The Blog for GW Pens

A peek at what we make

Stop- You Had Me at One Micron

Yesterday I touched on the new dust collector I bought. Well, pulling into the driveway this morning after dropping my daughter off at school, what do my weary-oh-my-God-I-need-coffee eyes see sitting on the front steps? My dust collector! A day early, too. That was nice, after having several Fed-Ex deliveries sitting in the local distribution center with an online delivery status of something along the lines of the delivery date not being here yet.

But where was I? Oh right- dust. So, like many before me and I’m sure many yet to come, my initial means of dust collection was absolutely nothing. At some point I realized I was pulling my shirt up over my nose so I could breath a little easier, which was around hen I started to use my shop-vac as a means of dust collection. Additionally, I use paper respirators that act as a filter around my nose and mouth. After a few good sessions, you can see the ssaw dust trappd in them, and into the trash they go.

My shop-vac is a pretty good one. It has a replaceable filter, is a wet/dry vac and can even have the motor removed and used as a leaf blower. So here I was, hooking this up to my band saw and sanders (the most commonly used dust producers in the shop), and it was definitely helping. Despite using this, I routinely needed to open up the casings and give them a good cleaning to remove sawdust build-up. Enter: the book of wood.

More specifically, Wood: Identification & Use, which details five pages of toxic woods, mainly the sawdust produced by these woods (though there are some where the wood itself is toxic). When you start to see things like “bronchial problems; asthma; decrease in lung function; eye and skin irritant; nasal cancer” listed as the result from prolonged contact (and in some cases, first contact), you start looking a bit more closely at the air you’re breathing. My workshop is set up in my garage, so there is no air circulation in there, except for that of the shop-vac and a box fan that I attached an HVAC air filter to the backside of to catch sawdust that falls when I hand-sand toys.

So, I started my quest to find a dust collector that was 1. Affordable, 2. Good, and 3. Doesn’t require a 220v outlet. Because If i need to get an electrician in here to install a 220v outlet, that is breaking the first of my three criteria. Plus, I’ve installed a 220v outlet before and frankly- it scared the crap out of me. A shock from a standard 110v outlet is one thing, but a shock from a 220v line can kill a person. But anyway, I am a fan of buy something right the first time so you don’t waste money on junk, which led me to researching the crap out of DC’s, or dust collectors.

I found a “tornado” style DC is the best, but being the “best” also comes with a price tag. If you’ll note criteria #2 above, I was merely looking for “Good”. Since I don’t have $1,000 to plunk down for a tornado unit, I kept looking.

Delta is a brand that has been in woodworking for ages. From what I can tell, they have some really great items, and then they have some that are kind of alright. This DC, though, was getting rave reviews from users. And not just users, but users who switched from a shop-vac set up like I was using. One of the best things about it is it comes standard with a bag that filters don to 1 micron. How small is that? Well, I’ll put it this way. It would be able to filter smoke from a fireplace. Other machines come with bags that filter only down to 5 microns, and some as big as 30 microns! Ugh, I may as well stick with the shop-vac if that were the case. And like with most things there are after-market attachments you can get that will increase the filtering abilities, but here’s my train of thought on that.

Every dust collector is designed to move a certain volume of air, labeled as ‘cfm’, or Cubic Feet per Minute. The DC i bought does I believe 850 cfm. If the bag attached to the DC is able to filter down to, say, 5 microns, then that means the machine is counting on being able to push a specific amount of volume out through that bag. If you get a better bag, like one that filters down to 1 micron, you are making it have to push the air harder to get it through the filter, and possibly reduce the cfm rating, But, by getting one that comes with a 1 micron rated filter bag, know the machine can handle the cfm it is intended for.

So, that is pretty much my run down on dust collectors. This weekend I’ll be hooking up the tubing, grounding it all (we don’t want a static electric dust explosion), and giving it a trial by fire. Stay tuned for the results on Monday!

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2008 by and tagged , , , .
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