Without a doubt one of the biggest drags to woodworking is dealing with the inevitable byproduct of all the fun; sawdust. From my perusing of the interwebs, I have noticed a broad spectrum of different levels of sawdust-maintenance that woodworkers utilize that range from doing absolutely nothing to maintaining a high level cleanroom that NASA engineers would feel right at home in. It would seem reasonable to assume, at first glance, that the different levels are correlated with the amount of time a woodworker might spend doing woodworking, but I don’t find this to hold water. I think it has more to do with how the individual woodworker perceives the risk from their exposure, which would be expected to create a lot of variability among woodworkers. For me, I don’t see the need to keep a high level cleanroom, as I’m not building Intel processors or performing open heart surgery in my woodshop and I certainly don’t lose my shit when sawdust accumulates on the floor. I also don’t give a poor Amazon review for a tool or remove it from purchasing consideration when it’s reported/found to have a poor dust collection capability. I think I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to working with the dusties.
Below I’ll walk you through how I handle dust/chips/shavings and as you read please keep in mind that my shop is fairly active with woodworking video releases twice per month that mostly involve project builds. Also please keep in mind that my shop is in a garage (hence Garage Woodworks) and I almost always have the garage door open when working which helps to evacuate dust and replenish fresh air.
My table saw and planer are connected via a Y split section of PVC to a large bin which is equipped with a Dust Deputy cyclone and shop vac (below). This works out really well for the most part, but because the blower on my planer is so strong it will occasionally push chips into my table saw (this isn’t a big problem – I need to make a blast gate here). The same cyclone/bin will also serve the dust collection needs of the surrounding shop area in which it lives.
By that I mean that I will disconnect it from the Y PVC split and also use it at my bandsaw, drum sander, and drill press (below). At the drum sander the shop vac is a little under powered, but it does prevent fine dust from escaping into the air. Also, the drum sander is never used with the garage door down which helps in getting rid of some of the dusties that escape my “collector”.
I’ll also use the same Dust Deputy/bin and shop vac to vacuum the floor as needed (below). And again, dust accumulation on my woodshop floor doesn’t send me into panic mode like a few other bloggers I read online – no names ;^)
On the far side of my shop lives my jointer and it has its own dedicated bin/mini-cyclone (ClearView)/shop vac and is only disconnected when it is time to empty sawdust. And like my Dust Deputy, it does an excellent job at keeping up with my jointer chips and dust.
So there you go! My dust collection process in a nutshell. I understand the risks involved when it comes to breathing in cancer causing sawdust and at the same time I don’t take it to the extreme when it comes to collecting every last particle of dust; it’s a woodshop after all and I expect to see sawdust on the floor.
If we consider again the sawdust spectrum that I mentioned earlier, we might expect to find a few woodworkers that consider my sawdust collection process extreme and there might also be a few that see it as being inadequate, but it works for me.