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15 Low-dough Dust-collection Hacks

Improve your shop’s air quality by using these helpful tips to gather dust before it becomes airborne.
Hose removing dust new spindle sander.

Even if you have a dust collector and an air-filtration unit in your shop, you can always do more to collect dust at the source. And very often, cheap shop-made fixes, using everyday items found at hardware stores and home centers, prove more helpful than just about any specialty jig or gizmo you can buy.

Taming problematic tools

1. Like a router table, a spindle sander benefits from above- and below-the-table dust collection [shown above]. This dust hood, made from a gutter downspout adapter with a rare-earth magnet glued to its bottom, gobbles up dust spray coming off the spindle. A wye below the table directs a second hose to the built-in dust port on the sander.

Hose attached to router cabinet set up.

2. The dust port in a router-table fence misses a lot of debris that drops below the table. By enclosing the router beneath the table, you capture the chips and dust that escape through the bit opening. Cut a hole in the back, bottom, or a side of the enclosure to attach a dust hose that’s connected by a wye to the fence port. You can simply build a housing around the router (above), or enclose the entire table (below), adding storage drawers to each side of the motor cavity. Whichever you choose, provide sufficient openings to ensure adequate airflow, allowing clean air in to move dust out and help cool the router.

Housing for router.

Hose attached to top of router table and router cabinet.

3. A radial-arm saw throws a stream of sawdust to the rear, little of which gets captured by the saw’s built-in dust port. To compensate, build this simple collection housing with a curved back that redirects the debris up to your dust hose, shown below.

Galvanized metal flashing used in dust collecting.

4. Belt sanders provide notoriously poor dust collection. Overcome this by mounting a short length of PVC drainpipe, with a cutout, at the outboard end of the belt, shown below.

Illustration showing PVC pipe attached to sander.

5. Large Forstner or spade bits create a lot of big chips that slow cutting and inhibit visibility. This jig steers a shop-vacuum hose close to the bit to eliminate the nuisance, shown below.

Jig attached to drill press for dust collecting.

6. For freehand routing jobs, this shop-made dust hood not only corrals dust and chips to maximize collection, but it also affords some protection from the spinning bit, shown below.

Shop made dust hood.

7. Flattening a wood slab with a router and jig sprays chips and dust everywhere. Contain the debris where the vacuum can evacuate it by attaching conveyor brush strips to the carriage and to the router’s subbase, shown below.

Attached conveyor brush strips on a jig.

Get connected

8. A lot of dust generated by a bandsaw piles up around the lower blade guides before it ever reaches the dust port at the bottom of the cabinet. Add a collection point just below the table with a simple jig such as this, secured to the bandsaw by a Magswitch twist-on/off MagJig, shown below.

Jig attached under bandsaw for dust collection.

Bandsaw jig for collecting dust.

9. To connect two lengths of flex-hose when you don’t have a coupler, slip in a metal can of slightly smaller diameter than the hose, such as a coffee can, shown below.

Using a coffee can for a coupler.

10. Matching your dust-collection hose to a tool port on a benchtop machine or portable tool can be frustrating because there are no industry-standard sizes for these tools. Bridge a bad fit with a rubber plumbing boot that clamps to both the port and hose. These boots come in several sizes, including reducers, shown below.

Showing a rubber boot to connect dust collecting hose.

11. The 90° transition on a factory dust port can disrupt airflow, reducing dust-collection efficiency. Replace it with your own dust port with a large-radius round-over (the bigger, the better) to improve airflow, shown below.

Replacing factory dust port with your own.

12. If you’re having trouble fitting a dust-collection port, blast gate, or coupler to PVC pipe (which is usually slightly larger in diameter than dust-collection fittings), heat the PVC slightly with a small propane torch. This will soften the PVC, allowing it to conform to the blast gate when you clamp it in place. Take care to not burn or deform the PVC, shown below.

Drawing showing the heating of PVC pipe to make it fit.

Capture and contain

13. Here’s a stacking hack: Save valuable floor real estate by building this tower for your inline dust separator and the vac that powers it. We prefer to put the vacuum on top to allow for easier emptying of the separator bucket, shown below.

Showing tower built for dust collection vac and separator.

14. Get a close-up assist for your air-filtration unit by installing it on a shop cart, such as this sanding station. The unit will be closer to where you create the dust, increasing its effectiveness. The foam insulation board reduces vibration, shown below.

Air system on shop cart.

15. To eliminate dust leaks where the bag fits around the rim of a dust collector, install self-adhesive foam weather stripping to the rim. Clamping the bag securely compresses the foam to make a tight seal, shown below.

Installing self-adhesive foam weather strips to stop leakage of dust.

Hose removing dust new spindle sander.
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