Solving Bandsaw Dust Collection
October 5, 2023
I’ve had this older JET 14-inch saw for a very long time - and I’m guessing many of you have either had, or used the same one, just maybe under a different brand name. It’s a nice little saw, but it severely lacks in the dust collection department.
With my new Oneida system sucking down way more air than my old system, all I really need to do is add a 4-inch port to permanently hook up to. The problem is - I can’t bring myself to cut a hole in the original metal door. So here I’m going to walk you through how I made an unnecessary walnut door that seals up tighter than the original and dramatically improves the dust collection and overall appearance of this old saw.
I started out with a decent piece of walnut, but it wasn’t wide enough - so I cut it in half, ripped off its live-edge, then glued it together to make one wide panel. In order to get the new door to fit right, I needed to get the sizing from the old door, so I pulled a few screws from the hinge and took it off the bandsaw. I set the old door on top of the walnut panel and traced around it. Where the top edge didn’t quite touch down, I used a straight edge to fill in the straight line. I used my tablesaw crosscut sled to cut exactly at that straight line, then used the bandsaw to rough-cut the curves.
To finetune those curves I just cut, I needed my beltsander which hides underneath one of the flipping panels in my main workbench. The dust collection for this comes from the main line, but when I was setting up the full system a few videos back, I knew I didn’t want a fixed pipe hanging over my bench getting in the way of projects and cluttering up camera shots. So using a length of flexible hose, a pulley, and some paracord, I can keep this connection point up and out of the way when I don’t need it, then flop it down into position when I want to collect dust from the workbench.
With the hose hooked up- I used the belt sander to creep up on my lines and smooth out the door curves. Next, I used a rabbeting bit to create a shoulder on the inside, all the way around the panel. Based on the notches in the steel door, I also notched out the top corners in my panel.
To make the sides of the door, I ran a narrow board over my tablesaw blade a bunch of times, making a series of cuts close together that don’t quite go all the way through the material. This process, known as kerf-cutting, allows the wood to bend so I can match the curve of the panel without having to mess with bent laminations or steam bending. To attach the sides to the panel, I slathered on a ton of glue - I figured since there are all those voids in the sides, there was no such thing as too much glue. Then starting from one end, I used a combination of clamps and pin nails to lock the pieces together. I kept my CPI - or clamps per inch - as close to one to one as I could, but I just didn’t have that many clamps. At the end I had to add in an extra little chunk of material because I miss-calculated the length of my board around the curve.
Because of all those brittle little fins that this bending process created on the inside of the door, and since I wasn’t sure just how well the glue was going to hold around those corners, I decided to pour some epoxy in to help fill the gaps and add some strength. I taped the back side to keep anything from leaking out, then stood the door upright and leaned back slightly. Of course most of the epoxy was going to pool at the lowest point, but I drizzled as strategically as I could to fill as many voids as possible.
Next, I needed to notch out the edge where the hinge will go - which I did with a handsaw and a very careful pass over the tablesaw. And now here’s where things get tricky - since this walnut requires a thickness that the steel door did not, I have to center the hinge inside the material. I made this slightly sketchy maneuver at the tablesaw by adjusting the fence so the sidewall was centered on the blade, then proceeded slowly until I had a single blade-thickness cut to the depth that would fully capture the hinge. Since the tablesaw blade is round, I had to square off the bottom of the cut using a multitool.
Now, rather than trying to drill holes in the wood that match up to the existing holes in the hinge, I just put the hinge in place and drilled all-new holes all the way through. And now to make sure this is all heading in the right direction and it hasn’t all been a huge waste of time, I mounted the door to the saw to check the fit. With the door in place, I took the latching hardware out so I could put a pencil through the saw and mark the location on the inside of the door. I drilled this hole a little later, next time I had the door back off the saw.
With the door officially complete - I sanded the edges flush with the stationary belt sander, then switched to my Surfprep to get everything nice and smooth and ready for finish. One last step was to drill a 4-inch hole to connect the dust collection to. If you’ve been counting, we are something like 20 steps in at this point and if I had been willing to drill a hole in the original metal door, we could have started right here.
I used tongue oil for a finish, because it looks nice and it matches all my other shop furniture. It's also about the easiest finish there is to get right. You just sort of wipe it on to flood the surface, then give it a count of 10 Karate Kids, then wipe it back off.
I drilled some pilot holes for the dust collection flange hardware, then put a little silicone on the back of the ring and tightened it down. I re-installed the hinge and the door latch hardware - then mounted the door to the saw. I attached the dust collection hose to the port and secured it with a hose clamp. Then I hit the remote start on my Oneidea system to do some function testing. I started by throwing some ultra-fine dust from my palm sander at the openings to see what the airflow looked like.
From the top, there was enough suction to pull falling dust off course and into the cabinet body - and from below there was enough focused airflow at the points where dust used to pile up, that it could pull dust up and into the cabinet.
To really see how it was going to work, I started cutting wavy lines into a thick-ish piece of oak. With my old setup, this would be enough to look like a mess about halfway through the cut. Now, there is very very little dust that is escaping the draft of the extractor - in fact, some of the dust is falling around the outside of the door, then getting sucked in as it gets near the openings in the bottom.
I can confidently say that 100% of the dust that falls inside the door is being collected by the extractor - the only dust it isn’t catching, appears to be the particles that come through the table and immediately veer off to the side. To combat this, I made a magnetic shroud that sticks to the underside of the table and sends any escaping dust back into the cabinet where it belongs.
Make sure you watch the full YouTube video to see the complete process and demonstration. If you’d like to learn more and start shopping for your own dust collection system, head over to Oneida now and look at all the options they have available.