The importance of proper dust collection for woodworking applications.


Many professional woodworking companies spend significant capital on production machinery but fail to adequately address dust collection issues.  Proper dust collection has many advantages, well beyond the obvious health benefits.  An inadequate dust collection system can result in a poor quality finished product, reduced tooling life, and can damage your woodworking machinery.


Wood dust can be very hazardous to workers’ health.  Inhaling dust can lead to allergies, respiratory issues such as asthma, and worse yet has been known to cause nasal cancer.  Some wood species contain toxins that when inhaled can cause serious respiratory issues.  Inhaling wood dust can reduce your lung capacity which can be either temporary or permanent in some cases.  By properly collecting dust and minimizing the amount of airborne dust in a shop you will greatly reduce these health risks.  Employee health risks can also have an effect on your bottom line due to lost workdays and increased health care coverage.



Wood dust that is not properly extracted can cause havoc on your finished product.  In sanding applications, the dust can build up on sanding belts which can load up the belt.  This can lead to friction between the belt and the workpiece, causing heat, and resulting in a polished finish or a broken belt. It can also cause chatter as you are asking the belt to remove more material than it can actually handle thus the belt will skip because it is overloaded.

On edgebanders, it is critical as well.  Laminate and PVC chips can fall onto the panel, and tracing wheels will roll over these chips causing a poor banded edge finish.  Also, these chips can get into the glue pot and can contaminate the glue. On moulders and planers, inadequate airflow from the collector or poorly designed ducting will result in excess wood chips deflecting back onto the finished work surface, coating feed rolls and being pressed into the wood surface causing small dents in the workpiece. This will force the manufacturer to sand his product to remove the dents or discard the piece.


As described earlier improperly extracted sawdust can lead to increased friction which causes heat.  This heat can prematurely wear down tooling which can greatly increase your sharpening costs and also result in dull tools and ultimately a poor finish quality.
As a wood chip is machined it carries with it the heat from the cutting action. You want to extract this chip so that this damaging heat is kept away from the recalculating cutter.
Sanding belts can clog and in fact not sand after the grit is plugged which causes friction.  This friction is head which will wear down the sanding belt quickly.


Inadequate dust removal can lead to more frequent and serious machinery breakdowns. Excess dust can clog drives, gears, and worm/ball screws causing premature wear and breakage. In addition, many CNC machines rely on airflow from the dust collector to cool the spindle. Poor airflow can cause premature bearing failures in these situations.



There are a number of formulas that go into sizing a dust system.  Each diameter of the dust port requires a certain amount of CFM.  Add up all of your ports and you will then get a rough idea of the CFM required. If some machines are only running periodically you can reduce this figure by installing blast gates to restrict the airflow from that particular machine.

Port Dia.


Improper ducting can undo any improvements you have made to your dust collection system.   Improper ducting material, poor ducting layout, and improper duct diameter are only a few of the potential pitfalls you can face.
PVC ducting should not be used in wood applications. PVC is non-conductive and can build up static electricity.  An operator could be struck with a static electrical charge and it can be an extreme fire and explosion hazard.  A term which is well known now is COMDUST which means combustible dust.  These fine dust particles can become explosive when in contact with static electricity.
A poor ducting layout can greatly reduce the airflow which nullifies the CFM being generated by the dust collector.  When installing ducting you should not install sharp elbows.  This restricts airflow.  Elbows should be gradual.    Also if you start off with the main duct which is too small it will not allow enough airflow through the dust collector.
Also when attaching ducting to a piece of equipment it is in some cases necessary to have a length of flexible ducting as it may have a moving head or a cover that opens.   Flexible ducting should be minimized in length because it actually greatly reduces airflow in comparison to steel ducting.


At Akhurst Machinery we are pleased to offer the Belfab Dust Collection solutions.


Downdraft Sanding Tables
Sanding tables are used when workers are hand sanding where they sand directly on top of the table and the dust is drawn down into the sanding table through a filter thus reducing airborne dust.


Internal Dust Collectors
Belfab have a range of standalone and modular dust collectors to suit your dust collection requirements. Their revolutionary modular systems can be upgraded over time by adding larger blowers and more filter modules.  This allows you to grow your dust collector as you grow your business.


Industrial Air Cleaners
BELFAB BA-1800 industrial air cleaner is a multi-purpose unit for ambient air filtering. This filtering system can be used on a wide range of industrial shop applications involving releases of fine dust into the air. The BA-1800C is designed to be suspended from the ceiling, while the BA-1800G is to be installed on the ground with the discharge going towards the ceiling, to improve air circulation.


Portable Dust Collectors
Our Cantek range of portable dust collectors is ideal for smaller shops or shops with existing dust systems that are at capacity or which can’t easily be modified to add existing machinery.
If you are considering a dust collection system, be sure to speak with one of our account representatives.  They can help in specifying the correct system and provide you with a dimensioned layout drawing.  We can supply you with a turnkey solution including our K&B snap-together ducting.
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Akhurst Machinery. Building Trust. Creating together.
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