Dust Bad. Wood Good.
We all have a love for playing with wood, that is why we have a continuing interest in finding out all we can about things that we are already really know about. But it may be that we have our head in the sand as well. Because even though we know on some level that sawdust is a bad thing, we deny to ourselves just how ad that can be.
The problem, I suppose, is that we have to decide between getting another tool that we really, really want, and getting the dust cyclone that we still covet. Woodshop dust collection systems are cool things, and cyclone dust collectors are even cooler. There is something about that big cyclone sitting in the shop that makes a woodshop feel like a nearly professional level operation.
So we crawl around in piles of sawdust that should never make to the floor of the shop, we spend the day breathing in fine particles that we know are going to be bad for us in the long run. Telling ourselves that it really can’t be that bad for a day or two, or a month or two, or a year or two.
But this should not be a trade off that you should rationally be willing to make. That machine that you want is one that you have been doing without for a long time by now. It will wait for a while longer. The dust that accumulates in your lungs every day continues to accumulate. The wood projects that you could be creating will be able to be created at any point in the future. The damage being done to your lungs cannot be undone at a later date.
One of the problems that you run into when you are deciding whether or not to buy a dust collector, is the number of choices there are that have to be made. The cost of a good system can really mount up and it’s hard to take it just a step at a time. The pieces that are needed to put together a good system, one that will be affective as more than just window dressing, cannot be put together later. You need a collector, all the piping for the machines you have in the shop now, and ideally a filtration system to hang at the ceiling.
It makes no sense to go the economical route with all this stuff, since you are making the plunge anyway. It’s going to be costly, but by the time you decide to invest you already have decided that your lungs are worth it.
Buy the best sawdust system you can. And if you need to wait for a while to save for the system you need (while putting off buying those tools you want…), then you should just put together a mobile single tool system that you can run with a shop vac hooked to each machine as you use it. that is far from and ideal choice, but it will do in the short run and it is infinitely better than just letting the dust pile up.
Perhaps set a box fan in a window with a filter in front of it to take care of the fine particles for now – they are the ones that really do the damage.