Brief Update

Not much to show, or rather there is, but I want to do a big cleanup before doing the final reveal.

All the trunking in the main shed is complete, with all the machines I intended to connect into the 4″ collection system done, with blast gates isolating any machine not in use so there isn’t unnecessary loss of suction.

At the end of the process, I can only reiterate that

1. It is much harder to retrofit a dust system to a shed in use, especially when it is rather packed with stuff.  On the other hand, at least I knew where each machine would be located!

2. The Carbatec Kit worked well, although I probably could have made my life easier with a second, rather than trying to combine the kit with the 100mm stormwater fittings and pipes I have been using in the past.  A pity there are no converter pieces to allow moving from one system to the other easily. However, with a bit of fudging I have gotten away with using a combined system.  I also found that there were enough of some fittings for what I needed, there were some I ran well short of, especially the joiners, and there is no way currently of buying them separately.  I guess the kit was actually designed for a simple, minimal run, not the extensive one I’ve come up with (and having only 1 90 degree bend and 3 blast gates supports this). It takes a lot of fittings to get a dust system to actually fit in with a real shed, rather than some optimum, theoretical one.

3. The Rockler blast gate mounts are brilliant – no two ways about it.  Combining them with some basic U clamps to provide rigidity where I wasn’t using a blast gate has resulted in a system that feels very secure.

The next step for me will be getting the trunking from one shed to the other (a matter of a big hole), then finally joining it to the 2HP dust extractor.

Finally, once I have the system up and running, fitting my remote starter to the dust extractor.  Seems a way to go still.  And of course, I still have to try to restore some semblance of order to the shed again!

Hopefully this layout is again an overall improvement, and will stay in commission for a while longer.  What it has replaced had become very disrupted with the many layout changes. At least a great deal of the previous system was able to be reused.

Once the main shed is a little neater, I’ll give you a final tour of the new system, and we will finally get to test some of the assumptions I’ve had to make along the way (especially where I’ve gone overhead – still have no idea how that will work!)

Deconstructing the Dust Kit

When I saw the kit for the new Carbatec dust collection system (and the clear tube setup), it wasn’t going to be long before I was fitting it to the shed.  And the timing is rather appropriate – the system needed a revamp with the various item moves that have been happening.  A dust system needs to be flexible, both to deal with vibration and minor machine moves as well as being able to be reconfigured with minimal fuss when a new arrangement is required.

I use flexible hose in some cases to maximise the flexibility of the system, but it does result in quite a bit of suction loss so where I can I use straight tubes, with flexible pieces near couplings.

In the new Carbatec kit are a who swag of connections

What's in the box?

T sections, 90 degree corners, 45s, blast gates, adapter rings, mounts and 8m of clear tube

Curves, Corners, Clamps and Clear Stuff

It would do a small setup, but mine isn’t small!  I’m going to use the clear trunking where it is sensible to determine that flow is occurring (and showing where there are blockages), so for the long, straight runs it makes sense.

Extra accessories acquired

The reconfiguration will also include the blast gate mounts I got from Rockler early this year, and reusing some of the PVC downpipe I have been using in the shed until now.  The dust collector is again in the lower shed, and so I am back to the old problem: how to remotely start and stop it, given that it has a no-volt release on the switch, and the branded remote control is over $300.  I don’t want to have to go into the second shed just to start the collector, and I don’t want to have to do something like have a broom handle passing from one shed to the other to try to hit the start (like a ‘remote control’ from one of those US sitcoms, or cartoon shows)!

Starting the refit

I’ve started at the tablesaw, and I am trying to do each part of the setup just that little better.  The previous setup design was good, but having the tube running along the ground meant it has always been a bit in the way.  Lifting it up to just below the table means it is out of the way for storage under the tablesaw wing (and is the level I want for the tubing for the rest of the run).

Rockler Blast Gate Mount

I’ve screwed one of the blast gate mounts directly to the back of the tablesaw.  This specific gate at the back of the saw will normally remain shut – it allows access to the length of tube at the back of the saw in even of blockages, and also to plug in flexible hose for cleaning up that end of the shed (and I suspect I will still use a temporary run to the jointer, rather than try to run a full length of tube across the entire shed just to get its waste!

More to come as I progress the system.

Developing the Dust System

I’m not sure if a dust system ever gets finalised.  At least it never seems to in my shop – I seem to be constantly changing my ideas, tool positions, and dust system layout concepts.  Oh well – it’s like a real-life jigsaw puzzle that can be assembled many different ways, and how well it works tells you which picture you’ve created.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I have capitulated and have moved the dust collector back into the main shed.  There are a number of reasons for doing so, and a number of reasons why I didn’t want to have to.

Reasons why I wanted the DC located in a different shed (or at least outside the primary workshop)

* Noise. DCs are noisy (not brushed motor noisy), but still, sounds of lots of air moving would be better elsewhere if possible.

* Dust. If air is passing through a filter, then there is a probability that dust will also be carried through, even if the filter is a 1 micron filter.  If the unit is in another location, some minor dust leaks are inconsequential.

* Space. The footprint of a dust collector is going to consume about 1 metre square of valuable shed floor space.

Benefits of having the DC in the main shed

* Starting and stopping. There isn’t the issue of requiring expensive remote starting systems.

* Blockages. Easier access to clear blockages, empty dust bags, clean filters.

* Airflow. Simply the less distance the air needs to move, the better the system works.

Relocated Dusty

Relocated Dusty

I’ve relocated the dusty into the same corner where the original 4″ tube to the other shed went, but now instead of joining the two halves of the system into one pipe, I’ve coupled each arm up to its own intake. In addition, I’ve also run the 15″ thicknesser directly in to maximise its collection.  More on that in a sec.

My primary influence on relocating the DC was performance.  After my recent air velocity tests, I decided that I was compromising the performance too much to have the luxury of it being in the other shed.  There are some other minor benefits as well, but they were not enough to sway the decision either way.

I haven’t decided if I will do anything to counteract the additional noise, other than running it when I need it rather than constantly.  I might investigate building a fake wall around it with noise dampening, but that is a project that will probably never actually eventuate.

To counteract any issue with fine dust leakage (and dust during bag changing), I have located it right near the overhead air filtration unit (which is also a 1 micron filter), so between the two, any dust I collect shouldn’t end up back in my environment.

Underneath the DC, I have used both 4″ inlets, as much to allow a smoother entry of air as anything.

DC Inlet

DC Inlet

I’m not happy with the result however.  The tubes you can see are – from the right hand side is a solid connection from one of the 2 main shed trunk lines.  It doesn’t have any flex section at all, and this is what I want to modify.  As much as flex sections have a greater internal roughness, a short section is going to have a tiny effect on the overall flow.  It would however, make removing the nozzle to clear out blockages much easier so that is the first change.

Into this same trunk line through a Y section is the output from the thicknesser.  However, after testing it out, it failed. Inside the DC nozzle are some grates/blocks to catch heavy particles before they hit the fan.  The amount of chips produced by the thicknesser formed a mass that caught there, and immediately blocked the pipe.  Without any airflow, the thicknesser then rapidly clogged its discharge nozzle.

I have 2 ways forward.  Removing the grates (which I am still dubious about their value), but I’m not sure if that will then result in the blades becoming blocked up, and accessing them is even harder.  The other solution is a pre-separator to catch the majority of the output from the highest producing machines.  I’ll start with this, and see if it is enough.  Damn- it looked to be an elegant solution.  But this is Bauhaus – form must follow function.

In the background is a flex end to the second trunk line, and that works well.

To improve functionality, I have replaced the flex hose to the tablesaw with another length of PVC pipe.

Tablesaw Extraction

Tablesaw Extraction

I’ve used a Y section which I’ve capped to allow cleaning of the system, and also as a way to add a bit of flexible hose when cleaning up around the place.

Jointer/Planer Extraction

Jointer/Planer Extraction

I’ve kept the extra flex from the jointer so I have the ability to move and angle it depending on the length of stock I’m trying to plane.  Each item has a blast gate (my modified version).

Improving Dust Collection Efficiency

When installing a dust collection system, you’ve spent good money on the biggest collector you can afford, and then are trying to get it to maximise its range to collect from as many machines as possible over the longest distance needed to maintain the shop’s machine layout.

One very common aspect of this is to install blast gates so that machines that are not currently being used are not unnecessarily having air drawn from them, decreasing the amount of suction at the tool in use.  There are a number of different blast gates available, with one of the most common ones on the market being the plastic 4″ – 4″ blast gate.  They are a low cost solution that seemingly works well in shops across the country, and world (I guess).

Don’t know who designed the original, that is now so often copied, but all I can say is…. it’s bloody stupid!

The problem: the bottom corners of the gate (in the channel where the gate itself slides) quickly get filled with crap, and once that happens and the shavings / dust etc get packed in there, the gate cannot ever close properly again, leaving a permanent leak through every gate that is (theoretically) closed.

Original, Clogged Blast Gate

Original, Clogged Blast Gate

Here is a very typical blast gate, and in the very typical state of being so blocked in the lower corners that this is as much as it can close.  Looking at the opening this leaves, you can see that it wouldn’t take too many gates in this state that the amount of leakage would add up to being the equivalent of a fully open gate. A complete waste of suction.

One tip I’ve come across in the past, is to cut off those lower two corners, so the gate effectively becomes self-cleaning.  When the gate is closed, the slide blocks the resulting holes.  When it is open, there is a minor additional leakage caused, but nothing like the loss from a single, unmodified closed gate.

Modified, and properly closed again

Modified, and properly closed again

Here you can see the protruding corners of the blast gate slide.

Exposed corner

Exposed corner

And the small hole that now exists in the corners.

I’m not sure if this mod is the best way (or the neatest) – I’m sure I saw (or at least read) about this mod in a mgazine somewhere!

So that is the basic concept to the modification, and it does work.  However, it isn’t the neatest version, and so my amendment to the concept is to drill the corners out, allowing the slide to continue to push dust clear, but better maintaining the overall physical (and visual) integrity of the blast gate.

During the drilling of the corner, the dust that is packed in the corner is immediately apparent.

Dust Packed Corner

Dust Packed Corner

I’m much happier with this second version.  Also because it is my take on the idea, rather than a copy of someone else’s (although I’ll be stunned stupid if I’m the only one to have ever thought of it!!)

Modified Blast Gate (V2)

Modified Blast Gate (V2)

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