What Kind of Pipe To Use for Dust Collection?

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No one escapes the struggles of removing the sawdust particles, but by using the proper collection system, you won’t have to elbow grease this procedure. 

To help you out, I’ve created this guide on what kind of pipe you can use for dust collection systems for woodworking. Keep reading to know more!

Dust Collection Pipes: Types and Features

Dust collection pipes system provides a lesser time to get rid of dust particles and prevents any cluttering in your workspace. It is a pipeline-like branch capable of collecting dust in the areas where you saw and sand your wood.

But why would you need a dust collection pipe system? Professionals used pipeline systems to collect sawdust which they consider an obstacle in woodworking. The dust in your workspace could create injury and fire if not removed. 

Now, I’ve used both vacuums and pipeline systems, and I’ve got to say the pipelines usually win out in efficiency. Their suction is just top-notch, thanks to their central system power. But before you rush out to set up your own, remember to choose the right type and size for your needs.

woodworking shop dust collection system

Also, you must have enough space to build one of these because the pipe system is highly modular, depending on the space you have for connecting the joints and making access points to unclog the pipeline system. 

I recommend choosing the ideal pipe size so the power in the central system won’t interrupt. You must consider the amount of sawdust you are going to collect after your woodworking before choosing the pipe size. 

You can choose a bigger size of pipe if there’s a ton of sawdust to collect. But if the pipe size gets bigger, it slows down the power of the central system. 

Dust collection pipe systems are composed of PVC and metal pipes, which require different installation methods. 

I’ve found that PVC is often less expensive and lighter, making it easier to work with. A little glue or tape, and you’re good to go. On the other hand, metal pipes offer durability and rigidity, and you can choose what kind of metal types, such as aluminum, copper, or steel. 

installing dust collection pipes

When building a dust collection system, you should consider its weight, affordability, availability, durability, and, most importantly, efficiency. Depending on how you want to set up your dust collection system, both PVC and metal pipes have gains and losses.

All You Need to Know About PVC Dust Collection Pipes

There are two types of PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride pipes suitable for your dust collection pipes system – the 4 and 6 inches PVC pipe. Although both PVC pipes are lightweight, cost-effective, and easy to use for dust suction, they differ greatly. 

A 4” PVC pipe is more efficient than 6” PVC in using the power of the central system because the thinner and lighter the pipe, the easier to work. 

However, the 6” PVC is a reliable pipe size for continuous and maximum airflow in the pipeline, making it ideal for collecting a high amount of sawdust. 

Also, to collect sawdust effectively, the PVC joints should be screwed to avoid falling apart. You must also prevent using pipes more than 6” because it defeats the purpose of the pipeline system.

See Also: Uses for Sawdust 

woodworking shop dust piping system

Heavier PVC pipes tend to reduce the power of the collection system and are difficult to handle.

PVC Pipes Static Discharges

Although plastic piping such as PVC builds up electricity or static discharges seem to be a norm, you should not take a chance at a dust explosion. The static electricity ignites the dust, which is combustible, inside the pipe.

In my own workshop, I put an end to this hazard by grounding my PVC dust collection system. What did the trick for me was 20-gauge insulated copper wire, along with connectors for the joints. You can also use uninsulated copper wire with 18 gauge strands. 

Run the copper wire along or around the pipe throughout your pipeline system to disperse the built-up static electricity. If you need connectors, attach an end of your wire with the connectors and the other end to the frame of the dust collector. 

duct collection system

Ensure both ends of the piping branch are secured to keep the wire in place.

Pros & Cons of PVC Dust Collection Pipes

Using PVC dust collection pipes offers gains and losses to your woodworking, but how safe and effective a PVC pipeline system could be? I have listed the setbacks and benefits of a PVC dust collection pipeline system:

Pros

Cons

Metal Dust Collection Pipes

Metal dust collection pipes are more durable and flexible during installation making them the best option on pipeline system construction. 

setting up dust collection pipes

To install the metal pipeline, ensure a 4,500 feet per minute velocity to have sufficient suction power to minimize dust explosion. I typically opt for semi-flexible rubber tubing that’s compatible with high pressure. It gives me the flexibility I need to make adjustments as I go along.

Unlike PVC, you won’t deal with the static built up to your metal pipes. That said, you’ll still want to be meticulous about your pipe sizing. Stick with the 4- and 6-inch pipe sizes to ensure efficient suction for collecting all that sawdust.

Pros & Cons of Metal Dust Collection Pipes

Solid metal dust collection pipes offer a wide range of benefits rather than setbacks. So here are the advantages and disadvantages of using metal pipes for dust collection:

Pros

Cons

How Should You Hang Dust Collector Pipes Properly?

Your dust collection system requires efficient ducting system designs from your workspace to its collection unit or filter system to draw dust through the ducting for collection. The system includes a spiral duct for dust collection, so how would you hang the ducts?

white pipe

The spiral duct for dust collection is essential to increase the quality of your finished products. It gives your workspace visibility for taking accurate measurements and preventing scoring defects on your finishing applications.

With this, I highly recommend the following methods to hang your dust collector pipes properly.

Wire

Secure the galvanized wire to either the ceiling or a metal pipe, and then wrap it around the ducting area. Although considered a conventional method, it proves to be effective in practice.

Metal Strapping

Use perforated rolls of galvanized sheet metal plumber strapping, then make a U to mount flush with the ceiling. You must secure both ends with screws. Then, ensure the distance of the loop is consistent by using a tape measure before bolting the tape around your duct.

Nylon Cable Ties

Nylon cable ties are the easiest way to install nylon cable ties with screw-in mounts. You can use 2 inches screws to secure the heavy nylon, then thread the wide long nylon cable ties into the mounting brackets. 

large dust collection pipe

Band Clamps

Stainless steel band clamps are used to mount duct pipes. Clamp the pipes and secure them using a deck screw. 

Metal Cable

Use a stranded metal cable or wire rope with your band clamps. Adjust the length according to the size of your pipes. 

Suspension System

The suspension system uses a metal cable that you can adjust to the fittings making your installation quicker and easier. 

Is it Recommended to Use ABS Pipe for Your Dust Collection?

Since the dust collection pipe is installed indoors and not exposed to direct sunlight, you can use the ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene pipes.

These pipes come in black and are commonly used for industrial settings such as vents, drainage, and sewage because it’s chemical resistant. Also, it can withstand extreme temperatures and is highly durable against physical damage.

woodworking shop

Therefore, ABS pipes are less likely to warp or deform in high or low temperatures. 

However, these pipes contain BPA or bisphenol A, which is considered a health risk factor if you use ABS pipes for the water system. 

But since no water is involved in your dust collection pipe system, it is safe to use ABS pipes.

Conclusion

In wrapping this up, I’ve got to hand it to metal pipes for being the standout in dust collection efficiency. You can rely on its durability and risk-free pipes for your dust collection procedure.

But, regardless of what kind of pipe you use for dust collection, you must ensure that the ducts of your pipe system are secured, and you establish sufficient power to your central system. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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