Vacuum Dust Collection With Self-Powered Relays

Like many people with multiple woodworking tools, [Will Stone] wanted to create a centralized dust collection system. But he quickly found that the devil was in the details, as he struggled to find an economic way to automatically kick on the vacuum when one of the tools started up. His final solution might be one of the most elegant, and surely the cheapest, we’ve ever come across.

As with other DIY systems we’ve seen over the years, [Will] is using a simple inductive current sensor to detect when AC power is being drawn by one of his tools. But where the similarity stops is that there’s nothing so pedestrian as a microcontroller reading the output of the sensor. He realized that when the coils in the sensor were energized they were putting out about 7 volts AC, which should be more than enough to trigger a relay.

So he threw together a rectifier circuit on a piece of perfboard, using four LEDs in true hacker style. With the addition of a capacitor to smooth out the voltage, this little circuit is able to trip the 40 amp solid state relay controlling power to the vacuum using nothing more than the energy harvested from the sensor’s coil.

Using a current sensor is great when the tools are close enough to all be plugged into the same line, but that doesn’t help the folks with cordless tools or supersized shops. In that case, you might need to look into a sound-activated system.

Cable Operated Blast Door Needs No Power

Every well-equipped wood shop has a dust collection system, with blast gates at every tool to direct the suction power where you need it. If these gates are hard to reach they can be real pain to operate. [Cosmas Bauer] had this problem with his table saw, and created a convenient cable-operated mechanism.

The dust chute on table saw is on the back end, meaning he needs to walk around it to open it, and then walk back to the front to operate the machine. As we all know, laziness increased efficiency can be an excellent reason for projects. Electronics or pneumatics might get the job done, but [Cosmas] realised that a mechanical system might be simpler and more reliable.  Being a woodworker, he built most of the system out of wood.

The blast door itself is held in the closed position by a piece of elastic tubing. To pull it open, he attached a bicycle cable to the blast door, with the other side attached to a latching mechanism that is the star of the show. It’s a rotating disc, with the end of the cable and operating handle attached on the outer edge. A slot track is cut in the disc, in which a pin on the end of a short arm slides. It has a few sharp corners in the track, which forces the pin to only go around in one direction, and to latch in two possible positions when released. Check out the video after the break to see it in action.

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Building A Sound Activated Shop Fan With Arduino

Whether you’re using a soldering iron or a table saw, ventilation in the shop is important. Which is why [Atomic Dairy] built a monster air cleaner called the Fanboy that looks like it should be mounted under the wing of an F-15. Realizing a simple switch on the wall wouldn’t do this potent air mover justice, they decided to build a sound activated controller for it.

It’s certainly an elegant idea. The sound created once they kick on their woodworking tools would be difficult to miss by even the most rudimentary of sound-detection hardware. At the most basic level, all they needed was a way for an Arduino to throw a relay once the noise level in the room reached a specific threshold.

Of course it ended up getting a bit more complicated than that, as tends to happen with these kinds of projects. For one, the sound doesn’t directly control the solid state relay used in the fan controller. When the microphone equipped Arduino detects enough noise, it will start a timer that keeps the fan running for two hours. If the tool keeps running, then more time gets added to the clock. This ensures that the air in the room is well circulated even after the cutting and sanding is done.

[Atomic Dairy] also added a few additional features so they could have more direct control over the fan. There’s a button to manually add more time to the clock, and another button to shut it down. There’s even support for a little wireless remote control, so the fan can be operated without having to walk over to the control panel.

We’ve seen some impressive air circulation and dust collection systems over the years, but finding a way to elegantly switch them on and off has always been a problem given the wide array of tools that could be in use at any given time. Sound activation isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s certainly one we’d consider for our own shop.

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Downdraft Device Dismisses Dust

Woodworking is messy business, especially the sanding part. But even if you don’t care what happens to your shop floor, you don’t want dead tree particulate matter in your lungs. Wearing a mask or even a respirator is a good start, but a dust collection system is better. Someday, [XYZ Create] might have a shop-wide sawdust-slurper installed. In the meantime, he made a downdraft table out of scrap plywood and a plastic storage box.

The only thing he didn’t already have on hand was a port that matched his shop vacuum. We like his workaround to avoid drilling a huge hole in plastic that would certainly crack — use a hose clamp to get the OD of the port, heat up the clamp on a hot plate, and let it melt a hole into the box. Hopefully, he at least opened a window. [XYZ Create] glued four pieces of scrap plywood together for the top, and drilled all 117 holes by hand. Who needs pegboard?

Not fancy or big enough for your needs? Here’s one with a built-in filtration system.

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Downdraft Table Inhales Dust, Not Cash

We always look forward to the builds [MakerMan] sends in, and it’s not just because we dig his choices in royalty free music (though it helps). He always manages to put together his projects with a minimum of fuss, and perhaps more importantly, a minimum of funds. His builds use salvaged components, easily sourced materials, and common tools. Watching him work invariably makes us realize that we tend to overthink our own projects.

In his latest video, [MakerMan] was tasked with building a downdraft table for a local factory that makes jewelry boxes. By sucking air through a series of holes in the table’s surface, sawdust created while the workers are building the boxes will automatically be removed from the workspace. Even if you aren’t in the jewelry box making business, any task which produces fine particles (such as sanding) could benefit from such a setup. You probably won’t need a downdraft table quite as large as the one he builds, but the principles will be the same if you get inspired to build a somewhat smaller version.

The build starts with sheets of MDF, which get cut, glued, and screwed together to make the basic tabletop shape. To this, [MakerMan] attaches a welded steel frame which will give it the strength MDF itself lacks. With careful measurement, lines are plotted across the top of the MDF sheet and all the holes are drilled with a simple hand drill; no fancy CNC here.

With the table doing its best colander impression, [MakerMan] adds an air box to the bottom which is similarly made of thin MDF sheets. All of the joints are sealed up with caulk, because at this point you want things to be as air tight as possible. A large blower is attached to the bottom, which gets piped to a dust collection system that’s made of a garbage can and…you guessed it, more MDF.

Watching [MakerMan] turn what’s often literal trash into a functional build never gets old. We’ve seen him create everything from a gorgeous origami chandelier to a very impressive diode laser cutter using little more than scrap parts and hand tools, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

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Woodworker Goes From 3D-Printing Skeptic To Believer

If there’s one place where the old ways of doing things live a longer life than you’d otherwise expect, it’s the woodshop. Woodworkers have a way of stubbornly sticking to tradition, and that usually works out fine. But what does it take to change a woodworker’s mind about a tool that seems to have little role in the woodshop: the 3D-printer?

That’s the question [Marius Hornberger] asked himself, and at least for him, there are a lot of woodworking gadgets that can be 3D-printed. [Marius] began his journey into additive manufacturing three years ago as a skeptic, not seeing how [Benchy] and friends could be of any value to his endeavors. But as is often the case with a tool that can build almost anything, all it takes is a little ingenuity to get started. His first tool was a pair of soft jaws for his bench vise. This was followed by a flood of useful doodads, including a clever center finder for round and square stock, custom panels for electrical switches, and light-duty pulleys for some of the machines he likes to build. But [Marius] obviously has an issue with dust, because most of his accessories have to do with helping control it in the shop. The real gem of this group is the hose clamp for spiral-reinforced vacuum hose; standard band clamps don’t fit well on those, but his clamps have an offset that straddles the wire for a neat fit. Genius!

[Marius] has kindly made all his models available on Thingiverse, so feel free to dig in and start kitting out your shop. Once you do maybe you can start building cool things like his all-wood scissors lift.

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3D Printed Magnetic Dust Port Keeps Shop Clean

Too often we hear that 3D printing is at best only a way for making prototypes before you invest in “real” manufacturing. At worst, it’s a way to make little toys for your desk or cubicle. The detractors say that 3D printing doesn’t lend itself to building practical devices, and even if you do manage to print something useful, you probably could have made it faster or better with more traditional manufacturing methods. So naturally we’re especially excited when we see a printed design that manages to buck both criticisms at once.

Not only does this magnetic dust port connector created by [Taylor Landry] have a clear practical purpose, but its design largely defies normal construction techniques. It consists of two flanges, sized for common 4″ flexible ducting, which feature embedded magnets on the faces.

This allows the two sides of the coupling to easily be connected and disconnected without relying on threads or a friction fit. Not only would threads likely get caked with sawdust, but the magnetic connection allows the coupling to release in the event somebody trips on the duct or the tool is moved.

Currently only one type of coupling is available, but [Taylor] says he’s looking at adapting the design to other tools. He also mentions that the magnets he’s currently using are a custom size he had left over from a previous project, so if you’re looking to replicate the design you might need to tweak the magnet openings. Luckily, he’s provided the STEP files so you don’t have to hack the STL.

A quick connect dust port like the one [Taylor] has come up with seems like it would be a perfect addition to the whole-shop dust collection systems we’ve covered in the past. In fact, it might not even be the only 3D printed component in the system.