Whether you’re new to woodworking or a seasoned professional, you’ve probably already inhaled your fair share of sawdust. If you want to spare your lungs the trouble of dealing with abrasive particles in the future, you’ll need to set up an air filtration system in your workshop. There are plenty of reasons these machines are a staple in any good woodworking space — but you ought to choose wisely. To help you avoid getting a unit that makes an ungodly amount of noise, I’ve decided to share my reviews of the best quiet dust collectors.
Workshop noise is no joke, which is why I’ve previously written about garage soundproofing tips. Since most people don’t have a separate shed they can work in, the garage is the only option. Consequently, working in the garage means that you’re close to the more residential areas, where noise can become an issue rather quickly.
How do you choose the right one for the kind of workshop you have and the kind of projects you do? Here are some of the features you may want to pay attention to.
When looking for machines to review, one of the most important things on my mind is the amount of noise they make. Sometimes, the manufacturers are kind enough to include decibel measurements of the sounds their products make in the product descriptions. However, that wasn’t a common occurrence in this particular category.
Fortunately, there are other ways to pick out quiet dust collectors. This time around, I mostly looked through user reviews. As is often the case, smaller units with weaker motors are generally quieter than larger ones.
Airflow, which is expressed in cubic feet per meter, may also be a good indicator of the noise levels you’ll have to deal with. More industrial units typically have a higher CFM rate than the ones meant for smaller workshops. So, the higher the CFM, the louder the whirring noises.
In general, tabletop collectors make about 50 decibels of noise, which is the equivalent of normal conversation. However, larger units can get to 70 or 80 decibels, which is closer to the noise a hairdryer makes, or even a bit louder. I’ve chosen to present the quieter versions of several kinds of collectors in my reviews.
Types of Dust Collectors
When choosing your dust collector, you’ll also want to consider your typical dust production during a project. If you use saws and sanders only occasionally and don’t get much fallout, you can go for a single-stage dust collector. Just like with a regular vacuum, you’ll need to empty the dust bag and check the filter occasionally.
Conversely, a dual-stage unit would be a better fit for most large workshops. That type of collector actually separates large wood chips and debris from fine dust, thereby improving suction. Instead of vacuuming everything into a single dust bag, these machines usually have a cyclone that improves the longevity of the filters. The cone-shaped part spins the dust, allowing the heavier pieces to drop into a bin while the lighter dust drifts up into a filter canister.
Furthermore, you should also consider the size of your workshop. If you’re working out of a small garage or shed, you can’t really go for a large unit. So, if you need your collector to be portable, you should pay attention to its weight and size as well as other features, such as wheels.
Lastly, you’ll want to know what to expect out of a dust collector before you order it. One way to do that is to educate yourself on the different features these products usually have.
First, look into the basics — the kind of motor and the horsepower of the various units you’re checking out. Most of the ones on my list are 1 HP ones, but there are more powerful collectors on the market.
You should also understand the kind of filtration system the unit comes with. Currently, the most advanced dust collectors use HEPA filters, which are great at filtering out even the smallest of particles. They’re also used in vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and Dyson fans. However, most dust collectors use proprietary filter technology you should learn about.
Ideally, you ought to know exactly how your dust collector works before you buy it. Once you figure out the filtration, make sure you know how to turn on the device. Most of them have a power button, but some also have suction speeds. High-end ones even come with remote control options.
Finally, check whether the product comes with a reusable dust bag or non-reusable ones. Reusable bags are pretty convenient and eco-friendly. Some of them even have zippers at the bottom, so you can empty them without taking them off the collector. Still, if you’d rather take the whole bag off and throw it away, you can go for a unit that uses non-reusable bags.
Ultimately, if you create a lot of dust and debris while you work, you should avoid the expense of using non-reusable bags.
Some of the Best Quiet Dust Collectors
Now that we know everything about dust collectors, let’s talk about the quietest models on the market.
As I’ve already mentioned, I tried to include several examples of different types of products. I’ll start the reviews with two portable, tabletop units, and then go through a few products that can be fixed to the wall or ceiling. Finally, I’ll close the list off with some stronger collectors that would be appropriate for larger workshops.
1. PSI Woodworking DC725 Portable Tabletop Dust Collector
This portable tabletop dust collector from PSI Woodworking is a small unit, measuring in at 23.25 inches wide, 10.3 inches tall and 8.5 inches thick.
The case is red with clear polycarbonate doors covering the filters in the front. Like the next product, this one also has a carrying handle on top, though it’s a bit heavier than the Shop-Vac unit. However, unlike the Shop-Vac air cleaner, this one comes with two grounded 115V outlets for your power tools.
This dust collector has three quiet, supposedly maintenance-free fans with an intake speed of 250 CFM. When combined, that means that the device can achieve a maximum airflow speed of 725 CFM. You’ll be able to direct the flow by opening the clear doors and adjusting the airflow speed with the power dial on the case. Overall, it’s an exceedingly quiet device, though it can only process airborne dust.
Even though the manufacturer claims that the fans won’t need maintenance, I’d still keep an air compressor nearby. Some of the dust will inevitably end up on them, so you might need to blow it out every once in a while.
If you get this product, you should also prepare to order several replacement filters for it as well. After all, this collector only uses filters to trap dust, so there’s no dust bag to catch the debris.
2. Shop-Vac Tabletop Air Cleaner Filtration System
The Shop-Vac Portable Air Cleaner probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about dust collectors. However, you can’t argue with its results. If your equipment already has dust buckets, this little device is just the thing you need to take those pesky airborne particles out of the equation.
The device itself is a 26.5-inch wide, 16.5-inch thick, and 18.13-inch tall cylinder. The difference between its height and thickness is due to the feet on the bottom and the carrying handle on top of the device. And that’s not just for show — since the unit only weighs 18 pounds, most people should be able to lift it. Still, you should keep in mind that it needs to be within 10 feet of an outlet.
- 235 CFM tabletop dust collector
- Two-filter system
- Quiet induction motor
- 10-foot power cord
The circular sides of the device are for air intake and output. As the air passes through the device at 235 CFM, its filters capture particles as small as 5 microns.
The air moves fairly slowly in comparison to some other units on the market. Yet, that’s what makes this product one of the quietest dust collectors I’ve come across.
3. BUCKTOOL 13-Gallon Wall Mount Dust Collector
Now, this BUCKTOOL unit is more like what you might expect a dust collector to look like. The main part of the machine is about as big as the previous units. However, once you attach the dust bag, its size pretty much doubles.
The device has a 1 HP motor with airflow speed of 300 CFM. As we already know, that’s rather slow, which should bode well for the amount of noise the unit creates. And indeed, according to the manufacturer’s estimate, the unit makes about 81 decibels of noise. Even though that’s not whisper-quiet, it’s certainly manageable.
The device has a steel impeller with a metal frame and four rubber feet that should prevent it from vibrating across the floor. Alternately, you can also use the frame to mount the collector on the wall if you don’t have space on your floor.
There’s an intake hole on the circular side of the impeller that fits a 4-inch thick, 108-inch long hose. That wide opening is great for different power tools that produce a lot of sawdust. The device will be able to easily suction it all away.
Now, if you decide to hang the machine up, you’ll want to have the other wide hole pointing downwards. That’s where you’ll attach the reusable 2-micron dust bag, which can hold 2.2 cubic feet, or 13 gallons, of dust. Once you inflate the bag, the whole dust collector should be about 40 inches long.
4. Shop Fox W1826 Wall Dust Collector
Shop Fox is one of the most famous dust collector manufacturers on the market. As such, it’s no wonder that their product lineup includes one or two units that are relatively quiet.
This wall-mountable Shop Fox device is similar to the previous product on this list to some extent, though it can’t be set up on the floor. With the 2.5-micron reusable bag attached and inflated, the whole unit comes out to 44 inches. Despite being a bit larger than the previous product, however, it should still be unobtrusive when mounted on a wall.
The cast aluminum impeller is about the same size as the previous product, with all of the same features. Namely, the intake hole is 4 inches wide, so it’s perfect for managing the dust collection drawers of most power tools. Furthermore, although the motor in this device isn’t that impressive, it’s quiet and effective enough. The unit offers 537 CFM of airflow, so it has stronger suction than the previous one I reviewed.
There are two other additional features I really appreciate about this product: the dust bag window that allows you to see if the bag is full, as well as the zipper at the bottom that makes emptying it out practically effortless.
5. WEN 3410 3-Speed Remote-Controlled Ceiling Air Filtration System
Now, if your workshop walls and floor are covered with equipment, you probably think that you don’t have room for a dust collector. Well, the solution is simple — hang it from the ceiling! This remote-controlled air filtration system from WEN is exactly what you need if you are tight on space. You just need to attach four anchors to your ceiling and hang the 31-pound device from them.
Like the first two units I’ve mentioned, this one won’t be able to siphon dust from your other tools. Still, it will effectively deal with all of those harmful particles floating through the air. In fact, the machine uses cleanable and replaceable 1 and 5-micron filters. So at least your lungs will finally get a break from inhaling sawdust.
The version of this device I’ve linked to has a maximum airflow of 400 CFM. However, you can change the speed and set the timer with the remote, delaying shutdown by up to four hours.
According to the manufacturer, this dust collector only makes about 60 decibels of noise, which is truly impressive. There’s also an industrial version that is capable of processing air at 1044 CFM. That one supposedly goes up to 68 decibels, so it’s not even that much louder. If you are looking for a heavy hitter, either of these two will be an excellent choice.
6. Shop Fox W1685 Dust Collector
The Shop Fox W1685 is the ultimate dust collection unit for large workshops. It comes with 1.5 or 2 HP motors that have a maximum airflow of 1,280 or 1,550 CFM, respectively. However, despite the impressive airflow, this unit isn’t as loud as you’d expect. While most similar dust collectors produce over 90 decibels of noise, this one is closer to 70 or 80 decibels.
The 12-inch steel impeller box has a 6-inch inlet with a removable Y-shaped pipe on one side. That attachment allows you to fit two 4-inch hoses onto the impeller. Once the contents of the pipes pass the impeller, the heavy bits fall into the bottom bag. Meanwhile, the lightweight particles float up.
The collection bag itself can hold 5.4 cubic feet of dust, so if you don’t produce much of it, you won’t have to change it for a long while. Also, as large as this product is when you attach the two bags, it’s still portable. Thanks to the swivel wheel stand, you’ll be able to push it around your workshop if you so please.
7. CRAFTSMAN 16-Gallon Wet and Dry Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum
This CRAFTSMAN unit is what most woodworkers would call a shop vac. Much like the Kleenex brand has become synonymous with tissues in general, so has the name of the “Shop-Vac” brand come to indicate a vacuuming device one uses in their workshop. Many people use such devices to create a customized dust collection system.
Centralized collection systems usually consist of a web of pipes and hoses coming down from the ceilings. Those pipes are then attached to each individual dust-making machine in the shop. The vacuum acts as the impeller, pulling the dust toward a bucket, which often has a cyclone on top to separate the dust from the air before it reaches the vacuum filters. You can see what that kind of system looks like in this video.
However, you don’t have to create a similar setup, especially not with this shop vac. The CRAFTSMAN wet/dry vacuum uses disposable collection bags that are capable of holding even the tiniest dust particles. So, make sure you stock up, and if you find that the bags are filling up too quickly, add a cyclone and a collection bin.
According to users, this unit is fairly quiet, especially given the fact it’s so strong. With a 6.5 HP motor, you’d expect it to be pretty loud. Yet, it appears to be one of the quietest models on the market. Best of all, you can use it to tidy up if you do happen to spill wood debris on the floor of your workshop.
Why You Should Get a Dust Collector
Most workshops are equipped with a myriad of different devices — and some of them make a bigger mess than others. Specifically, if you’re using a sander, a chop saw, or a table saw to complete a project, you should anticipate some dust buildup and prepare accordingly.
You might be wondering why a bit of dust is such a big deal. So, let’s talk about the two main reasons everyone should have some kind of a dust collection system in their workshop.
The Effects of Dust Inhalation
As I have already implied, the main reason you might have for purchasing one of the products I was reviewing in this article has to do with your respiratory health. If your projects usually require you to use sanding or sawing tools, chances are that some of the shavings will end up floating in the air. From there, it’s only a short trip through your nose or mouth to your lungs, where the particles, no matter how small, can really begin to wreak havoc.
Wood or metal dust can cause all sorts of problems, mainly by acting as an irritant. At the very least, it might cause a tickling sensation in your lungs, which may make you sneeze and cough. Consistent exposure can lead to more serious breathing problems as a result of lung scarring.
Although wearing a bandana or respirator mask while you’re working is always a good idea, it may not solve all of your problems. After all, the dust particles that end up in the air are barely even visible, measuring 10 microns or less. As you can imagine, something of that size might easily sneak by any defenses you may have set up. So it’s best to wear protective gear in combination with using a dust collector.
The secondary purpose of a dust collector is to save you the time you would have spent waiting for the airborne dust to settle so that you could clean it up. Dust collectors basically eliminate the need to sweep or vacuum your workshop, so you’ll be able to focus on your project.
If you want to run a tight ship around your woodshop, you may need an even more sophisticated dust collection system. Some of the more advanced ones consist of a vacuum, PVC pipes, and flexible ribbed hoses that drop from the ceiling and hook up to the dust bucket of various woodworking instruments. So, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in your shop, you may want to devise a similar system.
Additionally, you can never be sure that the air in your workshop is as clean as possible without a dust collector. After all, having one can actually make some projects easier, outside of minimizing cleanup and health risks. For example, if you’re staining your furniture, you don’t want to see the telltale specks of dust in the fresh paint. Also, other equipment you might have will run more efficiently without dust particles settling on its cooling fans.
So those are the two main reasons for having some kind of a dust collection system in your woodworking shop. Now, let’s answer one last question before I give you some final tips.
Why Should You Look for a Quiet Dust Collector?
Even if you’ve never done a woodworking project before, assume that a workshop will be filled with all sorts of noises. So, why would having a loud dust collector be an issue?
Well, there are several reasons I’d recommend using a quiet unit in this case.
If you’re spending a lot of time in your workshop on a daily basis, you’ll want to keep the noise to a minimum. Whenever you can, opt for quiet tools if only to preserve your sanity. I’ve already recommended several quiet air compressors, but why stop there? You can always replace any machine that makes too much noise — or, at the very least, create a soundproof box for it.
Whether you have quiet tools or not, no woodworking project can stay completely silent. Still, while you can’t avoid sawing and sanding noise, you can take steps to protect your hearing. For example, you can wear earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-canceling headphones while using loud machines.
On the other hand, having a loud dust collection system is also tricky because it will prevent you from hearing more important noises. If the vacuum is constantly whirring, you won’t hear any suspicious noises coming from your other equipment. Alternately, if you’re sawing a plank, you may not be able to hear when the saw hits something it shouldn’t have — like a stray nail, for example.
Last but not least, a loud dust collection system can really make working on a project a lot less fun than it actually is. It can get in the way of conversation if you work in a team, or prevent you from hearing your tunes. That may not sound as important as the previous reasons I’ve mentioned, but it may kill your motivation.
Some Dust Collectors Are Certainly Quieter Than Others
With any luck, your ideal dust collector will be somewhere on the list above. If you need a small, portable unit for a small or medium-sized workshop — a tabletop unit will suffice. On the other hand, if you need a stronger unit, get one of the products I closed with. Either way, these dust collectors are certainly quieter than most other models you’ll find on the market.
If you already own a loud dust collector and don’t want to spend money on a new, quiet one, try to adjust your usage. You can use noise-canceling devices while you work and create a sound barrier around the collector for good measure.
Ultimately, having a good dust collection system in place should make future projects much easier. You’ll certainly lose that horrible cough so many beginner woodworkers suffer from. Better still, you’ll spend less time on cleanup!