Unless you're having a square dance, you don't want sawdust on the floor. And you certainly don't want to breathe it. We recently tried dozens of products that promise better dust pickup. Here are the ones that work best.
Catch a broad blast of debris...
While no single accessory will catch all the dust and chips that go airborne when turning wood, the Big Gulp Ultimate Dust Hood, shown, gobbles up a lot of it. When tethered to a 1-hp or larger dust collector with 4" hose, the Big Gulp gathers in most of the chips made when hollowing out a bowl or vessel. It's especially effective at sucking up sanding dust from turnings—the stuff you'd breathe into your lungs otherwise.
The Big Gulp mounts between the ways of any lathe bed on three slotted arms with locking knobs, allowing you to position the hood where you need help most. You can also get it on a floor stand (model #DBU30) or the long-armed Dust Picker (model #DPICKER2), which has a smaller hood, for dust collection behind a mitersaw, radial-arm saw, or other dust-spewing tool.
Big Gulp Ultimate Dust Hood
Penn State Industries
Try an articulated hose
When you've got to have dust collection in hard-to-reach areas or places where a 4" hose gets in the way, attach a Loc-Line articulated hose to your shop vacuum (or with a reducer to a larger dust-collection system). Bend Loc-Line to almost any configuration, and snap on a nozzle to place the suction right where you need it. Use couplers to join multiple lengths of hose. We like Loc-Line for use with any stationary sander, as well as drill presses and router-table operations when you can't use a fence-mounted dust port.
Loc-Line Modular System
21⁄2 "x23" hose
Adapters and nozzles
Lockwood Products, 800-423-1625
Where to buy: Lee Valley Tools,
Gain airflow and filtration with specially made bags
If your dust collector's filter bag puffs up like a taut balloon, you're probably not getting maximum airflow through your collector. Although many manufacturers offer high-efficiency filter bags (1 to 5 microns) as standard or optional equipment, most don't do anything to optimize airflow. American Fabric Filter custom-makes oversize 1-micron bags that increase airflow by not restricting it.
High-Efficiency Filter Bags
American Fabric Filter
No-clog blast gates improve airflow
Debris can build up in the grooves of typical blast gates, preventing them from closing fully, so they leak air and ultimately reduce suction where you need it. Lee Valley's self-cleaning gates extend through the bracket to push debris out of the groove and prevent such buildup.
Self-Cleaning Blast Gates
Lee Valley Tools
Better seal eliminates air leaks
Flexible dust-collection hose has a metal supporting wire that spirals throughout it to prevent the hose from collapsing under suction. But with ordinary hose clamps, leaks can occur where the clamp crosses that wire. Lee Valley's Bridge Hose Clamps straddle the metal wire, as shown, which allows the clamp to fully seal the hose to the connector or dust port.
Bridge Hose Clamps
21⁄2 "-6" models
Lee Valley Tools
Quick changes mean fewer hoses
Here's an accessory for those of us who don't have the luxury of a central dust-collection system and have to move the collector from tool to tool. Fazlok Quick Disconnect male and female fittings allow you to make changes quickly and without tools. You simply twist and turn to lock and unlock the hose from the tool. Install female Fazlok fittings on your collector's inlet and on the dust ports on your tools; then clamp male fittings onto both ends of your flex-hose. To maximize airflow, you can have several hoses of different lengths, and use the shortest hose you need to get from the collector to the tool.
Fazlok Quick Disconnect Hose Fittings
21⁄2 " & 4" models
You can use this filter for wet messes
We've all been there: To remove the caked-on dust from the pleated paper filter of your shop vacuum, you tap it, beat on it, or blow it out with compressed air, but you still can't get it fully clean. Not so with Cleanstream filters, made of non-stick Gore-Tex material you can clean with air or water, so it works on wet and dry pickups. They deliver finer filtration than paper varieties—trapping particles as small as 0.3 micron. Filters fit Shop-Vac, Craftsman, and Ridgid brands.
Cleanstream Wet/Dry Vacuum Filters
W.L. Gore and Associates
No holes necessary for dust pickup
Mirka's Abranet sanding discs are made of a porous, meshlike material, with grit on one side and hook-and-loop-style fasteners on the other. The result: You get effective dust collection through all the pores without taking the time to line it up with the sander's dust-collection holes. Abranet comes in 13 grits from 80 to 1,000, and costs nearly twice as much as Mirka's Gold sandpaper discs. But the better dust collection means the abrasive won't load up with sanding dust, so it lasts longer than typical sandpaper. And it means you'll put less dust into the air. Abranet also comes in sheets and rolls.
Abranet Sanding Discs
Where to buy: Woodcraft,
Master the mess of machine-cut 'tails
Dust-collection hoods for Leigh and Rockler dovetail jigs do a remarkably good job of corraling the spray of chips and dust created when router-cutting dovetails. Each fixture mounts directly onto the jig's front-including older models with the help of special mounting kits-and you simply attach your shop vacuum hose to the 21⁄2 " port. The Leigh VRS features a flat top that supports your router flush with the tops of the jig fingers. A sliding dust port glides underneath and follows the router. The Rockler fixture has soft bristles that stick up from a dust hood, allowing the router bit to pass through without harm.