This is 15 Helpful Benefits of Woodworking Dust Collection. In this post, I’ll give you several awesome benefits plus some tips about using dust collection in your woodworking shop. It makes a big difference, and I’ll show you why. Enjoy.
Woodworking Dust Collection
Dust collection is one of those things that most woodworkers don’t really think about until after their shop has grown well beyond the point where they actually need it. If this sounds like you, stick around because it will be worth it.
I think the big setback for dust collection is that it doesn’t directly do anything for your woodworking. All it does is clean up after your other tools. When you’re choosing between a new tool, or buying a dust collector, it’s sometimes more fun to buy the tool.
Besides, after you buy it, you actually have to put it in. On the outside, you might think like that’s a lot of work, but it’s really not. It’s a fairly straightforward process, and there are a ton of benefits to having a dust collector in your shop.
Dust collection doesn’t have to be complicated at all. On top of that, I’m going to show you several reasons why it’s a huge benefit to have, and also some tips on getting it going in your own shop.
Here’s the list, and I’ll go into each one of these in detail farther down in the post:
- Your Shop Will be Cleaner
- Tools Will Last Longer
- Dust Collection Will Help You Clean More Often
- Installing the System is Fun
- It Forces You to Organize Your Shop Layout
- Better Air Quality
- More Concentration and Focus
- Easier to Haul Away Dust and Debris
- The Dust Can Be Recycled
- Benefits of One Large Dust Collector
- Benefits of Several Smaller Dust Collectors
- Saving Money on Tubing
- Saving Money on Fittings
- Putting it All Together the Easy Way
- Quieting Down Your Collector
See Also: My New Favorite Dust Masks
Your Shop Will be Cleaner
The first awesome benefit to having dust collection is definitely the most obvious, but it’s also one of the most important. When you use a dust collector, you will have a shop that’s going to be a lot cleaner than when you don’t.
The dust collector does the absolute majority of the work by pulling away dust and debris from your woodworking tools while they are operating. Just this part alone makes the shop cleaner, and that can make a huge difference.
In most systems, when you turn on a tool, the vacuum will also turn on. Even if it doesn’t, all you have to do is flip one extra switch, and you’re ready to go. While you use your tools, the vacuum sucks away the dust.
If you have your system set up really well, you might remove so much to us that it hardly looks like you did anything on the tool. It will keep your shop cleaner for longer, and will help you when it’s time to actually clean up after yourself.
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Tools Will Last Longer
If you take a look at the users manuals on many of your tools, especially thickness planers and belt sanders that are used for thicknessing wood, you’ll notice that they recommend that you use dust collection while operating the tool.
Some of them even come right out and say that the tool is not meant to be operated any other way than with a proper dust removal system in place. The manufacturers are smart, and they know that these systems help the tool last longer.
Essentially what happens when you don’t use a collection system is that the dust and debris just falls where it does, and it builds up in layers. These layers tend to get into places that they shouldn’t, and they start to cause problems.
Over time, a tool that’s choked with sawdust will begin to fail. This will happen a lot sooner than if it was properly cared for, and the dust was being removed.
Dust Collection Will Help You Clean More Often
Let’s face it, you don’t like to clean your shop. I don’t like to clean my shop, and there are probably only a few people in the world that actually do enjoy it. This is where setting up a dust removal system can be a huge help.
I’m not talking about the front end where the system removes most of the dust for you, I’m talking about the back end that has to do with your stress level. Most of the time, we look at cleaning the shop negatively because it seems like it’s such a big task.
When your collector removes the majority of the dust, all of a sudden the task shrinks down into something that feels more manageable. Due to that feeling, you’ll tend to perform your end of the job a lot better and actually clean up the last little bit before you close up.
Another thing that keeps people from cleaning their shop is that they feel like they don’t have enough time for woodworking itself, let alone cleaning. Given the choice, you may decide just to do a little bit more woodworking instead of sweeping up.
Again, this is where you dust collector comes in and saves your butt. Since the cleanup now only feels like a few minutes of work, you may not feel like you’re losing as much time for the hobby that you love. For that reason, you’ll do it more often.
Installing the System is Fun
Don’t laugh too hard after you read that headline. If you enjoy woodworking for the sake of woodworking, then you probably enjoy all of the little things that happen around it. This includes setting up your shop, and maintaining your tools.
It’s kind of like fishing. People who enjoy fishing will also enjoy doing things around fishing without actually being at the lake. For me, this is tying flies. For woodworkers, it’s just doing the other activities that help you be more successful at woodworking.
Setting up your system is no different. Once you see that it’s for your benefit, it will improve your shop, and it will make you a better woodworker, it’s easy to summon the motivation to get out there and do it.
It Forces You to Organize Your Shop Layout
One of the ways that setting up your collection system is a little sneaky is that it forces you to organize your shop layout. Let’s face it, sometimes you may not be the best at organizing your shop really well.
Even if you think you are, after you take a look at some of the examples of better ran the shops with fully integrated systems, you might be surprised at some of your shortcomings. That’s OK though, the best ideas are almost always stolen.
As you start the process, and you start doing research, you’ll see shop diagrams and things of that nature that reveal to you different ways of doing it. When you see those things, you’ll like them, and you’ll naturally make adjustments to your own shop.
This is how it helps you be more organized, which is a good thing. When your layout makes more sense, you work better, and you’ll feel like you have more time to work because you’re spending less time fighting your own layout.
Better Air Quality
Let me start off by saying that a dust collection system is absolutely no substitute for an air purification system. Don’t think that you can run around without a mask because the dust removal system is pulling everything out of the room.
It’s definitely not. However, it’s going to remove a lot more than if you were to just run the tools without it. For this reason, it does improve the air quality in your shop, and that’s a really good benefit for you, and your body.
Most of our shops are in the garage, basements, or other small areas that don’t necessarily have the worlds greatest ventilation. When you have your dust collector remove debris as you are using your tools, it helps improve the air around you.
More Concentration and Focus
It’s weird to think that a system like this can help you with your concentration and focus, but it definitely can. The way it works is kind of sneaky, but you know as well as I do that when you feel weird about something, it’s hard to concentrate.
I want you to think back to the first time that you did an operation on a power tool indoors, without the best ventilation. Do you remember how the dust built up in the air? Do you member how you could almost feel it in your nose and in your lungs?
Do you also remember the scary feeling that you had wondering if you were doing any kind of irreparable damage to yourself? When you feel like that, it bleeds into other aspects of your woodworking, and it can actually be a safety issue.
When you’re using a power tool, the only thing you should be thinking about is using that power tool. All of your resources should be dedicated to performing the step and keeping yourself safe. If you’re thinking about the air, you’re not 100% focused on the tool.
This is where you can run into problems, because when you lose your focus, that’s when you start to make mistakes. Mistakes and power tools can cost you body parts, and that’s definitely not good.
Easier to Haul Away Dust and Debris
Most collectors have a bag on one end that fills up with all of your sawdust. This is super convenient, because it makes the process of hauling away all of that dust and debris a whole lot easier than before.
In shops without dust collection, you either vacuum things up as you go, or you sweep the dust and debris and dump it into a bin. It usually makes a big puff in the air at that point, in the bin gets really heavy after a while.
From there you got a haul it outside, figure out a way to dump it, and then bring the empty cans back in. It’s a lot of process, and a lot of debris that isn’t sealed in a bag where you’re not going to bring that in all the time.
Instead of going through all of that, all you need to do is unhook the bag in your dust collector, haul it to the garbage, and dump it. The whole process is a lot easier, and all you need to do is click the bag on when you get back.
The Dust Can Be Recycled
If you make a lot of sawdust, odds are you thought about if there’s anything else more productive you could actually do with that dust instead of throwing it out. Do a little bit of research, and you’ll definitely find some things that you can do before chucking it.
One of the first things that you will find is how people use sawdust to make their own floor sweeping compound. It’s a pretty easy recipe, and sawdust is one of the ingredients. If you make a lot of sawdust, you might be accidentally making a lot of sweeping compound too.
Sawdust when compressed with the right materials and a little bit of wax can make a good fire starter. If you’re into camping or hiking, this might be great for you. There are also a lot of other uses, like simply adding it to your garden soil.
Benefits of One Large Dust Collector
There are a couple of different ways to go with your dust collection system that you may not consider until it’s time to actually make the purchase. The first decision to make is whether to go with one large central collector, or several small collectors.
The benefit to one large collector is that it takes up only one area of the shop. All of your plumbing goes directly to that collector, and you only have to figure out how to work one unit. It is a little simpler, but all of your eggs are in one basket.
You will have to run a little bit more tubing as well, because tools that are farther away from one main dust collector will need more length to get there. However, it’s only one purchase, it takes up one area of the shop, and every tool uses it.
Benefits of Several Smaller Dust Collectors
Another option that you have for setting up dust collection in your shop is to buy several smaller and less expensive dust collectors instead of one large unit. This has several benefits, and they may make sense for your particular layout.
The first benefit to using smaller collectors is that they cost less money, even if you have to buy several of them, they can cost less than a larger collector. Also, if one of them breaks down and can’t be repaired, the replacement cost is a lot lower.
Next, you don’t have to run nearly as long of piping and plumbing to get from the collector to your tool. This saves you money on ducting, fittings, and the other little odds and ends that it takes to set up the system.
You can also save some money on an automatic start up system, because in most cases you’ll be right next to the dust collector and the tool, so it would be almost lazy not to just flip a second switch that may only be 12 inches to the right of the first one.
Another thing to consider is the cubic feet per minute that the collector units. Since it’s so close to the tool, you’ll need a lower CFM, which cost less money. That’s another benefit, because saving money is always good.
Definitely consider buying several smaller units when you are setting up desk collection in your shop. You can save money, save time, and get you up and running a lot faster than a large unit.
See Also: 13 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking
Saving Money on Tubing
When you have to buy a lot of tubing for your system, it’s definitely beneficial to look around to find the best prices. I love my local hardware store, but most of the time the prices on these kinds of items are far higher than in other places.
Sometimes the bigger home-improvement stores will have deals on piping that you can use for the duct work of your system. This will be a significant savings over buying something that’s meant to be used for a dust collector.
The woodworking industry is kind of funny. It’s almost like the wedding industry. While a big cake might only be $200, when you call it a big wedding cake it’s $2000. The same goes for tubing for your dust collector.
The duct work that you buy only needs to be the right size and material. You don’t need to buy it purposely made for a dust collection system, because you’re just paying more at that point.
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Saving Money on Fittings
One of the easiest ways to save money on hoses and fittings especially for your dust removal system is just to go on Amazon. If you’re not shopping on Amazon, you’re definitely missing out on a huge opportunity to save money.
The internet isn’t nearly as scary as you might think. Amazon is a trusted retailer by hundreds of millions of people, and we all can’t be wrong. A simple Amazon search will show you prices that you almost can’t believe if you’ve already shopped in a regular store.
You might even be able to just get everything that you need right there in one stop, and it will all be delivered to your door. I’m a little spoiled because I have Amazon prime, so the most I ever wait is 48 hours for something to come in. Sometimes, it even comes the same day.
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Putting it All Together the Easy Way
If this is your first time assembling a system like this, I definitely recommend buying a book and setting everything up the right way. There’s just something nice about getting instruction from someone that’s been there before, and it will save you a lot of time.
If you’re on the fence about getting a collector, or getting several, then I recommend buying the book 1st. This is a small commitment, and a much smaller amount of money compared to buying the whole system and then seeing if you like it.
Once you go through the book, if you decide that it’s for you, the money you spent on the book will be worth the tips and knowledge that you gained by reading it. If not, you only spent a few bucks and it’s not the end of the world.
See Also: Woodworking Library
Quieting Down Your Collector
There are a couple of things that you can do however to make your system quieter. First, you can just wear your ear protection. This is the least expensive option, and also the quickest for you to implement.
Whether it be here plugs, or earmuffs, you can easily cancel out the noise as well as some of the negative effects from the amount of noise. If you don’t like ear muffs, just grab some ear plugs and they will work just fine.
Option two is a little bit more involved, and a lot more time-consuming. There are several ways to do it, but the basic version is building a structure around your dust collector that acts like a muffler.
You could also run your duct work through a wall, and place your dust collector outside. This way, only the neighbors will have to be bothered by your woodworking noise.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all of these awesome tips about setting up a dust removal system for your woodworking shop, it’s time to take action on what you’ve learned. Don’t read over 3000 words about getting started and not do anything.
At least start by buying the book. Once you get it home, read it, and start figuring out if you can do it in your own shop. It’s a positive step in the right direction, and once you have everything in place you’ll be super glad that you did it.
If you have any questions on dust collection systems, please post a question in the Q&A forum and I’ll be glad to answer it.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
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- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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