Show above: a Jet dust collector that Ben was able to score for free in his neighborhood.
Now, shown here, is my Festool CT26 dust extractor, which I purchased a few years ago. It works fantastic when paired with my Festool track saw and sander, and also the router sample and Domino joinery machine I’ve been testing.
It also does a great job when paired with a portable table saw.
But I’ve been discovering its limitations.
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Over the weekend I used a trim router with a small nozzle attachment I hoped would catch some chips and sawdust. Nope. There’s a lot of dropoff, and not a lot of suction just beyond the 2-1/2″ outlet part of the nozzle.
The Festool dust extractor excels when paired with handheld woodworking power tools and some other types of equipment.
I’ve got a router table on the way and have started working with a small woodworking lathe. It looks like I’ll need a dust collector with more airflow.
I’ve read that the Rockler lathe dust collection scoop doesn’t do as good a job when paired with a 2-1/2″ shop vac-style dust collector as if paired with a true dust collector.
Dewalt’s DW735 planer has a built-in chip blower that users have said tends to over-power shop vacs and other similar portable dust extractors.
I’ll be putting a lot of maple and birch through that planer in a few weeks, and will likely channel the dust into pail, garbage bin, or similar. There is no way my Festool extractor can handle the chips output from a planer, even a portable planer.
Something like the Big Gulp dust hood ($16 via Amazon) seems useful for some of the work I do, and it’s said to be good at collecting dust thrown out the back of a miter saw, but I’m thinking it’s probably not going to be very effective at gathering chips and dust when connected to my Festool vac via 4″ to 2-1/2″ adapter.
Maybe that Big Gulp will work better as a shield that deflects chips and dust to the vacuum hose. Its design seems to suggest that – if I use something like that where the bottom is flat or inclined down to the hose, it might work better with my dust extractor vac.
I’m left with a dilemma… do I buy a dust collector with 4″ port, and if so, how big do I go?
I have the needs for one, and my budget can handle it, but I’m not quite sure I have the space for one – at least not the size that’s most suitable for personal woodworking use.
There are some wall-mountable systems, such as Rockler’s. There’s also a new canister-type filter that improves the filtration efficiency of that Rockler unit. But… the main unit is $250 and the canister filter $200. So that’s $450 right off the bat.
And although it’s wall-mountable, it’ll take up appreciable space.
Some user reviews say it’s comparable in power to their shop vacuums. It also lacks a cyclone stage, which would cut down on bag changes.
I have a 220V outlet in the corner of my workspace, and plenty of 15A outlets wired with 12 gauge wire and connected to 20A breakers, and so I can go a little beefier.
So then I came across a portable Laguna dust collector,the B Flux 1, for $500 via Acme Tools. It looks okay, but I can’t find much info about it online except for a single 2-line user review complaining about an air leak that Laguna customer service told them to seal with silicone.
At $500 for this setup, including a mobile base, the Laguna seems like a better buy than Rockler’s dust collector and canister filter duo.
All of Laguna’s marketing efforts seem to be on their much larger and more featured full-size dust collectors.
I came across some good-looking semi-mobile dust collectors by Oneida, but they’re rated for over 15A. I would ideally like a 110V <15A unit that can be moved around my workspace with greater ease. If I’m going 220V, I’d stick the dust collector in the corner by the outlet.
So then I looking at Clearvue, Jet, and other typically well-regarded brands, and the cost goes up along with size and weight, while mobility goes down.
I won’t have a traditonal woodworking shop setup, at least not anytime soon. I’m working towards equipping my new workspace with a more fluid setup, where I can roll mobile-base-mounted tools out of the way, or shelve lighter benchtop tools when they’re not being actively used.
With more space and upgraded electric, I want to upgrade to a larger benchtop milling machine, maybe a benchtop lathe.
So do I compromise when it comes to a woodworking dust collector, or keep putting it off?
Right now, space is my biggest limitation. I’d really like a good wood jointer, but where to put it? I’d also love to buy a cabinet-style table saw, but where to put it? A track saw and portable table saw can substitute for a large table saw, but every time I shop around for a benchtop jointer the negative reviews discourage me.
I’m very reluctant to seriously consider the smaller Laguna dust collector, shown above. It would be a good compromise, but it seems to have been designed to be “more affordable.” And if I take Laguna’s zero marketing as a sign of its lower popularity, what happens in a few years when I need a replacement filter or other parts?
Thoughts? What would you do in my place?
“Work outside with messy tools” only really works a few months out of the year. I tried to do that yesterday, but it started to drizzle every time I moved some tools to the driveway.
Maybe my short-term solution is to design some kind of shielded downdraft table that would work well with my Festool vac. I’m sure I can come up with a way to trap fine sawdust, and if I can at least contain larger chips for easier cleanup, that will put off this headache of a dust collector purchasing decision for a while longer.
The frustrating part is that I have the budget for a good dust collector. It’s the right tool for the job. I just don’t have the space.
Realistically, I’m not going to have large woodworking tools, such as a cabinet saw, jointer, planer, drum sander, or shaper. Maybe eventually, but not anytime soon. Maybe I should take that as a sign to hold off on getting a large dust collector.