Dust Extraction Automation at Venables


Hi all, I recently set up a dust extraction automation system in the workshop at Science World (where I work), and it has been kick-ass having it. I’m excited to build a system like that for VHS!

The main info I need is which tools we’ll want to connect to the system. Things like the table saw, thickness sander, router table, and anything else that produces large amounts of wood dust are good candidates.

The system at Science World is centred around a control panel containing a Programmable Logic Controller to which multiple current sensors connect to. These current sensors are built into short extension cords to which each tool is connected, although wireless could be another option. The PLC uses the signals from the current sensors to turn on the dust extractor with a contactor/relay, and shut off the dust extractor about 10 seconds after all tools have been turned off (this short delay helps make sure the dust makes it all the way through the ducts into the dust extractor itself).

Anyway, I’ll take care of this project, but we should think about how we’re going to set up the actual ducting for this system.

P.S. I have a 2hp dust extractor blower that I plan to donate to the space as part of this.


Neat! Do you have a PLC ready to go for it? What kind?


This is awesome!!!

We have a 2hp with a drum, but we have only just turned it on. It has a 6" tube and unknown CFM. We also have a portable 1hp with a 4" tube.

Stationary (for some definition of stationary) tools that would be ideal to hook up to dust collection:

Thickness Sander – 4" Port
Table Saw – 2.5" Port
Jointer – Chute, no port afaik
CNC Router – No connector
Bandsaw (eventually I hope we upgrade beyond our 10" bandsaw; but if we do it should just be 1:1 replacement) – Currently small port, but we should probably future-proof with 4"
Drill Press – No connector; having a Loc-Line based suction would be ideal.

Semi-stationary tools (technically benchtop) that require dust collection for great awesome:
Miter Saw – I’ve recently seen a good setup, but it would require making a miter saw bench
Thickness Planer – 4" Port
Router Table – No collection port
Lathe – Would need a wide collection for chips.

And then if we want to continue to be best, I’d hope we have dust collection drop that is available at each bench for connecting to benchtop tools.

For this to work with a 2hp, I assume we’ll need to do some blast gates as part of the automation.


We also have a hanging ambient air cleaner. It would be nice to automate that as well to run for a bit longer or based on PM2.5 values, but that probably shouldn’t be considered as part of the prime collection strategy.


One thing the GVWG.ca demonstrators mentioned last week is we probably don’t want a system that vents outward, because we are going to be throwing out our hot air; and with the larger system we go with, the more we’ll be throwing away on heating.

@JohnC, did you do a closed-loop or open-loop system?


At science world our dust extractor is vented indoors, so we don’t lose any heat. We have a bank of high efficiency filter bags at the output of the cyclone.


Yeah Science World has similar ambient filters but I haven’t integrated those with the system yet; we just turn them on at the beginning of the work day and off at the end. Using some kind of particulate sensor would be really cool though.


Yeah I think I have a spare Koyo DL06 kicking around. They’re not amazing, but they’re more than adequate for this application. I will assemble a control panel this week.


And yes, blast gates are a good idea to help maximize airflow at each tool.


This sounds awesome, please doll out questions or assignments where needed. I’m headed to a conference this week but I can show you around and my thoughts next week; but I doubt they are more informed than your own.

I’ve updated my original post with the port sizes I think we have, this is a guess based on my memory though.


What sort of tubing did you end up with? There was a bit of back and forth earlier on metal vs white pvc vs clear plastic


Something like loc-line would be super-awesome for hand-tools station and the drill press/bandsaw. There were some printable versions, but when you take the plastic cost into account, I don’t think they are a lot cheaper than the real ones, and the real ones are a lot smoother.




Awesome; a PLC is kind of what he’s emulating with an Arduino. They are basically what you would actually use for industrial automation. Take everything that ILTMS did and it is reasonably applicable to a PLC


Blast gates are a must on all the machines so that you aren’t losing airflow from all the open, unused collection points otherwise your 2HP dust collector probably won’t have enough airflow to keep up to a planer or jointer. Even better if the blast gates can open and close automatically.


Ambient air cleaners are always a good idea in a woodshop. Dust collection at the source is rarely perfect and in some cases pretty much impossible. The chunks that fall on the floor are a non-issue but the fine bits that float around in the air are particularly bad for you. A better system is to have two of them on opposite sides of the room near the walls and pointed parallel to the wall and 180 deg. from each other so that they create a circular airflow around the room. That will help to suck the low-flying floaties up into the airflow around the air cleaners. As I think you have already discovered, the filters need to be cleaned quite frequently.


Sounds good. I’m not sure what we will be using; budget is the main constraint I think. If we do end up getting PVC pipe, it’s really convenient that Vancouver Irrigation is a block or two away across the street; perhaps they’ll give us a discount.


In the past used air to air heat exchangers to allow venting air outside without losing heat.

These are quite easy to build from folded aluminium for temperatures above -10C.
You can also buy them. They are typically used in pig and chicken barns to enable maximum venation without throwing away heating.