Why you need a dust collection system

Installing an efficient dust collection system should be a priority for the small shop as well as the large shop, whether the material being machined is wood, plastic, or a composite. Not only is this essential for health reasons and compliance with many national and local codes, but it is also good business because it saves money and helps to maintain the quality of the finished product.

The harmful health effects of inhaled particulates (many of which are carcinogens) are well documented, and skin, eye, and nose problems as well as allergic reactions are frequently reported. In addition, a dusty shop increases the risk of worker injury and fire, which can result in lost production, higher insurance rates, and lawsuits.

A dusty shop compromises the quality of the finished product: Accurate measurements and cuts are more difficult due to lack of visibility; airborne dust finds its way into finishing areas causing defects in the final product; and larger particles cling to surfaces cause scoring and other defects. Finally, dust that is not automatically collected must be collected manually as a recurring direct labor expense.

By any measure, an efficient dust collection system is an investment that more than pays for itself.

Designing a dust collection system

In the simplest terms, a dust collection system is comprised of a ducting system to transport the dust from the source (table saw, planer, etc.) and a collection device (such as a bag and filter system or a cyclone), which pulls the dust through the ducting and collects it. The very first decision you must make is whether your ducting will be metal or plastic—and here there is only one logical choice: metal (see “Metal vs. Plastic Duct”, right). The next step is to size your system.

Standard dust collection components & accessories

elbows
clean-outs
floor sweeps
manifolds
custom hoods