351 Minimize the Dust

March 13, 2009

In today’s episode I share with you a few ideas on ways to minimize the amount of sawdust that escapes your shop and spreads throughout the whole house. I promise they’re really easy and your family and home will thank you for thinking of them…or at least complain a little less than before?? Afterall sawdust can contribute to health issues such as asthma and allergies.

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  1. Tim says:

    FYI, ironically, regular duct tape is actually against code in most of the US for ducts.


    See the section titled, “Duct Usage”.

    The metal kind that you used is the kind that is recommended.

    • Matt says:

      I wondered about that?!?!? Thanks for sharing that my intuition paid off while standing in the duct work aisle.

  2. Vince Brytus says:

    Of course the best place to trap dust is at the source so it doesn’t get into the air. Exhaust fans, air filters and dust masks help you survive in an unsafe environment and lull you into thinking that it’s OK to work like that. However, if you’re like me, we can’t afford to put in one of those large dust collectors with duct work to all the tools. What I did was buy a small cyclone dust extractor which sits on any old 5 gal plastic pail that separates almost all of the sawdust into the pail before it enters the shop vac. Then I replaced the shop vac filter with a HEPA filter that is rated to remove 99%+ everything >1 micron. I use this for sanders, routers, etc. For bigger machines with 4″ dust ports I replaced the cloth dust bags on my Delta collector with an aftermarket canister that’s rated to remove 98%+ dust >0.3 micron. This cost me a couple of hundred dollars and a little time retrofitting but it makes a big difference. I still wear a dust mask just to be on the safe side but my shop and the rest of the house stays a lot cleaner.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the feedback Vince. This is such an important topic, because it can be easily overlooked until it starts showing up all over the place.

      The extra added cost up front is well worth the savings in comfort and health down the road!!

  3. Jim Lafferty says:

    Matt thanks for the tip with the fan never thought of using a fan and a filter. Will put one together this week great tip. Thanks

    • Matt says:

      Glad to hear it was helpful Jim. I’m planning on building one for the show coming up too. They’re so cheap, but they really help!

  4. Neil says:

    Hey Matt-

    ……………………………oh man……..talk about going from the happy house to dog house, leaving the shop shoes on and coming in for lunch. Woodworker’s do not make good cat burglars…..the forensics are devistating :^)

    During my basement work, were talking ending up until 12 years ago, I couldn’t take the Lady of the Manors harassment anymore and rigged up 2 cutting tables, one an old picnic table for nice weather and another that hinged on my detached garage for bad weather. I’d rough-cut to minimize the aggrivation outside, carry everything and finish cut down stairs. Still, the dust creeped its way in.

    Now, my dust issue still exist, but its seasonal. The winter months are the toughest. Much like the fan you show, I raise my door the height to the fan, and have a filler that extends the remaining length, this breaks the seal between shop and house. In winter this is not an option, so I have a pocket door between our kitchen and mudroom, creating a vestibule. That knocks down some of the problem, but I forget to pull the door closed sometimes and its amazing the fine coat of dust that accumulates.

    Getting down to skivvies is mandatory around here. Gigi even went out and bought me one of those tall lockerroom lockers, which now holds boxes of dust masks, tape and ear plugs, but I got the message.

    Matt, this topic is so important that in our present home, we designed with woodworking hazards in mind. The one issue and it was a choice, was getting water into the shop. I put a priority on lowering my shop floor to increase the ceiling height and placing the mechanicals in a far corner and semi-concealed, but this meant running plumbing on an outside wall, which I drain in winter. Having to come inside for water which we all need is a major culprit because its a quick in and out, but you’ve got your shoes on, clothes are dusty and you break that confinement seal. Getting that needed water is a stealthy stickler.

    Good topic mention…….Thanks……….Neil

    • Matt says:

      That’s what I need in my shop… a locker…maybe even a refrigerator to keep me from running up and down the stairs everytime I get hungry or thirsty!!

  5. Hawkins says:

    Nice show…

    You mentioned that you saw the spider web moving…

    We had an energy audit done on our house a few years ago, and the person doing the audit said “where you find spider webs there is air movement”…so even if it isn’t obvious, that is where to look for leaks.

    …again, love your show!

    • Matt says:

      I’d be so afraid to see what an energy audit would say about our place…I can think of a few key leaks without even having to go looking LOL!

      Technically I think I should have called the spider webs “cob webs” as the were more from my lack of cleaning, but they were moving none the less!

      Thanks for writing and thanks for checking out the show!

  6. Steve says:

    Hey Matt-
    I see you finally found your show’s biggest “fan”! Sorry…

    I work in the garage, and I haven’t found that dust sneaks into the house much, even though there is a door that leads directly into the kitchen. 99% of the time I am working with the garage door open, and in the summer I have two oscillating fans running, blowing toward the open door. I also have a large shop vac that I connect to some of my machines. I have an electric water heater in the garage, so I don’t have issues with any open flames, but in the summer, here in Phoenix, things (like your hair and skin) can spontaneously combust anyway!

    Have you somehow isolated the gas jets in the furnace from exposure to the dust? Is that even possible without compromising the combustion airflow? That issue sounds pretty scary to me.

    • Matt says:

      What another one LOL?? I’m just amazed people enjoy the show let alone could be fans LOL!! What you’re describing for your own shop sounds a lot like what others have mentioned too, great minds think a like apparently??

      At one point I did have a makeshift filter I built that fit over the grill for the gas jets. It worked pretty good, but then I needed to have some maintance done and took it off. I really should just breakdown and redo it…but who has time LOL?

      Take care and thanks for writing.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Ack! Buy cheap furnance filters? You should be buying the 3M filters.*

    *Yes I am employed by 3M.

    • Matt says:

      Oh didn’t I say 3M?? LOL! Typically I do prefer 3M, I think the wife must’ve bought these ones LOL!!

  8. Joey says:

    I love my box fan/filter, I have been using it for a long time, I just sit it on the end of my bench when I have a lot of sanding as a air filter, and when it wasn’t filtering air their pretty handi at keeping you cool…


    • Matt says:

      A sweaty stinky Matt isn’t a good thing for anyone…so a couple extra box fans make sense for more than dust collection in my shop too!!

  9. Handi says:


    I can see you got LOTS of comments about your Fan and Furnace Filter Topic!

    It is a good idea, found the idea myself last year on the internet, but I found one that you could use the Siding Braces, you use around windows and doors, the C Brackets, not sure what they are called.

    But anyway, you cut 3 Strips, mount one on the left, one on the right and one on the bottom of the fan, Then you just Slide your Filter in and out with ease instead of taping or bungie it to the fan.


    • Matt says:

      That’s a great point!! I was trying to remember which aisle they were down…I kept thinking electrical for some reason LOL.

  10. Handi says:


    I think you can get it under the Constrction area, I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know you mount it around windows and Doors to hold the siding on, you slide the edge of the siding in it and the corners to keep it in check.

    Might have to ask the store.


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