My Simple Dust Collection Solution

My Simple and Cheap Dust Collection Solution

Hey Ya’ll, Royce from Hill Country CNC & Woodworking again, here to talk about my Dust Collection! I think this is probably the number 2 or 3 most discussed thing woodworkers tell stories about around the campfire at night. 

But seriously, I see and hear people spending thousands of dollars on whole shop dust collection where it really is just not necessary. The concepts of dust collection are blown way out of proportion in most conversations, so this is my simplified version. I am going to make a video about this, unfortunately I am in the middle of a camera upgrade. 

Why is Dust Collection important?

Bottom line up front, wood dust is labeled as a level 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Cancer Research. Meaning, it has a high level of possibility to create Asthma, COPD or Lung Cancer. The reduction of the airborne particulate reduces this carcinogen in your lungs making your work area safer. 

Here are the top reasons for dust collection in general order of importance. 

  • Health Safety
  • Hearing Protection
  • Product Quality
  • Tool Longevity
  • Fire Hazard
  • General Shop Effectiveness
This picture has shows my food grade barrel with WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attached. My Jet 1.5HP Dust Collector and PVC fittings.
This picture has shows my food grade barrel with WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attached. My Jet 1.5HP Dust Collector and PVC fittings.

Is that why woodworkers discuss it so much?

No, I would say not. It’s much more about how cool sucking up wood chips is. For real. 

But that’s not to say that those other reasons are not seriously valid points! Fire for example is a big No-No in a woodshop.

I personally started with dust collection because of my CNC as opposed to the more traditional side of woodwork. Those things, even a table saw, I could clean up easily. The CNC was just a chip making mad-man slinging it’s leftovers everywhere! 

Dust: Shop-Vac VS Dust Collector.

I think we all know that the dust collector is the better option without a doubt, but some things to think about:

Shop -Vac

  • $ – in almost all cases, the cheapest option by far.
  • Moveable – can take to a jobsite.
  • Least efficient when talking about CFM and size particulate.

Dust Collector

  • $$-$$$, prices range from hefty to super expensive. I know you can get a Jet new for $800 on the lower end. 
  • Generally non-mobile. 
  • Highly Efficient!
  • Much quieter than the Shop-Vac, but still technically require hearing protection.

My two cents. I have both, because their are legitimate reasons for both. Many tools like Festool sanders are designed to work with their shop-vac systems and they are great. Again, we are back to the really expensive range with Festool. I also use a Rigid Shop-Vac for it’s portability. Everything else I have ties into my dust collector.  


This picture has shows my food grade barrel with WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attached. My Jet 1.5HP Dust Collector and PVC fittings.

My Dust Collection System

I use what I consider to be a simple and kinda lazy mans way of doing this, although I am neither! Bottom line, for me this is what makes sense.

Starting off, I have a JET two port system that I have one side blocked off. Right now I use 100% of one port, the reasoning is that when I bought the JET I was going to do a vacuum table for my CNC with it. I still am, but have done a lot of research that shows a stand alone suction device is better. 

The JET runs flex-hose to a Food-Grade barrel (I searched Facebook Market place and found a local guy selling them). The Food-Grade Barrel is superior to the trash cans I see everywhere because they won’t implode under pressure. Also, the lid is much more secure. 

This picture has shows my food grade barrel with WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attached. My Jet 1.5HP Dust Collector and PVC fittings.
The WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attaches easily to the Food-Grade Barrel Lid and does not warp when under pressure.

The IN and OUT ports are via WoodRiver 4″ Cyclone Separator Kit. I love this kit because it is so much simpler that most “Cyclone” technology, and literally $50 to $250 cheaper. To the best of my knowledge (I have both types) this system works just as well with no loss of CFM. 

This picture has shows my food grade barrel with WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit attached. My Jet 1.5HP Dust Collector and PVC fittings.
The underside of the WoodRiver 4" Cyclone Separator Port Kit. Notice the offset direction of the ports, that causes the "vortex."

The Piping and Blast Gates

The piping is NOT the standard PVC sewage pipe you see on aisle 9 of your big box store (I use Home Depot). For PVC piping to work with your blast gates, you need to buy the PVC Piping sold for irrigation, which is normally in the outdoors area in the back. The corresponding fittings like 45 degree bends and T splits are back with the pipes as well. 

For the Blast Gates I did a ton of research and used the knowledge I have from work (huge and very very nice dust collection system) to settle on the best blast gates for my personal shop. I came up with the POWERTEC 70295-P4 4-Inch Integrated Blast Gate. This is the part that I have to tell you a AM an affiliate marketer, but this is what I use and I hate JUNK. You will never see one of the things I affiliate market for being junk. 

Looking at the POWERTEC it is just about a no brainer for me. All the other cheap to mid-priced Blast Gates have some major flaw. Most allow air to escape through the actual sliding portion or have major clogging issues with the gate. These POWERTECs have a tight fit that does not loose air, and for the clogging, it seems to be very minimal due to the tight tolerances. 

The only ones that seem to fit better are the very expensive automatic switch blast gates like the iVAC PBG-04-SP-NA 4″ Pro Blast Gate. And these are very cost prohibitive if you have more than 2 tools. 

Does the angle of pipe bends reduce CFM?

Yes. The tighter the angle of your pipe bend the more obstruction that occurs with the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). This means in theory, you want as much pipe to be straight as possible. The less bends the better. Where you can use 2 45 degree bends in stead of 1 90 degree do that. 

And you may be thinking 45 & 45 is 90, but if you look at the fittings you will see the latter is a less obtrusive bend, making better flow. 

Do I care about micro-reductions to my CFM?

No. No I don’t. For my shop and the one I use at work, we have massively powerful dust collectors. The loss of CFM is so minuscule we have never been disappointed in the system.  

At my shop I use a JET DC-1100VX-CK Vortex Cone Dust Collector. Which has AMPLE power to use with my CNC, Router Table, Table Saw, Chop Saw and Band Saw all running at the same time. Try that with a Shop-Vac!

Basically, my theory is to over-power the flaws in my duct collection system. And it works. 

While we are at it, I will mention, NONE of my joints are glued together. They are all free floating and snug enough I don’t loose CFM. 

Why the Food Grade Barrel?

The introduction of the food grade barrel, not only as a place to mount the Cyclone Ports and set my tasty cool beverage while working is simple. 

Changing the bag on a dust collector is the worst thing in a woodworkers life. All the clean you made by having this system, is lost as soon as you try to dump the bag. Bags are horrible!

I mentioned cheap.

This is the disclaimer that says, well, it’s relative. A Shop-Vac with appropriate tubing will run you $250-$1000. And you can run one tool at a time. And you have to cart it around. It’s a pain, and LOUD!

My version, it’s more expensive. But just like a table saw, it’s an investment.

  • NEW JET Dust Collector $900 (I bought mine used for $450, and they are everywhere for sale)
  • The WoodRiver Cyclone Seperator Ports $25
  • Blast Gates $60 (I have 8)
  • Pipes and Fittings $150
  • To the Tool Flex Hose $150

For my system I am all in at $835 & lets just call it $1000 for giggles (I probably forgot something). But still 1K for a clean shop? Priceless. 

I will be making a video in the next month on this, just waiting on a tech item!

Make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog! My store has many of the common items I personally use and the WHY behind it.

Have a great one!


Hill Country CNC & Woodwork

This is a picture of Royce from Hill Country CNC & Woodworking wearing a pair of ISOtunes Link 2.0 with boom microphone.

3 thoughts on “My Simple Dust Collection Solution”

  1. Great idea with the food grade barrel! Are you using it to bypass the bag on the dust collector? As I understand it, a bag on a dust collector can expel a lot of dust when it “puffs out”.

    1. I have the bag still on the main dust collector. The idea I use is 98% of the dust goes to the food barrel. The 2% that “escapes” that trap ends up in the bag. So far I have had to dump my bag about once every 2 years.

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