Dust extraction systems

Hi all, please help stop me from going mad, my workshop is covered in dust,I am covered in dust and I have developed a cough. I have a bandsaw, a thicknesser, a belt/disk sander and a bench saw, to try and collect the debris I use a fairly powerful wet & dry vacuum via a cyclone unit but it’s not working. I decided to sport out on a purpose made unit and have tried asking manufacturers for advice and I am more confused. I need one unit to collect a mix of dust and chips and the wood straw from my thicknesser (which pumps its waste out of the front) I have read descriptions of manufacturer’s machines but, that was a clear as mud as regards a machine which does both requirements. I have considered both the bag over a bag type and the canister type ( much like a big vacuum) this would be preferable considering it could go under my bench and the cost, as I don’t have much space or money. Please if somebody can tell me what they have and how good they work. Right I’m going to a dark, quiet room now

Hi there. I bought a second hand extractor driven by a 3hp motor. Sadly, despite the fact that I originally bought it for my home workshop, it was far too big to be useful. However, since I, and a colleague, were about to start up a new ‘Men’s Shed’ in Acocks Green (Birmingham) which we planned would have a fully equipped woodworking workshop. We started off with a bandsaw and a disc and belt sander, plus the usual small tools, all of which produced considerable volumes of dust. I have made a long-term loan of the extractor, and late last year, and pre-Covid, we installed connecting ducting with spare capacity if/when we obtained funding for additional machinery. I feel sure that the way we’ve connected up the system probably isn’t the best designed, but we do get a considerable volume of dust into the extractor’s bag. At home I use a high powered wet and dry vacuum cleaner which serves my occasional use of my small bandsaw, disc and belt sander (which I have adapted to fit the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner), mitre saw, hand-held power saw and hand-held sander. The single problem is that the filter in the vac., quickly becomes clogged with the very fine sawdust, requiring (all too) regular cleaning with a blow nozzle from the compressor. This is a major annoyance and I propose purchasing a cyclone and barrel to see if I can reduce the need for such regular cleaning of the filter.
As to the shed, we are happy with the system we have installed, and even happier since we bought and fitted a ‘fine dust extractor’ and hung it as high as was possible against the ceiling. Because of the nonsene caused by Covid, we have yet to give the newly enhanced system a proper trial, but we anticipate it will render our small workshop as dust free as is practicable, given our resources.
Wishing you well with your issues!

Hi Davy, at least you’ve found a good home for your oversized dust catcher, hope the man shed works out.
With regard to your proposed purchase of another setup for your home workshop, my experience is, I also bought a powerful wet n dry vac, I bought one of the aluminium turbo cyclone and a 60ltr barrel, connected it up and started it up, the barrel collapsed. I bought a heavier duty 50ltr barrel fired it up, the barrel collapsed. I bought a 30 litre barrel and a different cyclone with bigger ports, you will never guess what happened, ok you did yes the barrel imploded. My next move was to use a plastic tub and lid that bird feed came in, about 12ltrs, I also got a vacuum relief valve, within bounds it works, the barrel does not implode, dust goes into it but, I still get sprayed by the bench saw and the planer still chokes up and showers out the front.
The other problem I have with the saw which is the latest model from DeWalt is that the gap either side of the blade is so wide that offcuts narrower than 5mm go down and block the exhaust.
If the vacuum relief valve interests you type in “Dust Commander” they are French based but quick delivery, a company also called Dust Commander sell a complete setup of barrel cyclone and valve, bit expensive and won’t sell just the valve.
All the best, keep safe. Roy

I have a cheapie Chinese cyclone and attached that to a plastic barrel - yep, it collapsed. I now have a box made from OSB with all the joints sealed/caulked and the cyclone on a cased lid with some draught excluder seal - held down with toggle clips. Connected to a home-brewed ducting set-up made from 40mm waste pipe and some home-made blast-gates - powered by a Henry that’s switched with a remote control socket. It works!

Hi Rob, yes my vac is started automatically, I remember before I had that benefit that I regularly forgot to turn the vac on then wandering off leaving it running. You raise an interesting point there regarding your box, I thought it had to be round like a barrel for the cyclone to work.

All the best and keep safe. Roy

The problem you’ve got here are multiple competing requirements; for smaller (hand held) machinery a shop vac is the right choice - they have small dust ports and need LVHP (low volume, high pressure). Trying to hook a HVLP (high volume low pressure) extractor system to a small port will kill the air flow.

For machinery with larger (4" and 6") ports, a HVLP system is required.

Most cheap HVLP extractors are reasonable chip collectors, but the filter bags will initially allow the most dangerous small dust particles to pass through… up until the point when they get clogged and pretty much nothing gets through (but neither does any clean air - so you just lose the suction).

Ideal (ideal, as in, not cheap) would be something like a good shop vac with a HEPA filter and a purpose designed (e.g. Oneida Dust Deputy) cyclone - that will work well for smaller tools.

For machinery, a 3hp+ impellor based HVLP extractor with a large cyclone (e.g. ClearVue) and either a HEPA filter stack, or eject the separated air outside (with a good cyclone there will be no visible dust from the exhaust).

Probably the cheapest (safe) option is to use a Trend Airshield powered respirator mask (other brands are available), and try to do most cutting outside. You could also use a cheap dust extractor to pick up chips from bigger machines, and run an air filter inside the workshop to try to make the air safer (working in a respirator mask and leaving the filter running for a few hours after you’ve finished).

One final problem is that unfortunately a lot of tools aren’t well designed with regard to dust extraction; pretty much anything I do with my old table saw results in dust everywhere - so I wheel it outside for cutting jobs.

Wow, thanks Gordon that’s some pretty knowledgeable good advice. It will certainly make me sit down and think hard about what route to go.
Many thanks. Roy


You’re welcome. If you want to really get into the details of good cyclonic separation then Bill Pentz’s cyclone site is pretty much the reference (and very detailed). However, his designs often need quite a large ceiling height (more than I’ve ever had in a garage). It’s an eye opener when it comes to info regarding dust extraction though.

Thanks again Gordon, to be honest one of the guys sen me a link, it took me all evening to read it and it left me even more befuddled.
Warmest regards. Roy

Hi. I’m just setting up a new workshop and will be using an extractor like Axminster’s AT60E with a cartridge filter that catches particles down to 1 micron. But in the past, when I only had a cheaper HVLP canvass bag extractor, my plan was to house it outside the workshop in a small, dry but ventilated enclosure, and run ducting into the workshop (as well as an on/off switch of course). That way at least the fine dust wouldn’t float around the workshop - although neighbours etc would need to be considered! I never got to actually try this system though, as a divorce interrupted proceedings!

Hi, could you tell me where you got the vacuum relief valve from?

Hi Toni, I take it you are having the same problems.
If you copy/paste https://www.dust-commander.com/gb/p/19-dust-commander-dust-sp-anti-crush-valve-3760013430467.html it should get you there. They are based in Paris but they were very quick with mine, with postage it’s about £9. It’s a very basic very basic bit of kit but it does work and you get it to open by adjusting the screw.
All the best Roy

Cheers Roy,
One will be winging it’s way to me asap.
Thanks again and stay safe,


No problemo, stay safe

A PRV (pressure relief valve) can be made for next to nothing. See here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNBxce-HeCw All you need is a rare earth magnet, a bolt, a cross piece of some sort and a tin lid. Ten minutes work; easy peasy.

Hi Toni, did you get it and did it solve the problem for you ? Roy

Hi Roy,
Not yet, still awaiting arrival. Hold up is probably a combination of Covid & Christmas. I’ll let you know when it’s here.


Just a very quick update from my earlier post about the home-brewed system - emptied the collecting box yesterday (about 3/4 full) - and was staggered to find almost nothing in the bag in the Henry vac - so the cyclone works . . . that’s a mixture of plywood, pine, MDF, some hardwood decking and even some aluminium swarf from the mitre saw … plus a small amount of planing shavings.

Hi Roy, finally arrived. Fitted to a 5 gallon bucket to test and it worked,success!
Will be fitted it to my big blue bucket, after I’ve attempted to make a Longworth Chuck.
Thanks again for the info.


Good, you are most welcome Toni
Warm regards Roy