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I've began woodworking as a hobby a few months ago and so far I've been using just a circular saw, and all the cuts were done in the balcony due to the insane amounts of sawdust that it produces.

I've recently acquired a contractor style table saw and would love to start using it, but it's gotten so hot outside that I think it could actually ruin the motor of the saw and let's just say it won't be easy for myself either.

Anyhow, we might have a "free" room in the apartment soon and I was wondering about dust. I was "warned" about tiny airborne particles that could potentially fill the entire apartment and kill us all. OK, I'm exaggerating a bit (I hope), but anyhow, assuming the door is always closed and it's got that rubber thing around it to block noise, is it still dangerous?

I have a shop vac, as far as dust collection is concerned. Still, lots of sawdust is expected to come out through the top, so it's not gonna be perfect.

What do you think?

  • Also keep in mind the potential for tracking dust out of the room with your feet, and if the room has carpet, you may want to consider laying down a solid surface over it. – rob Jul 7 '17 at 15:22
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Lots of people have shops in their basements with no big problems, so it is possible to work inside. Dust will be a concern, as you've noted, but noise will as well. Make sure to wear hearing protection and a dust mask. I'd check the noise levels outside the room, as it may be unbearable for others in your apartment or in other apartments. If that's the case, you may just have to deal with the heat outside - it won't damage the motor in your saw.

Contractor style table saws aren't the best with dust collection, but if it has a port at the bottom, definitely use it. If not, you may want to rig up some kind of DIY dust collection port for it. Most (but not all) of the dust on a table saw comes out the bottom. You may also consider an over-the-blade type of dust collection, although that may start to tax your little shop vac.

If you have an air return in that room for central air, you want to make sure it at least has a filter on it, or all that dust is gonna circulate throughout your apartment. You may consider covering up the return, or even turning off any forced air climate control, while you're using the saw.

One other thing you can consider is an air cleaner cart - essentially a motor with some furnace filters around it to catch dust. Jay Bates has a couple videos detailing his builds, so check them out.

One thing you didn't mention, but you should definitely check, is the power requirements for the saw. Apartments may not have each room on its own circuit, so it may be difficult to run the saw and not trip a breaker. If that happens, you'll just have to go back to using the circular saw.

  • Keep in mind the power of the saw and the dust collector. In my garage, my outlet is on a 15-amp breaker. I can run my table saw or the vacuum just fine, but both together is too much and I will often trip the breaker. In an apartment, the outlet likely shares the breaker with lights or other equipment, maybe in other rooms, so there could be even more load, or things you don't want to affect with a trip. I'm thinking of adding a breaker and outlet in my garage, but in an apartment that is likely not possible. – mbmcavoy Jul 20 '17 at 20:54
  • @mbmcavoy Indeed, very good point. I cautioned about the possibility of not being able to use the saw itself, but a DC suffers from the same potential problem. A shop vac may be the more probable solution in an apartment though, but also worth checking out the power requirements for it, too. – mmathis Jul 20 '17 at 21:27
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Look at setting up a portable paint booth, and putting the saw inside of it. These are used when spray painting in garages to keep the over spray off of everything. It would work just as well in containing the dust. You can make one easily enough with PVC and some plastic sheeting.

As to heat damaging the motor, I live in Phoenix and tools sitting in the sun for even a few minutes are way too hot to touch, but they work just fine.

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Get a window fan in addition to whatever dust control method you use. If you set the window fan to blow the air outside, your room will have negative pressure compared to the rest of the apartment and you wont need to worry about airborne dust making it out the room.

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