Dust Control

Dust really is an insidious pest in the workshop.  Whether it is the heavier shavings created from bulk material removal, down to the finest particles that can remain airborne for hours, days, even weeks.

I know for a fact that I don’t do enough to contain dust at either end of the spectrum.

The reasons for and against may be a bit of a seesaw of justifications, but if I was to be honest, I don’t think that the seesaw is well balanced, or particularly justifiable for what I have on one side, versus the other.

So on the first side, I have


See what I mean, other than cost, and noise (particularly at night when it is often the only time I get to do anything out there, and I can’t afford to antagonise the neighbours) there are no really compelling reasons against doing something about it.

On the other side of the seesaw, I have

safety – (lungs)
safety – (slippery floor)
lost tools
increase in rust of tool surfaces
potential damage to finishes
untidy working environment

I am sure there may be a few more examples for both sides, but they would follow the same trend.

Cost is a bit of a bugbear, I will admit.  You need a good extractor to get the required performance – not only in the amount being extracted, and the distance it is pulling the dust from, but also in the performance of the filters.

Not much point extracting dust from the point of generation if you are only going to pump the most harmful portion straight back into the workshop atmosphere (dust below 1 micron in size that is).

My existing at-tool dust extraction is good in theory, but in practice I know that I am expecting too much of the current dust extractor – the distance I am trying to get it to draw over is far too great for it to be efficient.  There are a couple of options- decrease the distance, or increase the power.

So I’m thinking of doing both.

If I relocate the current 2HP TruPro extractor to the back of the timber store shed, it can just service the lathe/CNC area of the shed.  A new 3HP dust extractor would then be plugged into the existing extraction ducting.

Interesting idea, so I’ve been researching what is out there in the way of large dust extractors.

First thought – Powermatic. a 3HP extractor is $2000.  Other than it being a traditional design (as opposed to a cyclone), this would be a gold-plated solution.


A Carbatec cyclone is $3200, but is too tall for my current location (not that a redesign of the layout is impossible).  Getting pretty pricy – Like you can almost get a SawStop for that sort of money, and I think there is just a bit more build quality and technology in a SawStop than a dust extractor.  On the other hand, a cyclone is a superior extraction solution.


Of course the Powermatic looks like a traditional bag collection system, but it does have a conical separator built into the top above each collection bag.

Another option is to put a cyclone separator in line, before whichever extractor is chosen.  At $500, it is a lot of money for some rolled steel.


Given Timbecon now have a store in Melbourne, thought I’d check out online what they might have.

First thing that caught my eye – their 3HP 2 bag extractor…..$500.  Say what?  Even if you take the pleated filter option (which is mandatory personally – a cloth bag is a dust pump, not a dust extractor) it is $1000.  I’m not a fan of Sherwood Orange, but that price can make one choose to be colourblind.


I need to get more information though – there wasn’t any detail on their site to be able to accurately compare it to other machines out there.  They also apparently have a cyclone extractor, so it will be interesting to get more detail of that too.  Guess a roadtrip to north Melbourne will be in my near future.

One other aspect that I am seriously considering, is being able to accurately assess the air quality in the shed.

There is the Dylos unit that can detect down to 0.5 micron (and can be set to alarm if the dust concentration passes certain thresholds)  I haven’t found anything else that competes with that for price/performance yet – if anyone knows of something, I’d be interested to know.  The Dylos Pro is $US260



10 Responses

  1. Cyclone all the way. Inline super dust deputy with the cheap blower and bag unit. I just really wonder if bags can really get down to 5 micron.

    When I made my decision, I read lots and lots of posts about DC. What I saw was everyone that did not go cyclone, spent a lot of time and money trying to get there. So why not just go there in the first place.

    Just .02…. Check my website http://mysaw.com/shop/shop-projects/ I have 3 DC articles with pictures on that page.

    • That is one impressively organised workshop!

      Bags may be able to achieve 5 micron, but that is not a safe particle size. Not that what is safe vs unsafe has any bearing if you don’t collect at all! Really need to follow my own advice sometimes.

  2. Hi Stu, You should consider making your own Thein top hat separator. It gets rid of the filter, enables you to keep the motor inside the shed, collects the big dust particles and sends the very fine and invisible ones outside. It is relatively quite outside. Performance does not drop off over time, you get great airflow volume all the time. I actually used the circular plenum chamber from the dust extractor for the top hat and built it into a MDF structure that has a large box in the cupboard below that holds a 100 litre wheel barrow load of sawdust in it. I bought the timbercon one you have in the article and converted it into the separator. Happy to send some pics if you like. cheers Chris

  3. DIY Cyclone is an option. You have CAD and CNC so it would be an easy way to design and build something that fits space, performance and financial considerations.

  4. Stu, put the machine in your other shed and route the ducting thru the wall to your main shed. This way the harmful fine particles would not be airborne in your main shed. No need to stress about the filter. The next step is to enclose the machine in a cupboard in the second shed, with some sound insulation around it and vent it to the outside. It will draw fresh air into the main shed, but at least its clean air. Less noise as well and more floor space in main shed. cheers Calum

  5. Hare & Forbes have a cyclone separator complete with 110L waste bin for $385 GST inc. How efficient it is I don’t know but design wise seems similar to the Carbatec cyclone.

    The Thien separator works pretty well, I built one from a 2hp single bag dusty bought out of the local rag, some scrap mdf and a wheelie bin bought as a factory 2nd. The Thien was bolted onto the bin, with a car boot lid rubber fitted onto the plastic lip on the bin to provide a tight seal. One bonus was the wheelie bin is white and semi transparent, making it easy to see how full it is.

    Now I’ve got a 3hp 2 bag that came with my Minimax combo, I’ve got to rethink dust collection so I’ll be looking forward to see what you do.

    • Thanks Phil – that is quite intriguing, and a lot better for the price than the Super Oneida which is just the cyclone component (and more expensive).

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