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Blue mountains at Katoomba

Dust extraction makeover

dust chipsDust is one of the hidden hazards in any workshop, but particularly where woodworking machinery is used. Dust has been an issue at our Shed since the workshop was first set up. Some facts about dust:

  • Large chips, shavings and course sawdust are messy, but easy to deal with. They stay relatively close to the machine and are easily collected with suction. (photo right).
  • Fine sawdust is more difficult to deal with. It travels much further from the machine and quickly settles on surfaces.
  • The hidden problem is the very fine dust that floats in the air for 30 minutes or more. This dust is a potential health hazard.

The very fine dust is usually invisible, but you can sometimes see it in a ray of sunshine through the skylights. You know it is there, because it has settled on top of everything from the roof space down.

The latest improvements of our dust control systems have been a long time in the planning.  While most of our messy machines had dust collection fitted, a lot of the very fine dust either evaded the collectors, or was blown straight through the collection bags, back into the workshop. (Very fine dust passes straight through the fabric of the collection bags.)

dust collector1

The dust collector units were moved into lockers outside the Shed, preventing the recu=irculation of very fine dust into the workshop area.

The revamp has involved three key steps

  1. Consolidating dust collection using two large units (one for each side of the workshop) and plumbing all the dusty machines into one of these units.
  2. Moving the dust collector units out of the workshop airspace – this was essential to reduce the recirculation of fine dust.
  3. Installing a fine particle filter to remove the fine dust from the air in the workshop. This is in the roof-space, above the rafters, in the middle of the workshop.

particulate

A key part of the revamp was the addition of a fine particulate filter in the workshop space.

Every member who uses the workshop needs to play their part:

  • Switch on the new dust filter and leave it running all day when the workshop is operating. The remote control hangs on a cord below the unit, just above head height.
  • Switch on the dust collector units connected to any machine you are using, and check that the only blast gate open is to the machine you are using. New signs have been put up showing where the dust collectors are switched on.
  • Check the dust and chip bags regularly and empty as needed. In particular, if the chip bag on the thicknesser is more than half full when you finish, please empty it!
  • Turn the new dust filter off at the end of workshop operations and before closing the Shed for the day.

This project featured in the February 2016 newsletter.