Everything’s relative

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Back when I had lousy dust collection, little stuff was nothing. Now that I have great dust collection, the little stuff seems like everything.

Once upon a time my dust collection system was a broom and dustpan. (Or when milling a lot of lumber on the planer, a snow shovel.) But a couple years ago I started spot-collecting at individual machines with a shop vacuum, and that was a lot better. Then I got a small dust collector and again spot-collected, but far more efficiently.

Then earlier this year I got a really good dust collector and installed ductwork to almost every machine in the shop. My mobile planer isn’t permanently connected to the system, but I have a closed blast gate just for it – when I need the planer I just roll it out and hook it up to the gate, then roll it back into its nook when done.

The one machine I didn’t include in the system was my drill press. I never really thought of the drill press as a particularly dirty tool. Sure, you’d get chips when drilling, especially with wide Forstner bits, but there was none of that really fine dust and what was there seemed so minimal in the big picture. The kind of thing that 30 seconds with a shop vacuum easily corrected.

But now that my dust collection system is a true system my shop remains almost spotlessly clean before, during and after working. Unless I use the drill press.

Where before it was almost nothing among the huge mess I used to produce, in my now-clean shop the small amount of chips I get after drilling is a major annoyance. On the other hand, considering what things used to be like in my shop, I suppose being fussy about a few chips on and around the drill press is a genuine luxury.

I’m thinking I should enjoy it.

A.J.

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