Table Saw Dust Collection - Taming the Beast

Effective table saw dust collection is a rarity with machines as they come from their manufacturers, and this can make our workshops unpleasant and unhealthy places to be.

Two areas of a table saw must be considered when trying to tame the dust - above the blade and below it. Dust from above the blade is particularly annoying when using a table saw as it gets thrown towards our faces when we operate the machine, making it hard to see.

The greatest volume of dust from a table saw goes down through the slot and builds up in the cabinet, on the floor of the workshop and in the air. Different solutions are needed for both.

Shop Vac or Dust Collector

For a start, you are going to need to have available either a shop vacuum or a dust collector to plug in to the machine. If you choose to use a shop vac, you need one with a 2.5 inch collection hose or greater and a good throughput of air (CFM).

Smaller shop vacs are good only for cleaning up, not for dust collection. A fine dust filter should be fitted.

Some older saws, and some cheap modern ones have no facility to connect a table saw dust collector hose, and on those that do, the duct positioning is rarely efficient. See below for how to overcome this problem

Table Saw Dust Collection: Below the Blade

The best way to collect dust that the saw blade throws down through the slot is to direct the saw dust directly into a hopper. The design of your hopper has to accommodate the rise and fall of the saw blade as well as any tilting.

Basically, what you're aiming for is a tapered hopper attached to the bottom of the saw table with a dust port at the bottom that can be connected to your dust extraction machine.

table saw dust collection hopper There will be things in the way, such as the rise and fall mechanism, the tilt controls and the drive for the blade. Just allow for these by making appropriate slots in the hopper for movement of the controls.

These slots shouldn't be a problem because when the dust collector is connected, the whole thing will be under negative pressure. If they do turn out to leak dust in practice, the control arms and the slots can be enclosed in a polythene gaiter a bit like the gaiter on a car gearshift.

Thin plywood is likely to be the most convenient construction material, but use whatever you're happy with bearing in mind that it has to withstand the suction from the collection machine. Floppy won't do.

Using plywood, glue the internal corners with quarter round beading for a solid job that won't collapse.

Table Saw Dust Collection: Above the Table

Typically, there will be no provision at all by the manufacturer for dust collection above the saw table. Again, allowance will have to be made for tilt as well as rise and fall.

Make up a dust guard out of transparent material such as Lexan or Perspex. This will be wide enough for any tilt, rise or dadoing and adjustable for timber thickness.

The top surface of the dust guard needs to be ported to accept a dust collection outlet.

You will need to make a new riving knife, (splitter) to attach it to, or extend your existing one vertically.

If you don't fancy a homemade dust collection system, or want more information, ideas and pictures, have a look at Lee Styron's Shark Guard saw dust collection system.

Connecting Your Table Saw Dust Collection Systems

Both the hopper and the above table saw dust collection system can be connected to one extraction machine by making up your own ducting.

Use smooth, rigid pipe as much as possible for the best efficiency. A good choice is plastic water drainpipe.

Avoid sharp turns and angles - "Y" connections work best for not slowing down the airflow in wood dust collectors.

Go from smaller sizes to larger in the direction of the airflow if necessary. Going from large to small impedes flow and causes obstructions.

Avoid ribbed flexible hose as much as possible - again because it slows down the airflow.

Keep the dust collection machine as close as possible to the table saw.

Related Pages

Miter Saw Dust Collection
Drill Press Dust Collection
Router Dust Collection