Dust Control —
No Longer Just a Shop Vac
With growing awareness and legislation relating to silica dust and worker health, vacuum systems are changing radically. The side benefit of this worker health and safety push is that dust removal is now recognized as increasing productivity—from improving sanding performance to cooling masonry drills.
The suction power and CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) are increasing while new adjustments on the vacuums enable you to lower speeds or open hose orifices to reduce suction. If using a vacuum with perforated orbital sanding, you want to get the dust and grit off—but don’t want to suck the sandpaper down too hard to the surface. When you get that balance just right, you can double or triple sanding efficiency. Drilling holes for epoxy anchors is faster, cooler and more efficient when hollow core drills leave holes clean and ready to use, and surface grinding is more efficient when you can see the finished surface at all times.
Today, machines are so multi-purpose that you really need to study what bag and filter combination is required for the task: wood dust, concrete dust, chips, liquid, heavy ceramic, or masonry slurry removal. HEPA requirements can be met with many of these machines. To this end, you will find machines are generally optimized for one task or another—Bosch is generally more efficient at concrete particle removal while Fein is optimized for general wood dust and debris. Manual or automatic filter cleaning is often available. Bosch instructions even suggest alerting co-workers not to worry when your vac sounds like the kick of truck air brakes every 15 seconds—it does this to stay clean and maintain full vac power.
Despite their power, machines are generally quiet today, running at about 66db. Even manual or auto blow-black cleaning only goes up to about 69db—and these features can be turned off when not needed.
The tool actuated plug is also extremely useful. The Bosch machine has a dial you can set to ensure you don’t blow a fuse. Reduce the power to the vacuum if you are using a high amperage tool via a dial located right on the face of the machine. Using tool actuation reduces site noise dramatically, while assuring you have dust extraction when it is needed.
Flat tops are becoming the norm—allowing for attachment of accessory boxes, like the Bosch LBOXX. Fein Turbo flat tops are designed to accept several different brands of storage boxes.
Prices range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand depending on size and features—but when it solves a dust problem and increases productivity, the investment is definitely justified.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.