Dust Collection: Do You Really Need It?

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about dust collection, and I got to thinking, “Do I need a dust collection unit? “. In case you are unfamiliar with this term, a dust collection unit collects all the particles of combustible sawdust in the air and collects it (as the name suggests) so it won’t explode and kill you. So, to determine if I needed one, I performed an experiment, which went as follows:

Here I had three containers: the one on the left is coarse sawdust from a handsaw, the middle one is hand plane shavings (I say “hand plane” because an electric plane makes much smaller shavings) and the one on the right is fine sawdust from sandpaper. Next, I lit my torch. Now, the experiment goes like this: I take a bit of sawdust (not plane shavings, but I’ll get to those) and throw it into the flame. If it creates a fireball, I know that it’s dangerous. So, here we go! Coarse sawdust take one, and:

Well, that was anticlimactic. Again!

Hmm… Well, it looks like coarse sawdust (like from a table or hand saw) is rather boring when it comes to burning. But what about fine sawdust? Essayons!


It extinguishes my torch. Hmph. By now, now that we’ve proven that sawdust doesn’t fireball like we want, there is likely only one question left: What are the shavings for? But fear not, my friends! That question will not long remain unanswered!
The shavings are, in my opinion, the most likely and dangerous fire hazards are these shavings, for even if you have the most primitive form of ventilation (i.e. an open window or door) and even if there is only a slight breeze, the breeze will carry the sawdust away if it is light enough to be floating in the first place. Shavings, however, are most likely to be lying around in piles, and it only takes a spark to turn this:

Into this:
However, if this happens, there is something you can use to save your shop: sawdust.

The lesson? Concerning dust collection, it is, “If you have a power sander that you frequently use with high grit sandpaper, you probably do need one”.
And concerning planes? Don’t leave your shavings in a pile!
Hope you enjoyed, God bless, and I will see you (at least figuratively!) in the next post


5 thoughts on “Dust Collection: Do You Really Need It?

  1. One good reason for having a dust collection system is that it helps the sanity of your daddy. : ))
    Oh, the shop vac IS a dust collection system if you think about it…


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