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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 Bridgewood comes with the preferred 1-micron filter bag; a 1-micron cartridge with disposal bags is optional. Its performance was only fair.
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