5 Ways to Collect Dust from Saws (With Videos)

It is imperative to collect dust from saws and dispose of them properly. Sawdust can produce fire hazard if left under a machine due to sparks or excessive heat make contact with flammable sawdust. Apart from that, it can get into your lungs, causing respiratory problems. So, it is essential to follow standard ways of collecting dust from saws.

An excellent dust collection system must capture woodworking dust and debris – both airborne and those that fell on the ground. Then, move it to a single collecting area. Generally, here are the keys to success in collecting dust from saws.

  • You need to have enough airflow for suctioning sawdust.
  • It’s all about managing the airflow correctly.
  • Build a box or cover to seal all air gaps.
  • Find the right length of vacuum tubes whenever required.
  • Make sure that there’s enough room for the blade to cut.

There are different types of power saws, and we will help you understand some ways on how to collect dust from every kind of saw. Moreover, get to know why it is crucial to have a fully-functional dust collection system. So if you want to know how to have a dust-free working station, don’t shy away from reading this article.

Is it Necessary to Have a Dust Collection System?

A Dust Collection System makes your working area clean and dust-free. It also helps you prevent respiratory diseases brought by inhaling toxic wood dust. No matter how big or small it is your saw, it is essential to start taking wood powder seriously for these main reasons.

  • Respiratory Health Issues. Long-term exposure to workshop dust may lead to various respiratory ailments, which may include lung cancer. Some conditions linked to wood dust also involves eye irritation, nasal infection, skin irritation, frequent headaches, and asthma.
  • Slippery Floor. Have you ever heard of a woodworker stumbled over a pile of debris, and ended up with an injury that made him stop working? It may not happen often, but this accident happens. One wrong foot on overloaded sawdust is both slippery and dangerous, which may lead to injuries.
  • Fire. Dust buildup may cause a fire, especially under hot conditions. Wood ignites easily when chopped into pieces, how much more if they are powdered? Hence, a little stray spark from a grinder can ignite the shavings that may cause fire or, worst, explosion.

The Two Kinds of Dust That You Should Know

There are two kinds of dust divided into two categories – the large dust particles and fine wood dust. Most debris created in woodworking is mostly large dust particles of dust, chips, and shavings. These specks of dust are too large and heavy to stay airborne, so it immediately falls onto the ground. Hence, a dust collection system that starts from a connected hose or ductwork to a saw is an excellent way to eliminate a large volume of debris descending on the floor.

On the other hand, air filtration systems usually take care of fine wood dust because they are lightweight and remain airborne. These systems draw in air to your working shop, filter out dust particles, and recycle the filtered air. Filtrations are your first line of defense from inhaling and lower your exposure to airborne and unseen pecks of dust.

How Do Dust Collection Systems Work?

Dust Collection Systems are the most effective way to make your woodworking station dust-free and prevent having severe respiratory diseases. Regardless of your skills and expertise, you should prioritize building this kind of system.

Designing an effective dust collecting system requires accurate planning to capture woodworking dust and debris in a stream of air. Then, the pile of dirt moves through the system’s ductwork to a collection area. Most dust collectors have a large induction motor to run a particular fan called the Impeller.

  • Suctioning Sawdust. You need to have enough airflow for suctioning sawdust. To collect dust from saws, make sure that there’s enough airflow that would suction the dirt as you cut through your wood. Use a 1 to 2 horsepower dust collector is enough.
  • Manage the Airflow Correctly. It’s all about finding managing the airflow. Once you have figured out the direction of the dust, make fit the ductwork properly. Know the material that you’re cutting, its size, and the amount of dust it could produce.
  • Build a Box or Cover. It helps if you will seal all air gaps, and make sure that all holes where dust can go except with the blade’s path. The box or cover depends on the saw that you are using and its dimensions.
  • Find the Right Length of Vacuum Tubes. Measure the correct length of the vacuum tubes whether you’re using a moving saw or a stable blade. What matters is that you determine the path of the dust.
  • Know the Right Distance. Make sure that there’s enough room for the blade to cut. When connecting Dust Collection Systems, double-check its positioning. Make sure that the knife runs freely, and the ductwork doesn’t affect or interact with the sharp edge.

Different Ways to Collect Dust from Various Saws

The process of collecting dust depends on the type of saw that you’re currently using. The process and requirements may vary, but it still boils down to connecting or attaching a dust collection system properly. Regardless of its kind, collecting dust from saws is remarkably quintessential. So, here are some fundamental ways to collect dust from the most common power saws in woodworking.

  • Ways to Collect Dust from Circular Saw. Circular saws are suitable for slicing timber boards down to size, cutting decking boards, and making rough cuts. They are the most popular saw in woodworking that can work through plywood, MDF, decking, and more.
  • You can collect dust by connecting Shop vacs, dust bags, or you can do-it-yourself with a gallon of milk since it’s a moving device. Most circular saws already have built-in dust ports feature if you want to join a Dust Collection System. Here’s how you can do it.
    • STEP 1. Attach a rubber vacuum adapter to the built-in dust port. The port has a specific size for an adapter, find the right diameter that would fit. You can secure it using glue or duct tape, and to close all gaps.
    • STEP 2. Connect the vacuum hose. If you are using shop vacs, then go ahead and connect it to the adapter. If you are using dust bags or a DIY with a gallon of milk, you may need material in between like a PVC pipe. A 1¼-inch hose is more convenient with portable tools, while a 2½-inch tube is perfect for a woodworking dust collection system.
    • STEP 3. Start Collecting Dust. Turn on the vacuum before cutting using your circular saw. You can use a remote control to switch on and off the shop vac, so you can conveniently command the power.
How to Cut Plywood with a Jigsaw
  • Ways to Collect Dust from Jigsaw. A Jigsaw is an all-around tool for making decorative curves, angles, and shapes in all sorts of materials. It can cut through timber, plastic, glass, plaster, and more. However, it doesn’t have a built-in dust port compared to most circular saws. There are many dust collecting designs out there, but a jigsaw table is one of the most accurate.
  • Dustless Jigsaw Table is a table that mounts the table upside down, which makes it look like a mini version of a bandsaw. So, you will feed through the material over the tabletop rather than holding the Jigsaw. The key to success in building it is to remember that it should be dustless.
    • STEP 1. Built a table. You can create an open from melamine scraps or other scraps of wood for as long as it gives a low friction surface for the tabletop. The most important thing to consider is to make sure that your Jigsaw will fit in it upside down. You can also add rubber door bumpers so it stays in place and won’t slip.
    • STEP 2. Mount the Jigsaw. Lock the Jigsaw inside the table. You can use a frame, screws, and bolts to lock the shoe in place. Make sure that the saw is securely in place, and it has no chance of moving even when used with any material.
    • STEP 3. Create a Splitter. Drill a hole that will fit in a T Pipe PVC, so you can do both over and under dust collection to make it zero dust for every cut. It’s where you will connect it to a vacuum extractor tube.
    • STEP 4.  Over Table Dust Collection. You can use a standard electrical conduit tube that’s super adjustable and removable. Connect one end on the splitter, and place the other end above the Jigsaw’s blade. Make sure that it will touch the sharp edge, neither the wood as you cut through.
    • STEP 5. Under Table Dust Collection. Use a hose, and rig up a port in the front that goes where the blade comes through the table so that you can get the dust from the source.
    • STEP 6. Connect the Dust Collector. Attach the hose from your dust extractor, a shop vac, a dust collector. Try out your finished table, and see if the vacuum gets all the dust.
How to Prevent a Table Saw from Binding
  • Ways to Collect Dust from Table Saw by Overhead Dust Collection. A table saw is famous for cutting large-sized blocks of wood. Mounted on a benchtop to do straight cuts, cross-cuts, and rip cuts with ease. Due to its large body, a table saw requires a more fancy and intricate setup. Some table saw models already have a built-in dust collection underneath the table.
    • STEP 1. Table Preparation. You can add an extension table that will act as the stand and support the hanging vacuum hose. Build a supporting arm that will extend and stable the tube going to the blade of the table saw.
    • STEP 2. The Overhead Dust Collection Part. You can use a dust collection cup attached at the end of the hose and install it in place above the blade where the formation of sawdust usually happens. Just make sure that the collection cup doesn’t touch the sharp edge or the material as you cut through.
    • STEP 3. Attach Everything. Make sure that the hose and the collection cup securely in place, and they have no chance of moving as the blade rotates and cause vibration. 
  • Upgrading Dust Collection Underneath the Table
    • STEP 1. Add a Dust Port. Create a dust port below the blade using plastic trays with a built-in 4-inch port. Then, cut it depending on the size of your table saw. Seal it using duct tape and make sure that there are no small openings.
    • STEP 2. Cover the Back. Some table saws have open backs, which makes it have a poor dust collection. Create custom back panels that would fit your hose while closing and covering the whole backside.
    • STEP 3. Make Sure to Fill All Gaps. The majority of the gaps should be close to ensure almost 99% suction around the blade and keep the sawdust from escaping. However, be careful to leave a little hole for your saw airtight. Otherwise, the dust collector may experience insufficiency of air that it requires to function well.
  • Ways to Collect Dust from Miter Saw. A Miter Saw can produce precise and quick angled cuts, cross-cuts, and miter cuts between 45 and 90 degrees. More often, it is famous for wood use, but it is also suitable for other materials like plastics. In collecting dust, most miter saws have built-in dust ports. If you find it inaccurate, here’s an upgrade that you can do to obtain the vast majority piles of sawdust.
    • STEP 1. Create a New Custom Dust Boot. You can use PVC pipe and other adjustable material that you may have and attach it close to the blade. Leave a 1-inch clearance between the bottom of the boot, and the table surface. However, it depends on the type of your project and the thickness of your material.
    • STEP 2. Use a Plastic Dust Shroud. Install a Plastic Dust Shroud at the hose, and attach them in place. Then, connect your custom dust boot to the Plastic Dust Shroud. Make sure that there will be no movement as the Miter Saw cuts through. 
    • Step 3. Dust Hose. Instead of using the provided dust port connector, install the hose directly to the Plastic Dust Shroud to have a precise and direct airflow pattern. Then, make sure that the connection of the tube to your dust collection system fits well and stable.

Shop Vacs vs. Dust Collectors vs. Dust Extractors: What is the Difference?

In a nutshell, Shop vacs are most suitable to use for handheld power tools. Dust Collector is ideal for immobile power tools like a miter and table saw that produce a large pile of dust. Lastly, a Dust Extractor has a combination of the first two dust systems while filtering the air in your workshop. Here are the other details that you should know.

  • Shop Vacs or Shop Vacuums. If you are a hobbyist woodworker who often uses small and portable power tools, Shop Vacs are ideal to operate. They provide relatively small volumes of air, but sufficient enough to power through small amounts of debris to the hose. Plus, they are the easiest to maneuver when attached to a saw. There’s a wide variety of fittings available to connect a shop vac, so make sure to get the right size for your power tools.
  • Shop Vacs are the most basic dust collection system, which uses a one-stage arrangement to collect all sorts of debris. However, the tank can’t filter out small from large debris that can be a problem to its motor after continued use. So, watch out for those cases and make sure to dispose of collected sawdust regularly.
  • Dust Collectors. Dust Collectors produces high volume capacity, but it has low suction power. It’s almost the same with an extractor except that it requires dedicated ports to function. Dust Collectors work excellently in picking up large amounts of dust and debris in a single pass. It is stationary in one place of your work show, connected to power tools with a network of ductwork. 
  • Dust Collectors offer excellent static pressure, but you can only attach it to one machine permanently. It means that you can’t move from tool to tool without stopping because you have to switch a connection. Regardless, they have enough air volume and velocity to pull both small and abundant sawdust particles.
  • Dust Extractors. Unlike Shop Vacs, Dust Extractors feature filters that can separate large-sized particles from little things without blockage or any engine trouble. They produce high air volume that travels considerably slower through a large hose. Dust Extractors are also handy, which makes them an all-around dust collection system for both stationary power tools and handheld tools. Additionally, they can effectively pick up sawdust that falls on the ground and those that remain airborne.
  • It comes in two types – a portable and wall mount dust collector. With a portable dust collector, you get simplicity, mobility, and affordability. On the other hand, a wall-mounted dust collector offers higher suction capacity and doesn’t take up floor space. Nevertheless, they produce adequate air velocity and volume to handle sawdust collection even for the most massive home shop tools. 

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Shop Vacs, Dust Extractor, Dust Collector?

There are factors to consider in measuring the effectiveness of each type of sawdust collecting system. Checking the airflow velocity it can offer, the volume of the material it can suction, and the Static Water Lift Count.

1. The Relationship Between Air Flow Velocity and Volume

The relationship between air volume and air velocity determines the right size of the ductwork to keep chips, shavings, and dust moving out. The dust collector must keep the air stream (feet per minute – FPM) in the system that runs at an absolute velocity. There should be enough power to suction large-volume dust in the air (cubic feet per minute – CFM). A higher CFM means greater versatility. 

Higher airflow velocity means higher volume. For example, an airflow velocity of 12″ diameter round duct transports higher amount, than a 3″ diameter duct that moves at the same speed. It requires a more powerful dust collector to run a large volume of air. So, the dust collection system must deliver the minimum necessary CFM for each type of saw connected.

Generally, 300 CFM is sufficient to eliminate chips, shaving, and large particle dust. Meanwhile, at least 900 CFM for a tool that put outs huge shavings like a 24-inch thick planer. You can check the manual of your powered saw for the minimum CFM requirements, but here’s a table for most common saws as your guide.

10″ Table Saw 350 – 450
14″ Bandsaw 350 – 400
Drill Press    300
Circular Saw  300
Scroll Saw      300 – 350
Jigsaw        300
Miter Saw    300 – 350
Planer -15″ and larger   600 – 900
Disc Sander – 12″   300 – 350
Belt Sander        400 – 600

2. The Static Water Lift Count

It’s another variable used to measure the effectiveness of the dust collecting system. Static Water Lift Count refers to how far water can travel up in a 2-inch hose with the suction power of a shop vac, dust extractor, or dust collector. As a rule of thumb, a higher static water lift count is more effective in picking up large-sized chips and shavings.

How to Buy the Best Dust Collectors?

Choosing the best type of Dust Collectors depends on your purpose, your project, and the material that you frequently cut. More than the model or the brand, it’s all about the quality and how well it functions. What are the features that you should consider other than the volume, airflow, and static water capacity?

  1. Size. Consider the area of your working station in choosing the right dust collector system size — also, the number of enormous power tools that you have in place. It’s calculating the space a dust collector takes up, and its ability to handle dust production of the shop. 
  2. Portable Dust Collectors vs. Fixed Dust Collectors. It all depends on the tools that you use. The first one makes it easier to move around your work station and comes in various sizes. On the other hand, fixed dust collectors are mostly huge in form and more powerful. However, they demand professional installation most of the time.
  3. Motor Power. More power means more efficiency in suctioning all dust, whether airborne or those that fall on the ground.1.5 HP motors are a popular option for both professional woodworkers and hobbyists.

How Bad Is Sawdust for Your Lungs?

Sawdust is a by-product or waste product and a result of sawing, milling, planing, routing, drilling, and sanding. It carries fine particles of the wood. Depending on its type that you’re cutting, some of them contain toxins that can produce severe allergic reactions. Hence, that toxic sawdust may cause allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms, and cancer. 

How to Control Wood Dust Exposure?

When it comes to woodworking, your safety must be a top priority. You must apply the most effective precautionary methods to ensure that you will have a safe work station. Piles of dust may be too little, but there are ways that you can control their path and prevent wood dust exposure.

  • You can eliminate wood dust exposure by purchasing pre-cut wood materials.
  • Install local exhaust ventilation (LEV) in your workplace and make sure that it has proper ventilation. LEV can capture dust from cutting, sanding, and shaping wood.
  • Avoid using blowers and fans so that the dust won’t scatter around.
  • It is wise to use a vacuum extractor for each saw and grinder that you have.
  • Limit the time that you spend working in your woodworking station.
  • Wear protective goggles, noise-cancellation headphones, and respiratory protection equipment (RPE) at all times whenever working.
  • Remove work clothing like overalls at the end of every task to prevent scattering it around the area.
  • Wash hands and face immediately after finishing the day at your working station.


Can You Burn Sawdust?

Since woods are simple to burn, especially chunks of firewood, it is possible to burn a pile of sawdust. However, get ready because you may find it super smokey, and there may be lots of unburned portion. It is because sawdust still has natural components from its roots, liberating burning gases into the flame.

Can Sawdust Cause Lung Cancer?

Prolonged exposure to sawdust is not only a mess in your working station, but can also ruin your health. A recent study shows that exposure to “cumulative and substantial” wood dust can be a culprit to having lung cancer. Even so, it is better to be precautious and safe than be sorry later.

What Happens If You Inhale Wood Dust?

The effects of inhaling sawdust depend on the type of tree where it came. Generally, inhaling these particles may cause breathing problems like occupational asthma, painful headaches, eye, and nose irritation.

Final Words

Useful sawdust collections are about the right anticipation and managing the airflow. Without proper ventilation and a vacuum system, it can cause respiratory problems and other health threats. Collecting dust from extractors or collectors may not be 100% accurate at all times, but it lessens the amount falling into the ground or flying up into the air. Hence, lowering its chance of entering your body system. Moreover, personal protective equipment like a dust mask is essential for your safety.

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