would never recommend it to anyone. Besides, it's much nicer having one installed.

I've never had much of a problem with kickbacks... maybe 3 that I can recall, the last of which was a half dozen years ago and probably more the result of a bad arbor bearing than anything else. I was using the sliding table to crosscut a bunch of parts and an off-cut moved into the blade, giving me a little stinger. If you're worried about it though, Beisemeyer also has a splitter that you can attach to the trunnion of the saw. Actually the base mounts to the saw and the splitter itself can quickly be pulled off. It's a neat little device I use on my ripping TS.

The guard I use is a Beisemeyer, as I got it for next to nothing. I think it's probably one of the best out there. I'm not familiar with the Exactor, but I wouldn't be surprised if it worked about the same.

The ideal combination for a smaller collector would probably be having the 3" hose on the guard (2" will be limited in the amount of air moving through it) and a 4" on the bottom. Not knowing anything about what your setup is, it's hard to make recommendations. But if you're using a small dust collector with a 6" inlet, I would lose the 4" pipe and try running the 6" to the saw. Then split it to a 4" and 3", or even a 5" and a 3" if you don't mind cutting the hole in the back of the saw a little bigger. You would be amazed at how much dust you can get with a little work and a decent setup.