You are here

Pipe Dreams

Tired of constantly dragging dust-collection hose from one machine to another? As you plan a hard-piped dust-collection system for your shop, consider these options.

Tired of constantly dragging dust-collection hose from one machine to another? As you plan a hard-piped dust-collection system for your shop, consider these options.

Thin-wall PVC pipe and fittings

Cost: $$$$

Lightweight, easy to cut, and available at home centers, thin-wall PVC presents the low-cost option. An airtight system can be assembled dry (no glue) using self-tapping screws, allowing for reconfiguration. Cutting stock 10'-long pipe to exact length eliminates couplings.

Pipe Dreams PVC Pipe

Pipe Dreams PVC Y

Pipe Dreams PVC Elbow

You can use the standard wye fittings but beware of standard elbows. Their short-radius turns reduce system efficiency. You can find long-radius elbows, but only in 4" diameter, and you’ll have to purchase or improvise adapters to join them to the pipe. You’ll also need adapters [covered in the Get Connected section below, and Sources at the end of the article] to attach flexible hose.

Many dust collectors suitable for small shops have 5" inlets. With PVC pipe limited to 4" and 6" diameters, you may miss that efficiency sweet spot in the middle. Because  a PVC system is prone to static-electricity buildup, it requires extra effort to ground. 

Snap-lock pipe and fittings

$$$$

Snap-lock reigns as the low-cost option for an all-metal system. With diameters of 3", 4", 5", and 6" available, you can match the size to your requirements. For best results, cut the 60" lengths of pipe with metal snips before snapping them together.

Pipe Dreams Snap Pipe

Pipe Dreams Snap Closed

pipe Dreams Snap Y

pipe Dreams Snap Elbow

Home centers carry this type of pipe and fittings for HVAC applications. Use the wye fittings but avoid the tees and elbows. They have short-radius turns that reduce system efficiency. You can work around the short radius of adjustable elbows by joining two, but fittings and pipe are leaky. All joints and seams must be sealed with tape or caulk after installation. 

Airtight fittings designed to optimize airflow are available online and by mail order. Unassembled lengths of pipe nest together, reducing packaging and shipping costs.

The thin 26-gauge pipe is prone to denting, also limiting it to a system with a blower of less than 5 hp. In a more powerful system, closing all blast gates with the blower running can collapse the pipe.

Spiral pipe and fittings

$$$$

If you are into heavy metal, spiral pipe satisfies. Available in 4", 5", and 6" diameters, pipe and fittings are airtight with fittings designed to optimize airflow. The rigid 58" lengths of pipe need fewer hangers on long runs. Significantly stronger than snap-lock pipe, it resists denting and is suitable for systems with 5 hp or larger blowers.

Pipe Dreams Spiral Pipe

pipe Dreams Spiral Y

Pipe Dreams Spiral Elbow

Unless you find an HVAC supplier willing to sell it to you, spiral pipe can be hard to find locally. Because like-diameter pipe does not nest, packaging and shipping are more expensive than for snap-lock pipe. 

Cleanly cutting pipe proves a challenge, with few options other than hacksawing. Any way you cut it, the intersection of the cut and the spiral winding leaves a long, sharp point. You must seal all joints in the system after assembly, covering the sharp points with several layers of tape.

Quick-clamp pipe and fittings

$$$$

Quick-Clamp sets the gold standard for both performance and cost. It comes in diameters of 3", 4", 5", and 6"  (even larger for commercial and industrial use) with fittings designed for optimum airflow.

pipe Dreams QC Pipe

Pipe Dreams QC Y

Pipe Dreams QC Elbow

Gasketed Quick Clamps connect pipe and fittings to make airtight joints. Although a Quick Clamp at every joint adds to the cost of the system, they make it easy to reconfigure piping to accommodate changes in equipment or shop layout.

Pipe Dreams QC Clamp

Pipe and fittings are rigid, resist denting, and are suitable for systems with 5 hp or larger blowers. Two 60" lengths of pipe joined with a Quick Clamp approach the strength of an unbroken 120" length, so you’ll need fewer hangers for long runs. Special telescoping pipe nipples allow customizing pipe length from 12" to 67". Quick Clamp pipe suffers the same shipping disadvantages as spiral pipe.

Pipe Dreams Chart

Get connected

Every dust-collection system relies on airtight connections that efficiently facilitate air movement. These products make connections easy.

Flexible hose

Use flex hose to connect rigid piping to the dust port on tools and machines. The ribs impede airflow more than smooth-wall rigid pipe, reducing the efficiency of the system, so keep hose lengths as short as possible without sacrificing convenience.

Pipe Dreams Hose1

Pipe Dreams Hose2

Pipe Dreams Hose3

Adapters

A hose connector ($8) slips inside both the PVC pipe and the flex hose to allow connecting the two. 

Pipe Dreams Fitting1

Connecting more than one flex hose to PVC requires a fitting ($10), which may in turn require an adapter to fit the PVC.

Pipe Dreams FittingY

Machine couplers

These connectors make it easy to service more than one machine with a single flexible hose.

Attach a Dust Right tool port ($18/2-pack) to each machine, and the Dust Right handle ($15) to the hose. Push on and pull off to quickly move the hose from machine to machine. Tool ports attach to 2½" and 4" dust ports.

Pipe Dreams DustRight

FazLok quick disconnects ($12 each) lock together with a twist of the hose, ensuring a secure connection. The clear plastic lets you spot chip clogs. These fit 4" hose and machine ports.

Pipe Dreams FazLok

Sources

Grizzly Industrial

800-523-4777, grizzly.com
Quick-Clamp system components
4" plastic fittings and adapters
Flexible hose

Oneida Air Systems

855-377-3212, oneida-air.com
Quick-Clamp system components
Spiral pipe and fittings
Snap-lock pipe and fittings
Flexible hose

Rockler

800-279-4441, rockler.com
Dust Right products
Anti-static hose
Spiral pipe and fittings
Adapter fittings

Penn State Industries

800-377-7297, pennstateind.com
FazLok quick disconnect fittings
Snap-lock pipe and fittings
Spiral pipe and fittings
Flexible hose

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Center veneer patterns on your substrate

To position a four-piece veneer pattern precisely in the center of a substrate, begin by marking... read more