I had planned for this moment for months. It was time to install the most expensive tool to ever come into my shop: Oneida’s V3000 Dust Collection System.
After using my 1-1/2 horsepower dust collector from Sears until it wouldn’t start anymore … and then, needing a temporary solution, buying a comparable used system by Delta that leaked as much dust as it collected … it was at long last time to upgrade.
And this Oneida system had better be a significant upgrade, knowing what it cost! So, here’s the story:
I’d researched this purchase for about a year … I knew I had a dust problem, and I knew that the only solution was a better dust collection system. For me, that meant 2 things:
- A better machine to suck up the dust and keep it contained
- Improved ductwork to not leak air and dust … and provide a better environment for the machine to do its work
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to buy an Oneida system. That company’s dust collectors had stellar reviews, and there was a general consensus that their customer service was top-notch. Further, they had a lot of resources on their website that I appreciated. Airflow through ductwork is best understood by researching the underlying science, so I had work to do before understanding what I needed to do from the cutting edge to the collection bag.
I looked at every system I could find before getting down to the semi-finalists. I decided not to buy Grizzly, Jet or Laguna. They had mixed reviews (Laguna’s were the best of these 3) … and their machines were louder and less effective than Oneida’s. Oneida had machines with a HEPA rating (meaning effective collection down to very small particles of dust), and they weren’t that much more expensive.
Since my old system still ran, I was content to wait for a sale that might catch my eye in December or January. I wasn’t in a big rush. Then, a couple of weeks later, they offered units with a bonus remote and bonus Dust Sentry to tell you when the barrel is full. Those are about $150 in bonuses. Sold.
I called customer service, asked for sales, and got Anna on the phone. I described my situation: a small, one-man shop. Since it was just me, I only operated one tool at a time. 5 tools were connected: table saw, band saw, drum sander, router table & drill press. A 6th tool drop was for the work bench & was used for the portable tools that sat on the bench as I used them. My longest duct run was about 25′. Anna was great to work with; she eventually recommended the V3000. That’s the system that I had previously identified as a good choice, so we had a winner. A few decisions:
- wall mount, or floor stand?
- 2 or 3 horsepower?
- 35 gallon barrel, or 55 gallon barrel for the dust?
- fiber or steel barrel?
I went with the floor stand, as I don’t have a wall. The upgrade from 2 to 3 hp was only $100, so I chose that … because more power is almost always the right answer. I stuck with the standard 35 gallon barrel, because who wants to lift 55 gallons of sawdust? Finally, I stayed with the fiber barrel because I’m cheap.
I ordered the system on November 30, but asked them to not deliver until after Christmas, as the shop was going to be FULL of activity until then. No problem.
Two more details had to be ready for the install: electrical service and ductwork. Luckily, I know a guy.
I asked the Mechanical Engineer if he was available next weekend, and he made the mistake of saying he had no plans. I went to the Building Inspector, and asked him what he knew about ductwork. “Everything,” he replied. That was the right answer. When I asked, “Wanna come help me next Saturday?”, he said OK. Since he also knew how to install a 250v service into my previously upgraded electrical panel, we could do the majority of the install in one day. We thought.
I then had to decide what kind of ductwork I wanted. My first dust collection system was done with 4″ PVC, which then transitioned to 4″ flex hose or 2-1/2″ flex hose as needed for each tool. There was a “blast gate” in front of each machine, that was kept closed when the machine was not in use & allowed the dust collection to happen through the single open gate for the machine in use. Unless I forgot another gate because I couldn’t see it. Also, the gates were right by the machines – not at the end of the rigid pipes, as they should be to maximize performance of the dust collector.
See, I learned things doing my research.
The new machine delivered a 7″ opening, and Oneida recommends using galvanized ductwork as much as possible, as it lessens fire risk from static generated in PVC pipes. They wanted to sell me the ductwork, in fact, and offered a free installation plan if I would just tell them about my shop. I filled out the forms, and they proposed selling me the ductwork for $1,100 (with “free” shipping!).
I decided to not accept their offer. I sourced many of the joints for the ductwork through Amazon, and then bought the galvanized pipes and a very few joints from Home Depot. I had to buy a crimper, aluminum tape and such … but my total cost was under $500 by using a total DIY approach, and re-using most of the flex hose and some of the PVC connections from the old system.
Big cardboard boxes started arriving with galvanized joints wrapped in bubble wrap, which I found a bit odd, but the joints were undented and sturdy. I needed a lot of different joinery to take the single 7″ port from the dust collector and split that into 6 different 4″ and 2-1/2″ openings. By the time the V3000 arrived, I had 8 boxes of stuff from Amazon, and they were joined by 8 really big boxes from Oneida.
The pre-delivery instructions emailed with my Oneida order confirmation were very specific: do not sign for the order until you open and inspect every box. If the delivery man won’t wait, then accept the order as “damaged.”
The very nice UPS man brought me 7 boxes, and abruptly left. I didn’t sign for anything. Well, OK, then. The boxes did seem undamaged; I opened them and found everything to be well cushioned and in good shape. Didn’t find the impeller, though … which was a 70+ pound box that arrived the next day.
The instructions were also very specific to look for the boxes with the green stickers:
There was no such sticker on any box.
I didn’t have the room to spread out everything and inspect part by part, but the system had arrived in plenty of time for The Big Install on January 2.
That day, after we fortified ourselves with Jimmy Dean’s burritos, the work began. Step one was to roll all of the tools out of the garage and into the driveway, along with portable clutter in our way. I had boxed the off cuts and end cuts that I’ve been accumulating; those went out as well. The work bench had been cleared, so the shop was cleaner than it had been in years. Time to make it better.
Each box was emptied and contents were laid out on the driveway. We needed a lot of space to get organized! The galvanized pipes were still in the Jeep, but it was parked in the driveway, so everything was handy. The last box to be emptied was the hardest to unpack: the heavy impeller. Come to find out, it was packed with some kind of blow-in, instantly hardening foam wrapped in plastic. We had to carefully break the foam away from the motor housing and impeller, not knowing the exact shape of the piece to be revealed. That was the most challenging bit of unpacking, but between the 3 of us we figured it out.
Time to get into the instructions. We started with the stand, and quickly progressed to the cyclone where the bolded instructions said it well:
Parts of this procedure require at least two people to complete. Use extreme caution and good sense when assembling this unit. Parts of it are very heavy.
With hope that good sense was available, we proceeded.
The instructions were fairly well written, but annoyingly switched to French in the middle of every single instruction point. This may be a standard way to write technical directions in some areas, but it was most annoying to me. I would read a line or 3 of English instructions, and then the words would turn to gibberish in my mind before I realized I was now reading French. That one year of high school French is far, far behind me, so it made no sense when I read instructions like this:
10. Line up the holes in housing with the holes in the motor plate. Then attach using the provided (8) 5/16″ flange bolts (AFB155155). You will need a sturdy step ladder for this. / Aligner les trous de logement avec les trous dans la boulons….
That stated, the instructions were pretty clear; I’d give them a B+. We did have to take one assembly apart twice to get the right bolts in place (they used similar-sized bolts that were poorly described, IMHO. We worked through the problem, but it could have been avoided had they chosen bolts that were clearly different for each assembly). Further, the hardware wasn’t shipped in the same box as the parts being assembled; you had to find the hardware in other boxes. When we finally got ALL of the hardware out, we got going very well. Assembly started at about 9am; we were largely done with the assembly of the dust collector, including installing the electrical outlet and the major ductwork, by 4pm. We even had the time for a trip to Home Depot to buy the electrical hardware we needed.
We were very careful doing our ductwork: the goal was leak-free pipes going to each tool. Therefore, every galvanized joint:
- Got caulk between the pieces being joined
- 3 screws were used to hold together every joint
- Aluminum tape was applied outside of the joints to seal them
The result: leak-free pipes to every blast gate. This is so much better than my previous PVC ductwork!
By the time we quit at 6pm, almost all of the ductwork was done, save for a couple of tweaks that would require another trip to Home Depot. I also needed an upgrade to my router table fence dust collection hardware, so I had to order a piece. Final assembly of all ductwork was completed a couple of weeks later. I did have trouble installing the Dust Sentry in the thin metal lid of the fiber barrel: my brand new 3/4″ bit tore the metal, rather than drilling it. I managed to get a hole that worked, and then sealed the rough edges, but I wish Oneida would have drilled this hole for me.
After using this system for a couple of weeks, it’s clear that this is a massive upgrade for me. I had no idea how bad my previous dust collector was until I started using the V3000. It is an amazing system. It’s quieter than my older system that had only half the horsepower. I had gotten used to brushing dust off of my drum sander, for example, because the conveyor belt and work surface was always dusty after exiting the drum. Now, the entire assembly is dust free, because my dust collector is removing and containing almost all of the dust before it exits the machine.
And, oh my goodness, changing the bag in the dust collector is a breeze! I was using the planer, which always generates a great deal of sawdust for the collector. The Dust Sentry started flashing to alert me that the barrel was full, so I opened it up, and sure enough, it was! Changing the bag was so simple. It’s no longer The Worst Job In The Shop! This is a huge change, and so appreciated.
My shop will never be dust free … but my goodness, it is so much better now with the V3000.