Dust collectors are not associated with much of a variety of "accessories" but there are a few and today I am going to touch on a couple of recent upgrades I made to my new Oneida Mini Gorilla Dust Collector.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/2sEo6NAVrLM
I'm starting this session off with the first upgrade I made, which is a remote Off/On switch, but it's really more complex than that and so I am only going to touch lightly on the topic ...
As many of you already know, I do not have dust collection "ducting" throughout my shop, partially because my shop is quite small, but also because it's really not conducive to having ducting because of the layout of the building and how I have my tools arranged. What I do, is manually plug the hose to my dust collector into each tool that I am using which only takes seconds to do because all my tools are arranged around the dust collector. The benefit to me of doing this is that I achieve the maximum draw of air into my dust collector each time.
Over the years I have learned a process that works very well and it's a basic "best practice" of preparing wood, and when you follow it, you don't have to make that many "hose switches" from tool to tool, and the process is:
1 - Joint one side and one edge that is perfectly square to one another on EVERY BOARD
2 - On the table saw, use the flat side on the table saw and the jointed edge on the saw fence and rip the wood to the width
3 - Take the newly ripped wood to the thickness planer and plane it to the desired thickness
4 - Cut to length as needed
This is how most commercial shops reduce processing steps and speed up production. Of course in an ideal world it works perfectly every time but wood being wood, there are often one or two more pieces that also need the same treatment later of because of wood defects, operator cutting errors, or ??
On / Off Switching of Dust Collector
This leads me first of all to On/Off switch of the dust collector. In my case, I use a wireless remote switch to turn my dust collector on and off. The one I use is from a company called iVac. I have been using this brand for a number of years and they have improved quality greatly in that time, I am still not certain about their more recent customer service, but it has left a lot to be desired in the past in my experience, still, they are my go-to unit.
The company iVac offers MANY different dust collection configurations, mine is very simple. I have a yellow box that is attached to the wall, that plugs into the appropriate electrical mains plug, then my dust collector power cord plugs into the yellow iVac box. The yellow box is controlled by a wireless switch that has On / Off buttons.
The nice feature of this iVac unit is that you can set a variety of delays. In my case, I have set about a 10-second delay to turn the dust collector on. This means it gives me a few seconds to put on my hearing and eye protection before the dust collector starts working and I can begin cutting wood. There is another delay that comes into play when I hit the "Off" button, and that is the dust collector continues to run for another 30 seconds so it helps to clear dust and debris in the hoses and keep good airflow.
I should also note that the switch hangs above the machine I am using by means of a magnetic extension arm, this makes it super easy to find and use the switch and in my small shop, I can move the switch all around the shop depending on what tool I am using. Very convenient.
Monitoring Dust and Debris IN the Dust Collection Drum
One of the features of the Oneida Mini Gorilla is the compact, higher-efficiency exhaust filter which is one of the main components that helps control the dust in the workshop. It's important to keep this filter clean and it's not a good thing to let the bottom dust collection drum or barrel overfill, because the overfill backs up into the filter. This means you do not need to stop and do a major cleanout of the filter after you have emptied the collection drum. This process adds an unnecessary task that could be avoided by NOT overfilling the collection drum.
The Mini Gorilla comes with a clear plastic Observation Port into the collection drum, and just as I suspected, it does partially get obscured by dust, BUT if you use a flashlight to peer into the drum through the port, you do get a much better view of the level of dust that has been collected. This system works, and it's included with the machine but it is cumbersome to use all the time when you are in the process of planning, cutting, and jointing wood. Who wants to stop each time, grab a flashlight and peer through the observation port? Sure it's good to double-check, but a far better option is installing an Oneida Dust Sentry system that actually WARNS you when the dust in the drum is getting to the point it needs to be cleaned out. This unit should work in any dust collection system that uses an enclosed collection barrel or drum and might even work in some of the larger shop vacuum units.
It's a pretty simple system that consists of a sensor or "sender" which is essentially like an "electronic eye" that measures the distance from the sensor to a surface, such as a pile of dust or shavings. When the sensor "detects" a surface, it sends current to the connected Strobe light, which then serves as a warning that the amount of chips in the drum needs to be cleaned out. The sensor has a tiny adjustable dial on top that can be adjusted from near to far so you can set the distance where you want the strobe to be turned on. I have been told by others who have this system that "no, the sensor does not seem to get coated with dust inside the drum that affects its operation". You install it ... and it works.
I should also state that the "clasp" around the wire cable leading to the sensor is Colin's idea and was done to help protect the cable from being tugged from the sensor. If that wire cable ever gets pulled, the clasp will prevent it from tugging on the connections inside the sensor.
The Oneida Dust Sentry comes with everything you need, and all wired together, the sensor, the strobe the power source, and the mounting kit, along with instructions.
I found the best way to mount the sensor was by drilling a pilot hole with a smaller drill bit, then using a Step Drill Bit to make a larger hole for the sensor and associated mounting gear to fit. Drilling through the plastic lid of the drum was pretty easy, but if you are doing this, make sure you don't make the hole too big for the fitting kit you are using. In my case, I elected to use the rubber wash, the hard washer, and the plastic mounting bolt to attach the sensor.
Even though I had pre-set my sensor to a predetermined distance, I noticed after installing it seemed to be giving a different reading. I may have moved the sensor dial by accident during the set-up, but it is very easy to re-adjust the sensor after it is installed, and ALWAYS a good idea to check to make sure it is the correct distance you want. Another good idea is to mark where the sensor dial should be. If you look closely you will see a little black mark opposite the little dial indicator on top of the sensor.
That is everything I need for my Oneida Mini Gorilla in terms of add-ons. Between the remote switch and Dust Sentry, I expect to be in great shape in terms of turning the machine off and on and monitoring the dust levels, so I won't need to waste extra time cleaning out the filter, only because I forgot to check the dust level in the barrel.
Copyright Colin Knecht
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