Dust, dust flying everywhere. Such an annoyance in the woodworking shop. Table saw, router, miter saw, all tossing it around with each cut. There’s got to be something that will cure this.
The laments of a beginner woodworker, and we’ve all been there. We agonize over which tools to begin our shop inventory with and want to stay within our budget. But cutting wood is going to make a mess. A broom and dustpan is the cheap way out, but eventually, that gets old.
There is always a shop vac, of course. We wrote recently about shop vacs and peak hp even. While they work just fine and come in a variety of sizes and powers, and collection capacity, today, we want to consider SawStop dust collection systems as worth considering.
Dust collection systems often focus attention on the dust beneath the table, and some will claim the ability to gather 99%, leaving only a small percentage for the broom. The SawStop systems, though, collect the dust where it originates from, table-top dust. And when connected to a dust collector, the SawStop units will do the job.
SawStop Table and Cabinet Saws
We’ve covered SawStop saws in the past and want one very much someday for our own woodworking shop someday. The patented safety feature in their table and cabinet saws is amazing.
The SawStop blade carries a signal, and when the blade comes in contact with your skin, the signal changes. The changed signal triggers the safety feature, which stops the blade from spinning and drops it into the lower chamber of the saw so it’s out of reach.
Impressed? Well, listen to this: it all happens in 5 milliseconds or less. We’ve written about it in the past, and you can find one of the articles here. It’s worth visiting just to see the video we showed – the safety feature in action after the blade came in contact with a hot dog. Very cool.
SawStop holds the patents on its own safety system, and they will not fully expire until 2026. We wrote of this in a previous article, and you’ll find our combination of woodworking and legalese discussion here.
The Overarm Dust Collection System
The SawStop overarm dust collection system is a simple and out-of-your-way fixture on SawStop table saw. The dust collection unit begins on the side of the table saw with a port to which you can collect your shop’s dust collection vacuum; it then extends up and over the table and down to the saw blade, encasing it in a hard plastic fixture that covers the blade.
Your vacuum system provides the suction, and dust created during a cut is drawn up over the table and to the port where your shop’s system carries it away. It’s easy to maneuver and bring down to house the blade and plate through which the blade extends above the table surface. It’s unobtrusive and does not get in your way.
It’s compatible with all SawStop saws and will fit all rail and table lengths. A custom Y-port joins dust collection both above and below the saw’s table into that single port.
It will run you around $290 and includes all unit parts with no additional expenditures necessary to make it work.
The Floating Overarm Dust Collection System
A major step up from the Overarm Dust Collection System is the floating version. This is a heavy-duty upgrade and offers the user protection while removing dust in both standard and non-through cuts.
Like the overarm version, it begins at a port on the side of the table, extends up and over the table with rigid steel overarm, and has a flexible and extensible plastic hose that connects to the transparent blade cover.
The transparent blade cover is easily moved into place over the blade to serve as a guard, with great visibility on the workpiece being cut, whether a standard cut or a non-through cut. As the workpiece is pushed through the blade, the blade cover rises to accommodate it, all the while sucking the dust and debris generated instantly.
The see-through blade cover also lifts easily for quick access to the blade. Its rigid steel overarm will swing smoothly out of the way for you following use. Once you’ve determined the right spot, it will lock into position and stay in place for you.
The 4” tubes of the unit allow for high air volume, and the 4” dedicated extraction port requires only a minimum of 400 CFM. CFM is cubic feet per minute and indicates a compressor’s flow rate.
Average-size table saws need between 300 – 600 CFM to be cleaned effectively. As we pointed out in the article on shop vacs mentioned above, even a large shop vac model is not going to generate enough CFM to service a SawStop table saw, but a dust collector will. Even a small dust collector will generate sufficient air volume collection to help keep your SawStop, and by extension, your woodworking shop clean and dust free.
Unlike the SawStop overarm dust collection system, which is compatible with all SawStop table saw, and cabinet saw models, the floating system is available only for SawStop saws using 36” or 52” T-Glide fence system models.
The price is a bit higher, also. The SawStop Floating Overarm Dust Collection system will cost you around $525 plus shipping.
The performance expectation is about 99% dust collection and removal. It’s not 100% because, among other reasons, the blade cuts downward against the wood as it is pushed through the blade. As the cut is completed and the final dust is tossed, the blade will propel the dust forward toward the user and away from the collection hose. Some escape and land on the table between the user and the blade. A dustpan and brush will finish the job quickly, though.
To illustrate this point by demonstration, we found a video where this is made clear. It shows the SawStop Floating Overarm Dust Collection unit in action.
As you noticed in the video, the flexible and rigid hoses of the collection system, from the port on the side of the table to the blade guard that fits over the blade and blade plate, are pretty substantial. This allows full suction at the highest CFM rating of the compressor of your dust collector.
Even though the dust collection is not absolute, and you still might need a dustpan and brush for that lingering 1%, it’s still a system worth considering. If you can afford to have a SawStop table saw in your woodworking shop, you can probably afford one of its dust collection units.
There are competitors who produce similar systems to one degree of success or another. We’ve not sampled or researched any of them for this article. Perhaps we will in a future piece. But, for now, we present SawStop’s own dust collector system for consideration.