Woodworker “code” says you should really take dust collection seriously. Unlike “Pirate Code” which according to Jack Sparrow is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules, this is one you should definitely follow. But… it’s expensive.
A full sized dust collection system starts at around $350 for the base unit and then goes up with the hoses, separators and other add ons. That’s just the entry level system, you’re looking at $500-$1,000 for a “good” set up, not a “great” one. Plus, let’s talk about how much space those things take up. As a proud member of “Tiny Shop Nation” I don’t have space for a massive dedicated dust collection system (yet). Heck, I don’t even have room for my lawnmower right now. So now what?
This Sucks. Like Really.
So you went for the budget and space saving solution like I did and bought a shop vac right? I’m currently using the RIDGID 14 Gal. Wet Dry Vac. I hook the hose right up to my big power tools and even use the Rockler Small Port Hose Kit (pictured below) so I can attach it directly to my router or sander and suck up all the “man glitter” aka “sawdust”.
So what’s wrong with that method? After about two or three uses take a look at your filter. It’s got more dust and crud on it then the floor under your refrigerator. You’re lying if you’re telling me it’s clean under your fridge. It’s literally everyone’s dirty little secret. How good do you think your shop vac suction is going to be when it’s trying to breathe through that filter? Congratulations! You just gave your dust collector Asthma!
Put Your Shop Vac On Steroids.
So is it a shocking revelation that your “dust collection” is slowly dying from dust inhalation? You mean you have to clean before you clean? You betcha. So I talked to my friends at Rockler and picked up the Dust Right Dust Separator and Dust Right Clear Collection Hose (it’s blue!) This is exactly like cleaning the house before the cleaning lady comes over to well.. clean. But this actually make sense.
So how does it work? Magic. Duh. Using the power of your shop vac, the suction goes through the collection hose and into the Dust Separator. Like a mini tornado, the air swirls around dropping the heavier dust and debris into the bottom of the collector while keeping suction and going out to your shop vac and not clogging up your filter.
Dust goes in. Air goes out. I’m telling you. It’s magic. On more of a feats of science level than a “yer’ a wizard Harry” Hogwarts level.
Full disclosure, that filter was packed full of sawdust before I tried out the separator, so anything you see in there is leftover from me smashing out as much junk as possible against the trashcans in the alley. There was a dust cloud for a good 20 minutes. More importantly though, the shop vac is basically empty and you can see that filter used to be blue. So what are the benefits? Aside from extending the life of my shop vac, I have improved suction, easier disposal and most importantly cleaner air in my shop. My lungs thank me. This is two phase air filtration now where I don’t have to worry about tiny particles ruining my clear coats or my singing voice. Game on sawdust!
You can pick up the Dust Right Separator and Clear Hose Kit from Rockler Tools for a little over $100 and hook it up directly to your current shop vac. Sounds much better than spending almost a grand on dirt right? From my thickness planer, to my miter saw to my palm sander, everything runs through my Dust Separator and my shop is a much happier place. How are you going to complain about a giant manly snow globe filled with man glitter?
*product links are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase, a portion of your sale will go to Lazy Guy DIY at no additional cost to you. It’s like a bro-five between friends, but this time it’s me and a retailer. And money. **The Dust Right Dust Separator was provided to me by Rockler Tools. My opinions are my own in this post and were not influenced by the supplier. Although the magic of dust collection is pretty influential.