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Portable Dust Collector Woes

Fossilbluff Dust Collector 31810I recently found myself in dire need of a dust collection system. After doing a bit of research and trying to find a model that would suit my needs I finally settled on a 13 Gallon Industrial Portable Dust Collector for sale at Harbor Freight.

One of the concerns I had when shopping for a dust collection system was how much noise they made. After a few hours of research it became overwhelmingly clear that dust collectors in general are very noisy. Dust collectors move about ten times the amount of air that a large shop vac does and with that extra typhoon suction comes noise!

The only non internet purchasing options I had locally were Woodcraft and Harbor Freight. The pricing at Woodcraft put this type of product out of reach. So I headed over to Harbor Freight to test out the two small portable models they had in stock. Fortunately I was able to plug them in and found that the larger system (31810-1VGA) was marginally quieter than the smaller one (94029-3VGA). The smaller 1 HP Mini Dust Collector sounded a bit more ‘angry’ so I opted for the larger one. As luck would have it the larger model was on sale for the same price as the smaller one.

The lights dim just a little bit while the dust collector spin’s up, but once it’s purring along the electrical load drops.

Fossilbluff Dust Collector 94029I just completed my first project using the new dust collection system and found that it actually lost some of it’s suction as I progressed with my project.

Some notes on the project I was making. I was making a fountain pen using a Jet mini lathe and the material I was using for the body of the pen is a particular type of acrylic popular among pen makers. Here is a photo of a fountain pen constructed from the same type of acrylic material. (FossilBluff.com) Back to the, losing suction, topic.

13 Gallon Industrial Portable Dust Collector 31810-1vgaIf you are not a wood turner and you have not happened to work with acrylic, then you may not know that when you start to turn the pen blank in to a cylinder you start to generate extremely long streamers of thin acrylic strands that I imagine easily reach hundreds of feet long. The effect is similar as if you were to peel an apple in one long motion resulting in a long continuous strip of apple peel. While this is ‘cool’ to watch the unfortunate side effect is that the long streamers of acrylic get packed up against the intake vent of the dust collector which comes with a crude screen to prevent large items from getting chewed up in the fan blades. It’s sort of like a wad of hair that sits on top of a drain.

So, for now I have to stop mid way in through the project and disconnect the hose at the dust collector so that I can clean out the mess of acrylic streamers. I have some ideas about how to overcome this dilemma but it requires that more floor space be used and space is limited!

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