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Woodshop Dust Collection – Nordfab QF Quick Fit System

Serious Dust Collection!

Dust creates two major issues in any shop. First is a cleanliness issue what can pose safety risks, but those are the larger particles and chips.  More importantly, dust smaller than 10 microns can be one of the most dangerous and long term items that causes health issues.  These are serious issues that should not be overlooked.

Woodworking Dust Issues

Listed below are all of the issues people can have with sawdust.

  • Long-Term Lung Damage – As we spoke above, the invisible fine dust, smaller than 10 micron, that float around the air and linger even after the tools have stopped running. The invisible incredibly small pieces of wood are inhaled and cause tiny wounds and scarring in the lungs.  This damage is very small each time it happens, but the damage is irreversible. The immediate effect is unnoticeable, but over long periods of time, this can result in significantly decreased lung capacity, and a number of other health issues.
  • Irritants – One of the most common ways that wood dust affects people is by being an irritant to our skin, eyes and lungs. The reactions to people are all different, but include itching, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, rashes, and asthma-like breathing problems.  It is hard to imagine, but most woods are an irritant and will cause many to have some sort of reaction when they sand their pieces.
  • Sensitizers – Sensitizers are one step above irritating.  Over time and through repeated exposure, we can become more sensitive to the wood.  Over time, the eventual reaction can be quite strong, resulting in rashes or boils, severe sinus or respiratory pain/inflammation, or a number of other conditions depending on the wood species and the person.
  • Toxins – Toxins are not as common as they used to be, but they are out there in species of wood and also in the treatments of wood.  Lumber that is treated can have poisons in it that stop it from rotting when it is in contact with the ground.  Many of the woods we deal with on a daily basis are not toxins, but some can have them.
  • Carcinogens – There are woods and sawdust that is known to cause cancer.  This could be nasal or lung cancer where the dust can be bad for those areas.

To remain healthy and safe, we have installed the Norfab QF Quick Fit clamp fit duct work in our shop with a really good filter to take the dust that can cause cancer out of the air.  It is important to note that these items are smaller than 10 microns and many filters do not filter to this small.  Take the time to research filters and get one that helps to remove these particles.

Collect Dust

Dust can be collected right at the tool or air in the shop can be filtered by cycling it through filters.  Unfortunatly, new woodworked seem more concerned with the dust all over the shop than with the possible health effects, so they use shop vacs attached to tools.  They will then move up to cyclone systems to save shop vac filters.  After a while, the airborne dust will get annoying so there will be a box fan pulling air through a filter.  The longer one works in the shop, the more they will feel the need to upgrade until finally a larger system designed to handle the dust created is purchased.

If you are working with wood, please use some sort of protection so you do not breathe in the sawdust.  In many cases a good dust collection and filtration system that works down to 2 micron will help.  In many cases, people will use a HEPA rated vacuum along with breathing protection.  Many wet/dry vacs are able to accept a HEPA filter that will allow you to collect the dust from a sander, saw or other tool and filter it down to a safe level.  If you are not using a filter of this grade, you are helping these small particles to be pushed around faster in the air.  It is important that you know your filters capabilities and that you change them as recommended.

Nordfab and the QF Ductwork

The Nordfab Company – Nordfab is an industrial dust collection solution company that offers dust collection design, engineering, and products to outfit your small hobby shop to your large industrial factory. The process of designing and order the parts needed for the Nordfab system in my shop. Additional parts were needed after the tool layout has changed, ordering those parts were easy

QF Ductwork – Nordfab has two types of dust collection systems. They have a flange system and a QF system. The QF stands for “Quick Fitting”. The QF system relies on a self-sealing clamp that joints two section or fittings together. It was a no brainer to go with the QF ductwork, as it is extremely fast and easy to install. You can literally connect 10 joints in under a minute.

The system doesn’t have any obstructions inside the ductwork. This provides increased CFM and a much more efficient dust collection system. In addition to being quick to install, it is just as easy to take down. This is extremely important for a new shop as the layout might not be established or set in stone yet. Moving equipment and changing the dust collection along with it is super easy and convenient. I would argue it is harder to move the equipment than it is to change the dust collection system to fit!

Design

Nordfab offer design and engineering services to help you create the most efficient dust collection system possible.  A layout of my shop and rough dimensions of the shop and the tools spacing were sent to the Nordfab engineering department.  They then provided a CAD drawing of the layout and a list of parts that would be needed to complete the system for the tools and layout that was presented. The green light was given and they processed the order and a week or so later, all the parts from the CAD drawing arrived.

What components did I use?

There are more fitting options than I could have imagined. Seriously! If you can dream it, Nordfab can fab it. My system uses the traditional fittings that can be purchased “off the shelf” but a user can custom order a fitting that is specific to their needs. This is typically needed for more industrial applications but this service certainly can be used for any sized shop.

Here are the components that made up my system:

I also used 4″ flex hose and the QF clamps

How did I hang the ductwork?

Wood Thread/Machine Thread

Wood Thread/Machine Thread

This was the most time consuming part of the operation. Connecting the Nordfab QF sections was a piece of cake using the QF clamps but hanging the entire system was a different story. My situation was unique as I had a slanted ceiling and it was metal.
The slanted ceiling required me to cut each support to a specific length in order to maintain a level system at 9 foot from the ground.
I installed dual threaded fasteners in the ceiling. One end was wooden threads and the other was metal threads. The wooden threads went into the ceiling studs and the metal threads were for the threaded rod that connected to the ductwork itself.
Nordfab sells hangers but I failed to realize that when placing my order. I used metal strapping to create a cradle and used an eye bolt and an “S” hook to connect the eye bolt to the metal strapping.

It is an Investment

Nordfab QF ductwork is a lifetime solution. They are an investment in your shop but also your health and safety.  I move a lot and plan to continue that pattern for the near future. Yes, moving sucks! But more importantly moving a fully loading woodworking shop and the dust collection system sucks even more. This is one huge reason with going with the Nordfab QF system. Ease of installation, modification, adding a tool, removing a tool, changing the layout of your shop, and taking it down when we move.  I value my time in the shop and you should too! I would rather be building projects than setting up my shop. The Nordfab products help me get to building projects faster!

Conclusion

Dust collection is important to me. Very important. I want a dust collection system that goes together fast and easy as I move often (3-5 years). The Nordfab QF system provides a solution that allows to layout changes, tool additions, and easy maintenance.
The Nordfab QF benefits don’t come cheap. The system components are very expensive but in my all honest opinion. They are absolutely worth it.

Whether you decide to invest into a lifelong system or a simple flex hose dust collection solution, get it done and protect your lungs!

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