Central Station Dust
Collector Upgrades

Jet DC 1100 dust collector.

Central Station Dust Collector: Overview

Recently I have been adding/upgrading some of my equipment and doing a bit of remodeling to reflect a new focus for my studio and my upcoming studio expansion. One of the things that I have put off for many years was upgrading my dust collector system. I decided it was high time to add a few bells and whistles to increase the overall efficiency and ease of use of my trusty Jet DC-1100 dust collector. I also wanted to finally add a dedicated central dust collection system specifically for my dry grinders.

Central Station Dust Collector: Dedicated Lines Finally

My Jet DC-1100, 1.5hp central station dust collector has served me well for many years. However, I wanted to add a few things to make it even better. Specifically, I wanted to finally run a dedicated line to my Laguna LT-18 bandsaw, with an in-line blast gate that I could close when I needed dust collection at any other machine. In the past, I had one single dust collection line to the lathe. If I needed dust collection at the bandsaw or the tablesaw, I used a temporary pipe extension that hooked into the end of the line at the lathe.

Whilst this worked, it was a pain to setup and maintain. In addition to serving as dust collection at the lathe and bandsaw, the temporary pipe was also used as a giant “broom” to clean up residual shavings and dust that was left on the floor after cleaning up. I had always planned to run dedicated lines with in-line blast gates to all of the major machinery, but I just never got around to it. There was always too much work to do to take any time off for remodeling.

As a friend of mine likes to say: “Life just got in the way.” One day I decided that enough was enough and I closed the studio for a few days to get the central station dust collector upgrades installed. Had I tried to fit it in here and there when I had some free time (which I never, ever, ever, ever have), I would still be using a temporary pipeline to service the bandsaw and tablesaw.

After purchasing some new flex line, I ran a new line to the bandsaw and installed the necessary “Wyes.” The tablesaw will also get its own dedicated line, but I have yet to install it. Each main line has an in-line blast gate that allows me to shut off sections of the collection system as necessary to improve vacuum performance. My Jet dust collector does not have the horses to run dust collection on more than one machine at a time, but then, that’s all I ever work on -- one machine at a time.

Central Station Dust Collector: The LT-18 Laguna Bandsaw Upgrade

My Laguna LT-18 (18”) Italian bandsaw was an early version that was made before the manufacturer starting adding the 4” side collection outlet under the guides. When I purchased the bandsaw, it had only one dust collection port, low and in the rear of the bottom cabinet. I decided to add a supplemental 4” outlet under the guides to allow for more efficient dust collection. To do this, I had to drill a 4.0” hole under the guides on the lower base cabinet. This was easy enough, but the bi-metal hole saw was none too cheap. After I got the hole drilled, I installed the 4.0” plastic collection outlet and sealed around the mounting flange with silicone to prevent any air leaks.

The new 4" line (upper left) was
installed under the guides.

The lower rear collector outlet was an odd metric size, so I just used a 5.0” flexible hose to connect it to a Wye on the main dust collection line, which is 6.0” throughout the studio. The same Wye fitting was used to connect the side 4” outlet as well and a 6.0” blast gate was installed at chest level where it was easy to reach.

A 6" plastic blast gate was installed
at chest level for ease of use.

Central Station Dust Collector: What a Difference

After I got everything hooked up, I ran a test and cut some Maple and Mesquite to see how well the new central station dust collector lines worked on the bandsaw. Well, it worked a treat for sure. There is still a tiny bit of dust left in the corners inside the lower cabinet, but the rest of the cabinet is kept very clean of shavings and dust. The blast gate I used was one of the el-cheapo plastic ones, but it worked well enough for my needs.

The only nit I encountered was that I had to pop-rivet the flexible hose onto the blast gate to keep the hose connection secured. The worm clamps by themselves were not sufficient to keep the heavy flexible hose connected to the tapered flange on the blast gate. I also added some silicone caulk to the inside of the hose before I pop-riveted it to give a better seal. This worked amazingly well and I now have very secure fittings that have no vacuum leaks.

Central Station Dust Collector: The Jet DC-1100 Dust Collector Upgrades

The upgrades to the DC-1100 itself were more involved than just connecting some new lines and a blast gate. My plan involved several steps, 1) Dissemble the main unit and mount the motor on the wall near the ceiling to make room for a new cyclone, 2) Install an Oneida Super Dust Deputy Cyclone, 3) Add a new metal dustbin to act as the primary dust collection bin (instead of the plastic bag that came on the Jet), and 4) Add an automatic dustbin level indicator to let me know when the dustbin was full.

Central Station Dust Collector: Remounting the Motor

The motor assembly was removed
from the base where it is normally
mounted (lower right).

Disassembling the motor from the frame was easy enough to do, but getting that heavy motor secured high on the wall was far from easy. After numerous attempts of trying to lift and hold the bloody thing up on the wall whilst I secured the bolts by myself, I decided to wait until my wife could help me. With the two of us working, it was a snap. I held the motor up against the wall and she secured the lag screws into the studs behind the wall. Sometimes you just need an extra hand!

The dust collector motor was removed
and mounted on the wall near the ceiling.

You may be wondering why I wanted to disassemble the motor from the base unit… I had to separate the motor from the base unit because I needed the additional space to fit the new cyclone and the new dustbin. Had I left the motor assembled as it originally was mounted, there would not have been enough room for the cyclone and dustbin. Woodturners never seem to have enough space do we?

Central Station Dust Collector: Oneida Super Dust Deputy Cyclone

Oneida super dust deputy cyclone.

This upgrade was a long time coming, but I’m sure glad I did it. For years, I struggled with getting holes in my central station dust collector’s plastic dust bag and having to regularly clean the upper pleated cartridge filter. As the collector is running, the interior contents in the lower plastic bag can spin around inside. This can cause holes or tears in the plastic bag.

I would usually find this out when I would go into the rear room and see dust all over the floor. Not good! Although the plastic bags are quite thick, they can still tear. I wanted to find a way to either do away with them entirely, or reduce the chances of a hole or tear. Cleaning up a large room with dust everywhere, shelves, floor, walls etc., is not fun! I also wanted to reduce the cleaning intervals on the upper pleated unit, which is a pain to clean. Cloth bags are available for the lower unit, but I really wanted something better.

I looked at getting a replacement bin for the lower plastic bag, but the fibre drums I found were too expensive and the metal ones were as well. Therefore, I decided to keep the plastic bag, but this time I would double it up and add a metal bin under the new cyclone. The metal bin would take the brunt of wear and tear and keep the plastic bag inviolate.

A 31 gallon metal trash can was used
as the primary dust collector bin.

The Oneida cyclone cost $219.00 + $25.00 shipping and is designed to fit on various metal or fibre drums. Since I bought just the cyclone, I had to make my own lid, so I could use whatever size drum I wanted. To reduce cost, I decided to use a 31-gallon metal trashcan from a local big box store, which only cost $15.00. That’s a lot less than $89.00+ shipping on a 17-gallon metal drum, or $61.68+ $42.50 shipping on a 35-gallon fibre drum.

The metal trashcan worked great, although I decided to add 10lbs of poured concrete to the bottom to add some weight to it. I also used some old epoxy to seal the concrete in the bottom so it would not break up, or continually dust as concrete is prone to do. I turned a lid for the top of the metal trashcan bin (the part that the cyclone sits on) out of 23/32nds inch plywood. A half-round groove matching the top of the trashcan was turned on the lathe into the underside of the lid to provide a better seal.

This groove was then filled with silicone and I used a hand-carved applicator to smooth the silicone out and create the proper concave curve to match the top of the metal trashcan rim. Once the silicone was fully cured, I sealed the underside of the plywood lid with more silicone for a better airtight seal.

Central Station Dust Collector: Automatic Dust Sentry Level Indicator

Oneida's dust level indicator uses a remote
sensor to monitor the dust level in the bin.

Oneida also offers an automatic dust level sensing unit that flashes when the trashcan bin contents reach a preset level. This keeps you from having to cut a viewing window in the side of the can, or having to check it periodically to make sure it’s not too full. This was easy to install and works a treat as well. It was somewhat pricey though, coming in at an astonishing $148.00. I decided to splurge on this and I’m glad I did, as it is a nice option to eliminate multiple trips to the bin to check the dust level. To make the metal trashcan bin easier to move around and empty, I added wheels onto the bottom. To empty it, I simply roll it outside to the rubbish bin.

Central Station Dust Collector: Dust Collector Upgrades In Use

After using my upgraded central station dust collector system for the last few months, I can say that the new Oneida Super Dust Deputy cyclone is working beautifully! The plastic bag under the dust collector has less than ½ teaspoon of dust in it after three months of regular use. Three months of regular use without the cyclone would have required empting the lower plastic bag on the dust collector at least two or three times, not to mention cleaning the upper pleated filter at least once.

The Super Dust Deputy cyclone really does seem to capture 99% of the dust and debris before it gets to the dust collector filter and collection bag. The automatic dust level-sensing indicator works perfectly. When it flashes, it’s time to empty the metal dustbin. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Although I had seen larger versions of these cyclone separators in industrial situations for many years, I did not have any firsthand experience using them in a small studio environment. I can now say that they really do work and I’m glad I added one to my primary dust collection system.

Central Station Dust Collector: Dry Grinder Dust Collection System Upgrades

My Baldor 8" slow speed grinder.
Tormek's BGM 100 jig is visible in lower left.

Overview: One of the things that has always bothered me about dry grinding/sharpening was the spray of stone and metal dust you get during sharpening. This spray is magnified many times over in quantity when you true the wheel, or dress it to remove any buildup of metal on the surface. Anyone who has ever cleaned the face of a dry grinding wheel knows about the stone dust cloud that’s created. It seems to go everywhere!

Although I always wear a respirator and a face shield, it still makes a mess on the bench top and it can get on your hands, arms and clothes. While most of the dust during sharpening goes down, back and away from the stone, a portion of it moves in other directions. I found this out first hand one morning at a woodturning class. I happened to be standing off to the side of a dry grinder when someone began to sharpen their bowl gouge. In the early morning sun, you could clearly see the white dust from the grinding wheel blowing around the wheel and around the turner who was sharpening his gouge.

After a bit of time, the gentleman stopped and decided to clean the face of the wheel with a diamond dressing tool. The amount of stone dust that came off that wheel as he was dressing it was incredible. When you’re standing at the grinder, you can see some of the dust cloud, but you can really see it when you’re off to the side and a harsh light is cast across the grinder area. The dust cloud was clearly visible in the morning sunrays and I decided it was high time to find a way to reduce the stone and metal dust generated during dry grinding, sharpening and dressing a dry wheel in my studio.

Some of you might be thinking… Why not just use one of your Tormek wet grinders instead? Problem solved right? Well, yes and no. I maintain both wet and dry sharpening systems in my studio, so when I’m teaching students they can use the system and sharpening jigs they are familiar with in their own studio. Therefore, I still use dry grinders, even though for most sharpening tasks I prefer using one of my Tormek wet grinders.

If I need to put a special grind on a new tool, say an Irish grind on a flat ground bowl gouge, I do the primary shaping on the dry grinder with the BGM-100 Tormek jig mounted on one of my Baldor 8” dry grinders. Once I’m satisfied with the grind profile, I move to the Tormek wet grinder. All further sharpening is done on the wet grinder. Therefore, I have a real need to maintain both types of systems in my studio.

Central Station Dust Collector: Industrial Options Abound

My Baldor 8" high speed grinder.

In looking around at dust collection systems, I found several industrial dust collectors that would fit the bill perfectly – except for one thing; they cost an arm and a leg. One model had multiple arms that were mounted on a rolling collection box that was rated for stone dust. It reminded me of an octopus with moveable arms that could be positioned as needed for maximum effect. These industrial units were great, but they would have just about required a second mortgage on my home to purchase one and they were just too expensive for my needs.

As I continued mulling over what might work in a price range that would not put me in the poor house, I thought why not just plumb some pipes to the back of each grinder and use a dedicated shop vacuum to provide the suction? Sounded good at first, but would it work? I knew I wanted to use a separate dedicated vacuum, to eliminate any possibility of hot metal dust mixing with wood dust in the vacuum canister. I also wanted a vacuum unit that did not sound like an F-15 fighter jet using its afterburners.

Central Station Dust Collector: Shop Vac Solution Found

This Rigid vacuum utilizes scroll noise
reduction technology to reduce the
overall noise when running.

After looking around a wee bit, I settled on a 16-gallon Rigid Shop Vacuum, model WD1851, which is one of their quieter models with “Scroll Noise Reduction” technology. It cost $159.00 and was purchased from my local Homely Depot. There are of course even quieter models on the market than the Rigid vacuum I choose, like the $425.00 Fein for example. Ultra quiet vacuums like Fein and Festool are quite pricey, but they are very quiet and well made.

If you are in a small studio or a basement, one of the ultra quiet models may be a better choice for you. Check the decibel specs on different models and see what works best for you. The Rigid model I purchased is significantly quieter than my old Shop vac and it was still affordable. I typically wear hearing protection with active noise reduction circuitry in the studio most of the time anyway, so the difference in decibel level is not as much of a concern for me.

Central Station Dust Collector: Dust Collection Piping

Man-o-man what a complex issue you open up when you start looking at dust collection piping! Everyone has an opinion and there are plenty of folks out there with multiple college degrees in the field that totally disagree on various aspects of how to best collect dust. I read and read until my eyes felt like they were going to explode. I decided to drop back and punt.

After letting everything sit on the back burner for a few days, I thought back to my original plan, “Make as many upgrades as possible, whilst maintaining affordability.” You can always break the bank on things like this, but that was not my goal. Remember, my definition of dust collection in the early days of my studio was two 20” variable speed box fans, with three furnace filters on the back – ala David Ellsworth. Hey, it worked, no, I’m not kidding either.

PVC pipe was run to the
back of each wheel shroud.

I looked at various types of purpose built hose (really expensive) and some el-cheapo examples as well, like PVC piping. Several of my friends used PVC piping and I saw some studios outfitted with PVC piping on the Telly as well, that seemed to work well enough. PVC pipe was inexpensive, easily assembled and I could get it today at my local box store, instead of waiting a week for the brown truck to show up at my door. Since I was unable to source any 2.5” PVC pipe, I settled on using 2.0” SCH 40 PVC pipe.

I needed to pipe two 8” grinders with two wheels each, back to my dedicated Rigid vacuum or “Stone Dust Sucker” as I call it, so I was going to need lots of fittings. I just about emptied out the PVC fitting bins at sLowesT, and I headed back to the studio. Luckily, one of the grinders was close to the vacuum, the other one was unfortunately all the way across the room though, which was about 20’ away. Luckily, working with PVC pipe is easy, although it did take a bit of thought to figure out how to get the pipe over and behind each grinder as efficiently as possible.

Large ball valves were used
to isolate the piping to each grinder.

Once both grinders were piped in, I just needed to attach the vacuum to the end of the pipe. I added a large ball valve to each grinder's suction line, so I could close one grinder off whilst I was using the other. This kept the suction as high as possible at each grinder. Think of the ball valves as blast gates… There is one line coming from the vacuum. This primary line is then split into two vacuum lines (one going to the back of each grinder), each with its own ball valve. This setup works great and it’s easy to close off one of the vacuum lines when it’s not needed.

Central Station Dust Collector: Dust Deputy Cyclone Lagniappe

Oneida's dust deputy is installed
under one of my workbenches.

Humm, as I looked at the vacuum system when I was getting ready to hook everything up, I thought it needed a little something more – a mini-cyclone. Oneida manufacturing makes a mini-cyclone called the “Dust Deputy Deluxe” that is sized for small shop vacs. I hopped on the Internet and bought one for $79.00 + $12.50 shipping and set about reconfiguring the attachment to the vacuum to prepare it for the mini-cyclone. When the central station dust collector is turned on, it pulls air through the piping into the mini-cyclone and then into the Rigid shop vacuum reservoir. The mini-cyclone is supposed to capture 99% of the dust before it reaches the shop vac filter, so maintenance should be a snap.

The mini-cyclone and vacuum are installed
side-by-side to increase vacuum efficiency.

I’ve been using this setup now for several months and you can clearly see stone and metal dust in the mini-cyclone bin. When you open the shop vac up, you can see almost nothing in the bottom, save a teensy-tiny amount of ultra-fine dust. Whilst I thought these mini-cyclones were a gadget at first, they really work! The Dust Deputy mini-cyclone also has built in grounding wire/strap that helps to eliminate any static electricity buildup on the piping. Sweet!

Central Station Dust Collector: Still Not Satisfied

You all know me well enough by now to know that I’m not done yet… A few days ago, I was looking at my new central station dust collector setup and I decided that I needed to upgrade the upper pleated filter on the Jet DC-1100 to a new Oneida H.E.P.A. filter. Luckily, this is not too expensive an upgrade (~$289.00) and it filters 99.7% of dust down to 0.3 – 0.5 microns. Works for me! You can never have too much dust collection, so I going to order one. I’m also upgrading the Rigid shop vacuum filter to a H.E.P.A. filter and the wall mounted Jet dust collector to a H.E.P.A. filter. All three of these upgrades have been a long time coming. Once these are installed in a few days, everything in my studio will be a H.E.P.A certified filter.

Central Station Dust Collector: But Wait, There’s More

One last thing that has bothered me over the years is the VOC's that some finishes contain. While I always wear a half mask respirator with an organic vapor cartridge when finishing, I have always wanted some type of ”scrubber” to absorb any released/transient VOC’s from the studio air. I have been looking around for a good unit and I think I have found one that will work for my studio. This will be the subject of a future in-depth Lathe Talk article, which will publish in a few months. It will make an interesting read…

Central Station Dust Collector: Closing Thoughts

My new central dust collection upgrades work exceedingly well and they were easy to install and were affordable as well. The plastic blast gates work well and effectively close off the other lines that are not needed when I’m on the lathe, so I have as much suction as possible to a machine.

Once again, I resisted the urge to drop $5,000.00+ on a new 5hp dust collection system in favor of keeping my trusty old 1.5hp Jet DC-1100 dust collector in operation. It has served me well though the years and is all I really need right now. After all, I can only run one machine at a time anyway…

The dust collection upgrades to the dry grinders have far exceeded my expectations. Most of the stone and metal dust generated during sharpening (~85% I would guess) is captured by the dust collection system. Visible poof of this is in the bottom of the mini-cyclone bin. When cleaning/truing the face of a wheel with a diamond dresser, about 50% of the dust is captured by my new vacuum lines.

Before I installed my stone dust collector, I was capturing zero percent of the dust! To remove the rest of the stone dust that is not captured during truing the wheel, I attach another 2.5” hose from a secondary H.E.P.A/OSHA certified shop vac and hook it into place under the wheel. This ends up getting just about everything else that gets by the central station dust collector.

Virtually no stone or metal dust is left on the bench surface with both collectors running. I only add the supplemental dust collector hose when truing the wheel though; it’s not needed for regular sharpening. Now, instead of stone and metal dust everywhere around my dry grinders, very little to none is left on the bench. That makes the whole studio cleaner and it prevents most of the dust that would normally fly around in the air when using one of my dry grinders from causing problems. Works for me!

Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.

Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.

Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.

Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.