Is there a better dust control system for the X-carve?

I’m wondering if there is a better dust control system for the X-carve than either the Suck-it or Inventables own dust control system? I have purchased and tried them both for my 1000mm X-carve and they are simply failing me.

Most of the carves I do are small carves and I also do much of my work on 1/8" or 1/4" birch plywood. The vacuum I use is a $60 vacuum from Harbor Freight. It is surprisingly powerful and therein lies some of my problem.

When I cut small pieces out of the birch, the vacuum has had a tendency to suck them right out of the piece of wood which they’re being cut out of. And that is even when I use multiple tabs on those pieces that are the thickness of the plywood.

Now that wouldn’t be so much of a problem except that when the vacuum sucks them up off the surface, they get caught inside the dust collector such that, when the gantry moves, it binds the pieces and snaps my bits.

I also, frankly, have never liked that I can’t see precisely where the bit is carving as my view of it is obscured by the dust boot and brush.

Surely there is some better way to control dust?

Maybe some kind of vacuum table that (like an air hockey table) that would suck the dust from below?

Maybe a hood over the X-carve like the ventilation hood over an oven?

Get a true dust collector (like the Harbor Freight 2HP) and then purchase the Kent CNC dust shoe. The shoe will cost you about $150 which seems outrageous at first. But if you try to build a quality shoe yourself you will soon figure out that you are going to spend about $100 in material (a quality brush is expensive in the quantities you will buy). Then connect at least a 3 inch hose to the shoe.

You will never have any trouble with dust collection again. I hate spending money but sometimes it is worth it so you can focus on whats important and not have to keep messing around with why your dust collection is not working right.

I have no connection with Kent CNC other than as a satisfied customer.


I agree with @AllenMassey, I have the KentCNC dust shoe and the Harbor Freight Dust Collector as well. It is a great combination.


In my opinion, it sounds like you need a cyclone stage before your vac. Adding the cyclone stage will let the air flow naturally and not have the vac pulling as hard.

I use the SuckIt boot and haven’t had any issues with small pieces coming up or getting stuck.

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I use a Festool CT midi which has variable speed control (and is quite quiet, esp. on the lower speed settings) and a universal dust boot (posted it to the Shapeoko wiki) — I use transparency film cut into strips and held in place w/ a hose clamp.

Discussion of design here:

Thanks to all for the suggestions guys.

What I’m wondering though is what exactly makes the KentCNC dust shoe any better than the Inventables dust shoe or the Suckit? It looks pretty much the same to me.

DId you watch the kent video (s)? It will help. It’s bigger, longer brush hairs, and magnetic catch just pops on and off. In my opinion it likely does a slightly better job. both are good though.

Yes. I did watch the Kent videos.

I’ve just been hoping that there was a better solution than any that I’ve seen so far. The ideal solution would, I think, have the following characteristics:

  1. Didn’t obstruct sight of the bit while it’s carving,

  2. Didn’t potentially interfere with the X & Y travel of the carriage or cut of the bit,

  3. Couldn’t run into clamps or anything else on or near the bed of the machine,

  4. Easily attached/detached and doesn’t interfere with bit changes.

  5. Works well with machines that have an extended Z-axis.

Im also looking to build a dust control system that has these characteristics. I’ve been thinking that maybe instead of a vacuum system i could use an air compressor and mount a long thin blowing nozzle in place of a dust collector. Seems like i could mount it so that it’s out of the way and still able to remove the dust from the work piece. Most of the dust would end up at the edges of the inside of my work hood and I could either put holes in the table and collect the dust underneath my table top or simply vacuum the around the perimeter of the workspace after I’m done carving… not sure the effect all that fine dust in the air would have on the life of the router though.
Any thoughts?

I would be more worried about the effect of the fine dust on the life of the machine operator. Relatively speaking, the router is cheap.

Blowing air around just keeps the fine dust up in the air.

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Just to throw my setup into the mix…I use the KentCNC dust shoe and the harbor freight 2hp dust collector. I swapped out the bag on the dust collector with a 1 micron bag. It is a great setup that removes almost all of the dust/chips.