November 9, 2021

DIY Dust Collection for Contractor Table Saw + Videos & Ideas

Now that you have purchased the best contractor table saw, you may realize dust accumulation in the air. That is not going away if you don’t deal with it. While there are options you can purchase on the market, you can also derive incredible value from developing your solution in the form of a DIY Dust Collection for Contractor Table Saw. This article will get you set in the right direction.

Kolforn (Wikimedia), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is a DIY Dust Collection for Contractor Table Saw

A DIY dust collection system is a homemade air quality improvement system used in industrial, commercial, and home production shops to improve breathable air quality and safety by removing particulate matter from the air and environment. [Definition]

Dust collection is a part of any woodworking shop. Wood dust is a health hazard and time-consuming to clean up. The table saw has a record for creating a lot of dust in the shop, and it needs extra attention. Since some table saw models do not have good built-in dust collection features, some upgrades improve your contractor-style table saw with an improved dust collection. 

The upgrades include a dust port in the bottom of the saw, an enclosure panel on the back of the saw, custom-cut foam to seal smaller openings, and a shop-built overarm dust collector. The overarm collector captures the dust that spits off the back of the blade, and it becomes difficult to collect. 

Put a dust port under your table saw

Reduce airborne sawdust by building a blade guard adaptor for hookup to your shop vacuum. It saddles the guard and pulls dust through the factory cutout. 

Start drilling a hole in the adaptor for a friction fit with the hose. Leave enough slack for the guard to rest naturally in place when ganging it from the ceiling.

Give your saw a 4″ dust port by dropping a 14″ square table saw dust hood into the bottom of your saw’s cabinet. Create enough space to install it by tilting the blade as far as your saw will allow.

Install an overarm dust collector

The dust is hard to capture on the table saw since it spits off the back of the blade. It flies into the air and spits back toward you. After the project, your whole body is full of dust. There are endless overarm collectors that you can make, and you can use designs of your own. The dimensions of the overarm collector will be different for every saw.

Remove dust for health safety and cleanliness

Consider the health risks involved in standing in a shower of fine dust particles. Table saws produce a lot of dust particles that cause both short and long-term health complications. Health consequences of long-term exposure to dust are deadly hence the need to work on your dust collection system before operating the machine. It affects your chest and lungs, and sawdust causes respiratory problems and even cancer.

Invest in a good shop vac

A shop vac is an affordable way of getting rid of dust from your table saw. You have zero costs when it comes to plumbing. Dust collectors last about 10x longer, but a quality shop vac lasts a lifetime.  Plumbing a dust collection system comes at a price. 

A shop vac is easy to install, and you can plumb your shop vac to every tool in a single day. There are cases where a dust collector makes more sense.  For shops that operate dust collection less than 10 hours per week, use a shop vac.

Install a HEPA filter

You need a HEPA filter for two types of applications. That is for hole cleaning and surface prep with grinders or walk-behind machines. Use a drill equipped with a shroud or cowling with a dust collection system. 

Operate and maintain the tool by following the manufacturer’s instructions. That helps you minimize dust emissions. The connected dust collector has to accommodate the airflow recommended by the tool manufacturer and should have a filter with greater efficiency and a filter-cleaning mechanism.

 The filter-cleaning mechanism can be automatic or manual. The HEPA filter is for indoor or enclosed space use for dust removal. Installing a HEPA filter makes the shop vac better at retaining the smallest dust particles, and it keeps the air dust-free. 

Block any gaps

Multiple gaps around the saw should be closed to help concentrate the suction around the blade, which also keeps dust from escaping. Filling every gap makes your saw airtight, and you will starve your dust collector of air and lessen your dust collection efficiency. 

Use upholstery foam to cut custom shapes and sizes to fit in around the blade. Tilt the slot as well as the gaps between the saw top and cabinet. Leave some small gaps around the openings in the back panels and the hole—slot in the throat plate to supply air to the dust collector. 

That makes you close in the gaps and openings to help direct the suction to where the blade is doing the cutting. The more air that is close to the saw blade, the better the collection will be.

Close the back

Most portable and contractor-style table saws are open at the back, and that makes poor dust collection. An open back allows dust to escape from the back and makes it impossible to concentrate the suction from the dust collector. 

Make panels for the back of your contractor-style table saw that attach either magnetically or manually. Two panels are fit together to form a complete enclosure and allow the drive belt and motor mount. The panels have magnets embedded in them to give a solid connection to the saw, making it quick and easy to remove the panels.

Consider a foot control or remote-controlled system

Switching manually on your shop vac each time you want to start working and then switching it off after finishing is inconvenient, tiresome, and time-consuming. The solution is to use either a foot-operated switch or remote control. That allows you to activate your system much more conveniently.

Install an air filtration system

Although effective dust collection is the priority, you still need an effective air filtration system.  The reason is, there is always a bit of dust that escapes even with the best collection systems.  The dust stays for over five hours, and hence the concentration keeps building during the day. 

However, a combination of an effective dust collection and a good air filtration system keeps the dust concentration healthy. Look for an air cleaner that takes less time to bring the air quality into a good range. 

The absence of a dust collection system or air filtration makes the dust concentration unhealthy for over five hours. Without effective dust collection at your tools, even the best air filtration system will not maintain healthy air quality.

Consider an automatic system

Installing an automatic system on your system is an advanced option that starts by turning on and off the machine by itself. In that case, you will be getting rid of the manual operation of the saw machine, and it speeds up your production and gets rid of unnecessary fatigue.

Install a ceiling hook

Overarm collectors tend to get in the way. That is a problem in smaller workshops, and you overcome this by installing a ceiling hook to keep it conveniently out of the way.

Consider a full workshop system

Multiple tools in a larger workshop make you look for a more substantial full-workshop system. That helps you remove sawdust produced by your table saw and the dust and debris created by the other saws and tools in your workshop.

David D. Hughes
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