Getting the Most ‘into’ Your Extractor


Getting the Most ‘into’ Your Extractor:
Chris Grace improves the effectiveness and ease of use of his extraction system.

Chris Grace improves the effectiveness and ease of use of his extraction system

Having a chip/dust extractor is great, but they are only of real benefit if they are easy to use and can efficiently remove the waste from where it is generated. My old extractor was okay, but it used a bag-type filter which I felt was blowing fine dust back out into my workshop. The extent of this was realised when I moved the extractor and found the area behind covered in a build up of very fine dust. Also, it was tucked away in the corner of my workshop so I sometimes had to rearrange things to get to it and turn it on. We just never have a big enough workshop, do we?
So, it was time for an upgrade and I happened to come across a vortex-type extractor with a fine cartridge filter. It looked big but amazingly the footprint wasn’t much different from my old extractor. When it arrived
I found the control box was on the wrong side for where it would have to fit. It also started a self-cleaning cycle each time it was switched off, which is okay if you’re running it for prolonged periods, but annoying if you want to regularly switch the extraction on and off. The solution was to replace the control box so it could be located conveniently and convert the filter agitator to manual. Oh, and I thought I might as well add a remote control, plus a ducting upgrade and a few other enhancements while I was at it.

Upgrading extraction
My new extractor stands on a low shelf making use of the storage space underneath. The control box is located on the wall to the left. The extractor worked well, but I suspected it would perform better if I changed the 100mm flexible pipe for 125mm steel spiral ducting. To create a secure installation the pipes and fittings were connected together with a couple of rivets. The system was made airtight by wrapping it with duct tape. You can see my 125mm spiral ducting alongside my old 100mm flexible pipe. The new system provides increased airflow and a place to mount extension sockets, although I had to make sure the ducting was properly earthed throughout. I often re-purpose items to make what I need inexpensively. The 100mm ducting provided the perfect solution.
A selection of plastic ducting is ready for me to make the accessories to collect the waste where it is produced, at source. I bought my extractor from Axminster, my spiral (metal) ducting and my domestic ducting from Ventilation Centre Ltd.

Elevate extractor to maximise space

Secure pipes with pop rivets

Make pipes airtight with tape

Rigid ducting is more efficient

Domestic extraction fittings

Adaptors and blastgates
I used a flexible plastic pipe adaptor as a quick coupling to accommodate a variety of interchangeable collection shrouds attached to the end of my workshop flexi-hoses. A swivel collar with a hinge attached and neodymium magnet made it quick and easy to position the adaptor exactly where it was needed. Blastgates are essential in a ducted system serving several locations in the workshop, but the  little screws that hold them open are a pain, especially when they fall out.
I drilled the blastgate body and inserted a neodymium magnet against the steel slide. So there’s no fiddling to open or close the gate, I just slide it and it stays put. I cut the pipe with a hacksaw and used a deburring tool to clean up the inside. I found cleaning the outside easier with a fine file.

Swivelling collar avoids knots in pipes

Magnet holds blastgate open/closed

De-burr to eliminate snagging points

Lathe extraction
Capturing dust at the source is a great idea, but it’s difficult on a lathe where I make things of very different shapes. My magnetic pipe works well, but I wanted something more flexible so I started on a modular system. I decided three sections with interchangeable heads would provide sufficient flexibility. It is important to get a snug fit, so using the round pipe I marked an arc on the rectangular joints, before filing them to shape. As you can see it’s almost a perfect fit.
On the inside, I marked the connector ready for the cutout to allow the air and waste to pass through. I then drilled a hole in each corner and used a coping saw to make the cuts. It was glued together with solvent weld and the joint reinforced with a fillet where possible. For one end of the stand I cut a support on the bandsaw. A sanding arbor in my drillpress, with dust extraction, enabled me to get a good smooth fit. A strap made from aluminium holds this end snugly, but still enables it to rotate when needed. The other end of the base required a stop to plug the end of the round tube. The last part required for this rig was an MDF wheel with a ridge on one end made on my lathe with extraction running. This was then bolted to the support stand with washers, which was just tight enough to provide some friction to prevent the round tube turning on it’s own, but readily moveable. The three sections were joined with 100mm round duct connectors left unglued to enable independent rotation. The sections can be changed to accommodate the pipes that are best suited to get extraction as close as possible to the source of the waste. The pipes are left as a push fit so they can be adjusted as required.Here I have the system set up to extract a long(ish) cylinder and they remove almost all of the dust at source.

Mark cuts carefully

Test fit before gluing

Maximise cutaway for best air flow

Strap securely, but allow rotation

Make ‘end plugs’ on the lathe

Provide sufficient friction to hold

Three arms set with different heads

One arm blanked off increases flow

Specialised dust ports
With the lathe sorted I turned my attention to other sources of dust – my drill. A round 100mm to retangular 200mm elbow adapter proved perfect for extraction on my drill. I created a cutout to enable clear visibility and maximise extraction efficiency.
It enabled me to get suction around two sides of anything I am drilling.Where I am spraying waste from a carbide burr on a mini angle grinder I found a guttering hopper was more effective at catching the dust. Unfortunately, the plastic ones don’t come with a 100mm outlet so I simply cut a hole in it and solvent welded one in. Where I need greater dexterity I use a short length of pipe with a curved piece solvent welded onto it, which I attach to my wrist with a strap. This means both hands are completely free to concentrate on the work and the tool I am using. A benefit to using plastic is if a cutter touches the duct then there is no damage or drama. Despite my best endeavours, I’m still able to make ample mess on my floor and needed a floor sweeper to clean up quickly and effectively. Using a combination of squares, I marked up the rectangular duct for a 45° cut to form the sweeping end.

Angled drill press dust collector

Rain hopper dust collector

100mm pipe and wrist strap

Floor vacuum
A discarded plastic water tank provided the material to make wheels for the bottom of the floor vac, where a hole cutter creates instant wheels. A quick trim up on the lathe was the easiest way of putting a slight chamfer around the circumference. Stainless bolts and washers, left slightly loose, enable the wheels to turn. A round to rectangular adapter with a wooden handle completes the floor sweeper. All of my dust catching flexi pipes and accessories are quickly interchangeable with a push fit thanks to careful selection of 100mm duct parts. Finally, I have another job clearing up all the mess I made on my last turning project!

Transfer lines with two squares

Holesaws produce instant wheels

Trim plastic with a trailing scraper

Leave the wheels free to rotate

Inexpensive and effective floor sweeper

If you want to try this at home, here are some top tips:
• Capture as much of your dust/chipping at source to prevent it entering the atmosphere in your workshop
• Plan your layout carefully to minimise tight bends and get extraction where you need it
• Don’t attempt to cut thin plastic tubes, etc.  on a power saw. It’s too flexible and would be unsafe
• Make sure you use a saw with an appropriate number of teeth for the material you are cutting. Coping saw blades are available with different tooth counts
• I always pilot drill into the edge of MDF to stop it splitting before screwing the pieces firmly together
• Use a fine hacksaw blade to make good clean straight cuts in thin plastic
 Keep all sorts of things. I do, much to my wife’s dismay. I use almost everything eventually
• When using bolts to secure duct parts, ensure they are as short and smooth as possible inside to prevent them snagging debris


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