I want my shop to be tidy, and I don’t want to stumble over hoses while I work. I therefore decided long ago that I would build a dust collection system with ducts, to outlets at several places.
I own two machines that needs 100mm (4”) ports, so I need my ducts to be that size from the CamVac unit to the machines. But for the other machines, I can use smaller hoses. I have some central vacuum parts left over, and I thought the dust ports would be great to use, as they come with built-in blast gates! The diameter on that system is 50mm or 2”.
4” duct holders
You can toss money at any problem to make it go away, or you can just build something. I needed brackets to hold the ducts, so a bit of scrap was converted into brackets.
After cutting the pieces to length, I made simple bridle joints to join the two pieces. Because I can. I made a slight cutout for the pipes with a hole saw. I used the band saw to cut the shoulders. A coping saw got rid of the waste followed by a chisel to clean it up. Then I used a chisel and a router plane to remove the waste on the H -formed parts.
After gluing the pieces, I mounted patent band (galvanized steel band with 5mm holes) and painted the holders white.
This is how the pipes will be held in place.
Mounting the pipes was done in no time. I used a laser level to mount the holders, joined the pipes and secured them in the holders. I installed a few blast gates for my combo jointer/thicknesser (I can hook up my router table and other machines that need 100mm pipes there too), my band saw and the floor sweep port. The last one is great – I just open the blast gate, switch on the dust collector and sweep the dust into the port. Gone!
Here’s the floor dust port:
One thing to take into account about the CamVac: If you do not secure it, it WILL jump up the wall if you accidentally switch it on with all the blast gates closed! I therefore had to secure it with a strop. I also made two brackets with a cutout to support the drum.
As I have mentioned, I don’t need 100mm (4”) pipes for other tools such as my random orbital sander, spindle sander, track saw or stuff like that. I also have a nice Mirka Abranet hand sanding system which does not need big pipes. I therefore added a reduction to 50mm (2”) and mounted two dust ports I had lying around from installing a central vaccuum system in the house. Smaller pipes takes less space.
One port above a bench, and the other on the wall behind me when I stand at the work bench. The ports are neat little things – spring loaded doors with a gasket, so that they have built-in blast gates!
All I need to do is to fit a piece of pipe to the hoses for the tools I want to hook up, and it is simply “plug’n go”. To switch the CamVac on or off, I use a switch with wireless remote control.
I wish I had thought of using the dust ports sooner, as I could’ve hidden the 50mm pipes inside the walls when I renovated the shop – but then again, this means that I can expand and / or modify the setup in the future a lot easier. You can’t have it both ways.
And that concludes my dust collector system. For my jointer/thicknesser I am considering making a small dust separator for a small bin, as that particular machine creates a huge amount of wood chips in a very short amount of time. It would be no fun to clear the duct work of a massive chip clog! And the CamVac is certainly strong enough to make a pretty big one in a hurry! Found that out once; the clog was about 50cm deep in the hose going into the unit! The chips was packed really well too.
The advantages my system has over other setups with regular dust collectors, are:
- Quiet operation
- Very good air filtration at .5 microns – no need for dedicated air filter units
- Small footprint
- Handles small diameter hoses and pipes without any problem
- Eliminates the need for a shop vac
The CamVac is unique because of the exhaust ports. No other dust collector has that, and you would need to build a full enclosure to achieve similar results.
As for CFM: the CamVac will not work too well for machines where a high CFM is key for good dust collection. However, it should be fairly easy to modify any machine so that the dust collection is more “focused” and thus more effective when using a high pressure / low volume unit such as the CamVac. I experience some dust escaping when using my band saw, but there is no fine dust! This is important. I am not concerned about breathing in wood chips, but fine dust is something to worry about… Anyway, a low pressure / high volume type of unit – the typical cloth bag filtered contraption – will be rather useless as soon as you restrict the airflow. Hook up a sander, and you’ll soon discover that fact. I owned a HVLP unit, but got rid of it when I got the CamVac unit.
For a small-ish shop like mine, this setup has already proven to be a very good solution. The dust collector is moved as far away as possible and the ducts are not too intrusive. I am particularly happy for coming up with the idea of using the central vacuum ports. The need for a dedicated shop vac is almost eliminated. I say “almost”, because you never know.
Tucked away in a corner next to my lumber stack. Easily accessed when needed, otherwise out of the way.
That doesn’t suck!
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Note: I am not affiliated with Record Power (owner of the brand CamVac) or any of their resellers. I bought the unit with my own money.