Double-Duty Dust Collector
This portable homemade box catches dust and provides power to job-site tools.
Carpentry is a dusty business. To make matters worse, many projects are done in occupied homes. So whether we carpenters set up in a client’s garage or on the front porch, or we create a “clean room” somewhere in the house, we have to be as conscientious and proactive as possible when it comes to dust.
There’s no question that capturing dust at the source safeguards the health of the workers, allows tools to run more efficiently, reduces cleanup time at the end of a job, and impresses the client. But switching a vacuum hose from one tool to another is about as efficient a solution as having just one extension cord for six separate tools. That constant need both to power our tools and to control the dust they create inspired this homemade vac box.
A combination of a cyclonic dust separator and electrical receptacles housed in a plywood box, this device has become the central hub for my company’s on-site workspace. We don’t waste time switching out power cords or vacuum hoses each time we want to use a different machine, and the cyclone separates most of the dust and debris before it reaches the vaccum, which extends the life of vacuum bags and filters and ensures that we never lose suction. And because finish carpentry demands a fine point for accurate marking, we’ve added what has turned out to be a crew favorite: a built-in electric pencil sharpener.
When connected to a powerful tool-actuated dust collector (we like the Festool CT 26), we now have constant power, automatic dust collection, and sharp pencils. What more could a carpenter want?
Andrew Young is co-owner of Young & Son Woodworks in Portland, Ore.