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A modest, portable dust collector can do a good job provided you fit it with an effective filter and don’t treat it like a true central dust-collection system with long runs of ductwork. To be effective, a portable dust collector must move air fast enough to transport big chips, shavings, and dust; move enough air to capture all the waste that woodworking machinery generates; and trap even the finest dust particles. But without a first-class filter, a dust collector becomes a dust-recirculating pump, spewing contaminated air throughout the shop. The 10 collectors tested are about the most powerful type available that run on normal 120v household current. They have a 1.5-hp motor driving an impeller to suck dust into the filter and the collection bags. They’re designed to handle the waste from a typical shop machine but not from two machines at once. As a practical matter, a dust collector needs to provide 800 cfm or more to move all the dust, chips, and shavings that machines like tablesaws, jointers, and planers produce. The Delta 50-850 performed well. It comes with a 5-micron filter bag; a 1-micron bag is a $90 option.
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