Do You Collect, Or Not? - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Do You Collect, Or Not?

 In Feature Articles

Conversation in the Popular Woodworking office this week centered on dust collection, or the lack thereof. It seems that I might be the odd man out due to my reluctance to attach a dust collector to my table saw. Whether I operated in a two-car garage shop or in a fully functioning woodshop that partially filled 4,000 square feet, I never hooked my table saw to a collector.

Why? There are a few reasons. First, I was (and am) leery of stumbling over the dust hose that is always stretched across what seems to be the best pathway to anything on which I am working. Second, if I position a dust collector near the table saw, there would be a time when whatever I am about to cut , or am in the middle of cutting , would have its path impeded by the collector. And third, the 4″ dust port on my saw does not allow the dust to fully evacuate the saw’s cabinet, so I am constantly opening the door to dig out the waste.

My solution is to occasionally use a flat stick or cutoff and push the dust out of the base of the cabinet, then sweep up and pitch the dust.

Now I’m asking you: Do you collect the dust from your table saw with a broom or a machine? Please take a few seconds to respond to our survey.

 – Glen D. Huey

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Showing 10 comments
  • Jonas

    I open the cabinet on my table saw, and my 3 year old son digs all the sawdust out with a toy excavator. After that it gets spread all over the floor using two toy trucks and some more excavators or a front loader. Then at some point I get to sweep it up.
    I have thought about buying a decent dust collector, but I haven’t done it yet.

  • I roll my few power tools outside to use them. Occasionally there’s a benefit to living in southern California.


  • Herb

    Got a 2 HP Jet dust buster when I started turning as I knew the dust would migrate upstairs into the house, and "She Who Must Be Obeyed" would not be a happy camper. Knowing that if mom’s not happy no one is, motivated me to make the purchase. I’m glad I did as it has made turning work and my Rigid contractor’s table saw better for it. I turned four 18" diameter Windsor candle stands out of walnut along with legs and stretchers. On the first one I forgot to use the dust collector as I was concentrating on using the lathe in out board mode for first time and was more worried the platter would spin off into space at my lowest speed of 600 RPM. I paid dearly for that as I coughed for about two days. Didn’t make that mistake again and used it for the next three and didn’t cough once. No none of the platters got air born and became unintentional frezbies.

  • Charles Mullins

    I didn’t use dust collection for a long time and I noticed that sometimes that there was a "Fog" in the air and I coughed a lot. I finally purchased and connected a 2HP dust collector to the saw and the fog is gone and I don’t cough as much.

    I also use it with many of my other tools like the router table and thickness planer. Works real good and I don’t have to sweep as much.

    Have a good day and as I have heard somewhere from someone "Go build something beautiful". Ha Ha.

    Charlie Mullins

  • Chuck Bender


    I have my Powermatic 66 hooked up to the central dust collector. A friend who is a dust collection engineer designed the system. The collector draws a whopping 6650 cfm but the tablesaw is still full of sawdust most of the time. My friend’s explaination, "tablesaws are a nightmare to effectively collect". When they set them up in larger industrial settings, they completely change the cabinet and guard so that the collector can efficiently catch and remove the dust. When he described the setup to me, I responded that I though it would limit the use of the saw too much in a "small" shop. I still keep trying but I end up reaching for that stick far too often myself.

  • Wilbur Pan

    Hi Glen,

    I think you’re missing the main point of dust collection as far as health and safety concerns go. Dust collection is really not there to deal with the dust that you see. It’s to deal with the micron-sized dust particles that you can’t see, but can inhale into the deepest parts of your lungs. Not dealing with this dust leads to a higher risk of developing lung problems.

    As far as the issue with the hose being in the way, that’s more a shop layout issue than a dust collector issue. A longer hose or better layout of your dust collection system is probably what is needed. It’s like setting up a bandsaw in line with the outfeed of your tablesaw, and then saying that you don’t like bandsaws because they are in the way of your tablesaw.

  • Chris Friesen

    Why do you care if there’s some dust in the cabinet? Collection performance should be basically the same whether or not the cabinet is clean.

    With most tablesaws (especially ones with long rails) you can run the dust collector hose up to the ceiling at the right rear corner of the saw with little risk of interfering with anything. That is also the logical place to run power to the saw. With a portable collector, put it to the right of the saw for the same reason.

    For most tablesaws, optimal dust collection would involve a 5" port in the cabinet and a 3.5" hose going to a blade guard doubling as an above-the-table dust shroud. These would then go to a 6" duct. A simpler but less optimal solution would involve 4" hoses at each point–they’re easier to find.

  • Al Navas


    It sounds like your dust collection system sucks – literally and figuratively. Best (cheapest?) option, short of getting a cyclone: Get a 1,500 CFM unit equipped with a canister, and make sure to keep the canister clean. Some units come without the clean-up paddle, so ignore those and get one with the "paddle" cleaning option. Stash the unit close to the table saw, and dedicate it to it and maybe another machine or two.

  • dave brown

    I use a dust collector — but I wear my gloves in case I trip over the hose. :g

  • Bruce Jackson

    Dear Glen,

    What’s a table saw?

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