DUST COLLECTOR: A TOOL OR AN ACCESSORY?
There really is no substitute for the best dust collector if you want to place both your health and safety uppermost. Dust can be pretty harmful if you are in contact with it for prolonged periods.
Even though some people see them as an accessory, dust collectors are very important in keeping the air clean and dust-free. Today, we’ll explore 5 dust collector reviews so you can keep your working environment free of debris without spending a fortune.
What About Shop Vac Handy Vs. Dust Collector Units?
If you have a shop vac handy, you might think that a separate dust collector is not necessary. It is. Shop vacs are usually designed with high suction but low airflow. They are no use whatsoever if you are breaking out the power saw. A dust collector, on the other hand, deals with a greater volume of air at a higher velocity.
We’ll get started with a quick rundown of the 3 main dust collector types before reviewing the leading products to help you along the way. After that, we’ll take you through a brief dust collector buying guide so you should have all you need to get the best equipment for your requirements.
If you’ve got a small workshop with very limited space and a bare handful of power tools, a portable dust collector might be the best bet.
With motors up to ¾ HP and a CFM (cubic feet per minute air volume) of 650, these dinky appliances can suck up at least most of the dust.
These units are extremely affordable. You can save space in a tight workshop by mounting them on the wall.
On the downside, the filter bag collects the dust. Since air has to flow back in to your workshop, these portable dust collectors don’t trap all particles inside effectively. With smaller portables, you’ll also need to empty out the dust bag more frequently.
Stepping things up a gear, a larger workshop with a decent selection of tools might benefit from a medium-size dust collector.
Motors usually develop 1 HP and the CFM rating is normally in the region of 700.
These models are more expensive but deliver superior results.
There’s a disposable collection bag provided. One bag will trap larger particles while another bag collects the fine dust.
This level of dust collectors is not fit to deal with a duct system. They also tend to be restricted to a single outlet meaning you can only connect one power tool at a time.
Do you have a larger shop and plan to install a duct system so you can hook up multiple tools in one go?
If so, you’ll want a large industrial dust collector with a 1 ½ HP motor and a CFM rating of around 1100-1200.
They come equipped with filters that trap dust down to particles as tiny as 1 micron.
The only real drawback of these dust collectors is their high price tag and ongoing running costs. If you’ve got a substantial shop and you want it kept clean, though, investing in the best dust collector really is a must. It’s just a question of which size works best.
Who Needs Dust Collectors?
Anyone with a workshop and power tools would benefit from having a dust collector.
Whether it’s a miter saw or a table saw, a jigsaw or a band saw, cutting down and working with wood creates clouds of sawdust and debris. Relying on a mask and the occasional blast with a shop vac is just not good enough.
In the overall scheme of a complete tool kit, a dust collector is not expensive. For a small investment you can guarantee that your working environment will be safe and won’t cause you any health problems.
It might be tempting to think of a dust collector as something that will not give you same enjoyment as a circular saw or anything else you will use for plenty of rewarding projects. Don’t make this mistake. If you are a keen woodworker with your own workshop, you need a dust collector to operate efficiently.
We’ll walk you through some of the things to think about when you’re on the hunt for the best dust collector.
Although you can easily spend thousands on commercial dust collectors, for most home woodworkers an adequate model is not so expensive. Think about how much you have to spend. This will simplify your buying decision from the start.
Take your time and research the products on your shortlist. There are plenty of comparison sites and the reviews sections of e-commerce sites provide very useful information.
Think long and hard about the type of work you do and the amount of use your workshop gets.
Once you have an idea about price and your needs, there are a few common elements that will crop up when you’re looking at dust collectors…
Probably the most important factor to take into account when buying a dust collector is the airflow. This air volume is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). This rating is useful as a rough benchmark although static resistance is not factored in. Portable machines deliver 650 CFM. More substantial extractors fit for most home workshops step it up to 700 CFM. The really heavyweight commercial dust collectors are rated at 1100 CFM and above.
Woodworking with power tools is noisy. There’s no escaping that and it’s what ear defenders were made for! The thing is, most craftsmen want the quietest equipment they can find as long as it doesn’t compromise performance. Some manufacturers quote the decibel rating of their dust collectors. The lower the number, the quieter the machine. Think about how much of an issue excessive noise is to you and buy accordingly.
These dust collection systems feature filter bags and a blower. The smaller particles and dust gets trapped by a woven cloth at the top. Larger pieces of debris find their way into a collection bag. It’s the tiny particles of dust that are the most harmful. This kind of filtration was once extremely expensive. As technology has improved and they have been produced on a bigger scale, so the prices have dropped to affordable levels.
- Two-Stage Filters
Two-stage filters are normally only seen on the more heavyweight, industrial dust collection systems. They operate using a 3-stage system that starts off by capturing the bigger bits of debris. These filters are much more expensive but deliver outstanding results.
- Overall Filter Efficiency
Although all filters are designed to perform the same job, they do not manage to do this equally. It’s absolutely crucial that the fine dust is dealt with effectively. It’s this rather than a larger bit of wood that’s going to irritate your eyes and your airways. In general, the finer the weave on the cloth of the filter, the better it will trap these miniature particles. If you’re going to get a dust collector, you might as well get the best one you can find that’s on budget.
- Size and Functionality
Make certain that any dust collection system you’re considering is man enough for the needs of your workshop. As a rule, the larger the shop, the beefier dust collector you’ll need. It’s all about getting a system that’s fit for purpose rather than expecting there is a right or wrong answer.
You can opt for a portable or a fixed dust collector. If you have a spacious commercial shop, a fixed system makes sense. For anyone who moves around or those with smaller home workshops, a portable is often the smart option. When it comes to getting the right size dust collector, it’s all about getting what works best for you.
Usage and Maintenance Tips
Using a dust collector is straightforward.
Once you’ve got the right size unit for the job, everything falls into place. If you have adequate airflow and a motor in line with your needs, it really is plug and play.
Luckily, maintenance is just as simple. Aside from keeping things clean on the outside and emptying it frequently, your dust collector should run for years without giving you a headache or a tedious maintenance routine. This is just as well… The last thing you need is a cleaning solution that ends up requiring even more work!