Along with all the great machines tools and devices that create a superb wood shop, every such facility should have a means of controlling dust: from the chip waste from cutting, planing, and routing to the fine dust from sanding. This not only helps keep the shop clean, but it also creates a healthier, safer woodworking environment.
Another superb add-on to any serious shop is compressed air, which gives a woodworker access to an extensive and versatile collection of pneumatic devices for machining, sanding, cleaning, clamping, and finishing wood. We will examine both kinds of air systems in the woodshop: sucking up dust and blowing pressurized air.
Methods for Controlling Dust
Until roughly the mid-1980’s, the only dust collection tools available to small-shop wood workers were brooms and dust pans. However if we go back to when woodworking was mostly or entirely done with hand tools, cleaning up the shop was a matter of scooping up piles of shavings and sweeping a little dust off the floor. Absent in this pile were significant amounts of fine dust; back then wood surfaces were typically smoothed by planing or scraping -- not sanding.
In modern woodshop, however, one is likely to find a full complement of stationary machines and portable-electric power tools capable of producing gobs of wood chips and clouds of fine dust. Without some means of collection, chips pile up quickly and can easily ignite, and the air fills with particles fine enough to enter nasal passages and lungs, leading to myriad health issues. If you are concerned about fire safety or your respiratory health, it is vital to create a strategy for dealing with sawdust -- regardless of the size of your wood shop.