Category: Wood

Cyclone Dust

woodshop

The thing that bugs me most about having a wood working shop in the garage is the sawdust building up everywhere. Piles of sawdust on the floor. Piles of dust in every nook and cranny.

Now I am not a great cleaner, but I try. The fact is that I can’t seem to keep ahead no matter what I do. I sweep around the machines, sweep off the desks, try to get a fine brush into the corners, but it is always a mess. The fact is there are just too many places in a garage like mine for dust to collect.

I have tried to use my shop vac as a dust collector, but that only works a little bit. It is just not a real solution to the problem. The time has come for me to think about woodshop dust collection.

Not only is wood dust a nuisance, it is also a health hazard. I know that sounds like a Nervous Nelly talking, but the fact is I have friends who are having breathing problems as they are approaching retirement and I have no desire to fight to breathe as I am trying to enjoy my declining years.

I have been around wood long enough to know just how damaging wood dust can be, and also to know how irresponsible I have been for years to not pay attention to these things. I have got to the point where I will at least wear a dust mask when the dust gets too bad. But I will admit that my version of too bad is probably at lot looser than other peoples’.

So I have been looking into collectors. I have checked the specs of all the different shop vacuum systems. I have looked into building my own system using a shop vac and that isn’t much better than just hooking the vacuum up to the machine.

I am going to get a couple horsepower cyclone system. One that will come with a pleated and really fine filter. I get the sense, though, that just a dust collector isn’t going to clean the air as well as I would really like to have it cleaned. So on the list is also a shop air filtration system. You know, one of those boxes that hang up by the ceiling and filter all the air. After doing more research, I have found that those boxes actually contain three different filters, from course to fine, and will cycle all the air from a room the size of a standard garage in about 20 minutes.

That combination won’t keep the dust out of all the corners, but it will keep the air cleaner than any I have normally been around when working with wood. I wonder if I will feel the same about cuttting and sanding without the smell of wood in the air and a nose that needs blowing every 5 minutes or so.

 

 

On Table Saws

The centerpiece of any real woodworking shop is a table saw. It is the one piece of equipment that can’t very well be replaced by some combination of other, lesser tools. It is really the workhorse of the shop.

But how do you decide the best table saw for your space? There are three major components to a decision like this. How big is your shop? How big is your budget? Do you have to move it?  Some combination of these three factors will lead you to the answer you need. In my case that means a portable tablesaw.

I have always wanted one of those really big contractor saws. You know the ones – enclosed base, huge bed, big damn sawincredible fence system. Preferably one with an extended bed for wide rips, outfeed tables with rollers to handle long pieces, and enough power to handle four by oak material with ease. There is a problem with that. A saw like that requires a really big shop. It takes up an incrredible amount of room, and to be honest, if you have a need for a saw like that, it means you are going to be running some big stuff through it. (maybe).

Saws like that also cost a lot of money, especially with all of the add-on goodies. They are worth it, but still.

The other problem aside from space, is that I still dabble enough that I need a saw that I can haul around wiht me now and again. Not for nothing, but you really can’t move a contractor saw with any much less than a moving truck. And not a small one at that. I don’t have one available, so whatever saw I choose will have to get from place to place in the back of a small pick up truck.

So what I did was start by checking out the various saws offered by the major manufacturers of contractor job site tools, including some of the second tier ones that have proven to have good offerings in their line up. My criteria were that it be a solid, well built machine that would handle some abuse. That it have a decent warranty and good reviews.

After that I concentrated on the fence system. I consider the fence to be the key piece of a good table saw. An excellent fence will make it easy to make accurate, consistent cuts with a minimum of fiddling. A cheap fence will make that nearly impossible. After that comes the stand. I refuse to sit on the floor to make cuts on a jobsite any more so a stand is mandatory. And I have had experience with trying to haul around a small saw on a fixed stand – not too hard with two people, very difficult for one. So the stand needs to be collapsible and in reality is going to need wheels. Both for loading and for moving around the job.

One last thing to consider is how easily the saw allows for adjustments to blade height and angle. This is important for the same reason a good fence is, with the additional caveat that fighting with these can be extremely annoying. Large adjustment wheels are preferable, and if possible two of them. Most saws of this type combine both in one method, so that may be asking a bit much.

Soon I will have made my decision, and the centerpiece to my new shop will be in place. Then on to the rest of my tool bucket list.