I was searching for some dust collection accessories for my new Jet machine, and learned that Rockler has recently introduced a new Dust Right downdraft table.
A downdraft table typically looks just like this, with perforated holes and non-marring work. It’s used to pull dust and debris away from your work, and to a dust collector or vacuum.
Rockler (and other brands) promote these products for use with orbital sanders, which can create a lot of fine dust. The idea is that a downdraft table can collect those fine particles that don’t make their way into your tool’s dust bag or vacuum port.
It looks like Rockler’s Dust Right downdraft table has a few new features, compared to other products already on the market. I’ll get to those in a moment.
The table inserts have rubber grommets, for raising and supporting your work.Orange grommets fit into the grid holes, to create work stops, so that your work doesn’t move when it’s being sanded.
Shown here is how most users will likely seek to use the new downdraft table, with an orbital sander.
The table has a 16-1/2″ x 20″ working area, with the sides and back panel raised. You could lower or remove the sides or back to fit larger workpieces, but keep in mind that you cannot cover all the holes, or the dust will have no path to the vacuum hose.
At the rear is a 4″ dust port. Rockler recommends that dust collectors be rated to a minimum of 650 CFM of airflow.
There are handles on the sides, and keyhole slots on the bottom, for hanging the table up when it’s not in use.
Here’s what you get. The bottom is sloped, to help direct dust towards the dust port, and away from the corners.
I’m in a “I don’t have time to build shop gear” phase right now, where it’s easier and quicker to buy certain jigs and fixtures than to make them.
If you’re working on small workpieces, and you do a lot of sanding this could be a good way to help keep less wood dust from getting airborne. If you’re sanding and finishing in the same space, this can be a time-saver.
Downdraft tables can also be used for other types of work. I can imagine blocking off some of the holes – to increase the suction around smaller workpieces, and using the downdraft table to make small carvings with a rotary tool. (I actually have a small benchtop accessory for just that purpose.)
Downdraft table panels have been available to DIYers for years, for anyone who wanted to build their own product. There are also other materials that can be used. For example, I’ve seen some downdraft tables made with pegboard.
This new Rockler table is more expensive than I would have thought, but it’s also made from metal. It looks similar to a Grizzly product I’ve seen before, which also sells for $180, but with several differences. The Rockler table is sized with a 4″ port, it has keyhole slots on the bottom for hanging it up, and it has one more knob on each adjustable side.
Shop Fox’s downdraft tables are larger, and have a more complex design with internal air baffles.
I don’t think this is something I will be buying, but to me it looks like a convenient and effective design. If I did more sanding in an enclosed space, it’d be higher up on my radar. My Festool sander has been excellent, and has far better dust collection that any other sander I’ve used. If I didn’t have that Festool sander and my Festool dust collector, would I spend $180 on this? Possibly. If I had consistent sanding needs, say small cabinet doors or drawer fronts, this could help for long work sessions.
Now, remember what I said about being in a “I don’t have time to build shop gear” phase right now? I have a limited schedule, and I’d rather buy than build things, so that I could give my attention and heart to other projects. This is definitely the kind of thing I would look to buy, unless I had custom dimensions I wanted to build a downdraft table around. I’d wait for a promo code, though, or for another regular Rockler sale.