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The Worst Job In The Shop   3 comments

I hate it.

It’s the worst job in the shop. And when I put it off … it just gets worse.

But I didn’t put it off! Well, not on purpose. I opened the cyclone separator regularly to make sure it wasn’t full. Even emptied it a couple of times.

And I lulled myself into a sense of accomplishment that was built on a foundation of dust.

I was about to start planing several boards down to 1/2″ thick (which means I was taking off 1/4″ from every board and turning it directly to sawdust). I know that means there will be a lot of sawdust, so I did the right thing and checked the dust collector to make sure I had no problem.

Good thing. It was full. Over-full. It was a mess I hadn’t noticed. My life was about to get dirty.

The reality is that adding a dust collection system to my shop resulted in a huge quality of life improvement. I bought a 2-stage dust collection system, and ran 4 hoses to tools in my garage shop, and a 5th hose that moves between the portable tools. When the dust collector is turned on, it sucks almost all of the chips, shavings and sawdust generated by each tool away from the cutting edge … and away from my lungs and eyes.

It’s a wonderful thing.

Inevitably, some dust isn’t collected, and the shop still gets dirty … but almost all sawdust is whisked away, sent through the cyclone collector (which makes sure chips and splinters don’t hit the impeller driven by the motor), and then falls into the bottom, plastic bag of the dust collector. The upper bag is where the exhaust goes, and it filters dust down to 5 microns. The air in my shop is very, very clean, even when I’m running a sander.

Dust collection made life in the shop much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, all of that dust has to go somewhere … and that somewhere is the 50 gallon bag at the bottom of the dust collector. Today’s problem is that I didn’t notice that bag was full, so the dust was no longer dropping in the bottom of the dust collector. It was piling on top of that, and slowly filling the upper bag. What happens when you remove the bottom bag to empty it? All of that dust in the upper bag drops to the floor – and it’s that really fine dust that’s only 6 microns wide.

So, nothing to do but get to it. My shop is over-filled with tools and wood, so space is not easy. I have to move tools away just to get at the dust collector.

I moved the router table out, only to shove it into the cut-off bin, which banged into the ladder, which dislodged the big box of packing peanuts, which fell to the floor.

Spewing packing peanuts.

Good thing I was in a cleaning mood.

I ended up taking out the 50 gallon bag, of course (I now have 3 of those full in the side yard, waiting on composting or whatever. Want one? Want three?). Then, I scooped up the 12″ pile of dust that had fallen from the upper bag. Between that and the dust in the cyclone, I took another 30 gallons of dust out of the shop (I now have 5 of those in the side yard. Want one? Want five?).

Velda’s first words when I told her I had to do this job today: “Did you track sawdust into my clean house?”

No, m’lady, of course not. Even though I was covered head to toe with 6 micron dust particles, I’m sure that when I stomped my shoes to shake off the dust, I didn’t track a bit.

Posted May 27, 2014 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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