Ask WWGOA: Dust Collection Size

woodworking dust collection system

Question:
I’m setting up a new shop and I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about dust collection. Now, I’m more confused than I was before doing the research! My shop is about 300 square feet; the third stall in my three car garage. Can you point me in the right direction on dust collection? How large of a system do I need, and what’s the best way to run ductwork?

Submitted by Jason S.

Answer:
First, on choosing a dust collector. As you have come to realize, the “scientific answer” is complicated, and involves a lot of variables pertaining to the tools involved, the length of runs, duct size, etc. I’d suggest that you work with a vendor that has sales people available with expertise on air flow, so that they can perform these calculations for you and assist with designing your ductwork. Several of the cyclone vendors have people available to assist with that.

If you are trying to set up dust collection on a tight budget, I’d suggest getting a dust collector with a minimum of 2HP, and run 4” ducting with as little flexible ducting as possible. Flexible pipe absolutely crushes your air flow performance, so run hard pipe to as close to the tool as possible, and only use a couple feet of flexible pipe to make it easier to move the tool as needed.

For more information (we promise it’s simple!) on this topic, check out these articles:

D.O.G. Simple Approach for Dust Collection Ducting
Hooking Up Your Tools for Better Dust Collection

Paul

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Discussion
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23 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: Dust Collection Size”
  1. jred7713

    Great and informative articles, Paul; thanks. In “Hooking Up…” you responded to it was the third and ref’d “D..O.G…” but what was/is the first?

    Reply
  2. Brandon

    For a small shop on a tight budget go with the harbor frieght 2hp model. I have a 12 in jet jointer/planner and it has no problems for keeping up. For under $200 the price can’t be beat.

    Reply
  3. T Boyer

    Are these articles available for download and printing to save until I’m ready to buildout a workshop?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Thank you for commenting.

      The articles are not available to be downloaded but will always be on the website.

      Reply
  4. al espenan

    Where can I buy adapters from 4 inch hose to adapt to the different tools I have? Miter saw is 1 1/4, planter 2 inch and so on.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Thank you for commenting!
      If you go to a woodworking specialty store’s web site, such as Rockler.com, and search for “dust collection adapter”, you will find a lot to choose from. I find in many situations that the commercially available options are just not quite perfect, so I end up modifying them in some cases, and in other cases fabricating something out of PVC fittings if that seems better suited for a situation.

      Reply
  5. JONT JOHNSON

    I am building a small workshop; 15 X 20 feet. Have everything settled except what to floor it with. Have seen several shops in myh woodworking magazines with OSB flooring. Is this a good choice or is there something better. I don’t have a lot of $$ to spend so I need something that is duable and won’t set me back a bunch.

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      OSB is a good economical choice for woodshop flooring. I’d suggest painting with a good floor paint to make it easier to sweep up dust.

      Reply
      • Walter

        I have a new shop, combination of garage (for automobile restorations) and a wood shop. Primarily, half of the building would be for the cars and about the other half would be available for wood working. I plan to place some of the saws on stands that would allow me to move them around as necessary. The floor is concrete. Is this a good idea for the wood work side? Or is it better to put down OSB on the concrete? What would be the advantages of using OSB, if any?

        Reply
  6. Jack Burgess

    Jasib, I had the same problem and did not even get adequate information from vendors After I read everthing I could find I came too the conclusion that the MOST economical way was to collect the dust at the SOURCE That led me to NOT use 4″ ducting (not room to do it_) small shop I set 21/2 in connectors at each tool with flex hose to source and I use a long flex 21/2 hose to connect at each tool as i use it. Long tube is connected to dump bucket which is then connected to a HD floor vac with a ONE MICRON filter. BUT that was not the key the vac source (whatever you use) must have a outflow exhause connect to the OUTSIDE you cannot imagine what is coming out of the exhaust. It is the unseen 1 microm that we are breathing. Ideal would be to have the collection unit located OUTSIDE but difficult in neighborhoods/ Also installed a small attic fan at one end wall and a vent in my incoming door to keep air flow going Good luck look up the article on line by Bill Pentz will give you a lot of information not published by others

    Reply
  7. Bruce

    I have a question on this line. I have a dedicated 12×24 shop heated and cooled, 10′ ceilings. I’ve been looking at air filtration systems. It makes sense to me,but is it worth the investment. They run just under $200 to over $400.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Bruce. I believe that they are a worthwhile investment, provided that you have a good dust collection system in place as your primary defense. Air filtration is nearly worthless unless you are doing a good job of capturing dust at the source.
      I have good dust collection in place for most of my tools; so good in fact that I find it unnecessary to run my air filtration most of the time. When I find myself turning on air filtration is when I am using a hand-held tool where I need to “bring the tool to the work” and I don’t have a good ability to capture dust at the source. Examples include sanding and routing.

      Reply
  8. Annette

    Has anyone here used a DIY cyclone dust collection with a shop vac? I have a shop the size of a 1 car garage – very limited space. I saw it on Pinterest and wondered how well it really worked before investing in the items needed to go with my shop vac. It’s mainly to use with my radial arm saw & router.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Annette. I’ve used a Dust Deputy cyclone with a 5HP shop vac to collect from a 12″ planer. It did a great job on dust separation, but the CFM is really low and the dust shroud plugged regularly. You will have a hard time pulling enough CFM with that approach for a RAS, and I think you’ll be disappointed with the results. For a router, if you have a good base with dust collection port you might be able to get decent pickup. If this is on a router table I think you will struggle to get the necessary CFM to collect well.

      Reply
  9. JOE

    I am setting up a new system, that is plenty large enough but I have a question. Why is it that almost all of the videos that I see have the pipes running overhead. It seams like this is fighting gravity making the chips ‘climb’ the pipes at the beginning of the run from the farthermost points away from the suction source possible. Does this matter or is there a reason for running the pipes overhead instead of along the floor?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Joe. The only advantage of installing the pipes overhead is that they are out of your way. The system would be able to move debris more easily if it did not have to fight gravity.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  10. darryl

    does a hobby shop dust collection system need to be grounded~4 in pvc with drops

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Darryl. Grounding a PVC ducting system can help with static electricity. It is a good idea to ground the system, but the only likely ramification if you don’t is that you would get a static shock. There is also a smaller potential for fire, but in hobbyist systems that is unlikely due to the slower air velocity compared to industrial systems.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  11. Dean Kaufman

    What is a good router table choice to be able to adjust the router depth from the top of the table? I’m just getting started and want a table that accurately cuts the wood.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Dean. This is really more about the router lift than the router table. And you are smart to research this up front because some lifts allow for this and others do not. Here’s the one that George uses:
      https://amzn.to/2GKvzIj
      There are many router tables that you can use with this. Here is one good example: https://amzn.to/2vXRlF8
      But in general you can make your router lift and router table decisions independently. Just be sure that the router lift is either the same size as the opening on your table, or larger. If larger you can expand the opening and drop in the lift.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply