Automatic Dust Collection For The Whole Shop

If you’ve got a woodworking area, or even if you’ve just got something that really churns out dust like a belt sander or table saw, there’s an excellent chance you hate sawdust with a passion. It gets all over your clothes, jams up everything mechanical, and as a fun little bonus can be explosive if not handled properly. Thankfully newer tools tend to come with their own dust collection bags (back in the old days, you weren’t really a man unless you were coughing up wood fibers), but if you’ve got a half a dozen tools with half a dozen different dust bags you’ve got to empty, that can get pretty annoying.

Especially if you take woodworking as seriously as [Brad Wright] does. Over on his YouTube channel [DIY Builds], he quickly runs through the construction of a whole-shop dust collection system with some very neat features. Not everyone needs a system this intricate, but the tips and tricks he shows off during the build are great and can certainly be adapted to less grandiose setups.

Dust collection connector with closeable gate
One of the scratch-built gates.

[Brad] goes into a bit more detail in this gallery, revealing that the heart of the build is a Harbor Freight dust collection system that he modified into a cyclone separator. Big chunks fall down into the 55 gallon bucket, and what’s left gets blown out of the shop via a louvered vent through an exterior wall. An intricate system of 4 inch PVC pipe is then used to connect up each individual machine’s dust collection port. Even individual hand sanders get into the act via a three way manifold. His table saw lacked a dust port, so he enclosed the motor with a piece of plywood and made his own.

One of the most interesting aspects of the build is the scratch-built blast gates. These are essentially valves which open and close the different sections of the PVC where they mate to the individual stations. This prevents the dust collection system from wasting suction by trying to pull from all the stations at once when only one is in use at any given time. [Brad] even wired up the blast gates with switches that will turn the dust collection system on when the gate is open, and off when it’s closed.

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered the lengths people will go to rid their shop of dust. Cyclone dust separators are an especially popular build, using everything from sheet metal to 3D printed parts.

19 thoughts on “Automatic Dust Collection For The Whole Shop

      1. could it even be possible that just air in a 13mm air hose to arc through to a ground connected cable run?
        I got a leak in said air hose and a small burn mark as if someone had started a tig welder on that spot…

        1. Fair enough.

          However, the guy’s article makes more sense than the aforementioned myth that relies on no proof whatsoever (did some googling before writing this, came back empty handed).
          But if you want to believe in this myth, knock yourself out!

    1. I’m in the beginning stages of putting together my workshop and wondered that if PVC can cause static buildup in dust collection systems why not use metal duct work?

  1. As my shop grows I am definitively seeing the necessity of some sort of manifold dust collection system. Right now I use a 1hp dust collector pulling through a cardboard barrel seperator I made – but I have to manually move the hose aroand and it’s noisey. Of course, building improvements in your shop is as much fun as building projects with the improvements in you shop!

  2. Those gates are sliding between two pieces of wood in the middle of a duct that has a lot of sawdust and debris.
    I somehow don’t think the slide function is assured over any length of time.

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