Clean the Air You Breathe
We know it’s the finest dust particles that cause the most damage to our lungs, as they’re able to get deeper into our lungs and are more likely to stay there. There are lots of ways to keep your lungs safe, and one of them is collecting ambient dust particles immediately after they’re made. Oneida Air Systems has come up with a new solution to an age-old woodworking problem with their BenchTop DC Personal Dust Collector.
Oneida BenchTop DC Personal Variable Speed Dust Collector
The idea is to create a vacuum directly in front of the unit that sucks all of the finer dust particles into the two-stage filter, safely trapping it there, away from your lungs. All this is accomplished directly where you’re working, as the unit is portable. I used it for a recent texturing session on some mahogany with a rotary tool and I found it worked well.
The tricky thing about workshop dust is that most of us do our best to contain the larger particles with on-tool or stand-alone dust collection methods, but it’s the tiny bits that we can’t even see that are the biggest threat to our health.
Making a few cuts on a scroll saw, using a rotary tool to remove small amounts of wood or breaking the sharp edges of a workpiece with a sanding block don’t create much dust, but they all create the finer dust that becomes airborne and settles deep into our lungs. But if we’re only doing it once in a while it can’t be a real threat, can it? Sadly, it all adds up.
What’s it for?
The purpose of the Oneida BenchTop DC isn’t to collect all of the chips from your jointer or planer. Nor is it to scrub your shop’s air of all ambient dust. Think of it as an at-source fine dust collector that’s portable enough to move between machine, power tool and hand tool operation when needed. Essentially, this unit is for the smaller dust collection tasks that otherwise get ignored.
The first thing I noticed about the BenchTop DC when I unpackaged it was that it’s very well made. I can easily see this collector lasting decades without a problem. Setup was quick and easy, and the fit and finish was very good. When I plugged it in and turned it on, I was impressed by the amount of airflow. It was then that I realized it was only on medium. A knob allows you to adjust the speed according to the level of airflow you need for the task. When set to maximum the BenchTop DC did a really great job at filtering my work area in front of it.
While working in front of the collector, I found it handy to have an integrated receptacle on the side of the unit to plug any tools into. Also handy, the pre-filter, which extends the life of the MERV 15 filter, removes some larger dust particles, and can easily be rinsed out with tap water. When the useful lifespan of the main filter is reached, third-party filters can be purchased from your local hardware or building store so you don’t skip a beat. Oneida has purposefully made the filter non-proprietary so the user can easily purchase cost-effective filters for years to come.
The Oneida BenchTop DC takes care of a lot of the finest dust particles woodworkers create. We do a good job at controlling the large, obvious dust particles in our shops, but this portable dust collector will now make it easier to clean our workshop air of the tiny, more dangerous dust particles that pose the biggest health risk to us. Your lungs will thank you.
Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.