August 11, 2022
Wood contains irritant compounds found in wood sap that can cause allergic reactions. Besides, fine dust, barely visible to the naked eye, is the most detrimental to the human body.
The use of powerful woodworking machines is indeed fraught with so many risks. So, it behooves you to take the necessary precautions to avoid injuring yourself while woodworking. Yet, one more insidious safety hazard in woodworking is the health risks associated with wood dust inhalation. According to United States Department of Labor on the wood dust issues, Prolonged exposure to dust has concomitant adverse health side effects, including allergic respiratory effects, dermatitis and non-allergic respiratory effects.
This inhalable dust, consisting of microscopic particles, contains a high level of silica, the primary wood fiber component, which is basically glass. Once this microscopic glass lodges into your lungs, it will remain there, causing various respiratory problems. Hence, as a wannabe woodworker, you must install a dust collection system in your workshop to minimize exposure to these dust particles.
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Different Types of Dust Collector Systems Used You Can Use In Your Woodworking Shop
Wearing a mask capable of filtering dust can be of great help in protecting yourself from the health hazard posed by inhalable dust. Yet, it might not suffice to help you avoid the risks associated with dust. Installing a reliable dust collection system is the best way to minimize billows of dust in your workshop. Below is a rundown of the different types of dust collection systems you can install in your workshop:
1) Cyclone Dust Collectors
Cyclone dust collectors utilize centrifugal force or cyclonic movement to remove a high volume of dust from your workshop. It comes with a hopper chamber wherein the cyclonic action happens and where dust particles get separated from the air.
The heavier dust particles get thrown against the hopper’s outer wall and fall onto the collection chamber. This machine is an inertial separator and is an economical solution to a wide variety of dust collection issues.
Cyclone dust collectors come in various configurations and sizes for different applications and increased efficiency. For example, you will find massive multi-cyclone collectors outdoors for the cement industry.
You will also find lab-scale cyclone dust collectors for table and pill manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry. Cyclone dust collectors, of course, are reliable and efficient dust collection systems.
Baghouses, bag filters, or fabric filters are dust collection systems that draw out dust particles from the air and lodge the dust particles into a separator or filter. The air scrubbers, wet scrubbers, and electrostatic precipitators belong to this group of dust collection systems. With the use of baghouses, you can ensure a cleaner environment in your workshop.
Baghouses are usually wrought in cotton, fiberglass, and other synthetic materials. Of course, there are various types of baghouses. But if you want to figure out the best baghouse for your dust collection needs, you can inquire from certified dust collection professionals.
Baghouses need to work efficiently. To keep them in optimum functionality, you should always check their gas temperature, opacity, volumetric rate, and pressure drop. You can always ensure a clean workshop environment if all these factors are at their optimum levels.
3) Two-staged Dust Collector System
Another excellent dust collection option is the two-stage dust collector. This dust collection system features a primary stage that separates larger dust particles from finer dust particles. An example of this system is the Oneida Mini Gorilla.
This system also uses the cyclonic separation mechanism. It draws air inside an enclosure and slams wood chips and dust particles against the enclosure’s walls allowing them to fall while letting fine dust move to the second stage.
The second stage, however, consists of a bag filter that uses a pleated filter design. Finer dust that reaches the second stage is further filtered out using a finer micro filter. You will find pleated canister filters that feature a paddle inside.
This paddle lets you knock off dust buildup inside the inner surface. With the paddle, you can maintain regular and optimum filtration and airflow. The paddle is easy to use with a single turn of a handle. So, its use is hassle-free and doesn’t’ require disassembling.
4) Single-stage Dust Collector
The single-stage dust collector is the most common dust collection system in most woodworking shops. An example of this system is the Shop Fox 1HP. This system allows the sucking of dust directly into a dust collection bag. The collection bag features a weave that lets air pass through while trapping the dust inside.
Nevertheless, many bag filters are not efficient in filtering dust. But if the dust collector features pleated filters, you can expect these filters to perform more efficiently. Besides, pleated filters are easier to maintain and clean.
Another downside of using the single-stage dust collector system is that it draws anything into the impeller (spinning metal) before the air goes onto the dust collection bag. Thus, the impeller is prone to damage due to this setup.
Moreover, the impeller is made of steel. It could spark if it gets hit by another metallic object like a drill bit or screw, which could cause a fire inside the dust collection system. Thus, if you intend to buy the single-stage dust collector, you might consider purchasing the two-stage one.
5) Portable Dust Collectors
Another excellent option is the portable dust collector. It can maintain good air quality in any industrial or commercial facility. Hence, it is also usable in the woodworking shop. It can filter contaminated air and will help filter billows of inhalable dust in the air.
Examples of portable dust collector types include air scrubbers, wet scrubbers, unit collectors, electrostatic precipitators, bag houses, and inertial separators.
The common usages of portable dust collectors include the collection of plastic dust, welding smoke, pharmaceutical dust, chemical fumes, soldering fumes, grinding dust, wood dust, and dust debris.
Many industries benefit from the use of portable dust collectors, and these industries include pharmaceutical manufacturing, woodworking, metal grinding, composite manufacturing, and many more. Portable dust collection systems are quickly innovating, and the system has become more efficient and more portable.
You need to protect yourself from harmful dust particles while you engage in woodworking. Wood dust particles get emitted at a very high speed by spinning and moving power tools. Thus, you need to install LEV or local exhaust ventilation in your workshop. You can integrate this system into the machine guards. Besides, you should locate the exhaust hoods as close as possible to the source of dust emissions.
Aside from installing reliable dust collection systems, it will also help if you often use a dust mask that could help prevent accidental inhalation of inhalable dust particles. In this way, you have two levels of protection against the safety hazards concomitant with dust particles inside your workshop.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.