There are more risks in the workshop than just losing a finger. Without proper dust management, you’re exposing yourself to hazardous sawdust which, as of 2002, has been linked to various cancers (lung/throat). If you spend a lot of time in a wood workshop, then a dust collector can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
Dust collectors capture sawdust before it reaches you, making it the most effective system for preventing dust particles from going airborne. Of course, a dust collector is not a direct substitute for PPE – you’ll still need to wear a respirator or a dust mask to prevent the inhalation of sawdust further.
What to Look for in a Dust Collector
There are several key elements that you should consider when shopping around for a dust collecting system.
The worst thing that can happen is investing heavily in a dust collector that doesn’t provide sufficient suction power for your workshop. The suction power of a dust collector is measured in cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM). The required CFM for your workshop will depend entirely on the different power tools in your workshop. Be sure to check the power tool’s manual or manufacturer’s website to determine how much CFM you need to pick up sawdust after use.
The static pressure measures how powerful the dust collector’s fan is. This is measured in inches of water using a water gauge which shows how far up water is lifted with a fan. Every elbow and each additional foot of the hose will add resistance to the suction power. You might need to purchase or find a model that comes with a long hose if you work in a large workshop where power tools are scattered in different spots of the shop.
The filter used in dust collectors should latch onto every dust particle and shred that comes flying out of your power tools. The dust collector should come with a filter that’s designed to capture the types of debris you have in your shop. Chips and shavings won’t require an ultra-fine filter to catch, but sawdust particles will.
Single-Stage or Cyclone Dust Collector
The type of dust collector you should get depends on the coarseness and/or fineness of the sawdust particles. Single-stage systems are relatively inexpensive but don’t separate coarse from fine particles so the bag will require constant emptying out. However, for small shops with limited tools and a form of wood residue, a single-stage dust collector will do just fine.
If you have a larger shop with a wide variety of power tools that produce all sorts of debris textures and sizes, as well as a more generous budget, you’ll need to invest in a larger, more tedious-to-set-up cyclone dust collector. One of the main benefits of a cyclone dust collector is that large chips won’t clog the filter, ensuring adequate suction power for picking up all types of wood residue.
Which Dust Collector to Get
Now that we have the basic understanding of what to look for in a dust collector, it’s time to decide which setup to invest in. To help you make a decision, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best dust collectors for you to look through.
5 Shop Fox W1826 Wall Dust Collector
The first item on this list is the W1826 from Shop Fox. This device features a 1-HP motor that powers a large 10-inch impeller fan that provides up to 537 CFM of suction power. The W1826 comes with a 2-cubic-foot bag for holding onto large quantities of wood shavings and sawdust.
The filter is a super-fine 2.5 µ for capturing even the smallest sawdust particles. What makes this product unique is that it can be mounted on a wall to save floor space. This is a device for smaller workshops and users who don’t want the hassle of setting up large, lengthy ducts.
4 Jet DC-1100VX-BK Dust Collector
The DC-1100VX-BK from Jet is an amazing single-stage dust collector that comes with a vortex cone for separating fine sawdust from larger pieces of debris like shavings and chips. The 1.5-HP motor delivers up to 1,280 CFM of suction power, making it a worthy choice if you have multiple power tools that produce a range of different forms of wood residue.
The tremendous 5.3-cubic-foot collector bag comes with a 10 µ filter for trapping particles and separating them filter-clogging debris. It features a Y-inlet which lets users connect two power tools to this dust collector – a handy addition that many woodworkers would definitely appreciate.
3 SHOP FOX W1685 Dust Collector
The third-place spot goes to another of SHOP FOX’s superior dust collector models – the W1685. This model features a 1.5-HP motor that provides up to 1,280 CFM of air suction power with a static pressure rating of 10.1 inches. The foot-wide impeller fan suctions up any leftover messes from your power tools and separates fine sawdust up to 2.5 µ big from large-sized chips and shavings. The bags have a collective capacity of 5.3 cubic feet.
This model also features a Y-inlet for connecting up to two power tools to this machine. This unit comes with a cart, but it can be used as a stationary dust collector if needed.
2 Delta Power Equipment Corporation 50-767 Dust Collector
The 50-767 Dust Collector from Delta packs a 1.5-HP motor that delivers up to 1,500 CFM of suction power at an 8-inch static pressure rating. The filter that comes with this device is a super-fine 1 µ filter for separating extremely fine sawdust from larger particles and debris.
The impeller fan spins at an impressive 3,450 RPM which helps to prevent the filter from becoming clogged with light wood chips. The cart that comes with this device makes it extremely portable and easy to glide across the floor. You can connect a single 6-inch hose to the device or, using the Y-inlet, connect up to two different power tools with 4-inch hoses.
1 Jet DC-1100VX-5M Dust Collector
Finally, our pick for the number one best home woodshop dust collector is, yet again, another one of Jet’s masterpieces – the DC-1100CX-5M. This dust collector comes equipped with a 1.5-HP motor that delivers up to 1,280 CFM and a static pressure rating of 10.5 inches of water. This model comes with a 5 µ filter that collects up to 5.3 cubic feet of fine wood dust.
The cart, that’s included with this machine, wheels around effortlessly. The Y-inlet lets you connect two 4-inch hoses for suctioning wood residue from two of your woodshop’s power tools simultaneously. The best thing about this machine is that it’s extremely quiet, producing roughly 70 to 80 decibels at any given time.
Dust collectors are a vital device to have, in order to ensure safety when working in a woodshop. They don’t just keep our work areas clean and free from fire hazards, but they also prevent sawdust particles from going airborne and entering our lungs. Any woodshop – small and large – could benefit from a dust collector.
Before heading to Amazon and picking up a dust collector, there are a number of factors that you should consider. The suction power and static pressure ratings indicate how powerful the dust collector is at picking up wood chips, shavings, and sawdust. However, without overkill, you’ll first need to determine how much power you need by checking your arsenal of power tool’s CFM requirements.
The size of the filter is also important since different power tools produce different types of wood leftovers. The smaller the filter in microns, the better it’ll be at separating large from small debris.
Finally, decide whether you want a single-stage or a dual-stage (a.k.a. cyclone) dust collector. The former can be inexpensive but limited in terms of separating wood debris, whereas the latter can be rather costly but handles debris separation automatically.
If you’re still undecided on which dust collector to get, we’ve given you our picks of the best 5 dust collectors to choose from. We feel that you can’t go wrong with either Shop Fox or Jet, but the model that takes the cake is the DC-1100VX-5M from Jet. The motor delivers a tremendous 1,500 CFM with a 3,450 RPM impeller fan that prevents large debris from blocking the super-fine 1 µ filter.
It’s a portable model that can wheel around your workshop with ease and, even at high power, produces only around 80 decibels of noise at max. Overall, it’s a reliable dust collector with superior performance for picking up after up to two power tools simultaneously with its Y-inlet with dual 4-inch connectors.