I have only recently moved into a new house with an attached two-car garage. I am also starting to make a fair bit of dust working on projects in the garage.

Tools I am using include handsaws, a circular saw, drills, a 13" planer and a radial arm saw.

My current method is to work on a project then use a wet/dry utility vacuum to clean everything up afterwards.

What I would like to mitigate:

  • A standing layer of dust on everything in the garage.
  • A clogged up utility vacuum
  • An unhealthy workspace

I have seen a couple recommendations online, such as a cyclone dust collector which I believe goes after the tool, before the vacuum. Also I have seen DIY air cleaners using box fans and furnace filters.

I do not wish to spend a ton of money, but at the same time I do want a good system for a hobbyist/prosumer that will prevent the above concerns.

3 Answers 3


There's two things to consider here: how much the machine throws dust all over the place, and how good dust collection is at the source. The circular saw and RAS are both going to throw dust with a fairly high velocity, and neither have good dust collection mechanisms. You could build one for the circ saw (as Jay Bates did for his circ saw) or a dust shroud for the RAS. For the planer, dust collection tends to be pretty good (at least in my experience when using a dust-collector). So as long as you're sucking chips at the source, you should be good to go. But even if it was so-so, the chips are big enough that they are easy to track down.

So, I'd recommend a couple things:

  1. Get a chip separator for your shop vac. You can easily make one yourself or purchase a dust deputy. This will keep your filter from getting clogged and improve performance.

  2. Attach a furnace filter to a fan (see this image from photobucket), which it sounds like you're doing.

  3. Use a leaf blower to clear out the thick layer of dust. I actually do this daily to keep my garage clean. (At least it will work well during the summer).

  4. You might want to invest in a dust collector. There are some fairly inexpensive options out there. I've bought the Harbor Freight model and am quite happy with it (as are others).

Good luck!

  • I've edited my post, sorry forgot to add the planer. Not sure if this changes things much. It has a fan assisted chip evacuation system. The RAS also has an outlet from which I believe you can attach some sort of dust collection. I should also mention, it gets to be 40 degrees celsius below zero here in the winter. So I don't exactly want to open the bay door to use a leaf blower.
    – rgmrtn
    Mar 25, 2015 at 16:39
  • I also use the furnace filter with a fan, but I found that cumbersome. It was always in my way and I had to move it often. I recently installed it on the same support as my garage door opener. That was a perfect match for me. No need for any electricity work, I simply reuse the same outlet as my garage door opener. I installed a remote plug starter and I can now start it from anywhere in my garage. Mar 26, 2015 at 14:17
  • I have a dust deputy that I use with my ShopVac brand vacuum and I highly recommend it. It has worked very well for me and it even works well on drywall dust. I like it well enough that I intend to build a cart and permanently mount both vacuum and dust deputy on it so they roll around together. That will also shorten the absurdly long hose that is currently connecting them.
    – glw
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:19

I'm not sure it's possible to catch all the dust you make on any project, however the is no reason not to try.

For quite a while I used a shop-vac to clean things up and many tools have connections to help in this endeavor, though you need to keep moving the shop-vac around to all your tools. On top of that they tend to be very loud, (much louder even than my big dust collector).

Once I started using my planer, the shop-vac was not nearly up to par. I'd fill it up after just a couple boards and it was a mess cleaning it out all the time. They have cyclone lids that you can buy for normal trash cans which will separate most of the chip volume out before it gets to the shopvac. saving you a lot of time. My planer causes by far the most mess, so getting that under wraps will go a long way in reducing your dust.

Another piece that I'm still hoping to add to my shop is a ceiling mounted dust collector/air purifier to clean out all the suspended particles floating around, they are what leave that fine coat of dust on everything when you come back in the next day.

  • No doubt that the surface planer is the greatest producer of dust and chips. You almost need a snow shovel to clean up after an average job. I use a cyclone separator called a Dust Deputy in between my planer and my vacuum and although it still fills up quickly, it's much easier to empty than the shopvac.
    – glw
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:21

I would also agree with the above answers in saying that the dust deputy is top notch. I ended up getting the entire kit to save myself some time in setup since I have a 1 year old that really cuts into my wood working.

After buying my shop vac and dust deputy, I then needed to try and find adapters to fit my different machines. This can be a really annoying process since a lot of the time, the adapters will not fit over the dust ports. My solution to this problem was to start 3D printing them to the exact size I needed. Friends and family started wanting them and I decided to start a tiny side business to help people out.

  • Nice edit, Ryan. This is a more complete answer now.
    – drs
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.