For those who do woodworking as a hobby or profession, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that you have some way of getting rid of the dust that will most certainly accumulate in your workshop. Health and safety should be your main priority, and the large amount of dust and sawdust that accumulates can be dangerous for your health and wellbeing. Wearing goggles and a mask is not enough to ensure your safety that is why it is so important to take adequate precautions for a safe environment by buying a decent dust collector.

Dust tends to linger in the air and the best way to eliminate this phenomenon is to invest in a professional dust collector, preferably with filtration. The size of your workshop will determine what size you will need. Apart from dust collection the more advanced units have the capacity to collect harmful gases that are airborne. Whatever work tools you use, especially with woodworking there will be a production of sawdust and debris, for a small investment you can reduce the amount of dust that lingers in the air and make your workspace healthier so that you can become more efficient.

Top 5 Dust Collectors

ImageProduct Name
SHOP FOX W1685 1.5-Horsepower 1,280 CFM Dust Collector
Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector 1.75HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit
Jet DC-1100VX-CK Dust Collector 1.5HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit
Grizzly G1163P 1 HP Light Duty Dust Collector, Polar Bear Series
Festool 584156 Ct Mini Hepa Dust Extractor

Our Pick

Festool 584156 Ct Mini Hepa Dust Extractor

Festool 584156

Our top pick is the German made Festool 584156 Mini dust collector which might be on the expensive side, but well worth the extra cost. This is a compact fully portable unit that is quiet, and easy to use. The HEPA certification is well worth considering as it removes nearly 100% of dust particles down to 0.03 microns. If your aim is to make your woodworking environment free from allergens and dust particles then the Festool Mini dust collector is your best choice. The self-cleaning bags are a huge plus which will insure that no maintenance is needed. The ability to convert this dust collector into a wet and dry vacuum is also an advantage and you could use it in your workroom or your home with ease. Backed by a world renowned manufacturer, you cannot go wrong with this dust collector.

How to choose the best dust collector

What type of dust collector do you need?

Choosing the right dust collector for your circumstances will depend on whether you are looking for one for your workshop, or if you need to get a dust collector for an industrial space which requires other considerations. Dust collectors are available in different types and sizes, and some are even geared up for specific work environments. For smaller units a single stage filtration unit would probably be adequate, whereas larger production areas would need a two stage filtration system.

Buying a shop vacuum can be handy but is not adequate for big volumes of dust produced from woodworking. A dust collector can deal with a much higher volume of dust and sawdust due to its high velocity and greater volume of air. You can purchase portable or fixed dust collectors. Fixed dust collectors can be mounted in the work area at regular intervals and they have fixed disposal facilities which are suitable for industrial spaces.

For those who do not want, or need, to invest in such an elaborate system, portable dust collectors which come in different sizes and capacity are more suitable. The type of dust particles collected also makes a difference when it comes to choosing the right dust collector for your needs. This will depend on the type of work you do and what kind of dust is produced. Make sure that the type of dust collector you choose, will get rid of the type of debris you produce and has the strength to do this, without any problems.

What size and capacity do you need?

Consider your space and how much dust accumulates before purchasing a dust collector. It goes without saying that the larger the space, the more powerful you dust collector should be. Find the right one for you, by determining what is needed to keep your workspace clean and dust free. If you have a small space and do woodworking occasionally you might find that a small dust collector connected to a household vacuum cleaner might be adequate.

How much dust is accumulated can be determined by the waste that is disposed in the vacuum bags. If you regularly fill one from a normal vacuum cleaner, it is time to consider buying a professional filtration dust collector in order to ensure that dust particles in the air are not a health hazard. Consider how much you want to spend and make the best educated decision on which one to purchase.

Which air filtration system is the best?

Air filtration is of the utmost importance as this will determine the quality of the air you inhale, which over long periods of time, will be detrimental to your health. This fine dust is almost invisible, and the type of filter the dust collector has, will determine how efficiently it works. Generally the weave of the cloth on the filter, should be fine, in order for the cloth to be able to collect the finer particles of dust.

With larger industrial work spaces it has become a government stipulation that the pollution from this type of industry is kept to a minimum with air filtration systems. Filtration systems can also trap allergens as well as dust, which makes for a much healthier environment for people working under these circumstances. The most powerful dust collectors that are fitted with an air filtration system can collect up to 99% of dust and allergens dispersed in a woodworking environment.

Single or Double Stage Collection Systems?

Essentially, dust collectors are the same as household vacuums, but designed for industrial use with air pressure which helps collect the accumulated dust. The single stage systems are portable and suitable for smaller scale workshops and industries that do not produce massive amounts of dust. These systems are mobile units which are highly portable and easy to use. The single system has an intake port with a filtration system and a replaceable bag, which must be emptied manually. The single stage system can also be attached directly to the power tool that produces the dust and debris.

Two stage collection systems are more likely to be found in bigger industrial spaces. They operate by collecting bigger bits of debris and are very efficient in keeping the air, dust free. These models are on the expensive side but well worth it if the circumstances of your work space fit into this category. The two stage collection system is larger and takes up quite a bit of space, but it has a higher holding capacity and can eliminate larger particles which will keep the area clean and prolong the life of your power tools by keeping them dust free.

What about airflow?

Airflow, is a good indication of how powerful a dust collector is, and probably the most important measurement to take into account when purchasing a dust collector. The measurement of air volume is done in CFM, which is cubic feet per minute. To give you an idea, small portable machines deliver 650 CFM whereas larger models can give you over 1100 CFM. What you are looking for could be anywhere in between these measurements. This is basically the amount of air the device utilizes from intake to exhaust and how fast it can be done.

Determining the right amount of airflow you would need for your workshop can be calculated by worksheets available online which will give you a good idea on what your specific requirements are. This measurement does not take into account the static pressure which can reduce airflow. The greatest advantage that a dust collector has over a vacuum cleaner is the longer hose that come with it. These hoses do not clog up easily and are easy to keep clean.

Disposal methods and maintenance

Large scale workshops usually have a built in automatic dust collection and disposal system. For medium to small workshops there is no need to set up such and elaborate and expensive system. Smaller systems usually entail emptying out the accumulated debris whenever it is full, and this is done manually. Always be aware when emptying out a vacuum bag or container that you do not want to release dust particles back into the air, so it is advisable that you do dispose of this debris outside your working area.

A dust collector is quite simple to use and even easier to clean. All you need to do is connect all the parts and plug in, and you are ready to go. Cleaning the unit involves emptying out the dust collected, regularly and keeping the machine clean. Maintaining the dust collector in tip top condition by giving it a thorough clean occasionally will ensure that it gives you many years of optimum service.

Dust Collector Reviews

1. SHOP FOX W1685 1.5-Horsepower 1,280 CFM Dust Collector

SHOP FOX W1685 1.5-Horsepower 1,280 CFM Dust Collector

The Shop Fox W1685, from Woodstock International, is a medium sized dust collector with a 1.5HP single phase machine that is capable of producing 3450 RPM. The size and power of this unit makes it suitable for the small to medium home workshop and using only 110V it is also economical to use. The Shop Fox W1685 is easy to put together with its detachable Y fitting and 6 inch inlet and 4 inch opening. With suction up to 1280 CFP, the Shop Fox can deal with minute dust particles with ease.

The large ergonomic paddle makes it easy to switch the dust collector on, and it comes with a safety switch which will prevent the machine from going on prematurely. A removable lockout key is another handy safety precaution. The bag on the Shop Fox W11685 can hold up to 5.4 cubic feet of debris and does not have to be emptied often. The unit also has a powder coated finish that is scratch resistant and a 12 inch steel impeller which ensures long lasting performance. The Shop Fox dust collector comes with a 2 year warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to move around
  • Powder coated
  • Easy to assemble
  • 12 inch steel impeller
  • 6-inch Inlet with Y-Adapter
  • 2-Year Warranty
  • Safety Switch
  • Instruction manual with photos

Cons

  • Collection bag difficult to attach

2. Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector 1.75HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit

Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector 1.75HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit

The Powermatic PM1300TX-CK dust collector is manufactured in the USA by a well-known company that has been around since 1921. This model is powered by a 1.75HP machine and has a Turbo Cone dust collection system which ensures high performance by eliminating clogging of the filter. The Powermatic has a very powerful air pull and is capable of eliminating any dust particles that come into contact with the conical filter which is very efficient and can trap particles down to 2 microns.

The unit also comes with a remote control which has a digital timer. The construction of the ducts are all metal which offers improved air flow and rigidity and ensures durability. The collection bag has a capacity of 10 cubic feet of debris which gives you a wide window before the need to emptying it out. This unit is considered to be quieter than most with a rating of 70 to 90 decibels, and the company backs up their product with a 5 year warranty. The PM1300TX-CK is easy to operate and removing the dust collector is also simple to do. Fitted with heavy duty castors this unit is mobile and easy to move around.

Pros

  • Powerful 1.75 HP motor
  • Quiet performance at 70 decibels
  • Digital remote timer
  • 4 inch dust port can be used for 2 machines
  • Filter canister can hold up to 10 cubic feet of debris
  • 5 year limited warranty
  • Can be used with 115V and 230V

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Instructions minimal

3. Jet DC-1100VX-CK Dust Collector 1.5HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit

Jet DC-1100VX-CK Dust Collector 1.5HP 1PH 115/230-Volt 2-Micron Canister Kit

The Jet DC 1100VX-CK dust collector has a powerful 1.5HP motor and a Vortex Cone technology, which collect the debris and separates the chips and dust for efficient packing and prevention from clogging up the filter. This is a single stage dust collector that is suitable for small to medium home workshops and it is quite and economical to use. The collection capacity is 5.3 cubic feet and the DC-1100VX-CK offers a collection bag that is quick to remove and reconnect. The Jet model has industrial controls that are designed to give you many years of hassle free use.

The size and power provided makes this unit ideal for the smaller workshop as it is fairly easy to use. The dual dust ports makes it possible to connect two dust collectors at the same time when this is necessary. The all steel impellers maximize air intake and the high power of this unit offers continuous use with maximum dust collection. The see through dust bags allow you to see when it needs changing and the snap ring makes it easy to remove the dust bag and reinsert after emptying it out. With heavy duty castors, the DC-1100VX-CK can easily be moved around your workshop.

Pros

  • Powerful 1.5HP motor
  • Vortex Cone Technology
  • Single stage dust collector
  • 3 cubic feet debris collection
  • Quiet motor
  • Dual dust ports
  • Steel impellers
  • See through dust collectors
  • Heavy duty castors

Cons

  • Reporting of missing parts
  • Packaging not satisfactory

4. Grizzly G1163P 1 HP Light Duty Dust Collector, Polar Bear Series

Grizzly G1163P 1 HP Light Duty Dust Collector, Polar Bear Series

The Grizzly G1163P dust collector has a 1HP powered motor and is a smaller model which is suitable for the small workshop. As they are inexpensive you might consider buying more than one of these units to have near your power tools. These CSA certified units can be mounted on the wall or moved around on the 4 castor wheels provided. Quiet and easy to use these small dust collectors do not take up much space and are ready to use by simply switching them on. This small dust collector is just under 20 inches high with a 14 inch square base.

The white Grizzly G1163P has powder coated paint for durability and 10 inch cast aluminum impellers. The air suction capacity of this model is just over 500 CFM and the static pressure is 7.2 inches. Electrical requirements for this economical unit are 120V/240V and it is a single phase operation system. Bags provided with the Grizzly dust collector are 9.5 inches which inflate when being used and are easy to remove when emptying is necessary. Tools and additional attachments are provided when purchasing this unit.

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • Powder coated for durability
  • CSA certified
  • Cost effective
  • Reasonably priced
  • Quiet operation
  • Removable bags

Cons

  • Dust bags not easy to change

5. Festool 584156 Ct Mini Hepa Dust Extractor

Festool 584156 Ct Mini Hepa Dust Extractor

The Festool 584156 Mini dust collector is manufactured by the renowned German company that has been providing quality precision tools to the woodworking trade for over 90 years. A bit on the expensive side, this unit does however have an outstanding record for performance and is probably the best dust extractor in this category. This fully mobile unit has large caster wheels which make it easy to move around with little effort. On a low setting the noise level reaches a low of 62dB which makes this machine quieter than most. The Festool dust collectors come with HEPA certification which is rated capable of removing nearly 100% of dust and particle down to 0.03 microns.

The Festool system has compatible parts that can be purchased separately to extend the work done by the CT Mini by increasing efficiency and gaining more power. The Festool Mini can also be converted into a Wet and Dry vacuum and it is fitted with a tool triggered auto start and stop function. The 1.5 inch hose fits comfortably into the top of the unit for easy storage and it a durable hose that is both kink resistant and flexible. This lightweight portable unit comes with a recessed center handle for easy carrying and a foot brake that makes it easy to control the machine when in working mode. Maintenance for the Festool system is practically nonexistent as it is fitted with self-cleaning bags.

Pros

  • Tool-triggered auto-stop and start
  • Wet and Dry capability
  • Cord and wire storage
  • Large coaster wheels
  • Self-cleaning filter bags
  • Carry Handle
  • SYS dock
  • Portable with rollers
  • HEPA filter
  • 11 ½ foot hose
  • Parking brake

Cons

  • Expensive