I built a cheap system. Of course, I don't make all that much sawdust, and my time in the shop is limited. If I did this professionally, I'd probably feel different. But a cyclone system would cost more than all the other power tools in my shop combined. Space is also a problem, I couldn't fit one in unless I expand the shop.
Here is the cost breakdown (prices from 2007):
- Harbor Freight 2HP dust collector. The 2HP rating is overly optimistic, but it's a great unit for the price. The stock bags are really poor, so an upgraded filter is required: $175 (with coupon)
- Replacement canister filter (paper) from Wynn Environmental and some replacement bags: $125 (including shipping)
- Blast gates. I bought mine from the Blast Gate company. They're aluminum, and only a fraction more expensive than the plastic ones. I purchased 8 of them, even though I only plan to use 6 initially: $45 (including shipping)
- PVC pipe. Even for a small shop, I had to buy 60ft of pipe. A lot of it is wasted (scrap, bell ends), and I have some leftovers, but it adds up regardless. Total cost: $50
- PVC fittings. I used 6 wyes (at $4.50 each), 9 elbows (at $2.50 each) and 7 reducers (to make hose mounts) at $4 each. Total cost: $77.50
- Flexible hose. You want to keep the flexible hose connections as short as possible, but long enough you can roll your equipment out on the floor. 30' of black dust collection hose: $30
- Miscellaneous items such as clamps ($20), reducer for the dust collector ($5), tape and zipties ($20): $45
- Remote control for the Dust Collector: $20 (Ace Hardware)
- Large metal trash can (Home Depot): $20
- "Cyclone" separator lid (home made) with baffle: $15
brings it to about $575. If you're like me, that means DC is easily one
of the most expensive pieces of equipment in your shop!
Don't skimp on the blast gates. The aluminum ones are only a fraction more expensive, and clog a lot less. Buy as many as you need, with one or two spares, since the shipping cost will kill you otherwise. Also, make sure you create enough branches in your pipe with Wyes. Better to spend the extra $20 now rather than having to cut into the pipe several times later. Cheap is good, but don't overdo it. All the other stuff, like a remote control can wait.
Ideally, you want to
run your main line across the ceiling, to minimize the length of our
pipe. The shorter, the less drop in static pressure. Unfortunately,
this wasn't practical in my basement shop because of the existing HVAC
duct. So, I put the dust collector as close to the table saw as
possible, and ran pipes along the wall. There are three 90 turns, so I
used the two elbows for each corner to keep the air velocity up.
Fortunately, I was able to keep the runs pretty short. I put a blast
gate at each Wye, so I can close off sections as needed.
I tried to keep the flex hose as short as possible, but some length was needed so I could still move each piece of equipment around. I keep one (clear) long hose around in case I have some large boards to process, and I need to move the jointer/ planer/ bandsaw/ tablesaw further away from the dust port than normal. It doesn't take long to swap out the hose, and it ensures that I don't have the long hose overhead most of the time.
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