Shop Dust Collection: Shop Vacuum vs. Dust Collector

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Woodshop dust collection is a mysterious topic for many woodworkers, but we at WWGOA like to approach it in very simple terms that we can all understand. When contemplating woodshop dust collection, the first question that many woodworkers as is “Do I really need a dedicated dust collector? Can’t I just use a shop vacuum that I already have?” That is a fair question; both tools are designed to suck air quickly and capture debris in a bag or container. Why not just hook a big shop vacuum up to a duct system that connects to all of your tools? Wouldn’t that constitute a sufficient shop dust collection system?

Two different animals. A dust collector and a shop vacuum might seem similar at the surface, but they are actually designed to perform quite differently. One is designed for moving air at high pressure, and the other is designed to move air quickly in large volumes, and it is beneficial to understand the difference.

When to use one vs. the other? There are certain tasks that a dust collector will be better for, and other tasks where a dust collector would be a better choice. Choosing the right one for a given application requires a good understanding of the intended purpose of each tool.

What if you can only have one? If you have a shop full of large dust producing power tools, and you want to standardize on a single woodshop dust collection solution, then it makes sense to invest in the best dust collector that you can afford. But if you have both and want to take advantage of the capabilities of each one, then George will help you make a good decision as to how to position each tool as part of your overall woodshop dust collection system.