Today we are going to talk about dust extraction as it applies to white wood (bare wood) sanding as well as scuff sanding between coats. This is a continuation of a series of blogs on the subject of sanding that I have been writing over the past few weeks. Please feel free to look back at them for tips that I hope will be of value to you in dealing with these issues in your shop.

Long ago, when a very young Chris Columbus and I were cabinetmakers, (this was before he became a sailor and enjoyed some notoriety as an explorer) he and I were building projects in our home garages. Our brides weren’t very happy about the messes we would make. Dust of all kinds and sizes got tracked into the house. You can understand the consequences.

I learned that there were things that needed to be done to maintain a healthy marital relationship, a clean shop, as well as a healthy respiratory system. Being a guy who is allergic to just about everything, dust was not good for me. I had to have a way to reduce it to its bare minimum. I know I’m not the only guy who has issues like this. Here’s what I did.

We had a canister vacuum in the garage. No longer good enough for use in the house, it was used primarily to vacuum out the car and truck. I decided to buy some sanders that had dust collection capability. They worked together but the dust quickly clogged up the filtration system and then the vacuum, not rated for continuous duty, died of complications.

We got a shop vac next to replace it. But, again, the same thing was happening. All that fine dust was clogging the filter. The vac worked for a while but continually needed service and attention because a lot of the dust went straight onto the filter. Cleaning the filter exposed me to all that dust anyway. Without regular attention, it got hot from lack of air flow and exertion. Soon its bearings were screaming.

The answer isn’t always that bigger is better. I inherited a couple of basket case dust collectors. That was overkill for my sanders. But, in making them work, I found some really cool after-market fans from Oneida Air Systems. That led to a long-term interest in that company. So I was already a (excuse the pun) fan of theirs when they came out with their Dust Deputy mini cyclone.

While at the AWFS last summer in Vegas, I purchased one. Now I’m back to shop vac dust extraction. The Dust Deputy solves the issue of the fines clogging the vacuum’s filter. The vast majority of the dust goes no farther than the cyclone separator.

I can’t pick up a trade magazine without bumping into ads for other forms of dust extraction. There are some really cool vacuum systems on the market that are compact and all in one. I think that I saw that Festool has six different models available right now. Fein has three. There are others and I’m sure that they all have attributes that make them more than worthwhile.

Here’s the real bottom line. Figure out a system that works for you and your pocket book. Make sure that it does improve the sanding dust collection issue. Make sure that it is as low maintenance as possible. Make that system work for you. Then, use it consistently.

Dust extraction helps the sanding process by removing the dust that builds up between the wood’s surface and the abrasive. Once the abrasive has done its thing, that dust needs to disappear so that the abrasive can continue to scratch the surface.

Tool Time Bernie can’t just leave things alone. There are a number of reasons for that but the practical ones include that I don’t have a shop space any more. My equipment has to be portable and easily transportable. My Dust Deputy is a bit awkward. It’s tall and top heavy and the hoses make it want to tip over easily. Oneida Air Systems helps out with those issues by including a foam block along with two bolts and a caster base in their kit version. You simply drill through the 5-gallon pail, through the foam block, and then through the side of your shop vac. Then you run those bolts through the holes and attach everything together. Bang! No more issues.

But since I can’t leave well enough alone, I’m planning to take that same set of issues and solve them via a cart that I found on the Oneida website. It is courtesy of ShopNotes Magazine (issue 109) and incorporates a number of neat features that bring the shop vac and the Dust Deputy together on a cart that has a number of hose storage features that are right for me. Take a look at the online photo. A picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe this one will help you to get going in the direction of a cleaner shop, better health, and better sanding.

Until next time…spray on!

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