We also recommend more in-depth research. A number of excellent dust collection books are available, but one of our favorites is Sandor Nagyszalanczy's "Woodshop Dust Control." It includes detailed information on best practices in dust collection and instructions on designing a system that will take all of the guesswork out of setup.
To help you get started, though, here are 10 great tips for configuring an effective dust collection system.
1. Use rigid metal pipe and metal fittings for longer runs of ductwork. Air travels smoothly through rigid spiral pipe, reducing static pressure losses and increasing the system's efficiency. Metal fittings designed to reduce friction greatly increase the efficiency of central dust collection systems.
2. Use flexible hose designed for dust collection. Using flexible hose that's not designed for dust collection can greatly reduce the system's efficiency. Clear, wire-reinforced dust collection hose is designed to produce a minimum amount of static pressure loss and to stand up to the vacuum pressures produced in dust collection. It also has the added benefit of making clogs and debris buildups easy to spot and correct. Rockler carries regular clear hose, as well expandable clear hose that stretches up to seven times its storage length – a good option in smaller shops with portable dust collection.
3. Use plastic fittings to connect runs of flexible hose. When it is necessary to connect separate pieces of flexible hose, use plastic dust collection hose fittings. Plastic elbows produce far less static pressure loss in situations where an abrupt change of duct direction is required than a sharp bend in a run of flexible hose. Plastic Y-connectors and T-connectors make quick and easy work of setting up branch ducts. Dust collection splicers make it possible to connect straight runs of hose, and dust collection couplings allow two or more fittings to be joined directly together.
4. Isolate each woodworking machine in a central dust collection system with a blast gate.
In most cases, to achieve adequate dust collection at individual machines attached to a central dust collection system, you will need to use blast gates to shut off the air flow to other machines that are not in use.
Rockler offers plastic blast gates designed for use with flexible hose and plastic fittings and metal blast gates that can be used with either flexible hose or metal pipe. Blast gates designed specifically for use with spiral metal pipe are listed along with the spiral pipe and fittings.
To make setting up a dust collection system easier and more economical, Rockler also has developed sets that include plastic fittings, blast gates and hose clamps to connect three woodworking machines to your system (hose sold separately).
5. Outfit your tools with dust collection ports or hoods. Dust collection at many open-stand table saws and jointers can be greatly improved with the installation of a dust collection hood. The hoods can be easily adapted to fit most contractor-type table saws and 6' and 8' jointers and are designed to work with 4' dust collection hose. If slight variations in port or hose size is a problem (as might happen with shop vacuums), Rockler also sells Dust RightTM Rubber Unions and Dust RightTM Tool Ports with rubber boots that can be tightened with the included hose clamp for a tight fit.
6. Use universal ports for tools with no direct dust collection port. For tools with no direct dust collection attachment, or to enhance primary dust collection, use a tabletop dust fitting or a free-standing universal dust collection port. Rockler also carries solutions for tools that present special dust collection challenges, such as handheld routers, router tables, power miter saws and lathes. See the related article, "Solutions for Special Challenges."
7. Use quick-release connectors. If you are setting up a portable dust collection system, quick-release connectors such as keyed hose clamps and quick-disconnect fittings will make moving your dust collector from machine to machine quick and easy. For stationary systems, they will make setup, cleaning and inspection much less time consuming. Rockler's Dust Right® fittings and accessories make for even quicker connections when moving from tool to tool.
8. Use the right size of reducer or adapter to step down hose diameter at the tool. In general, it is better to use large diameter hose for longer runs and step down to the correct size for machinery dust ports as close to the machine as possible. Using the wrong-sized or makeshift adapters to step down hose diameter creates unnecessary drag on the system. Reducers designed for use with dust collection hose make transitions between hose diameters as smooth as possible. The universal duct adapter allows transitions between any combination of the most common hose diameters. The dust collection hose adapter allows 4" hose to be connected to most standard 2-1/4" bench top tool dust ports.
9. Ground your dust collection system's ductwork. Static electricity buildup in your system's ductwork presents a fire hazard and can produce an electric shock on contact. When properly installed, a dust grounding kit will greatly reduce the static electricity buildup in your system's ductwork.
10. Increase your system's chip holding capacity with a dust separator. Devices such as the Dust Right® Dust Separator and 4" Dust Separator Components increase the waste-holding capacity of your dust collection system by separating out larger sized chips and shavings before they reach your dust collector. They also reduce wear on your dust collector's blower assembly caused by collisions with large debris particles. See the related article, "Add a Stage to Improve Performance."