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Results 1 fifteen of 67 project plans videos and tips on Shop Layout and Design from the in almost as many sizes and shapes as the woodworkers who Floor plan with finesse When planning his betray Dave. If you are just getting started in woodworking and want to know what tools you’ll need to set up shop, you’ll want to download this free PDF from Popular Woodworking. To receive your free download, join our mailing list and never miss news, tips, promotions or discounts. This free download from Popular Woodworking is your guide to essential tool storage ideas & tips for buying cheap hand tools.
Once you establish your design and procedures, it’s pretty much rinse and repeat after that; all joints are installed the same way. But, if you just know the basics (do’s and don’ts, how to size the ducts and the collector), you pretty much can buy the pieces you need and put it together like Legos and be done. You also don’t have to do it all at once; of course design for the whole shop first but you can always run enough duct to catch a few important machines and do the rest as you have time.
Having a central dust collector in one place (or two, one for each side of a larger shop) is a much better solution than either using a shop vac rigged with a mini-cyclone or bucket separator trying to mimic a full sized collector, or an undersized 1HP collector rolled from tool to tool. There’s a reason professional shops have a centralized dust collector system; it’s much more convenient and efficient, and safer for those doing the woodworking. However, it is often argued that in a typical small shop, the relatively small amount of dust isn’t much of a danger.  Some people use a PVC duct system combined with grounding wire routed alongside (coiled outside and run inside)  the piping to help mitigate any static electricity build-up. For me, while it may be safe to use PVC, I’d rather just use sheet metal ductwork and not worry about it.  The reason people are tempted to use PVC is that it’s easy to deal with (just like sprinkler pipe but on a larger scale), the piping is smooth on the inside surface, and it’s pretty cheap to buy.
I’ve found, however, that sheet metal ductwork is fairly simple to install (if you can figure out how to build furniture you totally can learn this), and not really that bad expense-wise.  You can design the whole thing and install sections at a time as funds allow. Choose the right fittings for more airflow; there are a lot of restrictions already in a dust collection system so why make it worse by choosing the cheap ones? I like to just start at a typical tool, and work my way back to the dust collector and list the items I’ll need.
6 duct diameters worth of straight duct directly into your collector’s fan intake to reduce “system effect” pressure losses (basically your goal is 6 duct diameters worth of duct length, i.e.
These crimpers allow you to fit the ducts together; just remember to point the crimped end toward the airflow.
By diagramming it out, even if it’s just a hand-sketch, will help you count the # of each component you need.
Each of the above components have several options associated with them.  I’ll break down the most common choices available, and explain my choices. Bridging hose clamps are better than conventional ones; however these clamps from Rockler work on right-hand swirled flex. I buy the longitudinal seamed straight duct that snaps together, and just seal the seam with duct mastic. I use foil tape to cover seams (usually the ones I may want to disassemble in the future), blastgate seams, and cleanouts. I put some of this on each joint, and then brush it into all the crevices, then do a final coat.
I use wye-fittings for all branches from the main; I added a few for future tools I plan to buy. You can really ease up the resistance to airflow by making the turns more “sweeping” and gentle.  Less static pressure loss means more CFM at the tool, which is critical for fine dust extraction. Die-stamped elbows are smooth inside, but you’re locked into an exactly 90 degree turn.  Inevitably your walls aren’t plumb or square so having some leeway (adjustability) is nice. Plus, with some machine drops or other offsets you need to create, the adjustability of a 4-gore or 5-gore elbow is necessary.  These are just segmented elbows that rotate relative to each other to make angles other than 90 deg,, and allow you to make the inlet and outlet at odd non-perpendicular planes.

So once you’ve bought all the “Legos”, it’ll probably take an afternoon’s worth of time to put it all together. By using long-radius elbows, you give the air a gentle sweep to travel in, reducing static pressure (resistance to airflow), and you get more airflow (CFM) out of it.
While designing your dust collection system, you should make the above choices so you account for them in how everything fits together.  By drawing your ductwork to scale, it’ll give you an idea of how many feet of straight duct you’ll need.
Your goal should be to minimize static pressure losses in the system and maximize the CFM available at each tool, all while maintaining the minimum recommended velocities in the ductwork. Configuration for fitting ductwork together; all you need is some duct crimpers and self-tapping sheet metal screws. However, now I’m willing to buy some components online so that I get exactly what I need, and buy the readily available parts at the home center.
Place the rigid sheet metal duct drop with its blastgate as close to the machine as you can without the flex hose interfering with the infeed or outfeed.
Minimum 3 screws per duct joint is needed to prevent it from coming apart; I use 4 at joints under higher stress such as flex hose branches. Rolls of sheet metal hanger strapping is the most convenient way to suspend the ductwork, although they do sell specialty hangers so you can better restrain duct drops.  Brace ducts by crossing the straps at angles. Lay out the pieces on the floor to prepare sub-assemblies.  Put together as many parts on the ground as you can, then loosely suspend those subassemblies so they can be connected when you’re on the ladder. Buy like 6 feet of extra straight duct; if you buy the snaplock type don’t assemble the seam so you can return it if you don’t need it afterall. Pre-seal your wye fittings and straight duct while on the bench.  For elbows, the individual joints move around a lot so seal those when finally installed. Once you do the hard work of design and gathering all the parts, the installation itself is actually fun and not bad at all. You can either buy rolls of sheet metal strapping with holes every inch or so, or you can buy special duct hangers from your home center. Connect with me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for more ninja tips to Optimize Your Woodshop! And, if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow #woodchat every Wednesday night, at 6:00 pm, PST. Enter your name and email below to get your free copy of this organized and detailed checklist to jump-start your woodshop design today! Also, you’ll get weekly WoodChip Tips, design ideas, free useful downloads, free mini-courses, and other cool stuff in The Other Side of Zero newsletter! How I went from a cluttered and disorganized shop to a super-productive layout with a convenient dust collection and electrical set-up.
While fixed systems are great for stationary shop tools, those hand-held power tools can generate a blizzard of sawdust that needs to be handled as well.
For the finer dust that gets into the air, filtration systems can help keep the airborne particles at bay.
Finally, when working it a very dusty environment, there’s nothing quite like a personal air mask.
While it may not be as glamorous as a new table saw or the latest router bit collection, dust collection is a sound investment in keeping your shop a safer, cleaner and more productive place. I have a set up like the unit in picture one, but sure wouldn’t mind that big Powermatic one. Tom, was that mountain of saw dust your house after that recent cabinet job you did with your friend?
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Because we’re all woodworkers here at Popular Woodworking, we generate a huge amount of valuable woodworking information that we cannot possibly cram into the printed magazine. It gets rid of any fears of static electrical dust fire fears, and I think looks cooler too. Plus, it’s not getting close enough to the recommended CFM because of the higher static pressure the smaller diameter flex hose has. All you have to do is crimp one end, connect to the right fittings with sheet metal screws, and seal the seams with duct mastic. I use these for portions of the ductwork under higher stress, such as where flex hose yanks on the drops when the machine is moved around. You can build family heirlooms, make your living area more functional or create a work of art.
Keeping the dust out of your lungs and nose can prevent a number of problems such as nasal polyps, sinus infections and cancer. I also recycle my house furnace filters into a bracket I set up behind a box fan which hangs from my ceiling.
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