It seems to be all the rage. Every popular woodworker on YouTube makes an elaborate dust collection system for all their tools. Festool guys brat about how great their $9000+ space-shuttle-look-a-like shop vac is.
I learned woodworking during my summers in high school doing construction and remodeling. Table saws didn’t have riving knifes, nailers didn’t have safeties, your safety glasses were you squinting, and saw dust was what you breathed. Good times…
Being a competition shooter I learned to protect my eyes and ears quickly. I normally work in an open shop, not a basement so I rarely use ear plugs. And I’ve never considered the nonsense dust collection.
You know what I do when my shop floor is dirty? Cover it with more saw dust!
I’ll admit, I now were ear plugs when at the band saw and router, but since my table saw set-up is outdoors I don’t feel the need. I’ve also started to wear a dust mask (helps my allergies greatly). Dust collection, however, seems to me to be a nuisance and just more crap to fill my small shop with.
At least I used to feel that way.
I picked up a shop vac for cheap from a friend who was moving, I never would have bought one other wise. (Well, it was far down the list.) The Shop-vac then sat in my store room for a few months. I would use it occasionally to clean out my band saw, but honestly I’m scared I’ll throw a breaker if I try to use it at the same time as a power-tool. I only have one 20amp breaker going to my shop.
One day I decided to vacuum out my bandsaw good before putting in a new blade. I happened to vacuum my workbench to, as I had just drilled a bunch of pocket holes. I then set out to cut dozens of letters from 3/16th hardboard. I wore my dust-mask, safety glasses, and ear plugs and spent a good hour cutting away. I have a fan blowing into my shop and a fan blowing out and figure that the dust goes to the floor or is caught in the breeze. Nope, When I was done I cleaned my glasses because I could barely see. I was covered in brown powder. My nice clean work bench was also covered in dust. The shelves on the other side of my shop were covered in dust!
I honestly thought my shop-vac was under powered and wasn’t that impressed until the other weekend when I decided it was time to mercilessly go through my scrap pile once again. There was sand, leafs, dirt, etc. in every corner of the shop. I decided to use my shop vac to clean it up. Since it wasn’t performing well I decided it was time to clean the air filter. It’s a single use filter, but I’d have to drive an hour for a filter, and let’s be honest, there isn’t much 135psi from an air-hose wont clean. Wow! What a difference that made. I cleaned all my tools, my floors are concrete! (I had forgotten). The one downside is that I have the 1 inch hose not the 2 1/2 but I’m definitely going to get one when I’me in town next week and start using it. It’s not that loud but if I use ear plugs like I should noise wont matter.
Yep, I’m converted. Now I need a Dust Deputy, 100ft of hose, and blast gates. I’ve seen the light, or rather the floor.