Friday, September 21, 2012

This Just Sucks! (II)

I'm still working on getting my shop's dust collection system up and running. In the previous post in this short series I had mentioned obtaining the bulk of the parts I needed from a company in eastern Massachusetts called Dustpipe. Once I had received the initial shipment and had strung up some piping, I had a better idea how to complete the system. I also elected to move some machines around as I worked to incorporate a new jointer into the shop. The new jointer, weighing 2650 lb., was not something I wanted to move around very often, as you might imagine.

The first shipment from Dustpipe had contained some anomalous parts, and was missing some parts. I sent some new drawings, with the parts I needed highlighted in red, and the new shipment arrived about a week later. I waited all day at the shop for the UPS truck to arrive, only to find upon return home that the order had been dropped off at my house - even though the packing list and invoice clearly showed my shop as the 'ship to' address. Okay, whatever, mistakes happen. This shipment, based on the packing list, was not quite what I was looking for however. The most important part, a reducing lateral, appeared to be missing. I was not what you might call delighted, and I picked up the phone and called Dustpipe. However it was 4:15pm, and they go home at 4:00 apparently. And it was a Friday, so I knew that I would have to wait several days if I was to see the part I needed.

There is another company in the area selling dust collection piping: Air Handling Systems, based on southern Connecticut. I phoned them and found they were still at work at 4:15pm. I  described the part I needed, and asked if they might have one in stock. The fellow I spoke to, Curt, looked on his stocklist and said they had one on the shelf. So, in interests of resolving the piping work as soon as possible. I ordered that fitting from Air Handling, along with a couple of other bits and a piece of flex hose.

Later that evening I opening up the large box from Dustpipe in my living room to see what it contained. To my chagrin I found that the parts inside did not correspond precisely with the packing list, and worse yet, the reducing lateral I had just ordered from Air Handling, which I thought was absent from the package based on the packing list, was in fact in the box.

I figured it would all come out in the wash, and the worst case would be that i had to spend some money to ship unwanted/un-needed/unused parts back to either company. I also thought it would be interesting to see how the two company's products, apples to apples, as they say, compared.

Today my shipment from Air Handling arrived. Unlike the Dustpipe shipments, in which the fittings were simply tossed in a box and taped up, the parts were actually packaged with some paper and cardboard to protect the parts:

Here are a couple of small spun reducers wrapped up in paper:

At the bottom was the reducing lateral I had been waiting for:

So, pipe is pipe, right? How different can a couple of dust piping fittings be from one another, since both are steel, both connect to spiral pipe, etc.?

Well, let's see....

In the above picture, the Dustpipe product is on the left, and the Air Handling product is on the right. They look pretty similar, don't they?

Some differences were immediately apparent - the Air Handling lateral was completely welded along the seam - every seam:

The Dustpipe lateral was spot welded around 2/3rds of the junction, and the inside portion simply folded and tucked under:

Here you can see down the Dustpipe lateral, note how the folded over bits of metal simply interfere with a smooth flow inside the pipe:

The Air Handling lateral, as it is welded, is much stronger and completely smooth so it will flow better:

They two pieces seemed to be of a different gauge of metal as well. Here's the thickness of the Dustpipe lateral's sheet metal:

The metal in the Air Handling lateral is 40% thicker:

Again, this makes the Air Handling part stronger and more durable.

Another curious thing came to light as i compared the two parts - the Dustpipe lateral did not have the 6" outlet I wanted, rather it had a 7" outlet, and they had supplied a sleeve and a 7" to 6" reducer to make it work:

So, the Dustpipe people had slung together whatever they had on hand to technically fulfil my order, even though i never requested such a conglomeration.

Putting the bits together, you can see in the lower portion of the photo that the Dustpipe assembly ends up being considerably longer than the correctly-made parts from Air Handling Systems:

The welded lateral from Air Handling costs about $141. The Dustpipe lateral costs $111.00, but then add in the 7/6 reducing taper for $23.50, and something for the connecting sleeve, and the cost is pretty much the same. I think I know which one I'll be sending back. In fact, now that I've seen the quality difference, I'm wishing I had gone with Air Handling Systems stuff in the first place. Live and learn. If the price difference was significant between the two company's offerings, that would be another story, perhaps, though I would tend to buy the better made thing in any case, if I can swing the purchase.

A few hours work and I was able to fit the reducing lateral into place;

The pipe now extends over to my bandsaw and shaper:

Here's the connection at the shaper and bandsaw:

At last my jointer is hooked up, save for one last custom reducer I need down at the machine's dustport:

I'm also waiting on a lateral connection so that I can hook my router table into the system:

Of course, I'm only dealing with Air Handling Systems from now on.

I picked up a sheet of BalticBirch ply and made a quick little storage cabinet to keep tooling in. The lower portion of the cabinet, which has 2 shelves tossed in, is visible in the above photo.

Here's the upper portion of the cabinet, where I am putting together a storage rack for router bits:

A closer view shows I've got most of the 1/2" shanked bit in place. I need another dozen or so plastic mounting pieces to get all the 1/2" bits on the wall, which I have obtained from Lee Valley:

Better to use the plastic mounts than drill holes in a wooden block to mount the bits - that's a sure route to having the shanks get rusty over time. I'll also be placing my 8mm and 1/4" bits on the wall in a similar fashion.

All for now. Have yourself a great weekend and thanks for visiting! Two years later, check out part III


  1. Could you come and hook up my system? I bought a Clearvue Cyclone about 2 years ago and have not hooked it up to any piping. I've been a really bad girl. I'm just not sure what I need for piping, you call it spiral in a previous post, is that the technical term and what type of business carries it?

  2. Hi Julie,

    the spiral pipe is the way to go for dust collection if you ask me. There are a couple of gauges used, and it can even be had in stainless. The type of business that carries it is a company specializing in industrial dust collection piping. Air Handling Systems, whose website is linked in the post above, ships all over N. America. Of course we both know what Canada Border Services can tack on to the price of things coming into Canada from the US, so I suggest looking for a supplier in your area. I did a quick google for you - check out this page for some leads:

    Air Separation Technologies in Milton, ON sells NordFab piping and fittings :

    Be prepared for the cost. Quality metal piping and fittings costs lot more than plastic, but it is a lifetime sort of purchase, and you'll never have to worry about static electricity causing explosions. Installation isn't too difficult. I used a pop rivet gun and a drill to hook mine together, then wrapped with HVAC aluminum tape. I cut the pipe to length using an angle grinder with cutting disc, though you could make do with a hacksaw as well.


  3. Julie, a quick web search brought up some Ontario companies that can supply ducting and probably advice too. Here is one:

    Save Chris the possible hassle of being looked at suspiciously at a border crossing with Bubinga dust in his pockets.

  4. Thanks so much, now who will come and hook it up for me??


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