Even woodworkers are tuning in to better health. This must be the reason dust collectors , air purifiers and wet / dry vacs have become the latest topic of conversation. There are all sorts of different studies that show that wood dust is harmful, especially over long periods of time, and even mover harmful to those who already have respiratory problems.

Some leading edge companies have really taken the dust control topic to highly scientific level while others are content to just get on the bandwagon with anything for the marketplace and hope for the best. So what is the best way to choose a dust control system and where does one begin, well, click below to read more ...

First of all, lets look at the size of the waste coming off your cutting blades. Probably the largest pieces are chips coming from planers and jointers, but these tools are also creating some dust at the same time. The worst offender for fine dust is sanding, with band saws coming in a close second. We don't have to worry too much about pieces of wood we can see, as a rule these are heavier than air and fall immediately to the floor. It is the smaller pieces that we inhale, the "micron sized" pieces, so small that they appear as a mist or smoke in the air. 

Many of the latest dust collectors are boasting of "one micron dust bags". This means dust that is on just slightly larger than one micron will be captured. So, how big is one micron you ask? Well, ... 1 micron is a millionth of a meter or 1 inch divided into 25,400 parts. In real terms a grain of salt is 100 microns, talc powder is 10 microns. The black smoke you see coming from diesel trucks and buses is mostly between 3 - 5 microns. The average bacteria is 2 microns. One micron is approaching the size of wood smoke ... in fact, 90% of wood smoke is just slightly smaller than one micron.

Now that you know what the size of dust you can capture, the next question is how do you go about it. The best approach is two-fold. A dust collector to get the big stuff and an air cleaner to constantly work on the smallest stuff.

Lets deal with the air cleaner first. This is simply an industrial sized unit that hangs from your ceiling or sits on your floor and constantly draws air through, cleans it and ejects it out the other side.

The dust collector is where things start getting more complicated. The first question to ask is - Will my dust collector be stationary or will I move it from machine to machine as I am using it? If it is going to be stationary, the next question is how large is your shop? And what is the draw of air I will need? Here is where dust collection sizing gets complicated.

If you are simply going to move a smaller dust collector from tool to tool (this is not as bad as it seems, at least for hobbyists), then any dust collector with a one micron bag and fan that can draw over 600 cubic feet per minute (CFM) should work fine. There are many manufactures of both smaller and larger units like Delta, Jet Tools, The JDS Company, Laguna Tools, Grizzly Industrial and many more.

If on the other hand you have a larger shop and are going to install a fixed dust collector and run duct work piping from each machine to your dust collector, you may need some professional help in sizing your dust collector and getting recommendations on pipe sizes, ducting and types of material options.

copyright - Colin Knecht