Table saws are known as the workhorses of the woodworker’s workshop, and a good table saw is one of the most basic and useful tools you can own. However, one of the biggest problems with them is the amount of sawdust the inevitably generate, and this is not something that can be ignored.
Many modern table saws include sawdust collection capabilities, although some still don’t. In any case, you may be looking for more ways to reduce the amount of sawdust that gets blown around as you work, so here are 11 table saw dust collection tips to give you some ideas.
1. Invest in a good shop vac
The first step in creating a dust collection system for your workshop will be the purchase of a good shop vac. The shop vac can then be hooked up to your table saw to remove the sawdust you generate as you work but can also be unplugged and used for general clearing up too.
If you also buy yourself a universal adaptor, you will also be able to use it with any other tools you own, helping to keep your workshop sawdust free at all times.
2. Install a HEPA filter
One of the problems with a vacuum fitted with a regular filter is that the smallest particles can escape. You know that cloud of dust that blows out of the exhaust when you fire up your shop vac each time? That’s all the tiny dust particles being blown back out into the environment.
To rectify this, you can install a HEPA filter in your shop vac instead. These are much better at retaining the smallest particles, helping to keep the air dust-free. They can also be washed clean so should last a long time.
3. Rig up a dust port underneath your table saw
Many modern table saws, including jobsite table saws and contractor table saws now usually come with some kind of dust collection system, although older models might lack this. Cabinet table saws, on the other hand, tend to be open and less efficient at collecting dust – and in any of these cases, you might need to rig something up to help.
The first step, especially with cabinet table saws, is to add a dust port underneath the table saw blade. This can be done easily by simply fitting an inexpensive plastic tray with a hole in the center to which you can connect your shop vac.
You may need to use some MDF and duct tape to build it in, but this won’t be beyond even the most inexperienced DIYer.
4. Close the back
Again, this is most relevant to cabinet table saws since they tend to be the most open type, but it could also apply to other table saws too – check your model to see if this could help.
Essentially, you need to build a screen around the dust port you have fitted to help ensure that all dust is sucked into the port and doesn’t escape out of the side. Again – depending on your DIY skills – this can be done easily using MDF, duct tape and other materials.
5. Block any gaps
To improve efficiency further, you need to block up any gaps. This will result in more suction power and will mean more sawdust ends up being collected by the extraction system.
The key is not to block all the gaps completely – you need to leave some gaps for air to be drawn in by the shop vac otherwise it won’t be able to suck up anything at all.
Again, duct tape can be helpful. Another solution could be to use upholstery foam or something similar.
6. Install an overarm dust collector
While most of the sawdust generated by a table saw is ejected beneath the blade, the sawdust and chips that are thrown out above arguably create more of a problem.
This is because they are blown up into the air and, some at least, into your face.
For this reason, if your table saw doesn’t have one built in, it’s important to install an overarm extractor. With this, you have two options – you can either buy a ready-made one or you can attempt to make a DIY version.
Either way, if you want an effective system to help control sawdust from your table saw, this aspect shouldn’t be overlooked.
7. Install a ceiling hook
The problem with overarm collectors is that they can get in the way, especially in smaller workshops. You can overcome this by installing a ceiling hook to keep it conveniently out of the way.
8. Consider a foot control or remote-controlled system
One issue you may face is that it is a chore to manually switch on your shop vac each time you want to start working and then switch it off after you have finished. A simple solution is to use either a foot-operated switch or a remote control. This will allow you to activate your system much more conveniently.
9. Consider an automatic system
Another more advanced option is to install an automatic system, one that starts by itself when you start working and stops when you stop. This way, you don’t need to worry about turning it on and off manually each time.
10. Install an air filtration system
Sawdust in the air can cause breathing problems and is even a known carcinogen. To reduce the risks involved, you can consider installing an air filtration system to remove the finest airborne particles.
11. Consider a full-workshop system
If you have several tools in a larger workshop, you can consider rigging up a much more substantial full-workshop system. This will help remove sawdust generated by your table saw but also the dust and debris created by the other saws and tools in your workshop.
Remove dust for health, safety and cleanliness
Removing sawdust from your working environment is important for a number of reasons. Sawdust can cause respiratory problems and even cancer, it can prevent you from seeing what you are working on, causing safety issues, and working in a dirty environment just feels unprofessional.
If you are looking to deal with this issue in your workshop, we hope that all of some of these ideas can help – and that you will soon be able to work in a cleaner, sawdust-free environment.
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