Routing Extraction


Routing Extraction:
We have the ‘not so dusty’ answers to the perennial problem of wood dust extraction

A homemade extraction sub-base and outlet pipe

We often show photos of routers in use without extraction fitted so you can see what is going on. In fact, extraction is necessary wherever possible but there are issues around using it, including restricted vision of the work area, cumbersome hoses, ineffective extraction and incompatible components. Here are  some ways you can work and breathe more safely.

Visible dust is choking but finer dust particles of one micron or less are damaging to health as they can penetrate skin and lung tissue. Therefore, dust should always be removed at the source as much as possible with any dust creating operation

Most routers and other power tools come with some means of extracting dust and chippings. It pays to check before purchase how good these devices really are. Most are clear plastic add-ons, but better extraction is built into the machine

You need an HPLV (High Pressure Low Volume) extractor which may look like an industrial vacuum cleaner but has filtration designed to deal with wood dust. The better ones have auto-switching that comes on when you start the power tool and runs on afterwards to clear dust fully from the extraction pipe

Working overhand the router’s own extraction will generally work quite well, but the router needs to be guided properly as vision of the cutter on the workpiece may be restricted

Edge machining is messy unless the fence is fitted with an extraction bowl, which is then connected to the extractor. It may be possible to create a homemade solution that will fit on your fence so long as it doesn’t contact the cutter at all

Router tables come with an extraction port fitted in the middle of the fence, which is satisfactory for operations where the workpiece runs against the side of the cutter as the chippings are thrown towards the extraction port

There are other table operations when you might need to adopt other solutions. These can either be overhead or to one side and may consist of just a pipe and a collection spout placed where most waste is being ejected

Always maintain and use a kit of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) as necessary. Use safety glasses and good quality dustmasks, not simple ‘monkey masks’ which don’t stop fine dust from passing through

Woodworking is always going to be a somewhat messy activity but there is a big difference between ‘lying dust’
and ‘flying dust’ – the latter being the risky stuff. You get special workshop air filters that are designed to remove very fine dust particles from the atmosphere and are left switched on all the time you are working


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