Dust Collection in the Horse Garage & Bench Room

One of our two portable “Vortex Cone” Jet collectors. These are due for a good cleaning on the first nice spring day. That means taking them apart and sucking out the filter folds with a smaller vacuum. Not my favorite job.

From time to time, we get asked about our “professional setup” for dust collection. It’s not what you might expect from a (semi) professional shop…or maybe it is exactly what you expect, given that we’re known for hand-tool stuff.

But we do use machinery – particularly for stock prep and rough cuts. Plus, there’s a fair amount of sanding in making stick chairs. Our machine shop (aka “The Electric Horse Garage“) is, however, quite small; there’s no room for 6”-diameter piping or a large cyclone. Instead, we have two Jet Vortex dust collectors for the large machinery. One is hooked up to the jointer and planer, with manual gates that we open/close to direct the suction to the machine in use. The other is for the table saw. I don’t know about Chris, but before I turn on any of these three machines, I first poke the bag to make sure the dust level isn’t too high. Trying to birth an overfull garbage bag full of fine dust between the uprights is a bear, especially on the table saw (that dust is heavy!).

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An off-the-shelf solution (we had no room for another large portable unit).

For the spindle and belt/circular sander, we have a small Ridgid unit hanging on the wall (which reminds me – I’d best check it given last week’s chair class; the collection bag doesn’t hold much).

We are very bad about checking the collection bag in this one. My one New Year’s resolution is to never again have to pry out impacted dust and shavings. At least not in front of anyone next time.

On handheld machines such as the random orbit sanders and the Domino Joiner, we hook up Festool dust collectors (I bring mine in from home during classes so that we can set up two stations). Key is the addition of a 98-cent hose clamp to keep the collar from slipping off the machine’s dust port. (You can just see it in the image above.)

In the bench room, the only stationary(ish) machines we have are two bands saws. One, Chris’s venerable Delta/Rockwell, predates dust collection ports, but on the new Jet band saw we hook up the shop vacuum if we’re making anything more than a short, quick cut. Might as well go through the teensy bit of trouble of hauling out the vacuum, given that we use that same vacuum to clean up the machine and floor after using the band saw. Every time.

For larger stuff, let it never be said you can’t find a broom around here. We have plenty – all from Berea College in central Kentucky.


P.S. This is Chris, chiming in. This year we are going to add an electrostatic air scrubber to our machine room. We are serious about keeping the dust down. Also, the only sanding on the stick chairs is on the saddle. I sand about 5 minutes per chair. Beginners have to sand more. So it can seem like a lot when six beginners build chairs.

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