30×40 Shop Part 6: Dust Collection

In Part 6 of the 30×40 shop series I will cover the dust collection setup. In my last shop I had a ClearVue CV1800 dust collector and in this shop I’ll take a couple of parts from it and upgrade to the ClearVue EF5 dust collector. Paul Bushey from ClearVue Cyclones and his son, Josh, came out to help me install the entire system in one day. The ducting will also be upgraded from PVC to Nordfab ducting.

First up is to unbox everything and take inventory of all the ducting parts. In this case I’m using Nordfab. Nordfab is on the higher end of dust collection ducting but also a great example of “you get what you pay for.” All of these pieces have a Quick-Fit® rolled edge on the ends which, as you will see in just a bit, provides easy connection to other components with use of a barrel-type clamp. A specially designed gasket inside the clamp seals the joint tightly. Just as quick and easy to install, Quick-Fit ducting is also easy to uninstall and relocate as you move machinery or have other changes in work areas.

Just like with any project in woodworking, or in life for that matter, proper planning will result in a much more efficient process that results in an expected end result. Less time wasted, less money wasted on extra stuff that isn’t needed, and you’re more likely to get the exact result you envisioned from the beginning. In this case I finalized a layout of all the shop tools that not only had emphasis on efficient workflow between stations but also emphasis on an efficient dust collection run.

Then used that layout to determine what was needed for each of the drops.

Then determine what was needed for the main run of ducting.

Then determine the location of the center point for the dust collector and all of the drops. Which will allow me to measure off the same two walls in the shop to locate each one of those center points on the floor and mark them with masking tape for reference during the install.

Here you can see the location for the dust collector.

This one is for the tool island drop that will hook up to the router table, CNC machine, bandsaw, and Jointer/Planer combo machine.

This one is for the table saw, homemade router table, and drum sander.

Once Paul and Josh arrived we started the system install with the dust collector. Specifically the cyclone stand. The stand consists of an upper frame, a center frame, longer lower legs, and shorter upper legs.

Assembly is completed upside down starting with the upper frame.

Then the short legs are added.

Followed by the center frame.

And finally the longer lower legs.

Before flipping the stand over, all of the components are secured with a few set screws.

Then the stand can be flipped over and put into position.

We ended up having to shift the stand a foot to one side to clear the trusses in the ceiling during the dust collector assembly. You might notice that one leg is bent. One of the set screws was actually loose and I didn’t notice it until after the cyclone was installed…

Speaking of the dust collector, the completed ClearVue EF5 cyclone and stand will have a final height of 112-1/4”. Keep in mind that an additional 6” of height is necessary when installing the motor and impeller later on. In my case the bottom of the trusses is about 9-1/2′ from the floor so I have the room for the completed assembly but we did have to take advantage of the space between the trusses for assembly.

Next the cyclone assembly starts by installing the intake chute with a few bolts. The fit is pretty tight but it is still recommended to seal this one connection with clear silicone after assembly, which I did at a later date.

Then the upper cylinder can be set into place and rotated as needed.

If I’m not mistaken, I believe we removed the cone clamp in order for the upper cylinder to fit on the stand. So right after that we added it back to be used in a little bit.

Next we can work on the blower housing. A few items are packed in here for shipping purposes.

First the motor plate is removed.

Followed by the neoprene gasket and taper-lock bushing.

And finally the impeller is unbolted and removed.

Next the gasket is set on top of the upper cylinder making sure to line up the bolt holes in the gasket with the bolt holes in the upper cylinder.

The upper cylinder is carefully set in place next making sure to line up the holes accordingly and to not shift the gasket any. The orientation of the upper cylinder also determines the location of the filter stack so be sure to take that into consideration as well.

Here’s a view showing all the bolts on the inside.

The motor assembly is next. As I said earlier, I’m reusing the motor from my last cyclone as it’s the exact same Leeson 5hp motor that comes with the EF5. Because of that I won’t show wiring the whip to the motor as it’s already done.

The motor plate is then bolted to the motor with four bolts.

Before the impeller can be added to the motor the taper-lock bushing is added to the impeller. Be mindful that it is extremely important to install the bushing properly. Using the wrong holes in the bushing can result in the impeller coming off during use, which can be very dangerous.

There’s a couple things going on with this bushing. First, this is the set screw that will hold the motor key.

This is the slot that will capture the motor key. A matching slot is cut into the shaft of the motor.

These threaded holes in the bushing are to be use ONLY for REMOVING the bushing from the impeller.

For installation, the screws pass through these non threaded holes in the bushing and into threaded holes in the impeller. If you install the impeller using the threaded holes in the bushing the impeller will come off during use and you will likely crap your pants when it happens. So save some underwear and install it the right way.

With the bushing loosely mounted to the impeller the key can be set into the key slot in the motor shaft.

And the impeller assembly is slid onto the motor shaft. Tilting the impeller so that the key slot on the bushing lines up with the key on the shaft will make this process easier.

The top of the bushing is lined up with the top of the motor shaft and the screws are tightened in sequence. After the slack is removed from the screws each screw is tightened 1/4 of a turn at a time in the same consecutive order until all the screws are properly tightened.


Then the key is secured with the small set screw and the motor assembly is ready to be installed.


The motor assembly is pretty heavy at this point so an extra set of hands will likely be necessary to set it in place.

It’s positioned on four bolt studs coming through the top of the blower housing.

It’s important to note that the motor assembly was positioned so the wiring was on the same side as my electrical box that I previously mounted on the wall.

And finally the motor assembly is secured to the blower housing.

The filter stack is next starting by adding the flex hose to the filter flange.

And then the other end of the flex hose is secured to the exhaust side of the blower housing.

Here you can see the Quick-Fit® hose flange that is used on the exit side. If you wired up a new motor you remove this fitting quickly when the motor is spinning down to visually see if the impeller is spinning in the correct direction. Of course, don’t remove this with the machine running and don’t turn the machine on when this is open. But it can be removed quickly after powering down the motor.

Anything that doesn’t make it’s way into the dust bin will be collected in the filter stack which consists of two filters sitting on top of a clean out box.

A bead of clear silicone is added on top of one of the filters.

The other filter is stacked on top making sure the filter seams are lined up with one another.

And a metal band clamp will hold the filters together.

The bottom of the clean out box has three bolts that can be backed out as needed to level the filter stack.

Once the box is leveled the filters are stacked on top and secured with a bead of silicone.

And then slid into the corner of the shop where they will live forever.

After a bead of silicone is added to the top of the top filter the flange is secured with a few screws.

Finally the cone is added to the upper cylinder.

And the dust bin hose is added to the cone. The length of this hose does matter slightly so here’s a tip for you. Stretch the hose out as much as you can in it’s installed state. That way when you take the lid off the dust bin the hose will retract slightly, pulling the lid up and out of the way for you to more easily remove the dust bin.

This is where I noticed that the back right leg was loose so I went around and made sure every set screw on the stand was tightened.

At this point we fired up the machine for the first time and after powering it down Paul removed the exhaust hose to verify the impeller was spinning in the correct direction. This wasn’t entirely necessary for this installation as I was using a motor that was already wired properly but just for demonstration purposes he did confirm it.

Here it is. The completed cyclone. One final optional step is to bolt the legs of the stand to the floor and bolt the cyclone to the stand. However, it is optional. I don’t have any of my stationary tools bolted to the floor so I didn’t see a need to bolt this to the floor either.

After breaking for lunch we got to work on the ducting by laying out the main run on the floor and getting a game plan for the order of installation.

The game plan was to assemble sections on the floor and then lift those larger sections into place.

Between the Quick-Fit® flanges and the barrel-type clamps, assembling this Nordfab is not only quick and easy but it’s also a lot of fun. It reminded me of being a kid and engineering a really cool item out of Legos except this time I’m snapping everything together to connect all of my big kid toys. It really is an easy process. One helpful tip is to pre-stress the clamps slightly by closing them over a joint before you connect two pieces together. With them on the floor it’s not a big deal but if you’re doing this overhead pre-stressing the clamps will help a lot.

Every closed clamp is then locked closed with a cotter pin.

Now the larger section can be installed on the cyclone. The EF5 comes standard with a Nordfab Quick-Fit® connection so attaching to the cyclone is just as easy as assembling the rest of the system.

You don’t necessarily need a scaffold for two people to install this system. Paul mentioned that a second person on the ground could use a push broom to support the other end of the system as needed while someone on a ladder makes all the connections.

There are a lot of options to secure the ducting to whatever ceiling you have. In my case I used inexpensive metal pipe strapping and washer head screws to secure the ducting to the exposed trusses in my shop.

After the initial 5′ of straight intake and the 9 degree elbow a level was used to make sure the rest of the horizontal pieces were indeed horizontal.

The rest of the system is just the same thing over and over. Position, snap together, support with strapping. Super easy and super fast. We continued the main trunk all the way to the table saw before working on any of the branches.

The first branch was to the tool island and also where we had to cut the first section of straight pipe. By holding the 90 degree elbow in place I can measure the distance needed between the two pieces.

The adjustable nipples allow you to easily dial in the exact length needed so all we had to do was get close. First the length is marked all the way around the pipe.

And then the pipe can be cut a variety of different ways. Paul brought his portable metal cutting bandsaw so while he lowered the blade Josh was able to spin the pipe around to make a pretty clean cut

Then the burr is removed on both the inside and outside.

The interior diameter of the nipples is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the straight pipe so pipe fits inside the nipple. The nipple should always go on the dust collector side and the straight pipe should always go on the tool side of the system. Once together the pieces can be moved as necessary to get the exact length needed. To help maintain the correct distance I used a marker to put a dot on the pipe where they will join. Then the rubber o-ring is rolled onto the pipe side of the joint to act as a Quick-Fit® rolled edge and a clamp is installed just the same way. Finally the 90 degree elbow was added before lifting into place.

Again, lots of repetition. Add a section, make sure its level, support it with pipe strapping.

The miter saw station drop is the first place where we added a blast gate. Each of the blast gates has a single screw to lock the gate closed and the screw can be installed on either side of the gate.

It’s important to put the screw on the tool side of the system and not the dust collector side of the system.

This is because of the little gap that the gate uses to slide back and forth. As the screw is tightened it will force the gate to the opposite side of the housing and therefore make the gap visible on one side of the gate. If this gap is on the dust collector side of the system then you will have a leaky gate.

Again, as much work as possible was done on ground level before lifting in place.

This branch to the miter saw station wasn’t installed level, and that was on purpose just to get the drop in the exact location I wanted it to be in. We added a 6” hose adapter on the other side of the blast gate but I switched it out to a section of cut pipe the next day. The cut pipe goes about half way into the dust box below and that’s literally it for the miter saw station. It works incredibly well.

Back at the larger tool island it’s more of the same. Another 6, 6, 6 branch (which means all three ends are 6” in diameter) with a 6, 4, 4 branch on each end. The blast gates are installed above the 6, 4, 4 branches so that a minimum of two 4” ports are open at all times. This keeps the air flow going in the cyclone which is necessary to separate the fine particles. Reducing the system to a single 4” port can actually starve the dust collector and cause more small particles to bypass the cyclone and go into the filters.

Here’s a better look at of one the 6, 4, 4 branches. This one will be installed at the table saw island. On the bottom of each 4” end of the branch a 4” hose adapter is installed.

More of the same installation…

And finally the system can be turned on and the unscientific testing of putting your hand under an open port and being amazed at how it gets sucked onto the port can begin.

I didn’t have any sawdust from the machines but I did have a bucket of dust in my shopvac cyclone that I could at least test the suction with. And of course, this dust collection system sucks.

The table saw drop marked the end of a very productive day with Paul and his son Josh. In just 5 hours of work we built and installed the EF5 dust collector, assembled the entire dust collection system exactly how it was designed in the planning stage, AND recorded the entire process. It was one of the most productive, error free days I’ve ever had in the shop. Most of that is a result of good planning on the front end. I’ve always been an advocate of planning before working. And part of that has to do with the Nordfab Quick-Fit® system. It literally is like Legos for adults. It’s a high quality, future proof system that I’m glad I purchased.

While installing the system Paul mentioned that I should have put a floor sweep in. The reason I didn’t design one in the layout was because in my last shop it wasn’t worth having. The concrete was extremely rough so the only way to sweep was pretty aggressively, which pulled a lot of dust into the air. In this shop the concrete is stained and sealed and really smooth. I found out that this floor is easily cleaned by simply dragging a dust mop around so I took Paul’s advice and purchased a floor sweep and another 6, 6, 6 branch to install at the table saw drop. This was about two weeks after the initial install took place and further shows just how easy the system is to modify as your needs change. And once again, this dust collection system sucks.

7 COMMENTS

  1. nice LOOKING, GOOD JOB AND GREAT DUST COLLECTOR SYSTEM, love it all glad you had some help from the factory

  2. Looks great and I’m insanely jealous of your new shop! The only thing i missed, how did you ground the ducting? Thanks!

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