A wise investment

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Woodworkers are innately hands-on individuals who prefer to build everything themselves. Installing dust collection equipment, however, requires more than common knowledge. And all too often, woodworkers learn the hard way that the system they set up has insufficient air flow and other problems, costing them more money in the long run. The old adage stands: You buy cheap, you buy twice.

Trusting the experts is the key to designing, purchasing and installing an effective dust collection system in a professional woodworking shop, according to shop owners who say their systems enhance the quality of their shops and end products. Likewise, industry experts who specialize in dust collection products were glad to speak about the troubles shop owners go through before contacting them.

They stressed that shop owners should understand the need for a proper system, even in the current economy when everyone wants to save money. Quality, professionally installed dust collection systems provide for a healthier work environment and can improve the performance of your machinery.

Getting help from the beginning
Paul Passolino of Trenton, N.J., opened his new 2,200-sq.-ft. woodworking dream shop in January with a business partner after having worked in a smaller furniture-making shop for 35 years. He put his faith in the experts at Penn State Industries, a woodturning and dust collection source in Philadelphia.

“I didn’t want to risk the investment,” says Passolino. “I had spent an awful lot of money developing and setting up the shop with high-end equipment and state-of-the-art everything. I just felt that the last thing I needed to do was to try to do something that was not my forte. Those guys took all of the worry out of it.”

Passolino told Penn State his goal was to have the most dust-free work environment possible. The process started with Passolino providing drawings and photographs of his shop, along with a list of all of the specifications of his machinery, to the engineers at Penn State. They went to work, using a CAD program, and designing a custom dust collection system for Passolino.

“The way they extended their professional courtesy was great. They were quick to respond, the pricing was all in line. Could I have done it myself? Possibly. But would it have come out anywhere near what it looks like now? Absolutely not,” says Passolino. His system includes two 3-1/2-hp Tempest S Series cyclone dust collectors and two AC1000 air cleaners, capable of exchanging the air in a 10,000-cu.-ft. shop up to six times per hour, according to the company.

“Our goal with Mr. Passolino’s shop was enough cfm for growth and great air quality. With the combination of our cyclone filtration at 1,400 square feet at 1/5 micron and the air cleaners, we were able to meet our customer’s expectations,” says Penn State’s Bill Whitaker.

Passolino says he has worked in other shops where the owners were less than diligent at keeping dust under control.

“It’s just awful when you have to wear a dusk mask all day long because you’re worried about the guy next to you who’s doing something with a lot of dust.”

The learning process
John Langley, owner of John Langley Cabinets in Baldwin City, Kan., purchased two different dust collection units from the JDS Company for his three-employee, 3,600-sq.-ft. shop: the 3-hp cyclone model 3100 and the 1-1/2-hp Dust Force. Langley says the process helped him realize how his former dust collection setup, which he installed himself, was so inefficient.