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· Registered
70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Rebuilding shop after move, attempting to bring beginners mind and question all my prior assumptions... also reading tons of old and current threads here that relate.)

The question is, how to prioritize/optimize investment for protecting health against dust (with my kids getting involved more, this is a bigger deal)

The status quo is cheap two rubber band sanding masks and a rigid shopvac with standard filter.

I see four major areas for improvement

A. The Shopvac path...
A1. Upgrade to HEPA filter in Rigid shopvac and religiously attach it to whatever tool I'm using at the moment. Cost $25 here.
A2. Spend another ~$20-$40 for different hoses or hose size adapters to connect to my sander, router DC attachment, etc.
A3. Spend another $50 - $120 for a cyclone or build a Thein baffle to put in front of the shopvac... and then some kind of cart to support the two together.

B. The DC path...
B1. Buy the HF 2hp dust collector on the New years sale at $150.
B2. Then probably buy the Wynn filter to move from HF's 5 micron to 0.5 to 1 micron... for another ~$200.
B3. Then cyclone or Thein baffle...

C. Install an air cleaning system like the Wen here for <$150 installed cost.

D. Better quality masks, vs. the standard cheap two rubber band face irritating ones I've always used when sanding. Cost - up to $400/person for something like the Trend Airshield or $75/person for the Rockler mask that DesertRatTom likes.

Of course the ideal solution involves at least DC + air cleaning + quality masks.
And of course resources are limited.
How would you prioritize these areas?

Critical context:
- Post-move I have no planer, no jointer, no table saw, and no miter saw. Since there's one more move minimum before final stop, I'm trying to be slow acquiring large things and will continue to do most cutting with a DIY tracksaw/circular saw and jigsaw and when planing is essential I'll use a handheld planer from a nearby tool library.
- I was prepared to buy the HF DC and Wynn filter, so I'm mentally willing to invest that $350-400 there or wherever it's better... but I'm actually now leaning away from those purchases.

If you don't persuade me otherwise, I'm thinking that...
(Skip the HF DC system, allocate funds elsewhere due to size when moving, and lack of large tools that need DC most).
1. Definitely upgrade shopvac filter & connect it directly to my current tool in use. Total ~$60.
2. Buy a couple Rockler masks at $75 each.
3. Add to the shopvac a cyclone or Thien baffle to prolong filter life.
4. If I get this far down the spending list, buy a Wen air cleaner also.
(and when weather permits, open the main garage door and back (people) door and run a couple fans I already own)

All input is welcome.

· Registered
15,464 Posts
Just some thoughts, Ashley.
The best solution is always the one that collects as much of the dust and debris at the source.
An air cleaner isn't a dust collector. It's a really effective way of eliminating extremely fine airborne particles that escape from the dust collector.
A dust collection system is basically portable; it comes apart pretty quickly for moving, so potentially moving in the future isn't a great argument for ruining your lungs in the present.
If the 2HP system is a real 2HP that's a pretty impressive machine.
Mine's only 1HP and it does a fairly decent job.
You can have the ShopVac and an actual dust collector. Not really an either/or thing.
Good luck, and good on ya for taking the lung issue seriously! Too many guys from the trades crippled by COPD.

· Registered
901 Posts
No matter what else you do, there will always be times you need a mask. I've found no way to effectively capture all the dust from sanding on a wood lathe for instance. I can't collect all the fine dust from my Random Orbit Sander either. If you think you're getting all the dust from your router, clean your shop up and then notice how much dust is on everything after you've done some routing.
So, I'd get a better mask first.

· Registered
22,926 Posts
I'd get the Rockler masks for everyone first, then the DC. Get one mask and see how it fits on the kids, then get the rest if they fit the kids OK. The motor puts positive pressure, filtered air in the mask which I like. Get a couple of spare sets of rechargeable AA battery sets and charger, keep them charged.

If the DC will be in your shop, get the Wynn filter. The HF DC breaks down pretty easily. The WEN ceiling mounted filter works very well, but not sure you'll need it until you have more sawdust heavy tools. I have a small hose that goes to the track saw on one end with a 4 inch connector on the other end that goes into the DC.

As to tools, I can't imagine doing without a table saw as the first priority. If I were to move, my Laguna 10 inch is easily moved, particularly if you take the wings off. Planer is also easy to move (DeWalt 735 with stand is on sale occasionally). A decent jointer will be incredibly heavy, but my 6 inch Powermatic has a mobile base as well. But I think those two thicknessing tools can wait if you're not making precision projects.

When I get a second drum filter for my second HF DC unit, I'll probably buy one with a paddle/handle setup to knock the sawdust off the filter. The Wynn has you blow air through the filter to clean it out.

One small thing: It's tempting when you only have a couple of cuts to make, not to put on the mask, so I keep a box of paper medical masks handy. Better than nothing.

Most table saws have some sort of dust intake below the table but shoot out a lot of sawdust above the table. A friend of mine simply dropped a 2x from the rafter down to just above the saw to hold an inexpensive dc hood over the blade. He uses a 2.5"/4" splitter for collecting dust from the low port and runs a 2.5" pipe up over to the blade collector. You might also check out the Shark Guard, which rides on the splitter and sucks up the sawdust. Don't have one, but it's a great option and folks here seem to like them. Easily removed if necessary.

I worried about moving heavy gear at one time but my brother said just hire a truck and a couple of beefy helpers. Makes sense. Taxifornia is getting me down so I've given it some consideration.

Finally, the WEN filter with a timer. I have fairly good DC in the shop, but the WEN really scrubs the air in there. You can tell the difference, particularly if you have any breathing problems.

Hope this is helpful. I think you're wise to handle DC issues first. I think a lot of people have permanent damage because they didn't handle the dust issue from the start. Your kids will be forming good health and safety habits from the start.

· Registered
217 Posts
I’d get the better filter for your shop vac, and a air filtration system. If you use a lathe then that is something all together different and a full face shield with filtered air would be the way to go.

The reason I say air filtration is because some people like me hate wearing masks and only do it when they have too. If you have an air filtration system it will protect the lungs of everyone in the room for the entire time they are in the workroom. If you use masks, the dust is only obvious when you are creating it, but if you take your mask off after routing or sanding or whatever, the dust is still in the air. I can’t imagine wearing a mask for the entire time I’m in my workshop, and your kids won’t want to do it either.

If you’ve never used air filtration you don’t know what you are missing. If I turn on a piece of power equipment to cut something, I’m almost immediately reminded that I don’t have filtration on because I can smell the dust in the air.

In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.

· Registered
159 Posts
Dust is truly a great problem, and a big health risk.
Wear quality masks!
I use p3 grade made for working with asbestos.
use aspiration, Baffle and ,if possible,push the exhaust out of your workshop...
I don't believe in perfect filtering ,but in my place, the is enought moisture for bacterias and micro-mushrooms to eat wood dust,
they with happiness eat wood beams , so...wood dust...They soon will do.
In fact wood dust is a very dangerous thing.

· Premium Member
2,414 Posts
I always try to wear a mask when ever I am cutting/sanding/routing/etc.. in short, ANYTHING that will generate dust. I use a 3m mask like this one: 3M dust mask. Replaceable cartridges are available for different uses... ie paint, organics, asbestos, etc. I've used several different disposable masks and most fog up my glasses. The ones that I have had good luck with, and don't fog up my glasses, are the ones with an exhaust vent opposite my nose and mouth. I also use a dust collector, or a shop vac depending on what machine I'm using. Eventually the DC will be accessible for all my machines, but I'm not there yet. I also use a 20" box fan with a furnace filter fastened to the infeed side. Certainly not as good as a dedicated air cleaner, but it does make a huge difference in the particulate floating in the air.

· Marine Engineer
4,963 Posts
If you are just using portable tools, a shop vac with the clean stream style heap filters works great. I used to use drywall bags in my 20 gal. vac to keep the dust contained. I started with the little rigid ambient air cleaner, and upgraded to the Jet.

I tried a bunch of different masks until I found what worked for me, but I enjoy using a respirator more when humid in the summer.

Try to collect as much at the source as you can. Some of the tools don't make dust collection easy, so I take them outside when possible.

I would start with your option A and go from there.

· Registered
235 Posts
I use a wood lathe the most. I wear a Trend Power Air Shield and have a vac recovery system that is hooked to a Festool Midi with a Hepa filter and above me is a Powertec Air Filter hanging from the rafters. I make lots of Pens and Seam Rippers and use some exotic woods that are not good for you to breathe in the dust. I have one of those Rockler multi-fit dust extraction hoses, so anything that has a small dust fitting goes to the Festool Vac and anything larger goes to a Jet Dust Collector with a 1 micron filter and a Super Dust Deputy Cyclone. If you come in to my Garage, be careful I suck your brains out with all of the dust collectors and Air Filters going at the same time. I have spent way to much money in dust collection and air filters but I only have one set of lungs. I just wish I had been smarter in my early years and had not smoked. But I did quit 19 years ago.


· Registered
22,926 Posts
Hi, FYI on the Rockler mask. It doesn't have an outflow valve, so with my mask, there is a mild air leak across my prescription (and shatterproof) glasses, which fit fairly well over the mask. That outflow also keeps my glasses from fogging in summer. It gently pressurizes the mask with filtered air, which is effective at keeping sawdust out. It is also fairly light weight, with the battery pack being separate so it's pretty comfortable.
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