Dust Collection, Portable Style

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Photo credit: don.wing45

Installing trim is one of the things I greatly enjoy doing–however being sequestered in a sometimes extremely dusty room is not.  The very nature of cutting and sawing trim creates a very fine, and potentially dangerous amount of sawdust.  Cutting, sanding, and pleading with trim to get it to fit correctly is just a few ways of making the room swirl with dust.  In a perfect world–doing all of your sawing and sanding in one area, and installing the trim in another would be, well–perfect.  Since it isn’t always practical, or possible to do so–here is a quick solution that a lot of trim carpenters have employed to help cut down on irritating and potentially harmful dust.

So if you’re work is able to be confined to a shop or garage, then by all means check out our recent dust collector review.  However, if you need a more agile and mobile dust solution, read on!

Fortunately–the good people making job vacs seemed to noticed that their vacs were being used in the trades for not only clean-up, but also by the carpenters.  (We’re often far too busy shooting the breeze, eating lunch, and doing the crossword  to actually clean up–that’s what laborers are for).  With something as simple as a bit of duct tape, and a Rockler i Socket Tool & Vacuum Switch, you have yourself a very portable, and surprisingly efficient dust collector.

With some easily found/bought couplings for whatever sized vac you decide to use–you can attach a vacuum to just about anything.  For example:  I was trimming the second floor of a major renovation with a price tag of about a million bucks.  Why they let me put anything permanent on this house is beyond me–moving forward.  Mystical Wood Ninja Wayne and I each set up our trim stations with nothing more than two different vacs and the regular tools of the finish trade.  A miter saw,  power planer, and orbital sander could all quickly and easily be attached to the switch and vacuum to create a more livable working space.

I won’t get into the real science of dust here–but I will caution that any dust collection system cannot keep you 100% protected.  I can tell you that using this relatively cheap and simple dust collection system helped a great deal.  I’ve been blessed with a very sensitive nose–and certain species of wood makes me sneeze wildly.  Particularly some of the species of fir found in the Northwest where I live and work.  Just using this system alone alleviated a lot of my sniffles.  If something was particularly dust ridden, like using a wheel sander, or a belt sander for a long time–I would double up a paper filtration mask with the vacuum system–saving me literal headaches.

Some of the drawbacks I encountered are some tools just don’t want their sawdust exhaust ports to fit on a shop vacuum.  Either copious amounts of duct tape–or a grin and bear it attitude worked in those situations.  The other is taking out the full vacs, and the ensuing cleaning of the filter.  I definitely recommend either doing that outside– and/or wearing a dust mask.  It is as easy as blasting it with compressed air, but to extend the life of your vacuum you really can’t clean the filter too much.

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