For those new to wood shop dust collection, a cyclone dust collection system differs from older dust collection systems because almost no dust reaches the filter – it all ends up in the collection bin. Until I started reading through this thread on WoodNet – with over 200 posts – I didn’t realize that nothing stirs the woodworking hornets nest like CYCLONE DUST COLLECTION. The extreme polarities in WoodNet seem to come from – as far as I can tell – these points:
1) Lack of objective comparisons – most woodworkers have only had experience with one cyclone dust collection system
2) Bias towards Clear Vue inspiration and woodworker Bill Penz who has an almost cult-like following
3) Lack of understanding of the science of dust collection and dust collection systems
I went through the WoodNet thread and added in one from SMC for good measure. I counted how many had bought which systems, but this doesn’t give you too much to go on… Following my tally are some sources that I hope can help you get up to speed on your cyclone dust collection decision… or make your own.
Oneida Gorilla Owners: 14
Oneida Air Systems: the Dust Gorilla
Clear Vue Owners: 13
Clear Vue Cyclone
Grizzly 2HP Owners: 6
Grizzly G0440 2 HP Cyclone Dust Collector
Cyclone Dust Collector Resources:
Build Your Own Cyclone Dust Collector (Bill Pentz Plan) >>
Dust Collection Basics >> This is info from Bill Pentz, who developed the design behind the Clear Vue.
Wikipedia’s Dust Collector page >> This should give you way too much information ;)
WoodWeb Dust Collection Forum >> You will have to wade through this but you might get some good answers here.
Oneida comparing themselves to Clear Vue. >> Granted, this comes from Oneida. It all sounds well researched and thorough though ;)
All Bill Pentz Comments on SMC >> Bill Pentz developed the cyclone design behind the Clear Vue. His comments on SMC will give you insight into how he thinks.
Entrance Velocity Optimization for Modified Dust Cyclones >> Pentz cites this paper as influential on his design.
high efficiency cyclones – industrial grade
So what do you use for dust collection in your woodshop?
Clear Vue. Great product, works as advertised, and the best customer service you will find with any company selling any type of product. Ed will answer your questions even if you don’t buy something from him! Jim.
Woodworkers are some of the brightest and most creative people around and we do care about our health, so it is true there is near a cult following of those who want to enjoy their woodworking and protect their health.
We had and still have a dismal mess when it comes to small shop dust collection. My fellow engineer and professor friends used certified test equipment and procedures to test air quality in hundreds of small shops. We found that regardless of using small shop air cleaners, dust collectors with fine filters, and cyclones with fine filters, almost all shops that vent their dust collectors and cyclones inside have dangerously high airborne dust levels even when not making fine dust.
I learned about this problem the hard way. As a busy engineer and university instructor I bought the magazines top rated cyclone with vendor designed and supplied ducting plus recommended fine filter upgrade. This system did not work as well as the dust collector it replaced, but it did leave a clean enough shop I thought it provided good health protection. I nearly died from the invisible fine dust build up in my shop. Certified air quality testing showed the air quality in my shop went over 10,000 times higher than considered safe by the EPA and the interior of my home was badly contaminated. In other words, my clean looking shop created a bad false sense of security while this “dust pump” I bought to protect my health actually built the invisible fine dust levels to dangerously unhealthy for me and my family.
I used my biomedical engineering background to figure out what went wrong and how to fix this problem. The peer reviewed medical research showed every exposure to fine invisible wood dust causes some measurable loss in respiratory capacity and some of this loss becomes permanent. Different wood dusts also cause toxic reactions ranging from irritation, rashes, allergic reactions, poisoning, and even increased risk of cancer.
The medical insurance data showed bad news for those who work in shops that vent outside. Although venting outside greatly reduces exposures, still all exposed at these levels develop a serious loss of respiratory capacity that leads to exacerbated age related health problems, forces one in seven into an early medical retirement and causes most to develop allergic reactions, some serious. Government testing shows small shops that vent their dust collectors and cyclones inside average over five times higher airborne dust levels than those that vent outside.
I could either figure out how to get better dust protection or quit woodworking. The research showed a good dual cartridge mask is essential when making fine dust, but in most small shops must be worn whenever we work. Our shops build up such high residual amounts of invisible fine dust that just walking around stirs up enough dust to fail the different air quality tests. I had to figure out how to get rid of the dust that already badly contaminated my shop and home. Moreover, if I wanted to resume woodworking I needed to figure out how to capture the fine dust as it was made to avoid future contamination.
The Internet shared decades of professional air engineering and experience from firms that guarantee customer air quality. These firms clearly shared that unless the dust gets captured as it is made there is no viable combination of filtering and exhaust fans that will pull the dust levels down fast enough to avoid failing air quality tests and avoid badly contaminating our air quality. Worse, dusty air spreads so quickly it almost immediately contaminates all other areas that share air, which is why in-home and basement shops pose much higher risks. These professional firms laid out the needed airflow volumes, filtering, ducting design, tool ports, and hood designs needed that provide good fine airborne dust collection as the dust gets made along with how to provide testing and verification to ensure good ongoing air quality.
I adapted their recommendations for my own shop and in 2000 shared the results with my respiratory doctor, also a fellow fine woodworker. My respiratory doctor convinced me to share with others saying the problem was so bad that he constantly sees bad wood dust triggered respiratory problems in small shop woodworkers and their families. With his help I prepared a long article that explained fine dust hazards and shared my solutions.
Sharing on an Internet forum opened the controversy described above but also started some positive changes. Now, almost every small shop vendor offers dust collectors that use cartridge filters like I used, offers cyclones with the air efficiency improvements I shared, and recommends my ducting and tool hood improvements.
Although implementing the commercial recommendations help, it still left me having to buy very expensive replacement fine filters every three months, so I went to work and designed a much better fine dust separating cyclone. I shared this design in late 2000 on my web pages and since 2004 Clear Vue Cyclones has marketed this improved design. Independent medical school tests show it provides five times better fine dust separation than its closest competitor, my earlier cyclone design. This much improved separation means that instead of having to throw expensive fine filters away every three months they last for years, plus they load up so slowly they also provide much better airflow during use making for much better collection.
Unfortunately, we still have a very long way to go before most off the shelf small shop dust collection equipment and small shop tools actually provide good health protection. I strongly recommend that all who do not use one of my cyclones with proper ducting and upgraded tool ports and hoods instead vent their dust collectors and cyclones outside, use a strong exhaust fan while working, and also wear a mask when making fine dust.
Wow, what an incredible comment. Thank you.
We ordered the Grizzly cyclone dust collector because the company promised delivery in time for a deadline we had. The unit arrived late and was missing vital components. Not that a box or two was not delivered but that boxes were packed missing components. i.e. All the gaskets were missing, some connectors and sheet metal components of the cyclone.
Customer service informed us that they only had some of the parts, not all, and that they would ship them to us and would charge us $160 for shipping.
I immediately asked for a supervisor! the Grizzly operators refused. It must be policy not to put on a supervisor? I tried to reach a supervisor on several more calls. Finally frustrated I left a message with an operator that Grizzly must ship the missing parts immediately free of additional charge or reverse the order and pick up their useless machine.
Five days later I received a call back from a Grizzly supervisor offering to ship some not all of the parts (they apparently do not have complete replacement parts, and for some reason beyond my comprehension did not think it was reasonable to send the part from another machine they have in inventory). The woman was extremely righteous and rude. Expecting us to pay for an incomplete machine and wait for an indeterminate time to get it working???
It is unfortunate but Grizzly’s unethical behavior and utter lack of customer service left us no choice but to declare fraud and have our credit card company reverse the charges.
I would NEVER deal with this company again, and would strongly recommend to others not to as well. If you are going to sell cheap Asian equipment you had better have excellent customer service.
THanks for your article. I’m at that stage in my woodworking that I need to update to a better dust collecting system. There’s a lot of confusing info out there. After reading your article, which directed me to the Oneida and Competitor’s 5Hp Comparison, I’m even more confused. I liked the idea of the Clear Vue Cyclone but not of putting it together. Thanks for all the different links to try to help other in making an informed decision.