New shop question

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
As y'all know, I'm now building my new shop. As a consequence, I have a couple of questions , to wit : do any of you have compressed air installed and if so, why? And what kind of dust collection do ya have.? I'm thinking a cyclone style dust collection system probably based on each work station. Ideas?
already got the wireing wired: 1 dedicated 30 amp 220 volt for ht oven, 20 amp service for shop use, separate lighting circuits for work stations (all led - different kelvin ratings.)
What am I forgetting?
Last edited:


Build a small compressor cabinet outside your shop against the wall...big enough to put foam between the walls and still allow plenty of air for the cooling...can add vents and fans to gild the lily...

You'll thank me later.

compressed air is on o' them things that once you have it you'll wonder why you waited so long...

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
A dust collector is a huge bonus, particularly in a smaller shop. Harbor freight sells two flavors and I’ve had them both. The cheaper one has brushes in the motor and becomes a maintenance headache. The more expensive one (it’s like a whopping $50 more) is brushless and quieter. It’s infinitely better.

Build some kind of separator water bucket for sure if you use a dust collector.


Well-Known Member
Bruce: It's always exciting to see someone building out their shop, congratulations! I guess this is obvious, but shop equipment should match what kind of work you intend to do in your shop. In my case I use the shop for everything from light metal fabrication, farm equipment maintenance to knife making. And, my air compressor is one the most important pieces of equipment that I have. I use it for: a bunch of pneumatic tools, media blast cabinet, plasma torch and 5 separate nozzle coil locations. I suggest getting a good quality compressor, not less than 25 gallon, but better yet, 80 gallon tank (220v). Then run a compressed air pipe header system around the perimeter of your shop with drops at each work area. This header must be air pressure rated, not PVC, iron or copper pipe.
Regarding air filtration: you have two kinds of filtration needs, localized pickup and general ambient air cleansing. Fixed ducting to each piece of equipment can work well for localized pickup, though it doesn't offer flexibility if you want to move your equipment around. In my shop most of my dust making stuff is on wheels. So, I built a mobile air filter that does both local pickup (grinding & welding) with a nozzle extension, and then converts to a high volume ambient air filter. I've concluded air filtration is a compromise, not other than some really expensive equipment will do it all. For many shops having a central air filter with a duct system seems to be a good choice (Onieda equipment is an example). But, remember those systems don't serve to clean the ambient shop air. Like John Wilson said, get good filtration equipment, otherwise the dust and grit will eat up cheaper stuff (been there done that).
Hope this helps.


Active Member
I bought the Grizzly cyclone dust collector 10 years ago and have not had any problems with it. I had every tool laid out and ran overhead piping to each one. I even ran piping to the floor in 2 locations to allow me to vacuum the floor. Each of these 2 locations had 20 feet of flexible tubing which allowed me to cover the whole shop floor. This unit also had a remote. I was hesitant to buy Grizzly but for this purchase, it has worked very well. I also have a air filtration unit mounted from the ceiling which I use very often for filtering the air in my shop especially when woodworking. Hope this helps..............


"The Montana Bladesmith"
IMO.... Compressed air ABSOLUTLY. Just as Ted said.... once you have it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it! And pay CLOSE attention to what Bob said about materials for a shop air system...if you intend to do it that way. I've also been in shops when PVC pipe used in the air system exploded, and I had to pick shards of PVC outta myself!

Dust collector system... ABSOLUTLY NO! At least not in the conventional/commercially available type that runs through a piping system, throughout a shop. I have seen a number of knife shops burnt to the ground because of them, and I nearly had the same thing occur. Even if you do have some type of "wet" in the system, or a "spark arrestor", you will forget and the water element will dry up, and if you're willing to bet your shop on a "spark arrestor" you will lose. Mixing in grinding steel, Ti, and various other non-ferric materials and highly flammable other dusts/swarf requires you to think outside the box on "dust collection"

Everybody has their own solution, but I chose a shop vac that runs to a "tray" under each grinder, that can be totally closed off when grinding anything that sparks, also, a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water hangs directly under each grinder. That is the only place in my shop that has dust collection of the conventional type, and it is only on/used for things that do not spark or get hot enough to ignite.

For air filtration, I built/use "box" type filters that consist of old furnace blowers, surrounded by several layers of furnace filters. One I built from scratch, the other was converted from a small swamp cooler.....

You have to understand that the commercially available dust collection systems are designed/built with ONLY woodworking in mind. There are a couple out there designed specifically for metal worker/working, but you are looking at them starting at around $7,500. One of the shop fires I mentioned earlier, was caused when the "spark arrestor" in the $7,500 system failed.

No convincing the world would ever get me to use, or recommend that anyone in a knifemaking shop situation buy/use a commercial dust collection system.

A couple of GOOD shop vacs, and using them wisely, will keep you safer and cost far less then a dust collection system.

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
I agree that a sawdust kind of dust collection system is a no-no. My thoughts are to make a down-draft platform at some work stations. Utilizing that feature, I would be able to control the great majority of inhalents with shop vacs. Make any sense at all? Then use a filter similar to yours for general air cleaning. Remember that my total cubic footage is less than 1000cuft.


Well-Known Member
Every time I have to sweep up dust (daily) or look at the cloud of dust in the air, I think about a dust collector and now nice it would be. Then I watch the sparks fly off the grinder or belt sander and think, nope! I'm not too wild about using a shop vac as a collector either. Sparks could get in there and catch it on fire as well.

On my little ryobi belt sander I've had sparks catch fire where sawdust and the like collect in the bottom of the saw. Several times I've had to grab my spray bottle of "Scent Eliminator" to put it out. Yeah, I know.....but it was all that was handy at the time!


Well-Known Member
I would be able to control the great majority of inhalents with shop vacs
Shop vacs will only pickup point source materials, they will not help with the general crud floating around in the air. It's that stuff floating around in the air that can be a lung / health problem.
A couple of years ago I bought this thing from Harbor Freight, and it really helps keeping the magnetic stuff under control. It's amazing how much magnetic crap can be on the floor.

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
You can never have too many quick connect air line drops. A couple years or so ago, I ran a drop to each corner of my shop, as well as mounting an overhead 50' hose reel that I'm actually thinking about more centrally locating, or possibly getting a second. If every single tool had a blow gun, I'd be happy. :D

If I were building a shop from scratch, I'd hardline drops all over the place. Just make sure you add in some ball valves every so often so you can isolate sections in the event of a leak or a fracture. Granted, this is probably a little bit of overkill for a non-commercial setup, but ball valves are relatively cheap, and it's worth the convenience when you'd rather keep working than have to valve off the whole shop and run to the hardware store for a new fitting.

I would also love to have my vacs, compressors, dust collection, etc... outside or in another room. Not only does that open up more space, but those suckers are loud when they're running.


My tips learned as I try and re-negotiate my shop after a few years of "senior" deterioration: paint the walls nice and shiny white before you move stuff in. Plan on as much T5 Full Spectrum lighting as you think you can use, then double it.

Put little hangers next to just about everything and hang an appropriately-powered Optivisor next to it. That way you don't have to put on 5 miles a day fetching Optivisors.

Sorry, that last one might be for me!! :)


Well-Known Member
Bruce: Looks like we are all enjoying spending your money! Here's another lighting / air idea that you might find useful in your shop. This 10 ft overhead jib arm has proven to an effective way of distributing light and air. The types of lights has grown over time and now includes incandescent and LED fixtures. The end light is a high intensity LED that I swing over my grinder. The cool thing about this is that I can quickly move lighting with the 10ft radius to eliminate shadows. The air line is always out of the way, but within easy reach. This arm is mounted rigidly on a corner post and swings about 180 degrees. This in addition to 4 / 6 bulb high output overhead ceiling lamps.
Never did a shop have too many lights, air drops or electric outlets.

Last edited: