Select a DC system to suit your tools and shop
To choose a dust collector that will handle your shop's future requirements, you first need to know which tool in your shop (or on your shopping list) needs the greatest airflow to pull away dust and chips. Because every foot of pipe and each fitting adds resistance to that airflow, you also need to know the amount of static-pressure loss between the collector and that tool. With your workshop layout and dust-collection system map in hand, use the downloadable charts on the bottom of the page to guide you from your floor plan to the collector you need.
Once you have both numbers, you're ready to shop. Skip references to "free air" or "maximum" cfm, and check manufacturers' literature and Web sites for performance curves like the example shown. (For head-to-head comparisons of several manufacturers' products, go to woodmagazine.com/cyclones.)
Manufacturers' curves may show how the system performs under ideal, carefully controlled conditions with a new, clean filter. Time and real-world use may lower a unit's actual performance, so opt for the next collector size up from what you've calculated you'll need. That way, no matter how far woodworking takes you, it won't leave a trail of sawdust along the path.