Shopping for a Small Dust Collection System

A small woodshop owner gets advice about his choices in dust collection systems. June 15, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I'm about to invest in a collection system for a one man shop with the usual equipment. I already have two Grizzly fine particle filters, and am considering the Oneida or the ClearView cyclone collectors. There are also others like Grizzly and ShopFox in the same $1,300 price range. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From contributor S:
I bought the Onieda a couple of years ago and it works great, but knowing what I know now I would not have bought a cyclone. Unless you are planning on buying an airlock and dumping into a hopper I would buy a bag collector. Buy one that you can put the clear plastic bags on the bottom with the filter bags up top. You can see when the bag is full and change out bags and keep going. With a cyclone you must put an airtight container under it and you can't see when it is full, you can put a bag in the container but need an add-on to keep the bag from sucking up the center. If you don't get the container emptied before it is full it blows all the dust into your filter and plugs everything up. You can get a real good quality bag collector and probably spend less than a cheaper cyclone. Everyone has their own opinion and thatís just mine.

From contributor F:
I agree with most of what Contributor S said. I'll point out a couple things though - if you go with a bag system make sure it's one of the bigger Pro 6-8 bag setups, not the smaller 2/4 single stage versions (Grizzly). The smaller single stages will drive you nuts and under-perform, especially if you run any kind of sander. You'll be forever trying to unclog the filters.

As for the cyclones I can't help you as I haven't run either of those particular brands. I run a 7-1/2 hp Torit cyclone and it can handle several machines at a time with no problem. It is a pain having only a single 55 gal drum though, but I can't justify the expense of a rotary air lock so I live with it.

A couple other notes, you can wire a switch in that will shut off the collector when the barrel fills up. Mine came with one and one of these days I have to figure out how to wire it up. Also if you have a good seal on your cyclone (which is a must for it to work properly) you should not need any fixture to keep the bag from being sucked up. If the bag gets sucked up there is probably a leakage issue in the barrel or seal between cyclone and barrel. I've used bags from day one and never had a problem.

Lastly you may want to consider the used market. Cyclones are very simple machines and they come up for reasonable money pretty regularly (around me anyway). You may be able to buy more machine for your buck and have a little left over for something else.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies. I should clarify a couple of things though, particularly the small part. The shop is only 850 square feet and I doubt I'll ever be able to justify the expense of a large sander. My budget for the dust collector is $1,000-1,500. Both Oneida and ClearView run around 1,300 and have comparable specs, but I'd consider other options. My understanding of the bag collectors is that they aren't as efficient but then that understanding is admittedly limited.

From contributor F:
Your understanding is basically correct. Single stage bag collectors funnel everything into one space which is shared by the filters. In essence youíre blowing dust directly into the filter area! This is why they can very quickly lose performance. I had three of them at one point with various HP's and bag combinations, including the thicker fine particle bags and the cartridge filters. None of them worked as well as a cyclone which removes the majority of the dust before the air hits the filters.

When I bought my first sander I managed for a little while, though constantly having to clean the filters. Then when I upgraded to a larger drum sander I just couldn't work with them anymore. Shortly after that I bought the cyclone. I finally bought a widebelt about a year ago. The shop I bought it from had been using a four bag 3hp (I think) motor dedicated to the widebelt. The previous owner (a good friend) told me about having to keep the electronic eye clean and blowing dust out when the machine gets used. Since putting the machine in my shop I haven't had to do either. He was surprised at how much more effective my air system was than his single purpose collector. Just a little insight to my experience with dust collectors, hopefully it's helpful to you.

From contributor K:
You should take a look at the JDS cyclone. It collects the dust and shavings into a plastic bag put over a metal frame. I use clear 55 gal. bags - makes it easy to see when the bag is full. When the bag is full it's pretty easy to pull the metal frame out of the bag and dispose as normal. It's a lot easier to do by yourself than trying to empty a full 55 gal. drum. I think the price and specs are comparable to Oneida. I have mine hooked up to a jointer, planer and shaper and it pulls very well for one machine at a time and passably well with gates open on two machines.

From Contributor C:
I recently switched from a two bag 5 hp single stage collector to a 5hp Onieda cyclone and all I can say is wow what a difference! I also bought an accessory that tells me when the drum is full and so I have avoided the issue of the drum being full and blowing all the dust into the filter! My work involves a lot of highly figured wood and in spite of very sharp planes and other tools sometimes the only way to surface some of that stuff is to use a wide drum sander and even with all that dust I have experienced no filter clogging like I did with the single stage unit. I would encourage you to buy the Onieda unit, their technical support is superb and their product is second to none that I have seen.

From contributor M:
One more vote for Oneida - last month I installed a 5HP Pro cyclone system and all new ductwork in my two-man 1500sf shop. With any two tools open it works great, three small tools (4") it works great, but if I'm running the router (5") and edgebander (5") and open up say the planer (5"), I do see a drop in performance - but it's still a major upgrade from my 3HP four-bag I was running before. Six 55ga bags of dust out the door (I use the bags and kit to hold them in) and just a light coat of dust in the filters and bin below. I think swapping out the four main runs of 4" PVC to a single 8" main run that tapers down as it goes played a big part in the performance increase I've seen as well. Custom support, price, setup, quality, and performance - I'm happy with every aspect of the deal.

From contributor D:
I bought a Clear Vue one year ago after having a Delta two bag. The Delta used to spew dust. I could see the bag leaking when the bright sunlight came through the window. The Clear Vue is absolutely amazing! No spewing and terrific suction! I wish I had it years ago.

From contributor A:
Be aware that you may have problems with the remote control in the Oneida. I bought a cyclone (Gorilla) from Oneida and I'm in the process of replacing the second receiver for the remote control. These are $75 each and you spend about one hour replacing it. Oneida will not cover this expense after the guarantee expires. Even if you have to replace it multiple times which would indicate a design problem.

From contributor J:
I recently installed a 3hp Oneida V System and I'm quite pleased. Keep in mind you're probably looking at another $300-700 in 6" duct work (at least if you go with metal). I looked at a bunch of alternatives, including Clear View, but what bugged me about the latter was it looked like I was going to need to get an electrician to connect it (adding hundreds more to the cost), whereas with the V system I could just plug it in. The high air volume and the 6" main ducts make all the difference compared to my 4" system. Virtually dust free at my tablesaw (with new overarm collector added as well), radial arm saw, planer and router table.