“Table saw dust collection” can mean a variety of things, beginning with most basic system – a broom or brush, a dustpan and a few minutes at the end of the day. It’s an economical approach, but in terms of keeping your shop clean and your saw free of buildup that causes excessive heat retention and problems the saw’s mechanisms, it leaves a lot to be desired. Realizing this, most woodworkers sooner or later, and with varying degrees of reluctance, invest in a more sophisticated method of controlling table saw dust.
Since most of the dust that a table saw produces is carried downward through the throat plate, the front line of table saw dust collection involves picking up the dust that accumulates underneath the saw. Many table saws make doing this easier by means of an integrated dust collection port. In fact, these days it would be almost impossible to buy a cabinet saw (a table saw with a fully enclosed base) that doesn’t come equipped with a dust collection port, and most of the portable saws on the market come equipped with a shop vacuum-sized port. And for saws that don’t have a dust port – including most “contractor” style saws – there’s even a handy, time-saving Table Saw Dust Hood available that makes hooking up a dust port-less table saw to a dust collection system a fairly simple procedure.
But once you have the under the saw dust under control, you’ll notice that you still have a problem: a steady stream of dust spewing from the top of your saw. Even the most powerful dust collector connected to the bottom your saw will do little to capture the dust – mostly of the more hazardous fine dust variety – that the saw blade propels in the general direction of your face. What’s the solution? The only real cure is a top-of –the-saw dust pickup hood. And when you consider the health risks involved in standing in a shower of fine dust particles, the added hassle of sweeping up a mess flung far and wide in your shop, and factor in the added safety that a table top hood incidentally provides, the investment starts to make a lot of sense.
It is possible to build your own top pick-up hood for a table saw. In Woodshop Dust Control, Sandor Nagyszalanczy offers a plan for a basic unit made from supplies that you’ll find around the shop or at an average hardware store. But don’t expect anywhere near as refined a solution as a commercial model, like the EXAKTOR Overarm Dust Hood. Used with a dust collector that will move 700-800 CFM (cubic feet per minute) through it’s 4’’ boom/dust duct, the EXAKTOR will capture virtually all of the dust coming off the top of a table saw, and better still, it will do it without getting in your way. Unlike the stationary design of most shop-built units, the EXAKTOR uses a counter balanced scissors-action mechanism that moves the guard upward out of the way, with virtually no resistance, once the stock comes in contact with the guard basket’s soft rubber wheels.
In fact, unless your have a machine shop next door to your woodshop, you simply would not be able to build a comparable set-up. The 4” diameter aluminum telescoping boom, which doubles as the main dust duct, provides perfectly rigid support for the dust hood, and can be expanded to accommodate up to a 70’’ capacity rip fence. The rest of the framework and the vertical boom are made of solid steel, fastened together by state of the art robotic welders. In short, the EXAKTOR is built like a tank, right down to the shatter-proof lenses on the guard basket. It all bolts securely to your table saw bed to become an integral part of the machine. And while there is a fair amount of assembly involved, it all goes together pretty easily. You’ll find an impressive number of parts in the box, but the 13 page instruction manual covers all of the assembly steps in great detail. Once you’ve read the manual, according to the manufacturer, you should be up and running in under an hour.
This is serious dust collection for the serious woodworker. For a professional cabinetmaker, or anyone who spends significant time in front of a table saw table saw, the EXAKTOR is worth careful consideration (especially now while it’s on sale). If you’re disappointed with the results you’re getting after having solved “half” of the table saw dust collection problem, it’s the best answer we think you’ll find anywhere. The EXAKTOR Overarm Dust Hood will reliably close the loop and, in all likelihood, give you virtually dust-free table saw operation for the rest of your woodworking career.