Dust Collection Tips

A central station dust collection system should be one of your first purchases in a woodturning studio!

I use a modified (right) Jet DC 1100 as my
primary central station dust collector.
Original Jet configuration shown (left).

When I first opened my studio seventeen years ago, I decided against initially purchasing a central collection system for dust. With the cost of the lathe, tools and miscellaneous items needed to open a production woodturning studio, I dropped a significant chunk of change just to open the doors. Whilst I would have loved to purchase every tool and machine I would ever need from the get-go, I decided a few things would have to wait. After all, I was opening a business to make money and you have to watch your expenses if you want to turn a profit.

One of the things I decided to hold off on purchasing was a central station dust collection system. At the time I did not have a bandsaw, but I was power sanding a lot on the lathe and I knew I needed something to mitigate the dust cloud produced when sanding projects on the lathe. I’m the kind of person who likes to do a lot of research before purchasing tools and equipment, so I decided to use some inexpensive solutions for dust control, as I continued to investigate what collection systems would best serve my needs.

I thought I could get away with using some cheap dust collection equipment for a few months (20” box fans with 3 A/C filters on the suction side), get the studio up and running and then purchase a real collection system. Well you probably know what happened, my studio business took off like a rocket and I was working 16 – 18 hours every day, seven days a week. Every time I power sanded a bowl, I knew I needed to think about better collection for dust, but I had orders to fill and logs to process and time just kept slipping away. More than five years later, I had had enough and I got serious about finding a system that would work for my studio.

Enter the Dust Eating Dog

The Dust Dog air filter uses a pleated filter
medium for efficient dust collection

After looking at several systems that ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, I decided to purchase a Jet DC1100 Dust Collector. Whilst the $5,000.00+ professional systems looked great on paper, they really did not make sense to me, since I was a one-man studio and I would only be using one tool at a time 99% of the time. I also knew that I only wanted to collect the dust from hand and power sanding, the latter of which produces copious amounts of dust.

My Jet collection system could accommodate a 6” incoming line, so I decided to run 6” lines to each down drop to get better airflow. This has worked extremely well and since I have installed my central station collection system, I no longer stand in a cloud of dust when power sanding. I’ve also added supplemental collection equipment through the years (wall mounted), to obtain even better overall dust collection.

A Jet AFS 1000 wall mounted dust collector
is used to capture residual dust in the air

In addition, I’ve purchased a powered respirator to wear when sanding on the lathe, or when working inside the studio on other projects that may produce dust. You can never have too much protection… My personal protection protocol now features four layers: 1) A 3M AS400LBC PAPR powered respirator with HEPA filter; 2) A Jet DC1100 central station collection system; 3) A Jet AFS 1000 wall mounted ambient dust collector; and 4) A supplemental central station collector attached to the incoming central air-conditioning/heating system that uses 6” thick high efficiency filters.

3M's AS400LBC powered respirator is popular
with many professional woodturners

That’s a far cry from the old days when I had two 20” box fans running on high speed, with furnace filters on the back and I wore a half mask respirator! Looking back, I don’t know how I operated so long without a good quality collection system. I waited far too long to purchase my first dust collector. If I could turn back the clock and do it again, I would have gotten all of my dust equipment first and waited on some of the turning tools and accessories that I did not really need initially.

If you’re turning in a studio now without some type of central station collection system, I urge you to learn from my experience and get your studio squared away. You only have two lungs and replacement body parts are hard to come by, so invest in your health and you will be a much happier woodturner.

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.