Once the new shop was drywalled and the floor installed, I could finally bring in the machines and start working on installing the dust collection. My first hobby shop had drainage PVC piping which I later rebuilt with metal ventilation ducting once I upgraded to a Felder RL160 dust collector. It was cheap but those ducts aren’t designed to work with pressure, so they were just slid into one another. So I had to use glue and duct tape to seal the system and connect it to the Felder blast gates I had bought, which was messy looking and impossible to modify.
For the new shop I decided to go for a proper installation and found that by chance there was a company nearby Ducomat that sells and installs dust collection systems. I preferred them in comparison to the systems sold by Felder which are segmented and stepped while these are more streamlined and smooth. I am almost sure that the elements sold by Ducomat are made by Schuko in Germany. The good thing is that they are compatible with the Felder elements I already had.
The first thing to do after placing the machines approximately where I wanted them, was to know exactly what elements I needed, Ducomat drew out a diagram based on my plans, but it was really too abstract and didn’t take into account the fixed sizes of each element, that is probably because they have tools to cut down the tubes and form a new lip on the edge when they are installing it, but I was going to install myself. So I drew out in sketchup each dust collection element based on the few given lengths I could find, but it was mostly guesswork. And then played around with each element to find the best way to compose the system in my shop. Thanks to that I could order exactly what I needed and pick it up.
Above you can see my dust collection system in sketchup, in green are the 160mm tubes, which then go to 120mm right before the machines (in purple). Initially I wanted it to go out the other end of the dust collector and follow the walls. This wasn’t impossible but difficult to do, in the end I am glad I was forced to do it this way and keep the amount of bends and the total length to a minimum.
The funny thing is that they didn’t (and still) sell any hardware to attach the system to walls and ceilings, so I had to make up something myself. I used the attachments from the ventilation ducts which had a threaded hole, and bought threaded rods, connector bolts and screws with a threads for wood on one side and a threaded insert on the other. The threaded rod allows you to adjust the length to have the tubes hang at the right distance from the wall/ceiling.
The elements below are the hose clamps to attach the flexible tubes to the system (left) and the clamps to attach the tubes to one another (right) In this case these tube clamps didn’t clamp together the tubes enough so I added some air seal caulking which was left over from the vapour barrier installation.
I started at the centre pillar for the panel saw/jointer because it was the most crucial spot where I had the least amount of play. I installed that pillar there especially for this purpose when doing the workshop framing.
From there on I expanded toward the other machines, the central beam supports the dust collection but also brings down electrical power to the machines.
Below you can see how the tubes are attached to the ceiling.
Here is the system finished and the machines connected.I took care not to have any tubes directly above the working area of each machine, as to keep enough ceiling height to manipulate and rotate long work pieces without being hindered. They also never pass under or even close to one of the the lighting fixtures.
Next to the dust collector I had added an additional branch with the intention to build a floor sweep gate, which I later did.
When I bought the RL160 collector, the vendor insisted on equipping it with a fire gate, which is the square box right at the exit. This is a trap that closes if there is fire inside the collector. It is also important never to connect the dust collector directly to solid pipes, this is to reduce vibrations and noise.
While writing this article I thought about sharing the sketchup model of my tubes, but as that was mostly guesswork I took the time to measure each element and make a sketchup model of them in 200-160-120-100 and 80mm versions, having this would have greatly helped me while building mine.
The model contains all of the elements but also my whole system set up, as an example to work with. I drew lines at every 45 degrees on the elements, which makes them very easy to rotate and assemble. The model can be bought for a small sum in the link below or visit the plans page.