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11 Ways to Get Dust (Before It gets You)

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.

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  • 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 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, $120) or the long-armed Dust Picker (model #DPICKER2, $60), which has a smaller hood, for dust collection behind a mitersaw, radial-arm saw, or other dust-spewing tool.

    Big Gulp Ultimate Dust Hood

    Model #DLGULP, $60

  • ...or pinpoint the suction where you need it

    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, $26

    Adapters and nozzles, $4-$6 each

    Lockwood Products, 800-423-1625

  • 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. Top bags cost from $120 to $150, and bottom bags from $70 to $85.

    High-Efficiency Filter Bags

    Custom-made, $70-$150

    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

  • 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. Bridge hose clamps straddle the metal wire, as shown, which allows the clamp to fully seal the hose to the connector or dust port.

  • 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 for 2 1/2" & 4" systems.

  • No-hassle, supple-but-stout hose proves effective for use with sanders

    Okay, you've got a shop vacuum that you attach to your portable power sander for dust extraction, but the hose proves too bulky, too stiff, or the ribs catch on edges. Bosch's crushproof lightweight hose eliminates those worries. With an adapter on one end to fit any 2 1/2" vacuum opening, the soft, flexible 19mm hose easily attaches to many sanders. We also recommend Fein's universal rubber adapter that enables attachment to virtually any sander, even those with rectangular dust ports.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Master the mess of machine-cut 'tails (part 1)

    Dust-collection hoods for Leigh and Rockler dovetail jigs do a remarkably good job of corralling 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 2 1/2" port. The Leigh VRS, shown here, 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.

  • Master the mess of machine-cut 'tails (part 2)

    The Rockler dovetail dust-collection hood has soft bristles that stick up from a dust hood, allowing the router bit to pass through without harm.

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