Dust Collection, Process Improvement
Comments 8

A Shovel, a Garbage Can and a Dust Collector

Time to take out the trash, um, sawdust.

Time to take out the trash, um, sawdust.

This is about the only woodworking I did during the weekend. As I began to get an early start in my workshop Saturday morning, I reached for the remote which fires up my Delta 50-850 dust collector and I couldn’t do it. I have known for quite a while that my dust collector was way beyond needing a good cleaning. The bag was bloated and the pressure being applied to its metal strap reminded me of pulling my belt around my growing stomach. Something had to be done, and done quickly.

I think but don’t know for sure, that such a bodacious amount of dust inside my collector does two things: 1) degrades the performance of the machine and 2) actually causes more dust to become airborne in my shop.

So, I disconnected the dust collector, moved a large stack of lumber cut-offs I can’t seem to part with and carefully rolled the machine into my driveway. Cleaning a dust collector is a very dusty endeavour and something I sure don’t want to do indoors.

The last time I did this, I was worried the neighbors would call the police due to sawdust being picked up by the wind and blown into their yard. I’m serious. I remember thinking, “Oh!” as the dust cloud descended on their home (some of their windows were open). I had my leaf blower out giving the dust collector a good workout, oblivious to the developing dust storm.

Just a little evidence of the mess I made.

Just a little evidence of the mess I made.

This time, I was much more careful. Emptying all that dust from my collector calls for safety measures to be implemented: a cartridge style respirator and safety glasses pulled up real close. These things keep dust from entering my nose and eyes. The job also calls for old clothes and shoes; you need to dress as if you were going out to do some major yard work.

The bag was sooo full, I couldn’t get it out from under the collector. Thus, the shovel and trash can were called in. Delicate dust removal began and the mess began to unfold, and then gobs of dust kept falling from the top bag. Messy for sure, but it was less of an ordeal than last time. I cleaned up around the spot the collector occupies in my workshop, rolled it back in and am glad the thing is mostly clean.

But, all of this has me again thinking of upgrades for my dust collector. I actually watched some YouTube videos today about some sort of separator. I need to make at least some progress with this in 2014. If you have experience with either a separator or a filter upgrade, please let me know in the comments.


  1. Chuckle, chuckle. I had the bright idea of trying to use my debris in the garden. My neighbors saw dust everyday for a week until it rained. I now have a metal trash can with one of those separator lids. Had it about ten years and rarely have to empty the real fine nasty stuff in the collector.

      • Looking on the web it is similar to the Woodstock large dust collector seperator. About $30, Fits on a 30 gallon metal trash can. Works well for me and the metal trash can is a lot easier to empty. I just pull the top off put a large plastic bag over the top and tip it over, drag the bag to the garbage can and I’m done. I’m sure theoneida system works well also and probably drops some of the smaller particles off but for my money I’m pretty happy. You could probably make your own as well.

  2. On a heavy day running the planer, I might have to do this two or three times. One thing I’ve learned is to give the top bag a few good whacks to knock the fine dust down into the collector bag. Then I walk away for three or four minutes to let things settle before removing the collector bag. It saves a lot of mess.

  3. Mike says

    Just found your blog. I’m a woodworker in Montgomery. You definitely need a separator. I use a large cyclone, but I would not recommend the garbage can type lid separators. I tried those first. In my experience too much debris make it through the outake. Having the tapered cyclone design really directs the particles down which is necessary. Also the garbage cans don’t have the central vane that only lets the finest dust get to your collector.

    • Hey Mike – thanks for visiting my blog. Montgomery is not too far away. Thanks for your input on my dust collection shortcomings. I am about to start a new project and dust will again be a concern. I need to investigate what to do about my dust collector and pull the trigger on an upgrade.

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