Do you have an effective system for managing the wood dust, chips and shavings in your shop? If you don’t, I’ll bet you wish you had better dust collection solutions because really, who wants to inhale sanding dust or shuffle through piles of chips and sawdust on the floor? It’s hard to deny that a clean shop is a safer, more pleasant place to work. But, figuring out an effective way to mitigate all the debris from its many sources is a hassle some of us would rather not face.
Rockler took this void in good dust collection solutions to task about six years ago when it developed the first Dust Right® product — a handle that could friction-fit into a machine’s dust port and connect to a 4-in. dust hose. It made switching a hose between several machines as easy as “plug and play.” And the success of that handle has since bloomed into a line of some 40 different Dust Right products.
“Although eliminating dust in the shop makes perfect sense from a health/safety perspective, to be honest, the reason we developed this line has more to do with keeping your shop clean,” says Steve Krohmer, Rockler’s vice president of product development and wholesale. “We’ve found that if it isn’t easy, fast and effective, most woodworkers will simply skip the dust collection stage and deal with the resulting mess.”
Six years ago, even Rockler’s own in-house woodworking shop needed better dust management solutions than what was available at the time. And that’s when the “Eureka!” moment hit.
“The idea for the original Dust Right Handle came from watching the guys disconnecting a 4-in. hose from a machine and trying to use it to clean up the floor,” Krohmer recalls. “We thought, if you had a handle and wand, you could use your dust collector for cleanup just as easily as a shop vac.”
If you haven’t seen it on Rockler’s website this holiday season, that floor sweeping system has just been enhanced. Now, the updated Quick-Fit Floor Sweep rolls on the floor for more convenience. Rockler has added rubber wheels beneath the sweep, which should help cause less wear and tear on both your shop floor and the sweep itself. And, if you’ve considered the system before but have been concerned about the possibility of vacuuming a random nail or screw into your dust collector, Rockler will have a solution for that in a couple of months.
“We are going to be offering a magnetic bar insert that can be snapped into the front of the sweep,” says Dan Wenning, director of product development. “No more sucking up screws and hardware hidden in dust piles and making their way into the impeller of your dust collector. Now they will be collected safely on this magnetic bar as you clean.”
This fall, Rockler launched a new Dust Right accessory to make workbench cleanup easier, too. Called the Bench Sweep, it amounts to a plastic trough that funnels into a 2-1/2-in. port on the bottom, for connecting to a shop vacuum hose or an adapter and a 4-in. dust collector hose.
The problem with bench cleanup is that, typically, we grab a brush or use our hand to sweep dust and shavings from the workbench onto the floor. Wenning points out that while a quick sweep clears the bench, it just relocates the mess to the floor without really cleaning anything. And often what falls to the floor becomes a pile right where you need to stand to continue working.
“With the Bench Sweep attached to the side of your bench, you can whisk the debris into the trough and the mess is gone — not relocated,” Wenning says.
There’s a hinged lid on top of the trough to act as a backstop when sweeping debris into the trough. It’s one of Wenning’s favorite features of the design. There’s also a removable grate that can large debris from falling down inside. The port on the bottom comes with a cap, too, so if you’d prefer not to connect the Bench Sweep to a vacuum, you can fill it, lift off the trough (it has keyhole fittings for mounting screws) and dump it into a trash can instead.
The port on the bottom was purposefully designed, Wenning points out. “The 2-1/2-in. dust port can have a hose attached to the outside with a hose clamp, or you can insert a standard shop vacuum hose inside the port for a friction fit.”
Another industry-first dust collection challenge that Rockler’s product development team has solved in recent years is the often-frustrating task of connecting portable power tools to a vacuum or dust extractor.
“For some reason, there isn’t just one standard (dust port) size on portable power tools,” Krohmer says. “It seems like every tool has its own unique fitting, and some aren’t even round. So, in our Universal Small Port Hose Kit, we developed a hose fitting that is super flexible and can stretch over a range of diameters and sizes.”
Just two of these flexible fittings, contained in the kit, accommodate about 90 percent of the portable power tools on the market, Krohmer says. Those, coupled with a flexible stretch hose, have made the Universal Small Port Hose Kit the company’s best-selling Dust Right product.
This year, Rockler has released two new auxiliary ports that now make it possible to attach Kreg pocket-hole jigs to shop vacs, as well as Triton’s orange power tool line. They’re sold separately from the Universal Small Port Hose Kit as an auxiliary kit (Auxiliary Hose Ports, item 56613) for $14.99.
While shop cleanup will never be as fun as building a project, Dust Right products can help us deal with the mess more quickly and easily — often right at the source where it’s made. That means less coughing, nose-blowing, sweeping and fuss.
“Given an effective way to connect either a dust collector or shop vac to their tools, woodworkers are more than willing to use it to eliminate or reduce the amount of cleanup they have at the end of their project,” Krohmer says. “And if there’s a little (or a lot) less dust in the air, and in their lungs, all the better.”