For  a  Clean  Safe  Shop,  Start  With
Clean Shop Air,  LLC
Why  Use  a  Cyclone ?

The Big Objective:

Get ALL of the Dust
Out of the Air


more importantly,

Out of
Your Lungs!

There are not very many ways to collect dust:

The Conventional Vacuum Cleaner:
A simple blower sucks air, dirt, and debris through a hose or tube then blows it into a bag or bin, then pushes the air out through the bag or an inverted "filter" bag and back into the local atmosphere, along with the fine dust that the bag cannot stop because the pores in the fabric are too large. This approach leaves a layer of fine dust all over everything in the shop.

The Conventional Shop "Dust Collector":
A blower sucks air, dust, and trash through hoses or other tubing, then into some sort of collection bin where the heavier particles settle out before continuing on to the blower which then forces the air into some sort of filter system, which again, is usually a fabric bag of some sort. As before, you find the layer of fine dust on everything in the shop.

Variations on these two themes:
Other approaches tend to be variations on the above two scenarios. The dust bin might be located before or after the blower, but filters tend to release fine dust into the air because of the tendency of filters to plug up if the pores are small enough to capture the dangerous, really fine dust. There might even be a metal trash can before the blower that has a special cover to swirl the air as it passes through so some of the coarser dirt and debris remains in the can. Calling the trash can a "cyclone" is legal, though not very sensible, because there is no industry-standard definition of what is or is not a cyclone.

The "Well-Tempered Cyclone":
The only really effective way to get nearly all of the dust and dirt out of the shop and out of the shop air (and thus also out of your lungs) is to use a high-performance cyclone dust separator. The well-engineered, well-designed, high-performance cyclone has to have specific proportions and internal construction. Components and air flow are both carefully arranged to produce highly effective separation of dust and dirt from the air by applying centrifugal forces to the dust particles. This is accomplished by creating a high incoming-air velocity that produces a high rate of spin inside the separation chamber. The cleaner air is then sent to a final filter for further separation of the extremely fine dust that was not captured in the cyclone.

Well-designed cyclones can remove as much as 99.88% of ALL of the dust coming from a typical woodworking tool such as a table saw, jointer, or planer, and that's before the air even goes to the final filters. Follow the well-designed, well-made cyclone with a filter system that is tested and rated for removing over 99.9% of particles down to 0.5 or 0.3 micron [0.3 micron is equal to 12 millionths of an inch], and you have completely eliminated almost all of the dust from the machine, provided there is sufficient air flow throught the system to properly feed the cyclone.

Of all of the methods commonly used for dust collection, the well-designed cylone, operating in the proper manner with adequate air flow has consistently proven to be the most effective, most economical, and most dependable means of separating dust from the air and returning clean air to the shop atmosphere. No other popular methods have ever been devised that can produce consistently better results at lower cost or with higher reliability.

The Big Problem:

Micro-Fine Dust

There is a big problem that rears it ugly head every time dust collection is properly addressed. That problem is getting the micro-fine dust out of the air! Solving this problem is the single most important issue that separates the real dust collectors from the "wannabees".

Micro-fine dust particles -- those particles under about 100 microns down to around 0.3 microns or perhaps 0.5 microns -- are the most dangerous to your health, and are also the hardest to eliminate in most shops. Sawdust on the floor and elsewhere is always an annoyance, and you inevitably end up breathing some of it if it is not collected. But conventional dust collectors with fabric "filter" bags become very effective fine-dust generators as they literally pump and blast micro-fine particles into the room atmosphere, distributing them throughout the room by increasing turbulence in the room air. These fine particles are not only messy because they settle on every flat surface in the room, but they also are sometimes more hazardous to your health than if you had no dust collector at all!

Breathing large dust particles is somewhat less hazardous because they are trapped by mucous lining the nasal and bronchial passages, from whence they can be expelled by coughing and sneezing, though having no particles to breathe is even better. But particles in the 30-micron-and-smaller range are small enough to pass directly into the lungs and remain there. Like asbestos, they are not expelled, so they interact with lung tissues, leading to allergies, asthma, cancer, polyps, emphysema, and any number of other serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. Dust from some exotic woods is also highly poisonous.

In short, uncollected micro-fine dust can literally lead to serious health problems or death as has been documented by agencies of the US Federal Government!

Mechanical Separation:

Take a Load Off
of the Filters
AND Your Lungs

As mentioned previously, of all the methods for collecting dust in woodshops and other dirty work areas, by far the most effective is the cyclone approach that uses high-speed circular air flow through a separator chamber so that substantial centrifugal forces can be applied to incoming dirt, dust, and debris particles, causing them to move out of and away from the primary air stream. The dust and dirt are then conducted downward by gravity into an air-tight container under the unit where they remain confined until they can be taken away for disposal. Meanwhile, the cleaner air, now stripped of all but the finest dust particles, is carried through the outlet tube in the top of the unit, through the blower, and into the final filters.

A well-designed cyclone with exceptional interior air-flow management not only separates the heavy trash, small blocks of wood and other debris, and coarse sawdust and shavings, but also steers the fine dust to the outside where it combines with the coarser materials on their way down to the dust bin. Great care must be taken in designing high-performance cyclones in order to ensure that smooth air flow carries even the finest dust down into the dust bin, because if more dust is caught and separated by the cyclone, there is less dust in the clean air going through the blower to the filters, and thus there is less dust that must be caught and retained by the filters, and even less that can escape through the filters and back into the room. Not only that, but filters also last longer and need cleaning less often when the cyclone is doing its job properly. Filter savings alone can contribute significantly to the cost of the rest of the system over time.

By using final filters that are capable of removing 99.9% or more of the extremely fine dust particles from the air down to 0.5 or 0.3 microns, you can pursue your normal shop activities with the confidence that you are breathing safe, clean air. A good cyclone with adequate air flow and properly designed collection hoods can capture nearly all of the sawdust coming from sanders, table saws or other tools, with the result that a lot less sawdust ends up on the floor, and hardly any appears all over shelves and other flat surfaces around the shop.


Not All are
Created Equal

A company builds a plastic lid with hose connections to fit on a trash can and calls it a "cyclone". Another takes a cylinder, cuts a hole in the side for an inlet, puts an outlet on top with a dust bin underneath, and calls it a "cyclone". Another company wants theirs to be "shorter" so it can fit under a low ceiling so they flatten the cone but they still call it a "cyclone". Some extend the inlet into the interior to add a "neutral vane", but don't address other internal air-flow problems that result in higher static-pressure losses than are attainable with better designs. Like the others, they also call it a "cyclone".

Calling all of these designs "cyclones" is a lot like calling a 1/2-ton Asian-brand mini-pickup a "truck" when it is parked in the middle of a parking lot full of 18-wheelers: tractors and semi-trailers, each loaded to 83,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. There are "trucks" and then there are trucks. There are "cyclones", and then there are cyclones. But calling something a cyclone doesn't mean it will do a good job, or even an adequate job. One could call a popcorn popper a "cyclone" and get by with it, because there is no industry definition for the term and what is required. So be sure you understand what to look for in a good design. We are proud of our units because they are designed on solid, scientific principles of dust-collection and air-flow management.

While we decline invitations to make statements of comparison with specific competitors' products, we are confident that our offering is better than most others, and probably at least as good as the rest.

One thing is certain and cannot be escaped: If you want clean air in your clean shop, nothing can outperform a good cyclone with an adequate blower and a well-designed filter system. When it comes to creating that, we are confident that we don't take a back seat to anyone.

Look for RESULTS!

Superior Performance
comes from
Superior Design

Our cyclones are built around proven designs and solid research conducted by many researchers and research organizations over an extended period of time. Cyclones are not a new invention. They have been used effectively in industry and in agriculture since the 1930s. In recent years, due to EPA clean-air requirements, much research has been conducted to gain better effectiveness in performance. We are committed to making sure our designs are, and remain, sound and dependable.

We have carefully reviewed research documents from leading universities who have done cyclone research projects under government and industry grants, as well as work from other research institutions. We have also drawn from the experience of other seasoned dust-management and air handling engineers and technologists in the technology-rich Colorado Front Range region. We then added our own expertise in product development and design accumulated from decades of experience in the electronics and construction industries. We then used those resources to enhanced, and we continue to refine, existing approaches (including our own) so that we can better meet the needs of end-users who want an economically sound solution to the problem of cleaning up their shop air for safe breathing, better health, and a cleaner operating environment. Our designs are carefully planned to meet the needs of hobbyists and professionals who appreciate exceptional performance:

  • Hobbyists who want the economies of a kit cyclone with the precision of high-tech fabricating capabilities while avoiding the need for owning or renting expensive and specialized tools or equipment needed to create it.

  • Professional shop operators and upscale hobbyists who want a complete, heavier, commercial-grade machine that is ready to install with a minimum time investment, including choices between single-phase and three-phase electric motors and power systems.

  • For commercial operators, cyclone systems that are sized to the equipment in their shop.

  • Shop owners and operators who want a system that outperforms other dust collectors and systems currently on the market while also overcoming the various deficiencies and shortcomings that accompany those systems.

Our designs place great emphasis on careful attention to internal airflow management inside the cyclone:

  • Proper air flow is crucial to superior separation of fine dust particles. Better separation means less fine dust to plug up your filters. That results in less pressure loss through the filters, greatly extending filter life while also increasing air flow through the system.

  • Proper design leads to lower static-pressure losses inside the cyclone as air moves through the unit from inlet to outlet. That means you have more air moving through the entire system so you collect more dust from your tools and machines.

  • Smooth air management is key to better overall system efficiency (the amount of air moved per horsepower applied to the blower) and effectiveness (getting nearly all of the dust out of the collected air before sending it to the final filters and then returning it to the shop atmosphere).

Best in
Overall Value:

Take a Load Off
of Your Pocketbook

We do not claim to have the "cheapest" dust collection systems on the market. But we do offer excellent value:

  • Better air flow. Higher air flow means better capture of fugitive dust particles in the air around your tools and machines. That leaves less dust in the air and on the floor, saving on clean-up costs.

  • Better dust separation. Fewer dust particles leaving the cyclone means filters last longer and require less-frequent cleaning, leaving you with lower filter costs.

  • Cleaner shop air = better health. Less exposure to the often very serious health hazards of wood dust and other airborne particles. What is your health or your life worth? What of the well-being of your employees if you are not a one-person shop?

  • A cleaner shop. By providing ample air flow with appropriate collection hoods or other adaptations at each tool, you are in a much better position to greatly reduce the amount of cleaning and dusting that must be performed using other, less effective dust collection systems. That means less clean-up time and lower costs.

  • Quality is free. Smart companies and smart individuals understand that money and time invested in quality can reliably be expected to produce benefits whose value routinely exceed the cost of the initial investment in quality. Dust collection is no exception to that rule. Beware the hidden costs of saving money.

While we at Clean Shop Air, LLC strive to always produce quality equipment and provide good technical advice, we also understand that every shop and shop environment is different. Since we cannot know and cannot control what kinds of dust, dirt, or other particles may exist in your shop or shop atmosphere, we cannot accept responsibility for the suitability of our systems to properly handle and process particulates or other agents in the air that may constitute a health or environmental hazard but which cannot be properly removed by our systems due to the nature of the material or hazard.

Therefore, if any shop processes or handles materials that pose health or occupational hazards of any kind that may or may not be properly addressed by installing one or more of our systems, the buyers and/or users of our systems bear full and sole responsibility for maintaining a proper healthy environment and for determining the suitability of our equipment for meeting the needs of their shop and shop personnel.

Also beware that poisonous gases from welding, vapors from solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as vapors from paint spraying equipment and processes usually cannot be properly removed or treated in a dust collection system. Also, our dust collectors are not designed for nor are they suitable for use in explosive environments where special precautions are required. Our systems are intended for use with common wood dust, dirt, and non-hazardous metal or other dusts and particles.

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Updated May 26, 2004

©Copyright 2004, Clarke F. Echols and Clean Shop Air, LLC. All rights reserved.
No part of this material may be copied, reproduced, or redistributed in any form
without owner's permission.