Dual Dust Hoppers

With the main cabinet done and both table saw and router table sat in their respective positions, I next needed to look at installing my dust hopper-style system below each machine to contain and collect any stray sawdust and chips. There’s only 100mm between the shelf and underside of the top so, I didn’t have much room to play with – certainly, not enough for a ‘conventional’ hopper; a steep-sided construction with a hole in the centre. I spent a couple of days trying to mentally visualise a solution without getting anywhere but in to a world of frustration. It wasn’t until I sat down Friday morning and played with Google SketchUp for a half-hour or so, that I came up with the following:

To keep the sides as steep as possible (which encourages dust to slide down in to the port), I would have to place the extraction port at one end of the construction. It may not be as effective but, I really do believe it’s the best that I could have done.

So, how on Earth do you construct something like this, with all those compound angles?

First, to greatly simplify the process, I constructed a simple box from some recycled 12mm MDF (actually, measuring 13mm). With this, I could then measure for and fit two sloped side pieces, as you’ll see below:

A full-scale rod (drawn out on a spare sheet of MDF) would give me all the angles I would need. Various length and width dimensions could be taken from inside the box, using a steel ruler.

That electric (corded, 230v) nail gun is the Tacwise 191EL. I’ve had it for about six-years but, I doubt whether I’ve actually used it as-many times. It was a competition prize and, even though I tried (and, clearly, failed) to sell it two-years ago, my day-job has shown me that, sometimes, we could use a simple pin gun (brad nailer) like this in our workshops… It’s not great, by any means. In terms of pin-punching performance, it doesn’t really compare to an compressor-driven air model, as you can see above. To punch the heads fully below the surface first time, you really have to put a lot of manual force down on to the tool. This is only MDF, remember… Don’t expect these pins to sink in any further if you’re using a nice bit of hard oak, for example! šŸ˜›

But, in situations like this, where clamps cannot easily be used, a gun like this does help to hold things in place while the glue dries. Another way of looking at this model is to say that, once the glue has cured, the pins are surplus to requirements, anyway. They’ve served their purpose on this project and, the inequalities of this power tool allow you to remove each pin with the greatest of ease! šŸ˜‰

I have no intention of owning a noisy compressor at this time – another floor-hungry energy-consumer! It’s just a shame that my Tacwise gun decided to die on me as soon as I completed the second hopper (for the table saw)! I fired a nail (only 15mm long), a couple of large sparks flew out and my radio went silent (it was plugged in to the same double-socket on the wall)… After resetting the circuit breaker, I tried replacing the 13 amp fuse in the plug several times but, I have not been able to get this brad nailer working again. šŸ˜¦ The socket is fine and there’s definitely no jam in the firing area. Only question is, do I want to spend Ā£50 on another one? šŸ˜•

It wasn’t an easy job getting this to fit in to its opening. A good five-to-ten-minutes work with the belt sander was required to reduce the external dimensions. Even after that and, a lot of abuse from a hammer and block of wood, it only just went in! Well, at least it does require any kind of fixing to hold it in place. I just hope I never have to try and remove it!! šŸ˜€

I forgot to mention earlier that all of these bevels were marked out and planed by hand. It all worked out quite well, considering. I could have set either my table or bandsaw for only some of the angles. Others though, were too ‘acute’ for any of my saws.

I then needed to drill a hole in the back of the cabinet for a length of 40mm waste pipe to slip through, in to the newly-fitted dust hopper. As I don’t own a 40mm flat or spade bit, I had to drill this out with a smaller size, before enlarging the hole with my router and a bearing-guided rebate cutter. I do own a 40mm forstner bit (using to cut the MDF, in my pillar drill) but, it’s so cheap that I would never get through 17.5mm of hardwood plywood using only a hand-held drill!

Looking more closely at this spade bit, I’m amazed even this one made it all the way through the ply, with those 90Ā° flat grinds on top!! There isn’t much metal here that actually does any cutting!

I still have some tidying up to do in places but, that’s certainly the bulk of the work done on this project. I’ve also been working on improving the dust extraction (generally) in my workshop this past week so, there’s plenty more from me still to come. šŸ™‚

Thanks for reading.

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