This Post Sucks

As I continue down this road of what seems like never ending shop changes and fixes, I seem to find more and more work to do.  An item of importance to almost anyone who works with wood is dust collection.  Now, I'm not someone who puts on a dust mask every time I start a machine, however I do want good dust collection in the shop.

For starters, if I'm collecting dust well I have less need for a respirator.  I still use them during some operations like when routing MDF (that super fine dust just goes everywhere!), working at the disc sander or any other place that's not so easy to collect dust.  My big machines are all tied to a collector with a garbage can pre-separator and I use a shop vac/dust deputy for my sander.


Here's the thing about dust collection in general for me ... I don't know a whole lot about it.  I just hope it all works kinda well.  There's a ton of info on CFM, runs, particulate size, hepa filtering, etc. which I find more confusing than helpful.  I picked up this Jet DC several years ago used and along with the pre-separator it's done OK.  I always lost a lot of airflow, though, and I thought it was using the pre-separator and just lived with it.  During the last round of re-arranging I finally decided to do some tests.  As you can see, the unit has a pair of 4" ports.  One of those goes to the pre-separator (which has another hose that hooks to jointer/planer/etc) and the other is connected to my table saw.  Dust from the table saw goes right into the bag - it's fine stuff and we use the large shavings in the can for the animals.

I started looking to see if only having one port active at a time made a difference.  Lo and behold, it did.  That meant I should take a trip to my local Woodcraft (I should probably just have a pay deduction sent there!) for some blast gates.  Those are the black rectangular bits between the hose the port.  They let you close off that airflow.  They work great.  The only downside is that you have to remember to open and close things.  I'm sure that will just become a part of my routine.  

Bigger systems may not need the blast gates from what I've managed to understand.  However, I keep a smaller, mobile, unit in my shop since mobility is so important.

This was one of those easy things I should have done years ago.  But I'm a woodworker not an HVAC designer.  I'm sure there are other such things that happen to all of us.  A particular machine that doesn't run as well as it could simply because we're not also machine techs.  It's a balance in a wood shop and it's easy to get overwhelmed by thinking we need to know and do it all.  Here's the thing, we don't.  Make friends with (or routinely hire) people with the other skills (especially electrical!).  I for one like to do woodworking - not machine repair or electrical wiring, etc.  It was different when I was just a hobbyist - I had plenty of time to learn other skills.  Now that I want to make money, well, some things just have to get done and get done right so i can go back to woodworking.  Honestly, I don't mind, I'd much rather put my time into designing a new puzzle lock.