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Remembering to open a blast gate is a pretty basic first step in effective dust collection.

I’m thrilled with my dust collection system. It was an evolving process to not only get it extended to every part of my odd-shaped woodshop, but to every machine. And it’s really effective, with my shop cleaner than it’s ever been.

My two most dust-intensive machines, at least in the sense of volume and size of the chips, are my jointer and planer. For that reason, they’re on their own Y-shaped section split off from the main duct. There’s a blast gate at the main duct for this section, as well as individual gates on the jointer and planer. Efficiency is my middle name.

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During a recent milling session, I had edged and faced a quantity of rough stock on the jointer. Then it was off to the planer for final thicknessing. Simple. Just close the blast gate on the jointer, open the gate on the planer, and I’m off to the races.

I opened the planer’s gate, but instead of closing the jointer gate I stupidly closed the one on the main duct and started planing. Cut off from the main duct, there was no suction at all happening on that section, but my planer’s internal impeller happily shot out chips like a champ. Of course, it had nowhere to go but down the duct to the Y-connector, and then double back to its only exit – my jointer.

Due to my machinery arrangement, my back is to the jointer when planing, which is why I didn’t notice the mess piling up behind me. As it happens, I was so blissfully unaware of what I’d done that I would have just kept on planing away had my wife not come into the shop and asked why there was a veritable geyser of chips flying up out of the jointer.

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