What’s the Best Dust Collector for a Small Shop? We discuss and review several excellent models that we feel are worth your money.
Dust collection in a small or home shop is very often an afterthought. We take great excitement in the power tools that we buy, they’re cool things to own and make our woodworking jobs easier and more rewarding. When it comes to dust collectors – well, what’s the fun in that? Though I cannot stress enough how important a dust collector is – especially for woodworkers. Not only do sawdust and woodchips mess up the shop and affect the quality of our work, but it’s a health hazard. So if you haven’t already considered this, now is the time to seriously look at getting the best dust collector for your small shop.
Most stationary woodworking tools (table saws, drum sanders, etc.) have ports to which you can connect a dust collector. This is also true for hand tools, like belt sanders. You may have tried connecting a regular vacuum cleaner (or even a shop vacuum) to these machines if the dust port is the correct size. While this does remove the dust while you’re working, a home vacuum cleaner is far from the best machine for the job. Their bags and filters are not suitable for the heavy-duty work that’s required, even if you have a small shop.
A vacuum cleaner is fine for quick jobs around the home, but if you’re cutting through lumber and sanding all day long, you’re likely to be spending more time cleaning out the vacuum cleaner bag and filters than you do actually working on the job that you set out to accomplish. A shop vacuum may be more industrial and hold more debris, but it’s still not going to be the best if you’re generating a lot of sawdust and woodchips. A dust collector that’s designed for a woodwork shop can handle the volume of sawdust and woodchips that you’ll be creating and is, therefore the best for this application.
Shop Fox W1685 | High-Quality Shop Dust Collector
Fortunately, a dust collector for the small shop doesn’t have to cost you too much. This review is going to concentrate on some of the best dust collectors for the small professional or home shop. You’ll need to look at your machines to determine what kind of suction power you’ll need – this is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) and denotes the volume of air that is displaced every minute. Some tools require high-power suction to get rid of the dust effectively. There’s no point in buying a dust collection system that’s not going to be effective for all the tools in your shop.
You might think that the more power a dust collector delivers, the more expensive it’s going to be, but this isn’t always the case. There are other factors involved, like the level of air filtration and the collection bag/bin. So you need to look at this carefully. Spending too much on a dust collector that way exceeds your needs is going to be a waste of money. Conversely, a machine that’s not going to work with your tools, is just as much of a waste of money.
Another thing you may want to consider is the capacity of the bag. You might find a dust collector with a motor that provides the suction that you need but doesn’t hold the volume of dust that you produce. This is a secondary consideration because it only affects how often you’ll need to empty the bag relative to the amount of dust that you produce. Though, if you’re doing a lot of sawing, planning, and sanding, it can help a lot if you’re not filling up the bag too rapidly. Air filtration can also be important. Some dust collectors use the lining of the dust collection bag to filter particles from the air that’s released back into the shop, others may use additional filters. The size of the particle filtration is measured in microns, really good filtration systems will remove particles as small as 1-micron.
One of the specs that most people find difficult to interpret when we talk about dust collection systems (or any system that uses pressurized gas or fluids) is the term static pressure. Not all dust collection systems will give static pressure specs, because there are many factors that can affect this, such as the pipe or ducting size (diameter as well as length), filter types or any other factor that inhibits the airflow. Though when these specs are provided, it can be helpful in determining the efficiency of the machine. Static Pressure (SP) is expressed in inches water gauge and this spec will be given simply in inches.
It may seem strange to measure pressure in inches. Though it’s easy to understand if you visualize a sealed tube with a small plastic ball inside. If you blow on the tube, you’ll increase the air pressure inside it. As you blow harder the ball will rise according to the amount of pressure inside the tube. If you release some the air from the tube, the pressure will drop, causing the ball to fall. If we measure the distance that the ball falls, this tells us how much the pressure has dropped. A 1-inch drop isn’t a big drop in pressure. If the ball drops 4”, the pressure drop will be four times more. Ideally, you want the SP of your dust collection system to be as low as possible. Basically, a high SP rating means that there is a greater loss of pressure in the system.
There aren’t too many other factors that you need to look at, these aren’t very complicated machines and, unlike the actual tools that we use, the dust collector that we use isn’t going to directly affect the outcome of our work.
As with all machinery, quality is important, but we’ve taken care of that for you by only reviewing dust collectors that have been proven and come highly recommended. Another thing that can be important, considering that we’re looking at dust collectors for a small shop, is the physical size of the machine, as well as its voltage and amperage requirements. In the size category that we’re looking at, you’ll usually have the option of either 120V or 240V motors. If you’re going to be using 120V, your amp rating is going to be double that of a 240V motor. So you need to make sure that you have a circuit that can provide the correct volts and amps for the machine. Finally, you may want to choose a dust collector with wheels if you think that you’re going to be moving it around the shop.
We’re going to be reviewing a variety of quality dust collectors for the small shop. Their prices range from really cheap to not so cheap – depending on their power and specs. Amongst these machines, you’re going to find the perfect solution for your small shop. There isn’t too much to look at, with regards to spec level and features, so take the time to read the review for each of these dust collectors before making a decision. For an affordable option, we’ll review the Shop Fox W1826, 1-horsepower dust collector. If you can get away with this size dust collector, you’re lucky as it really doesn’t cost too much. On the other end of the scale, we’ll review the much more powerful Jet JDC-1.5 (1.5 HP). The bigger models will usually have larger bags to hold more dust.
Best Dust Collector for a Small Shop
- 1-horsepower motor, 120 or 240V, prewired at 120V, 7 amp at 110V, 3.5 amp at 240V
- Features window to gauge how much dust is in bag and bottom zipper for easy dust disposal
- Single 4-inch intake hole
- 2.5 Micron bag has 2 cubic feet capacity
- 44-inch height with bag inflated
Affordability is one factor that could easily make the Shop Fox W1826 top of your wish list. Another attraction for the small shop is the compact size of this dust collector. With the bag inflated, the Shop Fox W1826 stands 44” tall. The bag has a diameter of 13½”, with a depth of 24”. It’s a wall-mounted unit, so it won’t really interfere with limited floor space, which can be a very important consideration for a small shop. Of course, the disadvantage of the wall-mount design is that you won’t be moving it anywhere. This can be a slight problem for garage shops or other multi-use work areas. Though, the compact size with a vertical stacking (the motor is above the bag), means that it most probably won’t be in the way.
The Shop Fox W1826 is powered by 1 HP motor which can run on either 120V (7A) or 240V (3.5A). Using a very effective 10” balanced steel, radial fin impeller, it provides 537 CFM of suction (static pressure: 7.2”). For most tools with a dust port, the suction provided by the Shop Fox W1826 should be fine. If you’re using machines like a drum sander that produce large volumes of fine sawdust, this suction might not be sufficient though and you probably won’t be able to use this dust collector for more than one tool at a time. Some tools require a suction of up to 800 CFM to remove the dust that they produce. Something to consider when looking at this dust collector.
Although the Shop Fox W1826 doesn’t take up too much space, it has a good bag capacity of 2 cubic feet and the standard bag provides filtration down to 2.5-micron. The bag is really convenient to use, it has a zipper at the bottom for easy emptying and a view window so that you can check how full it is at a glance.
It’s easy to install and weighs 55 LBS. You get a wall bracket supplied with the dust collector and there’s a wide variety of anchors that can hold this weight. It also has a foam covered handle, making it very easy to lift when mounting. You won’t need to install any ducting, the Shop Fox W1826 has a single 4” pipe hole and you can connect it directly to a 2½” pipe using a reducer or any number of pipes by fitting splitters. The large paddle on-off switch is easy to locate for hassle-free operation.
The Shop Fox W1826 is ideal for small workshops and won’t take up much space. At the same time, it provides you with excellent suction and a reasonably large dust collection bag. It’s not particularly noisy which also great. There can be no disputing the Shop Fox reputation for industrial-strength quality and it comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Motor: 1 HP, 110V/220V, single-phase, prewired 110V
- Motor amp draw: 7A/3.5A
- Air suction capacity: 537 CFM
- Static pressure: 7.2″
- Intake Hole Size: 4″
- Impeller: 10″ balanced cast-aluminum
- Bag capacity: 2 cubic feet
- Bag size (diameter x depth): 13-1/2″ x 24″
- Standard bag filtration: 2.5 micron
- Powder-coated finish
- Height with bag inflated: 44″
- CSA certified meeting CSA C22.2 #243-M91 and UL 1017 standards
- Approximate shipping weight: 55 lbs.
Best Dust Collector for a Small Shop
- The cyclone’s two stage separation provides more working CFM than comparable horsepower single stage units
- Heavy debris is pulled down to collection drum before debris stream reaches the filter, providing constant suction
- Direct mounted filter eliminates inefficiencies from ridged flex hosing and bends
- Fine dust particles are filtered through pleated material that captures even the smallest particles down to 1 micron and below
- Heavy debris is captured in 20 gallon drum with quick release levers and independent casters for quick emptying
- Included radio frequency remote control works from up to 50 feet away
- Double paddle manual cleaning system quickly cleans the pleated filter
- Swivel casters make it easy to move the unit around the shop
The Jet JDC-1.5 is quite a big beast if we’re going to be comparing it to the compact little Shop Fox 1826 that we’ve just reviewed. This dust collector stands on a base with castors so you can move it around the shop if you need to. If you’re going to be moving the Jet JDC-1.5, you’ll appreciate the convenience of these castors as it weighs 175 LBS. This weight gives you an idea of the industrial design of the machine. You’ll need to make provision for a fairly large footprint when it comes to floor space. The Jet JDC-1.5 has a width of 21” and is 31” in length, it stands 63½” tall. You should also take into account that the pipe connectors at the top of the machine protrude outward and this means adding another 6-8” to its width.
The 1.5 HP, 115V (9.7A) motor provides for really good suction. There are a number of great design features that keep the suction constantly high. By using cyclonic suction, the Jet JDC-1.5 outperforms most other dust collection systems in this class. It has a heavy debris collection drum (20-gal) below the motor which collects larger heavy material, reducing the suction loss. This bin has castors and unclips quickly by means of two paddle handles, making it really easy to empty. This gives the Jet JCDC-15 an impressively low static pressure rating of 1.535” with a maximum of 8.268”. This translates into a good air volume spec of 763 CFM using the single 6” pipe inlet. It also has 2 X 4” pipe inlets.
The dust collection bin is huge with a diameter of 23⅝” and length of 19¹¹/16”. It has direct mounted filters to reduce suction loss and the pleated material filters particles in the air down to 1-micron. The Jet JDC-1.5 also has a radio frequency remote control that works from 50 Ft away and for a machine this size with a 1.5 HP, it’s way less noisy than one would expect.
The Jet JDC-1.5 is a great dust collector for a small to mid-sized shop and provides enough suction to use more than power tool at a time (depending the on the suction requirements of these tools). It also provides just about the best air filtration of any dust collector. This is the most expensive dust collector in this review, but it’s also the biggest. It’s a real professional-grade piece of machinery and comes with a 5-year warranty.
- Number of Air Inlets : 1 at 6″, 2 at 4″
- 1-Hose Connection Diameter (In.): 6
- 2-Hoses Connection Diameter (In.): 4
- Air Flow (US Method) @ 6″ (CFM) 763 (1,293 m³/hr)
- Air Flow (EU Method) @ 6″ (CFM) 1,259 (2,134 m³/hr)
Best Dust Collector for a Small Shop
- Vortex Cone improves chip separation and collector bag packing efficiency
- Eliminates premature filter clogging for sustained performance
- Single-stage design for economical and quiet operation
- Industrial controls designed for years of trouble-free use
- Quick-connect collection bags with elastic band for fast, easy installation and removal
- High air velocity (CFM) design stands up to any competitive specifications
- Permanently lubricated, totally enclosed, fan-cooled motors are rated for continuous-duty
- Includes four casters for maneuverability and total portability
- Eliminates rapid performance drop due to premature filter clogging
- Captures 96% of 30-micron particles
- Dual 4-inch dust port allows for simultaneous connection of two machines
- Sound rating of 80 to 85 decibels
If increased air volume is what you’re after then the Jet DC-1200VX-BK1 is the dust collector to meet your needs with a 1200 CFM rating. While it doesn’t match the air filtration specs of the others (this model has 30-micron particle filtration), it has the power to meet the requirements for power tools that need the extra CFM and it will handle quite a few tools at the same time.
With a 2 HP 230V (8A) motor driving a 12” precision balanced steel impeller, the Jet DC-1200VX-BK1 packs quite a punch. It uses a vortex cone system to separate the heavy debris, depositing it into a collection bag below the motor. Lighter debris is collected in a filter bag above the motor. The filter bag is 32” in length and the collection bag is 29” long. The collection bag has a 20” diameter and has a capacity of 5.3 cubic feet – that’s a lot of sawdust being collected in the bag. The vortex system means that the dust is compacted tightly into the bags, reducing the need to empty them too often and reduces the need for frequent filter cleaning. The dust bag is transparent, making it easy to see when it needs to be emptied. Both bags have a snap ring, allowing for quick and effortless removal and re-fitting of the bags.
It has two 4” pipe connection points and a single 6” connection. The controls are of an industrial design and can withstand the heavy-duty conditions of any shop. At a weight of 132 LBS, it’s not too light but the machine has a base with casters for easy mobility. It’s going to take up 22.5” X 22” floor space and stands 37.5” tall – not at all bad for such a powerful machine with an excellent bag capacity. Noise levels are also very acceptable for a 2 HP dust collector (80-85dBA).
The Jet DC-1200VX-BK1 is a good deal cheaper than the other Jet dust collector that we’ve just reviewed. It has a very different design and doesn’t offer nearly the same level of filtration as any of the others. The main advantage of this machine is the very high airflow of 1200 CFM. Like the other Jet machine, this model also has a 5-year warranty.
- Style (Type): Bag
- Number of Air Inlets :1 at 6″, 2 at 4″
- 1-Hose Connection Diameter (In.) :6
- 2-Hoses Connection Diameter (In.) :4
- Efficiency (Micron) :30
Best Dust Collector for a Small Shop
- Motor: 1 HP, 120V/240V, single-phase, prewired 110V
- Motor amp draw: 9A/4.5A
- Air suction capacity: 800 CFM
- Standard bag filtration: 2.5 microns
- Portable base size: 15-3/4″ x 39-3/4″
The Shop Fox W1727 isn’t too much more expensive than the wall-mounted model that we reviewed – this one is a floor unit with castors. Looking at both the price and specifications of this model, it would be my number one choice. While some might prefer the wall mounted design of the Shop Fox W1826, the W1727 doesn’t take up too much floor space. The base measures 15¾” X 26”. The frame is sturdy and has a handle, making it really easy to move around the shop. A powder-coated finish adds to the durability of this machine in the hard-working shop.
The Shop Fox W1727 has a 1 HP motor that can run on 110V (9A) or 220V (4.5A). This motor drives a 9” balanced steel, radial impeller, producing 800 CFM. It has a clear plastic debris collection bag below and a filtration bag above. This setup provides a very reasonable static pressure rating of 5.67”. Both bags are of an equal size – 14¾” in diameter with a depth of 24⅜” and hold 2.1 cubic feet. The bags have easy to use steel belt fasteners, making for fast, convenient bag emptying.
With the bags inflated the Shop Fox W1727 has a total height of 54½”. It weighs about 59 LBS, which is very light for such a big dust collector and will make it easier to move about. A single 4” air intake is very conveniently placed it’s protected from bumps by the handle. This machine has a very practical design, with a paddle on-off switch close at hand.
The compact size, weight and castors on this dust collector makes it really easy to move around the shop – eliminating the need for ducting and long pipes. This is, in my opinion, the best dust collector for a small shop. It’s practical, easy to use and has great suction – capable of meeting the needs of just about any tool available. Like the other Fox Shop dust collector, this one also has a 2-year warranty.