Storage Screwed; Trouble in DC (this just sucks!)

The post title is a tad dramatic perhaps, but accurate.

In recent weeks I have been working on organizing and cleaning my shop. One area that has long vexed me is how to store commonly used fasteners in such a way I can easily access them and assess stock, without the storage comprising open compartments that fill with wood dust over time.

I’ve tried a variety of approaches to storing screws, rivets, nails, etc., the most recent being a wall-mounted plastic bin with clear plastic trays that you pull out to get at various fasteners. It worked okay, at best, but squinting through the end of a little plastic tray turns out to be not the most clear method for knowing where a given fastener might be located, and how many you might have.

I’ve taken in recent years to moving away from the ‘tools on display’ mode of handing stuff on the wall, to storing tools in rolling cabinets. A cabinet drawer can be lined with material to keep corrosion at bay, and the tools in a cabinet are much better protected than otherwise, and contents don’t get caked with dust. Contents can easily be secured with a turn of a key. I still have hammers and saws hung on the wall, but eventually they will both be going into some form of cabinet storage.

As for cabinets, new ones that are decent are pricey, so I buy them used, partly as I try to avoid offshore (i.e., made in China) products by and large. I’ve found Kennedy tool cabinets to be a good choice so far, as a used Kennedy roller cabinet can generally be found in the $200~300 price zone. So far over the past 3 years or so I have acquired three roller cabinets, 2 of which are 29″ models, and 1 of which is a 34″ model.

Looking in Kennedy’s online tool catalog the other day I noticed a couple of things. One is that they have decreased their range of products somewhat. I guess the company was bought out in the past year or two by Cornwell Quality Tools Company, and as that company owns other brands with certain product overlaps to Kennedy, they have ‘rationalized’ Kennedy’s product line somewhat, reducing the scope of offerings. Hopefully these aren’t the first steps in rationalizing the company out of existence, as has happened elsewhere.

I also noticed while perusing their website that Kennedy makes a series of drop-in tray liners for their cabinets. I thought I’d obtain a couple and see how they work, in the hope of getting some semblance of control over fastener storage.

I chose a couple of trays for one of the 29″ cabs, this one residing at the infeed end of the jointer:

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I ordered the trays directly from Kennedy’s online store and they came a week or so later. I was impressed with the trays out of the box as they were considerably stouter than I had imagined they might be. They were both a perfect fit inside the cabinet.

The lower drawer has the liner with the deeper 4″ compartments and thereby stores larger fasteners:

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And the upper drawer has the smaller fasteners in shallow 2″ trays:

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I think this storage solution works very well for me, and I’d recommend the solution to anybody. The drawers keep the dust out, and simply pulling the drawer open makes everything perfectly accessible and it is obvious what you have and don’t have.

I plan to get a couple more of these insert trays in the near future so that I can similarly store my overflowing collection of larger fasteners, including bolts, washers. lag screws, cap screws, etc.. I think it will only be a matter of time before that 29″ Kennedy box is entirely devoted to fastener storage. Another used Kennedy box looks to be in my future as well, so I’m keeping my eye on Craigslist and other places.

Now, onto the problems I’m having with DC. By ‘DC’, I refer to my dust collection system. Not to say that the other, more well-known DC doesn’t have an extensive list of defects to address….

Dust collection is one of those things that is absolutely essential to a shop yet is entirely unglamorous if not generally forgotten about. Many shops, I dare say, entirely underwhelm in their choice of (marginal) dust collection equipment, and I’m even aware of some folks somehow trying to run modern machinery without dust collection.

There are certain kinds of machines, particularly of the old ‘arn variety, where you might be able to forgo a dust collector, and indeed many older machines have poor provisions for collecting dust anyhow. I’m thinking of classic machines here like jointers, where chips can fall out the bottom, or shapers even, where chips can just spray everywhere if that works for you.

Even planers can be run without collection, however anyone who runs a planer like that will attest to the startling volume of mess very quickly produced, so, unless your style is to take all your day’s shop footsteps in 6″ of chips, or spend half your day sweeping up, then dust collection is mandatory. And if wood dust is a health concern, then a focus on good dust collection is absolutely essential if you want to have powered stationary machines.

With several of the larger machines I have – jointer, planer, and shaper in particular -they won’t operate properly without a dust collection system drawing a certain CFM rate – the shavings will just jam up inside the works.

When I got my shop running – and I continue to use that term loosely – my first piece of bigger equipment was a 16″ Oliver jointer. I was able to run it without dust collection, however when I could at last obtain a planer, I knew I was also getting myself into dust collection as part of the bargain. I wrote a post nearly 10 years back about the system I obtained from a High School in the midwest, entitled Shop Vac Review. A later follow-up post detailed the relocation of the system to a corner of my space and some of the preliminaries in getting the parts together.

Later developments ensued with the system as I gradually configured the system for the shop, adding new parts as new machines came on the scene. This resulted in a post series entitled, far more appropriately than I realized at the time, “This Just Sucks“.

That turned into a 3-part series spanning a few years.

The most recent changes to that system formed a post from 2014 entitled Down a Dusty Road,  where I detailed upgrading from the bag house which came with the system from the high School, to a Oneida set up with dual 55 gallon collector drums, dual paper filters with removable catch bucket system. That filter set up set me back $1500.00, and the mods to the cyclone and cost of support stand were close to $1000. If you manage to wade through those posts in those three series you’ll be more or less up to date on the dust collection in my shop, save for extensions and additions I have made over the years as equipment has been added. Every time a new machine comes in, what comes along with it are several hundred in electrical components (conduit, boxes, receptacles, plugs, wire), and usually a bit more, $500~750, in additional dust collection components.

The new Hofmann long hole boring machine is a case in point. I’ve already done the electrical work and have it hooked up, but it has three chip collection ports requiring several meters of 120mm flex hose. Also needed are a couple of custom duct work pieces. It only takes a few bits and pieces and I’m soon staring at a $700 bill. You might call the electrical and DC parts the hidden cost of machinery.

I’ve made therefore a not inconsiderate investment in my dust collection system to date. Probably there is as much money in the dust collection components as there is in my SCM 24″ planer, or there is in the Hofmann mortiser.

I’d now I’d like to offer some new observations having lived with the system for a few more years now. Is is a dream set up? Am I completely satisfied or does it fall short in some areas?

Here’s a pic of the collection end of the set up, taken yesterday , with cyclone on stand over the two chip collection barrels, and the venting side with dual paper pleated filters:

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A closer look at the filter set up:

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You might observe in the above photo that on the side of the filter mounting bracket there is a gauge, which tells at a glance – if you bother to glance at it (ahem!) – whether the filters are allowing good air flow or are operating at less than optimal levels, that is, filter efficiency. The gauge is a $114 option from Oneida. I’ll get back to that gauge in a moment, but first let me describe how things go sometimes with the set up I have put into my shop.

I had an episode with the original bag house (the one that came with the cyclone) where the concealed collector bin filled up with chips while planing some stock, and the fill up continued right up the cyclone, and the rest of the chips went into the bag house before I noticed a problem. The clean up from that took many hours and was an unpleasant exercise to say the least. I felt afterwards that by upgrading the system to one having greater chip collecting capacity via a pair of 55-gallon drums, along with clear flex hose connecting the chip collection barrels to the cyclone base which would allow me, theoretically,  to spot chip overflow, would go a long way to reducing the odds of a similar over flow incident. The pair of filters replaced a 6′ x3′ pice of floor space, so it gave me a little more floor space, and the promise of improved air flow. Well, the set up I have hasn’t quite met that promise at all times, unfortunately.

Over time the clear flex hose sections above the two chip collection barrels have become permanently darkened, likely some combination of sunlight and loads of wear from the chips, and I can no longer simply tell at a glance whether the bins are getting full or not. I have to unclamp the lid from each barrel and inspect. It’s not a great inconvenience, but nevertheless is sometimes overlooked and I have made some lucky late catches – and sometimes I have been too late.

One might think it is a simple matter of replacing the flex hose however the stuff is not cheap and the shortest length I would be looking at – and having to store for years afterwards, is a 12.5′ length. And around $300. So, I’ve procrastinated on that. It’s doesn’t take much to become mentally preoccupied with a stack of wood to plane – for it is the planer which contributes the greatest pile of chips by far – and to thereby take one’s eye off of the situation – or underestimate – in regards to the immediate fullness of the chip barrels. And all it takes is to push one wide piece of softwood through taking a heavy pass and suddenly you got lots of chips.

Two adverse things have happened, more than once now, under the sudden heavy load of thick curled chips from milling a wide piece of softwood. Neither of these things are a good time for me.

The first is that the heavy load of chips can foul the impeller on the bottom of the motor, which in turn lays atop the cyclone some 13′ in the air.

The second is that the second barrel can fill up and an additional blink of an eye seems to be all it takes before the cyclone is full. The excess proceeds into the filters. Those are intended for fine dust, something I don’t produce much of. I’m a chip man it seems.

When the impeller is fouled there is a bad noise from way on up there telling you that all is not well with that end of the cyclone. Then I have to drag out a ladder, go up and down on that ladder several times and remove a bunch of the plywood collector enclosure, then a whole bunch of sound deadening material, then remove more than a dozen bolts fastening the exhaust duct – – all before I even get to the impeller. The impeller, once accessed, takes just a minute to clean, and then the re-assembly can begin. It’s a 3-hour world of dusty, uh, fun, and after a couple of go-rounds I am decidedly less excited by the prospect of having to deal with that sort of thing again. But it is hard to avoid every now and again having a surge in chips from the planer, and if that fouls the friggin’ impeller then really the problem is more with the impeller design, which shouldn’t be fouling on chips in any case. And if it is going to get fouled from time to time, then what you want is an impeller accessible without having to get on a ladder.

When the second barrel, and cyclone and exit ducts fill up with chips, however, the situation is considerably less enthralling. Pulling the drums out and emptying them is merely step one, followed by kneeling underneath the cyclone and jabbing a stick up inside it to dislodge chips, which of course then rain down upon your head as they come loose.

It’s unpleasant, but the worst is yet to come with the pleated filter units.

I was sold on the two stacked, wide-pleated, spunbond polyester cartridge filter units by the fact that the internal pleated paper arrangement has far more surface area that a fabric filter bag. More surface area equals better air flow –  who doesn’t like promises of efficiency? What it also equals is that when plugged with junk, the pleated filter media is a PITA to clean. The pleats trap chips and dust like nobody’s business, and getting it clean again involves jabbing a stick up inside, taking care not to damage any paper, to dislodge most of the packed in dust, followed by thumping my fist on the exterior of the filter and using compressed air to try and push more of the dust out.

I noticed yesterday that the filter efficiency gauge was way over to the high pressure side, needle almost bending, so I figured that one of the filter cartridges must be plugged. And sure enough it was. After cleaning it as well as I could and buttoning everything back up, I turned the collector on and swung my eyes over towards the gauge, expecting to see a reduction in pressure. Nope, no change whatsoever. Still maxed.

That either means I have to remove the cartridges entirely, and subject them to draconian level cleaning in the hope of better results, OR that the truth is perhaps that the filters can only be brought a certain distance back to good functioning, and what I really need, therefore, are new filter cartridges. Well, if that’s the case then it looks like I face a cost of maybe upwards of $1000 to replace the filters, based on what I could see listed on Oneida’s website.

If I ignore it maybe nothing bad happens, but the blower motor will always be working against more back pressure from the plugged filters, so working harder may mean a shorter lifespan for the motor. Funny enough, it is cheaper to replace the motor on top of the cyclone than it is to replace the filter media (!). Does that make any sense to anyone?

Is filter replacement just one of those ‘cost of doing business’ things? I’m not sure I’m down with it. It seems like a lot of money to me – and it would be a regular cost every few years or so. Alternatively I find less expensive cartridges somewhere, or I change to something else? And what is something else? Some kind of bag house? A system configured differently? Replace the whole show entirely?

Looking at Oneida’s site, they have some recommendations as far as cleaning and replacement: “With regular maintenance, our cartridge filters can easily last up to 5 years. Your filter should only be replaced if thorough cleanings do not help to restore your suction performance.” So, I guess I am getting close to the typical replacement time frame, but it still seems ridiculously expensive.

I haven’t come to a conclusion one way or another, but I will say that one of the other drawbacks to a cyclone is that it is a noisy thing. Dust collection is by far the loudest thing in my space. I would gladly relocate the whole thing outside if I could.

I was listening to the system in a neighbor’s shop, and was struck by how much quieter it is than my set up. It’s just a fan and impeller mounted down near the floor, and a 4-bag house. Simple.

More than anything, I would like to have dust collection which is quiet, and if it does need some servicing, that it be easy to work on and not take hours of time. Easy to clean. That it have wear components which are not prohibitively expensive to obtain. Some sort of system whereby when the collector bins get full there is an alarm or the system shuts down.

I drool over an Alko dust collection unit, but the quote I got for a unit with comparable extractive power to what I have now was north of $20,000. Dust collection is important – a shop can’t really operate without it -but is it ‘$20,000 important’ in a one-man shop? Maybe if I won the lottery, but otherwise, maybe not. Then one can also reflect on what it is worth to have a dust collection system that works really well and makes for cleaner air to breathe – what’s that worth, long term? For many woodworkers, clean shop air is the only way they can do woodwork. My situation is not like that, but I’ve seen enough woodworkers develop sensitivities to wood dust that it seems prudent to have a better system than I might think I need or with which I tend to think I could get by.

Dust collection, like the functioning of one’s intestinal tract, can pretty much be ignored/taken for granted when all is working as it should, until the day that there is a problem, and when that day comes the whole show pretty much goes down. So, mundane though it may be, a good dust collection system is one of the most important parts of a well-functioning set up. I’m just wondering what the best way forward might be considering where things stand now.

 

24 thoughts on “Storage Screwed; Trouble in DC (this just sucks!)

  1. Chris, I’ve had very good luck using my shop vac to vacuum out the filter. I first brush the pleats with a horse hair brush, then vacuum out what falls down. This was a considerable improvement over my previous approach which was to simply brush the pleats.

    1. Hi Brian,

      thanks for the suggestion. I’d readily give it a try however the interior space of those filters is not much. While I can get my arms up there, i’m not sure how much of the pleating i’d be able to get at wielding a shop vac or a brush. My previous approach (using compressed air from the exterior) is exactly what Oneida recommends.
      Some DC filter systems have manual or automatic devices within them to agitate the paper pleats. I am curious to know how well those devices actually work, but even if they do work who’s to say whether one could be fitted to my system?

  2. The dust collector part, frustrating for you i’m sure, but kind of funny. I would love to offer some help, but i can’t, i never really got around to a decent dust collector,

    I have always worn those disposable dust masks, and worked in very dusty conditions for heading up to 50 years, my lungs checked out fine last year, bit of a surprise to me, But i also had woodworker friend died at the age of 40 from lung cancer, and he was health-nut and didn’t smoke.. It doesn’t seem to follow any logical predictable route.

    Plastic peanut butter jars on shelves for storage of my screws. so, not much help there either.

    1. Mark,

      yeah, i can appreciate how my description of DC wrangling could come across as funny. I could see if it were someone else’s problem i might find it funny too, but it really get’s old fast if it is something one has to deal with.

      Yes, some people can consume toxic sludge their entire life to no apparent ill effect, but others can develop cancer from limited exposures. I have known enough woodworkers who develop dust sensitivities that keep them out of the shop permanently that playing roulette with my chances there no longer seems worth the risk.

      I had a jar storage phase for fasteners too, but have moved along from that. Feel like I’ve got the ideal solution now, though obviously not as economical as one employing plastic jars.

      1. Chris, i have had many a time (in my shop and others)when the dust collector got overfilled/ clogged and the bag just exploded away from the frame and filled the shop with a cloud of dust and chips, not a lot of fun to have to clean it all up. Certainly not on a somewhat regular basis. There really should be a better solution. It not something that you should have to have on your mind when working. I have for the past few years been thinking about the problem myself, maybe one day i will get around to trying to come up with a solution.

        The effect of dust in the lungs is strange how it affects some and not others. I have worked with many different species of wood, including many exotics, all sorts of grinding and sanding grits, I worked in a fibre glass boat shop for two years back in the early 70’s grinding fibre glass, no dust collection.system, save a mask. Probably been exposed to more chemicals than would be considered survivable. The only time i recall having any issue was when i had to thicknessplane a truckload of western red cedar. There was so much to do, and no way my puny dust collector would keep up, that i just disconnected it and let the shavings from the planer blow out into the shop, there was a mountain of shavings to clean up at the end of the day,. But with a 24″ thicknessplaner dressing 1/2″ off of 2″ thick stock you create a lot of shavings fast.The only problem that i had was my eyes were kind of glued together the next morning. Go figure.

        You storage solution is a fine setup and i would prefer that, but i eat a lot of peanut butter, so mine works for me.

        Good luck with the dust collector.
        Mark.

      2. I think you are clearly sensitive to Red Cedar -as are many people – and it hasn’t become a problem for you as you don’t work with the material every day. I haven’t had any severe reactions to any particular wood dust as of yet, but it is something I am apprehensive about, having suffered from various other allergies over the years.

  3. Chris,
    I can’t count the times I’ve had to “empty” the filter stack/cyclone because someone in the shop has run machines past the fill point of the barrels. In the last year I installed Oneida dust sentries on the two cyclone DCs in our shop, and they have, for the most part, helped avoid that situation. They are finicky to set correctly, and until you dial them in, will turn on before you think the barrels are full at times (due to chips circulating in the barrels,) but they have always been tripped when the barrels need to be emptied. The cost ends up being half of what you’d spend replacing the flex hose. Perhaps a flashing red strobe light is not necessary as an incentive to empty the barrels for you, but it certainly does help in my shop.

    – Carlos

    1. Carlos,

      I had come across those dust sentries before but hadn’t come across much feedback about them – the fact alone that they are half the price of the flex hose makes them worth a try soon. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Chris,

    Sounds like a vexing problem. I have a suggestion that might be economical and could potentially be a viable fix, at least until you come up with something better, like moving the whole operation outside.
    It seems like the root of your problem is that you can’t easily tell when your barrels are full because, well, they are barrels. Add to that the darkening of the flexible hose, and you are in deep before you know it. I would suggest replacing your steel drums with something like this (https://www.newpig.com/translucent-un-rated-poly-drum/p/DRM1139?couponCode=PLAHOODIE&gclid=Cj0KCQiAxNnfBRDwARIsAJlH29D48ZjMzAu8adfkF5eDSP4njS1fxCoESgrmf6maAyYcq4BGBS_2hysaAny3EALw_wcB#desc-spec), a transparent drum. Seems like you would be able to have a quick glance at the DC barrels from just about anywhere in your shop and know pretty quickly if the drums need emptying or not. They are reasonably priced, probably cheaper than other alternative fixes, and you would just be left with two drums you could pass along to someone else. Given the immense pain of unclogging the whole system, I’m sure if you had the relevant info (i.e., drums are full), you would be very proactive about emptying.
    I think they might also stand a reasonable chance of not changing color, given they are designed for holding different liquids, and won’t have wood chips/dust flying through them at high speed like the hose, depositing resin and whatever else they are doing to the hose.

    The link I suggested I found with a pretty quick search, you might be able to find even more transparent ones that would work even better.
    -evan

    1. Evan,

      that’s an approach worth looking at. I can see one problem though, and that is the connection between the flex hose and the barrel lid. I think I’ll explore the sensor idea first, and it was good to also have those translucent drums to consider as well. Thanks!

  5. Hi chris, fastenner storage like precision is a goal aimed for but never reached. For years I’ve been through every solutions from plywood made boxes to Wurth expensive boxes, I now stick mainly to Raaco assorter boxes and Festool Sortainers, expensive but stackable and sturdy. Being on the road most of the time as a set carpenter, Raaco let me take only what I need and configurate the boxes according the job at hand. I still carry big plywood boxes full of all the fastenners for my different nailing and stapple guns. Concerning dust collection, laws are getting so strict and the price to upgrade your shop so high that many small shop can’t face the investment.
    -François

    1. François,

      thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I also have a few Sortainers which I make use of every day, however because I do not go to site very often, but spend most of my time in the shop, I didn’t look at obtaining more Sortainers. On those rare occasions when I do go to site I find i am not as well organized as I would like to be and have decided that with the next job I do that has a site work component I will need to address this area. Thanks therefore for bringing to my attention the Raaco storage products, which I had not heard of before.
      Interesting what you say about the cost of upgrading dust collection being prohibitive for smaller shops. Here in the US regulations are very lax, and perhaps the only administrative oversight for dust collection comes from the insurance industry, and specifically concerns whether there is a hazard of fine dust causing static electrical build up and explosions. I’ve never been asked about, or needed to conform to, any regulations as far as shop air quality/dust levels is concerned. I don’t think this is a thing here, sadly enough – not from any formal angle – it’s entirely a personal decision in regards to what level of dust collection one has in the shop. Not saying I’m crying out to be regulated, only that the complete lack of oversight speaks to both a lack of concern for worker health and an under-resourcing of any entities which might provide oversight anyhow. And this is in Massachusetts, which is perhaps the most taxed and regulated of the US states.
      This explains perhaps how a German dust collector of a suitable size for my shop costs $25,000. If it were the case that I had to spend that kind of money to keep my shop going it would be difficult, but doable, but for a lot of small shops it might well be a deal-breaker. Really though, considering how important dust collection actually is, there is nothing crazy about a good dust collection system costing the same as a good woodworking machine – it’s just as important as the machine really.

  6. Just to let you know, the French norm for level of wood dust in the shop for an eight hours daily exposure is 1mg/m3, I let you translate this into your favorite American norm, and for heavily carcinogenic dust like MDF or asbestos,the level is 0,1mg/m3. If you convert this into the L and M class for Festool vacuum cleaner you’ll see that as soon as you’re working exotic woods and most of them are heavilly toxic you should buy an M class vacuum cleaner. Most woodworkers buy the L class because it’s a 100 bucks cheaper but it’s just not right and most of the stores selling vacuum cleaners don’t even know what L,M and H classes are!
    François

  7. And one last advise, take care of your lungs you only have two! I’m 64 and now have quite a few problems related to 40 years of wood dust exposure!
    François

    1. François,

      thanks for your comments. Thanks for the link to the French page with the dust collection units. They look very similar to the German Alko units referenced in the post, and probably are in the same ballpark price I would imagine.

      It’s funny, yet sad, that there are specific criteria for dust exposure in Europe, while here there is nothing, at least nothing which is regulated and enforced as far as I know. Almost all shops i have visited have poor dust collection, and dust everywhere, and these are operations unlike mine in that most of what they produce is fine dust, while 99% of the time i’m making chips.

      After my recent health worries i’m more focussed on the issue of clean shop air than ever, but there are certain limitations at present as to what i can do. But, having a clear idea about which direction one needs to move is half the battle I suppose.

      1. Chris,
        I must add that these regulations only apply to paid workers, if you’re a craftsman working on your own, an “artisan”, then the regulations don’t apply, that’s why many one man shop that would have enough work for one or more worker don’t do it because of the price of upgrading their shop to regulations standards once they become an employer.

      2. Here, there are also disincentives of various kinds to moving from one-person shop to being an employer, but I’m doubtful if the cost of meeting health standards for dust collection enters into things at all.

  8. You have mentioned hvac (or the lack of) in your shop once or twice, and it looks like your space is up against an exterior wall – – have you considered ditching the filters and venting the post-cyclone air to the outdoors? This was the situation in a large shop I worked in at one time. It’s also commonly the way a residential “whole house” or “central” vacuum cleaner works – – a small cyclone is emptied occasionally, but is vented either outdoors or into the crawlspace. Of course, if you need to be applying finishes in the dead of winter you couldn’t run the DC for fear of dropping the temperature too far. Then there are “air make-up” units like they use in auto body shops where temperature AND ventilation are both critical . . . endless combinations and permutations (and expenses)!
    The Highland Woodworking shop, where I teach occasional classes, has a Kennedy tool chest that is still flawless after 20 years – – – 12 of them spent as a rolling stand for a bench grinder, lots of loose grit getting access to the slides. So I’m a fan of the Kennedy stuff.

    1. Jim,

      oh yeah, i’ve given thought more than once or twice to relocating some portion of the dust collection outdoors. What makes the most sense to me is putting the cyclone and stand outside, as that is the loud part, and then bringing the filters back inside, so as to not be exhausting warm shop air, as you note. Not that there is warm shop air as I lack a heating system….

      Trouble with thoughts in that direction are twofold: the emptying of the chip bins would then involve a lot more work and hassle, as they would be all the way around the building, opposite to where the dumpster is located, and I don’t own the building so punching holes for ductwork through the windows is not likely something the landlord would be enthusiastic about.

      Really, the ultimate answer to my dust collection challenges, and desires for improvement, lay in moving out of my current space and into one which is more suited to, or configurable to, my needs.

      Glad you’re a fan of Kennedy too. I think they are the best bang for the buck in terms of US-made storage cabinets which are fairly readily available.

  9. Chris,
    Have you looked into Wynn Environmental filters? I haven’t checked the price in awhile but it might be worth looking into. They’re the filters that ClearVue cyclones stock.
    Hope this helps/saves some money!
    Jeff

    1. Jeff,

      I hadn’t come across that company before but thanks so much for telling me about it! They have direct filter replacements for Oneida’s stuff, so I’ll look into their pricing shortly. They also suggest one filter for every 2.5 hp – not sure though what length of filter they mean by that, but it might be the case that three filter columns might be better for my system.

      1. Chris,

        I run a 5hp ClearVue and I use two of the Wynn filters, mine are older but they call the new ones the ‘Nano’ filter. They’re $200/each.

        And when I say mine are older I mean that I bought a used cyclone from ed morgano himself 9 years ago (it is the second system they built) and the filters are still running well. I can’t remember how long he had used the system but it’s just unbelievable how well it works!

        I’m overdue to a binge-read of your blog, thanks again for sharing your work!

        Jeff

  10. I will also put in a plug for Wynn Environmental filters (and flex duct). Good people to talk with on the phone, too.

    In my reading about dust collection, I thought I read that most of the noise generated is actually on the exhaust side of the system: past the impeller. If that is true you might consider boxing in the filters as you have done for the cyclone. In my previous home shop, I had the 5 hp cyclone, filters, and bin in a closet, exhausted by a circuitous route back to the shop to attenuate the noise and it was quiet enough to have a conversation while it was running. To let me know when the bin was full I used an early version of the ClearVue sensor (made before they bought it from McRabbet woodworking). It basically uses garage door sensors looking at each other through the flex duct at the top of the bin. It works great. The current version from Clearvue is more spendy than the sensor from Oneida. I have not found the clouding of the flex duct to interfere. I’m a home shop user but I’ve had this thing for 10 years and it has never failed.

    I’ve also found having a Dylos particle counter extremely useful for letting me know when the air is the shop is bad enough for corrective action. In my home shop/garage case, when the particle counts get too high, I can open the garage door for a few minutes. Much faster than waiting for the DC system to clear the air, and I don’t have to guess when enough is enough. And the particle meter can measure the tiny stuff that is most dangerous and that you can’t see.

    I also try to keep a dust mask (P100) in easy reach. Although I have to say I hate wearing one so don’t do that as often as I should.

    I love the machinist chest idea for small parts storage. Seeing everything in the drawer all at once is huge advantage.

    1. Gary,

      many thanks for sharing your experiences with your dust collection system. Seems like I am walking much of the same path as you did, and am coming to similar conclusions after having experienced similar problems.

      I have always thought that the loudest element in my system is the motor, but maybe i should pay a little more attention to the outlet side. I fear that the filters are so close to the cyclone it would be a bit hard to distinguish where the loudest noise was though.

      One advantage i have is that my shop is within a much larger open space, so air quality never seems to become especially bad, but maybe I am only thinking that because I haven’t taken a closer look at actual air quality by taking accurate measurements. So I’ll look into one of those particle meters.

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