Light-Duty Dust Collection Setup

A newcomer to the industry gets advice on dust collection for a very small, low-intensity woodworking operation. November 25, 2005

I am very new to woodworking, so my questions may sound silly. We are in need of a dust collection system for our shop (one car garage) because we need to purchase insurance. We build and sell western red cedar Adirondack furniture. However, the insurance company has no answers on what exactly we need. Has anyone else come across this issue?

We have a small planer, a router table, a 36" belt sander, a band saw, a table saw, and a palm sander. What kind of dust collection system are we looking at? Because we are so new, we do not know a lot of the terminology used for dust collection. We do not use our tools that much, our chair parts are pre-cut and 4 dimensionally sanded. We mostly use our belt sander and palm sander.

Are there systems where we can move our equipment to the dust collection system so that we are cutting down on how many pipes we are running or is it best to equip all equipment to dust collection? We are a new company so we need to be cost-effective but we do not want to buy cheap. I have read other messages in this forum but I am still unsure of what we need. Any information would be helpful.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From contributor J:
You have asked a big question(s) and the answers you are looking for would depend on more information from you such as available space, number of tools you want to hook up to it, future growth of the business and etc. For a simple answer I have a very small one man shop probably 3 times the size of yours and I use a Jet 1-1/2 horse power dust collector and it is barely adequate for what I do.

From contributor D:
You probably do not need a very large dust collector unless you plan on using more then one tool at a time. I would suggest checking out and going to power tools and then dust collectors.

Probably something like the Jet Model 650 would be fine for your needs. The biggest factor will be how much dust you will create in a day. You probably want a collector that will hold at least one day's dust. The Model 650 will hold about one tall kitchen bag worth of saw dust, perhaps a little more.

The 2 micron filter option is expensive but will help to keep the dust out of your lungs, but is probably not required by the insurance company. They probably are just look for "yes, we have a dust collector".

From contributor D:
I noticed that the Delta model AP400 is about $100 less then the Jet and should be fine as well. Its bag holds 2.6 cubic feet of saw dust. It also includes a 5' collection hose as well.

From contributor C:
Even though the collector required may be portable or a small stationary unit, it is the western red cedar that concerns me. This fine dust can cause dermatitis as well as respiratory conditions. I would definitely consult with a professional dust collector manufacturer, such as American Air Filter (AAF).

The filter required may be a cartridge that can filter out sub micron particles. It sounds like you will be creating a fair amount of fine dust. I would also hang a ceiling suspended air cleaner with sub micron capability. The hooding on your machines is critical. If the machines are not hooded well, the right collector won't help. As far as hand sanding, I would do that over a down draft table that could be hooked up to the dust collector. Side shields would be good ideas so cross drafts don’t disrupt the collection. A friend of mine works with Corian. He likes the Festool hand held sanders that can be hooked up to their own compact, fine filtration vacuums.

From contributor A:
I think there are 3 issues that you need to deal with. The first is the dust collection requirements for you machines. Oneida air systems can assist you in this or point you in the direction where you can find info on collector and duct sizing. Oneida is a reputable company and we have used them twice and we are very pleased with their cyclones and service but we used local suppliers for ducts and fittings.

The second issue is whether the dust collection solution you choose complies with local codes and that is where the local building department/inspector can help.

The third is the insurance issue. If your dust collection system is code compliant then your insurance company should have no issues with it.

From contributor B:
It sounds to me like you're looking for a reasonably high quality, but small dust collector. I'd see no need to go beyond a 2hp industrial dc.

The dc's below are much more rugged than consumer models, and will deliver excellent flow capability and strong suction. Used in conjunction with appropriate 6" pipe, there's really not much more you'd require. 2 hp industrial dc's, usually have top-rated motors, like Baldors, or Leesons, heavy sheet-metal, and certified filters. Many of these dc's require a 10 ft ceiling, however. Units such as these will shrug off, on/off cycling, and are designed for continuous use. Filtration can be as high as 0.5 micron, with 99.99% efficiency.

Two brands which immediately come to mind are the Kraemer E-Series dust collectors, and the Belfab LW Series. Both require 10 foot ceilings. The Belfab is unique, in that it is a modular design, capable of expanding as your shop and business grows. The LW series starts at 3 hp however, and is for larger setups.

Belfab, also has the 2 hp Model "JJ", which would easily handle your current set-up. Same quality as the LW series, but will fit under an 8 foot ceiling. In fact, it's only 80" tall. It has very strong suction, and not as costly as the first two. It has a small footprint as well and might be worth a look. The Belfab JJ will deliver just under 1100 actual cfm to the machine being served, using 6" pipe. It would be possible, to operate two machines simultaneously, depending on size. These are bullet-proof dc's.

A "down-draft" sanding table might be another consideration, if you do a lot of sanding (big portion of your day). These can be easy to make, and powered by your dc, or be "stand-alone", with its own blower. They'll keep your shop clean, and keep you healthy.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor F:
You might also look at adding a general "free hanging" air cleaner to clean up any dust that escapes your small dust collector. A unit with 3 stage filtration will take out those small particles and protect your lungs from the minute dust particles.