An eye on the dust

How’s your dust bag?

Mine? I know it is getting full. But there is full, and then there is full.  I’m sure I can fit the sawdust from just one more saw cut in there.  And again, and again.

I have the extractor in the attached shed: saves on noise, saves on the otherwise lost floor area, and any dust leaks (if any) don’t matter.  But it does mean out of sight, out of mind.

I finally got around to changing the collection bag.  What a mission! It was rather fuller than I thought, and it was cumbersome, heavy, and a right pain.  Yes, I know I should have changed it earlier.  Yes, I know I could have checked more often.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

A great pile

So.  I need to keep a closer eye on the dust collection.

One thing that’d help is to do a pre-separation.  By placing the pre-separation drum in the main shed, I can keep a better eye on it.  There isn’t the issue with dust escaping from the collector as this is not the end of the line, and the inside of the drum is maintained in a negative pressure.

Rerouting the corner

I had a bit of a win doing the rerouting necessary to fit this drum in.  Got rid of a MDF cabinet, fitted the drum in, and then while trying to think of what to do with the two sanders, I happened to notice the Walko sitting there which I had used at Ballarat and hadn’t gotten onto putting back into the other shed.  Perfect fit!  Sure, a bit cramped (where in my shed isn’t!), but a solution where I wasn’t sure if I’d find one.

Walko is in the house

Getting back to the dust collection, and added an extra feature: an electronic eye to keep a watch on the dust collection, and let me know when things get too full.  This one is pretty cool!  It is the Trupro Dust Sentry from Woodworking Warehouse.  It may seem like some others, but for one very unique, clever feature.  But more on that shortly.

The sensor

The sensor fits very easily – drill a hole.  There are nuts on the threaded sensor that fit either side of the mounting position, holding the sensor in place.  The sensor has a maximum range of 40cm, and that meant it found the other side of my drum.  However on the side there is a small pot, and that can be wound down giving a decreased range.

Mounting position

You could use that sensitivity range so the sensor pointed straight down to where the dust was gathering, building a pile towards the sensor, or you can side mount it (as I have here) so it ‘sees’ the pile when it reaches that height.  I may change this location when I change the lid, but this was a good trial point.  (Lid change discussion at end!)  When the lid is changed, I’m likely to mount the sensor looking down – means I won’t have to remove the sensor each time I wheel the bin out for emptying.

Sensor range

You can test the sensor by waving a hand in front of it.  When it ‘sees’ you, a light comes on at the back (and a signal is sent to the control box).

Control box

The control box has the circuitry inside, and plugs into the wall for power.  It has the audible alarm, and an adjustment dial – all to do with a very special feature of this specific dust sentry….but I’m still not quite ready to tell you what that is!


Mounting the control box is very easy – couple of screws in through the back into a beam.

Dust speed

Ok, ok, the special feature.  This dust sentry is unique (as far as I can tell), as it doesn’t get fooled when a large quantity of heavy dust flies past it.  This sensor can be tuned to ignore passing particles that otherwise give a false reading, and triggers only from the stationary dust – the true level of dust in the bin.  This sensitivity can be tuned to your particular requirement.


So here is the unit all set, ready to sense. Ready to keep an eye on the dust!

Lid change: well, once I got all this set up, it was all working well…..except the pile of dust in the bin didn’t seem to be increasing.  At all.

I did experience this when first playing with this lid a few years ago, and was mucking around with all sorts of combinations of plumbing fittings to create a swirling, pre separation thing.  Really can’t be bothered trying to fix a bad design this time, so am looking at replacing the lid with this one (also from Woodworking Warehouse).  Chalk and cheese on the design!

Jet 2 stage

Triton Workcentre Dust Bag Modification

Dust collection in the workshop is critical for having a healthy, and an enjoyable work environment. In Australia, all wood dust is classified as carcinogenic, which should be encouragement enough to have a good dust collection system, but it tends to be when every tool that you are looking for has disappeared beneath layers of wood shavings that a decent collection system is considered!

One of the things that first impressed me about Triton was that they consider dust collection as being an integral part of their systems, rather than just an afterthought. Each item in the Triton range has provision for a dust bag and/or vacuum collection.

Before the advent of the Triton Dust Bucket, the original dust bag for the Workcentre had a vacuum offtake. The original dust bag then evolved into the current passive system where a bag beneath the table collects the dust and shavings.



Photo 1 – The current dust collection system (sourced from

Funnily enough, the current dust bag lends itself very well to being adapted to active dust collection. Particularly the rigid ring that the lower bag connects to is excellent for supporting a funnel. You can choose to fit a ready-made funnel, or make one of your own. One of the best ideas I have heard recently was to cut the top of a commercial spring water bottle for a water cooler- it makes a great funnel.
You can collect the dust using the standard Triton Dust Bucket, but this results in a very narrow end to the funnel, which is prone to blocking. The alternative, is to use a full 4” collection system, where the high volume, low velocity suction and wide tubing copes a lot better with larger debris.

Since acquiring a 750W Dust Extractor from Triton’s new parent company (GMC), I have fitted out the workshop with 4” tubes for dust collection from all my major workshop tools (blast gates are used to prevent suction from tools not in use- see Photo 6 which includes inline blast gates). This provides a superb dust collection system. For the Workcentre, I adapted the dust bag with a funnel that reduces the diameter down to the 4” tubing. (Note, in future, I will be going for a much more powerful extractor – 2HP is preferrable!)



Photo 2 – GMC 750W Dust Extractor

Now, instead of collecting the sawdust in the lower bag which requires frequent emptying, the 4” tube feeds all the sawdust and scrap wood directly to the Dust Extractor.
For the funnel, I chose to go the hard way, and make my own.
Starting with a single piece of MDF, a circle is cut with a 50cm diameter. This can be done on a bandsaw or the Triton Jigsaw Table. Next, a number of concentric circles are cut. However, these are cut with the work set at 35 degrees to the blade, producing cones.
Three additional rings are cut with straight sides. These are to produce the cylinder that the dust extraction hose will fit on. This cone is being made for a 4″ dust collection system, however there is no reason that the normal Triton hose could not be used if the cone is made to come to a smaller diameter.

Photo 3 – The cut rings and cones

The cones are then inverted, and placed on top of each other, producing a funnel. The first ring is quite a bit larger than the next, creating a lip that will locate on the hard ring in the upper section of the dust bag.



Photo 4 – The funnel, ready to be glued


Photo 5 – The funnel in position, ready to be attached to the 4” tubing

I have had some questions in the past about whether the bag will collapse in, restricting the funnel, when suction is applied. I am happy to say that I have had no problems with that, and in fact the dust collection is even better than before (and not just more convenient), as air is drawn into the bag through all the gaps, preventing dust escaping. It will also be beneficial for the saw itself, as the positive suction draws clean air in through, and around the motor, and discourages dust getting into the circular saw’s housing.



Photos 6 & 7  4” Hose connected, leading to a Blast Gate and Y section

Quickfire Questions and Answers

Triton Workcentre  – WC2000 

How do you care for the surface of your Triton equipment?

Given that the surface is enamel which is baked on, rather than a cast-iron top, with use, you will gets cuts/scratches and wear through this layer. Over time, I’d rather see a well-used bench, than one that is aesthetically pleasing, but unused.

To keep mine functioning well, I use wax – try Ubeaut for some great wax products. Stay right away from any product containing silicone – your finishes will thank you.

What is the maximum depth of cut in a Triton WC2000?

If fitted with the height winder (an absolute must-have addon for the Triton Workcentre) and a 9 1/4″ saw then the maximum depth of cut is 63mm.

Is the Dust Bag worth adding, or is the dust collection from the blade guard sufficient?

The dust collection from the blade guard collects about 10% of the total dust produced when cutting, the rest falls below the table. The heavier stuff isn’t much of an issue, (other than making a bloody mess), it is the fine dust which is the real problem. All wood dust is regarded as carcinogenic in Australia, but beware certain materials which are much worse than others – MDF is a prime example.

Unless you are prepared to use a high quality dust mask, then anything that minimises dust in the workplace is highly recommended, and that goes for the Triton dust bag as well – your lungs will thank you. You can (and I’ll document it sometime downtrack) modify the dust bag so it can be coupled to an active collection system, such as a 4″ dust collector.

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