Portable Extraction

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Festool CT36L dust extractor.  It has the handle and the overhead boom arm for the vac tube, and just does its thing as well as I’d want.

The only negative I’ve had, is when I do want to use my tools out of the shed – whether that is in the house, or off site.  It is a big bugger!   Even moving it around the workshop if I did want to use it on the other side of the shop (given mine is becoming increasingly cramped), I found I was just not using it when I should.  Lazy.

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So I’ve been investigating the options.  Still sticking with Festool for my solution.  I love it, and can’t find a reason to change (yes, I know $$), nor am looking for one.

I will admit, I have a couple of Ozito vacs in the workshop.  One doing dust extraction from the CNC, and the other from the Kapex.  I would have put a Festool CT17 on the Kapex, but no long life bag!  But I am getting ahead of myself.

So I wanted a unit that had auto start and stop (all Festool have that), and would be regarded as portable.

That gave an initial list of

CT17, Mini, Midi, CTL SYS mini

Next, long life bag, because as much as I will spend money on Festool, I hate spending money on dust extraction bags, especially when they are $10 a pop.  I am sure there is plenty of false logic there, but so be it!

That dumped the CT17 – it was close – it was the cheapest, was small and portable, had variable speed, but the lack of a long life bag was a deal breaker.

Now I had 3, with quite a cost range, and different features.  If I didn’t already have the CT36, then the midi would have won hands down, but it covered more criteria than I was wanting for this unit.  And in the end, the CTL SYS mini won out.

It is a weird machine, in that it doesn’t look like a vacuum.  It looks like a systainer.  In fact, it is a systainer! In fact, 2 systainers.

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The top one is the cable store, and vac tube garage.  The bottom one is the dust extractor.  The only negative, it doesn’t have variable speed.

Other than that – very portable, and I can combine it with other systainers for off site work (such as my TS55 circular saw).

down-s-ctlsys-584173-a-24a.jpegI haven’t made too much use of it yet – I have my sander plugged into it currently, it starts, stops, sucks, and isn’t really any louder than the sander so it seems good so far.  I’ll make more comment on its performance when I have had more experience with it, especially as the dust bag fills.

I could couple it up with a cyclone unit, such as the Oneida, but that would start to work against why I chose this unit over a Mini or Midi.

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Picked the unit up from my usual Festool dealer – Ideal Tools.  You can chat to Anthony, get some advise, order it and it turns up with free delivery, often the next day (or so!)  Rather dangerous! 😉

Litres of dust

Picked up the cyclone separator from Hare & Forbes as Phil suggested (thanks again for letting me know about it!)

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It is quite reasonable quality – I’m happy with it. Has a window to sight when the bag is full, and it can take a plastic bag as well.  You would normally expect the bag would be sucked up into the cyclone, but there is a secondary hose to the base of the collection bin, so some of the suction pulls a vacuum under the bag and holds it in place, until the weight of dust can take over.  This doesn’t cause any loss in power – once the bag is sucked down no further air will leak past so this doesn’t sacrifice any performance.

So working from the dust extractor out.

The extractor inlet is 8″.  This is pretty phenomenal, and at full power can really suck your hand against the grate.

I have sourced an 8″ to 2x 6″ Y piece, but not from your normal expected suppliers.  I couldn’t find anything 8″ from the normal woodworking suppliers, but found a hydroponics supplier in NSW that had exactly what I wanted, and at a really good price.  For $30 (+$12 delivery), I got a galv metal Y piece.

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The equivalent from one of the woodworking suppliers has a 200mm (8″) to 2x 5″, for $110.

Y

 

The outlet for the cyclone is 180mm, so close enough to 8″.  It comes with a reducer to 6″.  I haven’t been able to find any 8″ hose, so am contemplating running dual 6″ from the cyclone to the extractor.  Either that, or I have a spare 6″ inlet for the extractor going to waste.

Until I get the 6″ pipe, I am currently running dual 4″ from the cyclone to the extractor, via a Y piece at either end.

The inlet to the cyclone is 6″, and it comes with a 6″ to 2x 4″ Y piece.  I have currently connected it to my 4″ pipe run, so performance is down at every transition.  (Effectively I have reduced the 8″ inlet for the extractor all the way down to 1x 4″, so not ideal!)

Fired it up, and fine dust does manage to get through to the filter bags, but I don’t have a problem with that – the cyclone is there for bulk material separation in this case.  The smaller cyclones I use separate everything, and even fine dust doesn’t get through, but this is not a cyclone for that purpose.

In saying that, I sucked up about 100L of sawdust, primarily MDF, and about 500ml managed to find its way into the collection bags of the dust extractor.  It is much easier to empty the bin of the cyclone than remove the bags from the extractor, so this will make a lot of difference.

I am still contemplating where the extractor and cyclone will sit – it might need another small (and tall) external enclosure – will give that more thought.

Compare the cost of this setup though, to a dedicated cyclone extractor.  That has 2200cfm through 3x 4″ inlets, and costs $3300.  I don’t know what flowrate I am getting through the cyclone, how much it is reduced from the 2900cfm of the extractor, but total cost: $1285.

I still want to boost the overall performance, and either 8″ to the cyclone or 2x 6″ will help, but no matter what, you can only suck so much through a 4″ pipe that connects to the machine.

Deep throat revisited

It is actually called a Big Gulp, but got your attention!

DBGULP

I got this hood back in 2008, with the idea of using it on the lathe.  I never really was able to get it working well enough for me – just not enough draw from the dust extractor.

Think I might have just solved that problem.

This is the dust extractor I have just purchased, from Timbecon

557867-DC-2900_1Looks small in the picture, but it is quite the monster.  3HP, 2900cfm, 22.5″H2O static pressure.  8″ inlet, 400L of dust collection capacity. $900.

I was watching a timelapse I made of a process on the CNC, and I’d occasionally come in with a shot of compressed air to keep the working area clean.  Occurred to me that this would be right where the big gulp would come into its own – firstly sitting behind the CNC, drawing air and therefore any airborne particles away from the cutter, the workshop, and me.  And secondly, to catch any and all dust that gets sprayed back when I do use the compressed air.

You may wonder why I don’t have collection right at the cutter –  two reasons.  Firstly, I don’t want to pull the small parts up and out from where they are cut during nesting operations (particularly when they are only held down by the vacuum table), and secondly, it gets in the way of the camera!  I still have a lot of refinement to go, but these sorts of things are popping into my head now the issue of dust extractor power has been taken care of.

Given I also now have capacity spare in the dust extractor (as mentioned, it can take 1×8″ (200mm) in, which is the same cross section as 4×4″ tubes simultaneously.  Using anything less than 4 is only restricting flow, it doesn’t mean that the one or two being used are suddenly given a huge power boost (sadly)), I can plan to do some simultaneous collecting – such as one collecting on, or near the tool and one down at floor level where shaving accumulate/can be swept (or kicked) towards etc.  If I don’t close the blast gates to every tool other than the one being used, that won’t cause a real problem either.  It is going to take a bit of planning to reroute the dust extraction system to maximise the flowrate, even if that means running a much larger trunk line, or dual smaller lines across the workshop.  Who would have thought a 4″ (100mm) pipe would be regarded as a smaller line?!

One thing I am going to work on, is positioning the dust extractor in one of the storage areas I have alongside the main shed, so I don’t loose any valuable floorspace in the main shed, and minimise noise (not that the unit is particularly noisy).  The unit is 2600mm high (mostly those bags), so I will have to work out how to make it work with a lot less head-room.  The main workshop has no trouble with that height, and even a lower roof would be ok (the bags could just press against the roof – it would decrease overall airflow, but not massively).  However, where I have to put it, this may prove a real test.  What I will need to do is come up with a way to allow that much air to pass through something that has a lot less overall height.  Pleated filters may work (increased surface area because of the pleats means less overall height required), but I want to see what else I can come up with.  Ballooning bags perhaps?  (same surface area, larger diameter, and therefore less height).

The other ‘issue’ I see, is drawing that much air out of a workshop draws the same amount of air in from outside.  Where it could be really hot (summer) or cold (winter) – neither of which is desirable.  So instead, my thought is to place a filtered vent from the area the extractor is stored back into the main workshop.  That way the shop air is recirculated, not lost.  So long as I am not then pumping micron-sized particles back into the workshop (which is what filters are for), I don’t see this would be a particular problem.

Watching the timelapse, I see a huge amount of sawdust on the floor of the workshop (bad collection practices).  I think that will become more and more an issue of the past.

 

Commissioned!

With a little more time, and some minor changes to the layout once the dust extractor was relocated to the mezzanine, the dust extraction ducting was finished.

At least the first stage!

Stage 1 – connect up a functional dust extraction run from each of the main machines to the dust extractor, with blast gates isolating each machine.

Further work to be done as time, energy and motivation permits:

Modify base of dust extractor so it fits properly in the available space.  This may also involve shortening the legs by a couple of inches to assist with clearances (to be assessed).

Capture dust from the tablesaw dust guard.

Improve (straighten) path from thicknesser to vertical ducting.

Break into existing ducting to add a run towards the wood turning area.  Includes a pickup from the bench for the bench-mounted tools, and a quick coupling connector for the superflex hosing for cleanups.

Set up extraction as appropriate from the lathes.

Increase diameter of trunking from the dust extractor along the main run to 6″

Add a cyclone separator if possible.

The Super Dust Deputy is $US239, or $A626 for the metal version.

snapz-pro-xscreensnapz001Alternately, the latest version has a standard size, or an XL size for larger HP extractors.

Not sure if and when they will be available in Oz, but they cost $US239 for the XL version, and $US169 for the standard version. It will be interesting to see how the price compares.

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Dusting up a storm

Some further thoughts and developments on the dust extraction system.

I’ve been giving some thought to what happens next – as in how does the dust run get to the dust extractor, and just how far that is – how much more length, how many more bends are required.  The simple answer is “too far and too many”.

Hmm. So the question arose in my mind again – just why did I think the original idea of having the dust extractor on the mezzanine floor was a bad one?  Back in mid Feb, I had thought about it, and opted to bring the dust extractor back down from the mezzanine where it had just been put (and what a pain that was!)  However, now that the machine positions have settled, it is really looking like the mezzanine was a good idea after all.

Looking back at my earlier musing on the subject, I highlighted good points to be
a. free up workshop floorspace
b. for it to be inside the main shed, as it draws a lot of air, and if outside the main shed, that is a lot of hot (or cold) air that would be drawn into the workshop, and
c. as that would make it generally central to the machines it is drawing from.

On the other hand, I had thought having it in the timber store next door gives better access, better noise separation, better workshop air quality (particularly on the mezzanine).

Now that I have been working in the shed for over 1/2 a year, more informed decisions can be made.

These lead to the following justifications for relocating the dust extractor back to the mezzanine:

1. Significantly shorten the length of ducting, and minimises the number of bends required.
2. Noise isolation would be the same as having the dust extractor in the area I currently have placed it.
3. Dust isolation from the main shed is maintained, although the mezzanine will not be as clean, it is not used as I was anticipating. If I ever do start to make use of it for something other than storage, I can look at physically isolating the extractor at that point. It still has a pleated filter, and I can still run an air filtration system up there if I choose.
4. It does not draw air from the outside (hot or cold), so running the dust extractor will not significantly impact on the shed environment
5. Changing bags is as easy (if not a little easier), and I do have the hoist to remove full bags from the mezzanine.

To compare the two locations, let’s take the biggest producer of sawdust in the workshop (which also produces the heaviest particles), being the thicknesser.

With the dust extractor outside in the side shed, it would involve approx 12m of ducting (up, across and down), and a total of 6x 90 degree bends (each elbow is estimated to be the equivalent of 2m of straight pipe), so a total of 24m equivalent length.

With the dust extractor on the mezzanine, it would involve approx 4m of ducting and a total of 4x 90 degree bends (at worst), giving a total of 12m.  That is one significant saving to be had, for the machine that needs the most drawing capacity.  All other machines benefit to lesser degrees, but each ends up saving about 10m in equivalent straight pipe length, if not more.

So I guess that makes the decision an easy one.  The ducting is a lot less complicated, and shorter.  There is power already available (I originally placed a GPO up there to be dedicated to the dust extractor).

The future plan will be to look at continuing to improve and upgrade the dusting system – moving as much up to 6″ ducts as possible, rather than the current 4″.  But let’s see how the system works once I get it up and running, to see just how much that will be a priority.

Onwards and upwards (quite literally!)

Compounding Cuts

Been working over the weekend on cleaning up around the shed.  A little bit of cleaning up after the last project, and a lot of getting some equipment into its final home.

Specifically the dust extractor.

If you remember from my recent floorplan, I am intending on putting it into the ‘dead’ corner caught between the shed and the diagonal fence.  My original idea was to create a bit of a standalone shed around the extractor, but for a number of reasons it is a lot better to resurrect the earlier plan of having the whole section boxed in.  Overall, it results in a loss in usable floorspace, but the floorspace that is available becomes significantly more productive.

It may stop me turning the rest of that corner into a rubbish tip!

The original shed design shied away from producing an angled section to the shed – too difficult to calculate, or manufacture the angled joiners or something.

But not if I am doing it myself. I’m using treated pine for the frame, so I can cut the compound angles easily.  45º side angle, 10º down angle for the roof.  Don’t have to think twice about it on the Kapex.

Getting this sorted, and the rest of the shed more organised meant I didn’t get to shoot the videos I was planning for the weekend.  Things rarely go to plan, but each day is a small step closer to having the shed organised and operational, and each step means when I do shoot video (or take some stills), that things look closer to how I would like them to be.  It also means I am a bit short of content to chat about here, but again, the more progress I make now, the easier it will be down track.

The Ti15 Festool impact driver is really earning its keep, and the TS55 REQ is going to do the same when it comes time to make the angled cuts in the polycarbonate roofing.  As is the Centipede Sawhorse!  You know a winner of a tool, when within days of receiving it, you can’t work out how you did without it.

Ask, and the workshop answers

I’ve been playing around some more with the machine layout, and have come up with something that looks a great deal more workable. The latest layout started by considering the position of the tablesaw, and resulted in it being spun 270 degrees. Yes, I know that makes no sense whatsoever, but I started by rotating it anticlockwise 90 degrees before deciding it would be better facing the other way and up against the pillar rather than the wall.

Things gained momentum from there, as that placed the tablesaw in range of the 15A GPO I had originally planned for it (as a bonus for the location choice). It also allowed sufficient infeed, out feed and side clearance for full sheets to be cut- another indication I was on the right track.

Next, I pushed the bandsaw out of the way, and decided where best to place the router table, up against the wall. That then provided a logical place for the bandsaw, and I noticed I had laid out each of the cutting and shaping machines around a common central area.

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Not too bad if I do say so. I can see this working rather well.

The question about the location of the dust extractor became glaringly obvious. Looking at the thicknesser, jointer, bandsaw and drum sander, they were all pointing (with their dust chutes) to the same location. Back to my original plan for the dust extractor. No, not the mezzanine- my original plan when first designing the shed. The triangular courtyard between the two wings of the shed. Sure, I need to fill the area in so the extractor is protected from the elements, but it is logical. Furthermore, it puts the extractor within range of the GPO I had installed specifically for it- another bonus.

The two main sawdust generators (jointer & thicknesser) are close to, and have a direct path to the extractor. The next is the Torque Workcentre, and it is just on the other side of the wall, as is the drum sander. The tablesaw is a bit further, but it produces a much finer dust that will carry easily. The only tool left out then is the router table. I will either bring pipe work over the top to it, or consider its location further- it may be possible to get it co located as well.

So when asking where the extractor should go, the shed pointed the way.

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