How necessary is proper dust collection?

Hey community members,

I was wondering how necessary is proper dust collection?
It doesn’t seem this topic is as importantly emphasized compared to similar professions (ie: woodworking).

Since we’re working with routers, dust particles will be small and quickly fly into the air, then into your lungs. The dangerous ones are any that are below 10 microns.

With proper ventilation in a garage, this will help mitigate most particles in the air. However, I noticed a handful of us are home CNC dwellers with enclosures (or not) into their home – a popular person being Winston Moy for example :slight_smile:

My growing concerns exist because of a small blog I read (and then continuous research) – see here:

Most large woodworking facilities vent their dust collection systems outside, so fine dust exposure is limited to the dust being made. The data on these large facility woodworkers show fine dust exposure causes one in seven to develop such bad allergic reactions they must stop woodworking, one in fourteen is forced into an early medical retirement and all lose about 1% of their respiratory capacity per year of work which worsens age related health problems and shortens lifespans. This should terrify small shop woodworkers, because we mostly vent our dust collection systems inside which causes the dust to build to dangerously high levels greatly increasing our exposure. OSHA testing shows most small shop workers who vent their dust collection systems inside get more fine dust exposure in a few hours woodworking than large facility workers get in months of full time work

I’m one of these home-CNC guys with a sound enclosure that traps most (if not all) dust. I’m concerned for several things and I’d like to mitigate any poor practices I’m doing on my part.
Currently, I just use a standard home hand-held vacuum after my CNC is done. The shortcomings of this method I see are two things

  1. When I open my enclosure after my CNC is complete, all the invisible particles in the air will fly out into my house and eventually to my family.
  2. The filter on my standard hand-held vacuum is nowhere near fine enough to capture the small particles and will blow back the small particles out of the air exhaust. I’ll most likely be sucking the .5 - 10 micron dusts successfully, only to be pushed back out of the exhaust and again into the home.

I have some solutions I’m drafting to mitigate these issues. Please steer me in the right direction if I’m thinking incorrectly.

  1. Install a air-purifier system inside the CNC enclosure. This way, all flying air particles will be captured up to 1 micron.
  2. Purchase a HEPA-certified vacuum (either Festool or some Shop Vac with HEPA filters installed) to capture the remaining dust that are no longer in motion. This way, the smaller particles will stay trapped on the filter of the vacuum and not come back out.

Thanks for your input!

It is not difficult for a relatively low cost dust collector to capture everything over 1 micron in size with a simple felt bag type filter.

Dust-Collection-101.pdf (610.9 KB).

dust collection is absolutely necessary in the the right conditions

let me explain:

So my X-carve started life in my house and I never had dust collection on it.

and I used to cut mdf all day every day because it was a cheap material that I could learn on
and at most times that you would walk into my house there was a fine layer of mdf dust covering everything


i started to notice that I was coughing more and overall sounded like a hack job

so in conclusion if your machine is in a confined space use dust collection imo

now if your machine is out in a shop or open air its not really needed but keep in consideration that dust collection helps clear the chips when you are cutting and proper dust collection will help your tools last longer

now the x-carve is not capable of putting out massive amounts of chips or dust

but in the case of my large 4x8’ machine it is absolutely necessary as that machine will throw chips big enough and far enough that your entire shop will be covered in a matter of minutes with chips actually pretty cool to see the machine throw chips at 600-800ipm doing a full depth pass on 3/4" plywood

lol speaking of that look at the machines that run at 3500ipm if you want to see chips really fly

so yeah man try and doing a simple dust collection for your machine you lungs and machine will thank you

not sure that you need to go with a hepa setup because I think that they will plug easily and you will be having to deal with that all the time

is the machine going to be inside(house) or outside (shop)?

When I bought my machine the very first carve I did I realized the need for some sort of dust collection. I spent the entire hour and a half of the carve chasing dust with my vacuum and I still couldn’t keep up. So I went and bought a suckitdustboot. Once I bought that I realized that my vacuum was having problems with suction and was getting louder and louder. So I had to go out and buy a dust deputy so that I can save my vacuum.

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Thanks for everyone’s input.

Yes, I understand 1 micron size isn’t too hard to achieve. The filter bags are only about $30 on Amazon for DCs. DCs are great at what they do, which is gathering large size chips (or air) in a wide area. 1HP and 2HP motors themselves are actually very cheap (and very quiet!). While this would be a reasonable solution, I suppose I’m a unique hobbyist with limited workspace and has a need for fine dust collection at hard-to-reach areas (because of the enclosure). I’ll look more into the 1HP portable motors…

I forgot to clarify if I did go with the HEPA route, I’ll have a cyclone separator to save myself from the constant replacing of the filters.
The machine is located inside, so I want to make sure nobody has any (or very little) risk of getting any injury.

Ah, I forgot to mention the suckit dust boot route. Unfortunately, my enclosure is very tight and I don’t have too much space to work with. Since the dustboot extends the y axis by many inches, this would severely limit my cutting space. I know this is a great solution to many, but won’t help me when I’m doing large CNC work.
Edit: Nevermind, I think this is a sacrifice I’d be forced to make if I care for my health. Since this gets to attack the small air dusts at the source, this may solve 90% of my issues. Thanks!

If you want the low down on the health effects of wood dust and what’s needed to filter it, then check out Bill Pentz’s site.
You’d be surprised just how much air volume/speed is required to do the job - properly/.

I did – It was actually the strongest reason which sparked my concern :frowning:

As Kasey mentioned, perhaps a dust shoe may resolve my concerns. Bill Pentz’s site also agrees the #1 method of removing possible air particles is to tackle it at the source.

It’d be interesting to hear from people who have both a) a dust boot at the router and b) a particle counter. My guess is that the dust boot is really good at gathering visible particles, and not nearly so good at gathering the dangerous small ones. I’m not saying the boot is a bad idea (at all), but I’m guessing that you really need whole-room filtration too.

I added a ceiling mount air filter and it made a big difference in air quality. I let it run during cutting and sanding and then for two hours every day after I leave the shop. It has a 5 micron outer filter and a 1 micron inner filter.

It was a very good $125 investment.


This is what I’m looking at. 1 micron only $299

I can vouch for the WEN… I just set mine up a few weeks ago and it feels so much better in the garage/shop now. only 120ish too.

I can also vouch for a lot of the WEN tools, I have a disc sander, osculating spindle sander, 10" band saw, and a electric and planer of theirs and they all work great. I’ll likely be getting the 13" planer and jointer also.

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I just got the Wen bandsaw, it could use a little more HP when resawing 6 inch hardwood, but other than that it is great.

I just saw that Home Depot has the Wen Planner on sale for $219, that is a very good deal.

Darn, Home Depot is selling the 10 inch Bandsaw for just $199 now (50 less than I paid)

wow… you paid 20 less than I did lol. I have been thoroughly impressed with their tools. in the same class of bandsaws, i couldn’t find anything that could resaw up to 6inches. It was hard to find anything that would get up to 4 even. for the price, and the quality/capabilities you get at the price, you really can’t beat them.

That is exactly why I bought it, I needed at least 5 inches of resaw height. And nothing else short of a 14 inch $800+ machine offered that.

Now I can buy the 8/4 cherry at my lumber yard and cut it to the thickness I need for each project.

With the help of everyone here, I decided to take the routes I previously mentioned and drill a hole in my wallet.

I’ll be purchasing a Festool vac along with the static-free dust deputy for Festool.
I also purchased the SuckIt Dustboot, and lastly the WEN Air Purifier.

All this will go inside my enclosure (Vac sitting on top with a 2" vac hole) to ensure nothing escapes. All this will nearly cost me a grand, but still cheaper than new lungs :slight_smile:


I remember agonizing for two days over whether or not I should spend the extra $150 for NEMA 23 motors. Then after a year of using it (and burning out 2 shop vacs), not thinking twice about spending more than the total X-Carve price on dust collection and filtering :slight_smile:

shoulda got the 17"s man you would have been rolling dirty!!