Like most of us in woodworking, the shop vac is generally a rather central figure, and pulls the short straw on helping keep dust and waste collected in the workspace. The shop vac’s primary design is based around vacuuming smallish sized particulates, usually dirt into a canister, with a motor drawing air through a filter while trying to evacuate that air from the canister. Overall, the design works pretty well for most of the uses asked of it. They will even vacuum up liquids.
When I think about it, I have made it possible, directly or indirectly to be able to use a number of my power tools with my shop vac. Specifically, I have a 1/4 sheet palm sander adapted, 5 inch Random Orbital Sander, PC Saw Boss circular saw, DeWalt 621 plunge routers with a no longer available Leigh RVA1 router vacuum attachment, Hitachi chop saw with vac port in the hood, router table fence, 10 inch band saw, even the drill press, all with the ability to utilize the shop vac for dust and chip collection.
I am glad you are interested in Shop Vacuum dust collection and cleaning. I am too! I have continued to pursue the improvement of dust collection and general cleaning with the Shop Vacuum. Please have a look at a recent article I’ve written about this by following this link right here.
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For maintaining your shop, it’s tools, Dust Control and improved quality workmanship. These will help make any brand of Shop Vacuum far more useful and versatile in any shop!
Then, there is the general clean up from all the woodworking activities that do not have the direct ability to collect dust. Drilling, jig saws, all the various hand tools and since I consider all the power tools to be efficient with shop vac DC in the 85-90% chip and dust collection range, there is all the waste that escapes that needs to be cleaned up there as well, So you see, without even discussing the high volume uses on the full sized dust collection system, The shop vac is really carrying a lot of the load here.
Woodworking materials present a different challenge to the shop vac. The woodworking tool industry has adapted many tools complete with proprietary adapters to operate with a shop vac hooked to them directly. Sanders, in my opinion, should not be operated without a vacuum attached to them or some form of DC in operation during the sanding process. The atmosphere in your shop will become very unhealthy if you don’t, to say nothing of the mess. Sanders are the generator of some of the finest particulate sizes you deal with in the shop, but the saws and routers create particles in many sizes at a relatively high volume. All dust collection is doable, but there are trade offs that occur and decrease some efficiency.
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