05 February, 2022

Shop updates progress.

Shop updates progress.

So in late December, I gave a list of shop upgrades, where I was with them, and what was left to do. At that time, what was left pending I beilieve was...

  1. DC duct move / straightening. This is in progress.
  2. Install the band saw tires.
  3. Compressed air hard piping. I have all the stuff and have started installing the outlets.
  4. Lighting. This is for safety and energy efficiency. I need to buy the bulbs.
  5. Finish the miter saw cabinet drawers and doors.
  6. Blown in insulation. I may have to farm this out, but it shouldn't be too terribly expensive.
So let's handle the items one at a time and give you an idea of what is happening.

DC Duct move / straightening. 

I've never been truly satisfied with the way my current dust collection piping setup is run, and I am in process of taking the parts down that bother me, and re-routing them. I am replacing the 4" main duct with 5" which is the maximum size my dust collector is made for, and running, at least for now, until I branch, so for example the workbench and table saw area have an upper, and a lower run. I am running the 5" duct overhead, and branching where the workbench / table saw extension table begin, in order to accomodate pulling from both lines at the same time. 

The first section of 5" being run. I have since tightened up the
hanger and the angles are now correct.

The 4" being reconfigured, yes I know I am hard on my workbench
The joints are locked together with pop rivets for semi
permanence but can be taken apart if needed.

The run between the workbench and the table saw is DONE!

Due to working with what I have, and what is available on the market, I am using a mix of 4" DWV PVC, 2.5"m 4 and 5" ABS plastic dust collection fittings including 5x5x5 ABS branch wyes, and 5x4 ABS duct reducers, and of course 5" snap lock duct and 5" sheet metal adjustable elbows.

I am haing to cut down some of the DWV as I used to have it literally accross the floor, and needed to remove about 4 feet of pipe to make the configuration change. Cutting this on the miter saw without dust collection was honeslty a messy affair. 

The joints on the assemblies that need to be permanently connected, are being drilled and pop riveted. IF for any reason I do need to dissassemble, for example I sell this place and need to relocate, OR I finally build that outbuilding workshop by some miracle of finances, I will be able to drill out the rivets and be good to go.

Sealing of the joints will take place when everything is in place and will be done with aluminum HVAC tape. The metal 5" run shown above has already been done, I honestly need more tape. I will also be taping the seam of the split lock to prevent air incursion from there.

Why did you go with 5" when there are people doing 6" upgrades with Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collectors and Cyclones?

I've worried myself to pieces over this, and had more than a few excitable debates with various fellow forum members on many woodworking forums about this. Many say just pitch the Harbor Freight unit all together, but a true full on proper cyclone and pipe it for 8". Those same folks don't ever volunteer donations to that end.  But the other advice teeters between 5" to get the most out of what my collector was designed for, and upsizing including the inlet in the impeller housing to 6" as 6" will move more air, and that is absolutely true. 6" WILL move more air than 5", quite a bit more. Let me show you the difference between 4" and 5", and you might be able to guess how much different 6" will be...

4" x 2.5" ABS Branch Wye L, 5" x 5" ABS Branch Wye R.

Lastly, the warnings I have seen RE: the loss in static pressure (vacuum) using 6" with a 2HP blower. And YES I know companies like Grizzly etc... have 6" ports on 1.5HP dust colectors, but I am honestly trying to do as much of the Bill Pentz approach as I can with what I have. 

A reminder of the modifications to the dust collector.

In order to accomplish the goals and go with the recommendations, from Bill Pentz I have done the following.
  1. Remove and discard the terrible filter bag that just makes the dust collector a dust pump, and replace it with a Wynn cartridge filer. Mine is a MERV15 35A and is well over a decade old.
  2. The Harbor Freight / Central Machinery 2 HP dust collector has a motor and impeller housing that will easily handle a 12" impeller, but they ship with a 9.75" impeller. I upgraded mine with a Wen 3403-22 Turbofan (impeller). The swap was quick and easy, although I have seen 2 reports on the Redditt woodworking subforum where owners managed to break the flange trying to pull the original impeller. I am assuming this is a casting quality issue with the OE impeller. They were both newer gray machines unlike my old green model. Be prepared to get creative to get the original out if the flange snaps. Once out though, the new one goes in easy...
  3. Neutral Vane. This is basically a piece of duct extension in the inlet ring of the bag holder on the dust collector, it keeps the air moving in a cyclonic motion, and allows dust and chips to fall out of the air stream before it goes up to the filter, keeping the filter cleaner. It is nowhere near as effective as a true separate cyclone separator, or a Thien cyclone. I love the Thien cyclone, I am a big proponent of the Thien Cyclone, HOWEVER separators take a big hot on airflow, slowing your CFM down quite a bit. So I opted for the Neutral Vane Since it does not separate quite as well as a dedicated separator, I take my blow gun on the air compressor, and blow down my filter after every single use... So far so good. The plans for the Neutral Vane for the Harbor Freight or similar sized / cone ramped dust collectors can be found in the post on Sawdustzone.org by LCHIEN. Give him props for his fine work and sharing it please!

Install the band saw tires. 

These were a Santa needing to be cost effective with his elves sort of Christmas gift, but desperately needed as my originals are cracking causing a bumping of the blade as it travels. These are inexpensive on Amazon, and a good upgrade to any of the cheap relatvely speaking, Chinese 14" band saws. But yeah, the install hasn't happened yet. I need to do it, but just have had other things going on. Definately go with Polyurethane tires as they are smoother, last longer and far less likely to end up cracking and causing bumping and / or tracking problems.

Compressed air hard piping.


The system is installed and working. And I am loving it. Another Christmas gift upgrade. I have been wanting a piping system since I started building the shop. It makes air avaialble anywhere in the shop I want it without tripping over hoses. 

The heart of the system is my Central Pnuematic 29 gallon compressor,
I am piped straight out of the regualtor to the piping system with a ball
valve to cut off flow in case of a problem.

I updated my connections to the mainfold setup with the secondary
regulator, filter / dryer, and I have updated since this photo, to
3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings to insure full air flow.

Run up the wall, and accross the ceiling, I have since secured
the tubing with tubing clips.

My previously existing overhead hose reel was moved all the way
forward to between the overhead doors. Careful plumbing keeps
everything out of the way of the door tracks / hardware. Sadly this
hose reel, and ALL of them I could find only had 1/4" fittings. 

The outlet block has been reconfigured since this
picture, again to insure full airflow, I got rid of the
bushings and 1/4" MPT pieces, and went with 3/8"
MPT parts, including Milton 3/8" MPT Type V,M,A
couplers. I LOVE my Miltons!

To do.

Finish updating 1/4" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings to 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings. I still need one. The fittings came with a restrictor / baffle type plate that reduces the airflow to a 1/4" hex hole for some unknown reason. I managed to drill out 2 of them to 3/8" to return the fittings to full diameter and not be a restriction.  However overdrilling and punching out the spring retainer and the plastic clip is WAY too easy. The fitting MFGs need to redesign these to insure they are made for full flow / diameter of the tubing. The 2 fittings I did manage to get right do not leak. I have another pack of them on the way.

Both outlet blocks have the previously mentioned Milton couplers, and oh boy are they nice. I do however still need one to upgrade the outlet at the manifold by the air compressor. 


The 48" shop light fixtures were blowing T12 tubes, which are hard to come by nowadays, at a freakishly fast rate. I did a ballast bypass upgrade on all of the installed fixtures. These are double ended ballast bypass LED tubes. The amount of light they output is much higher than what the flourescent tubes put out.

Miter Saw Cabinet Drawers

The miter saw cabinet drawers are kind of on hold. Not super important although I need to get it done, but just not super high priority.

Blown in insulation.

Nope. Not yet. This is a time and budget issue. I just don't want to move the stuff against that wall yet...

Not on the prior list. What's been done, what else needs to get done.


A post was already made on this, but I made a quick and ugly bench grinder / sharpening station, and a flip top tool stand. I have already started on the second. The thought process is I do NOT want to drag my bench tools on and off of, well, anything.

The sharpening station has been moved since this pic to
immediately at the overhead door. I like it better there...

The flip top stand is a VERY basic 2x4 and plywood design.
I am in process of building a second one for my sander / scroll saw.

To do.

  1. Finish up my second flip top stand. Need some more 2x4s, Too cold to go get it today.
  2. Finish up the migration to 5" ducting for the dust collection.
  3. Build a box to house 2 salvaged drawers as a lathe tool storage, and of course moun it above the spreaders on the base of the lathe stand, build and install a ballast enclosure under the spreaders with levellers, and retractable casters.
  4. Build a base cabinet for the drill press that provides storage for my hand drills, drill bits, hole saws etc...

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