A Guy's Guide to Dusting




I'm in the process of setting up a home workshop in the basement. My first project is to build a workbench. (Building a Real Woodworker's Workbench)

Now many woodworkers have sophisticated dust collection systems. I've got a shop vac. I've been as conscientious as I've been able, in using dust collection ports on all of the equipment that has it, and in vacuuming up the sawdust off the floor and various surfaces where the saws, sanders, routers, etc., had thrown it.

But despite this, my POSSLQ was complaining about the dust, The problem is the really fine dust that settles on surfaces far removed from the source, hours after it was created.

She insisted that something be done, so while she was out one afternoon I decided to dust.

Of course, I'm a guy. A tool user. I wasn't about to try to deal with the problem with a feather duster.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Solution Involves Duct Tape

The solution, of course, involved duct tape, as every solution should.

I took an industrial air blower I had lying around, a cardboard box, some duct tape, a box cutter, and two furnace filters, and built an air scrubber.

One was the highest-quality filter they had on the shelves. The other was the cheapest. The good one cost more than $15, the cheap one cost $0.56.

My hope was that the cheap filter would catch some of the larger particles, so that the expensive filter would last longer. I'm not sure that that's the case, because most of the larger particles had already been swept up by the shop vac. Still, at $0.56 a piece, I could afford to experiment with them.

I cut a hole in the bottom of the box that fit over the intake of the blower, and cut the flaps on the top of the box to fit the filters. Then I duct-taped the blower to the box, duct-taped the two filters together, and then duct-taped the filters to the box.

Total construction time: seven minutes.

Step 2: Turn It on and Let It Go

Turn on the blower.

Plug the hose of the shop-vac into exhaust port, so that the air is blowing out of the wand. Then go to town, blowing all that dust up into the air. It takes almost no time to blow every surface in the room free of dust. Much of which dust, of course, would be caught in the furnace filters.

The blower I was using had a capacity of 300 cubic feet/minute - which would completely exchange the basement air in about 20 minutes. So about ten minutes later I moved the blower to another position and did it again.

It proved a very effective and extremely labor-saving method of dusting. Just be careful with the shop vac. It puts out a pretty strong stream of air - enough to move larger and heavier objects than you might think it would. I found myself picking up more than one object from the floor and putting it back on where it had fallen from. Nothing fragile, fortunately.

This weekend, when she's out again, I may dust the living room.

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest

    12 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 2

    I wonder how many cfm the shop vac moves?

    Why use two fans when the several horsepower sucky thing is sitting right there.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    It looks like the blower used here is rated at 300 CFM which is two or three times the capacity of a typical Shop Vac. A box fan, however, is rated even higher -- many in the common 20" size are typically rated at 2,500 CFM. Thus, it seems as though it may be worthwhile to work out a shroud for the box fan as a first choice, as they aren't too expensive and you may also already have one around the house.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I tried using a box fan, it leaked too much air through the corners to be effective. There are fans that have round housings, one of them might work best. But I didn't have one. If I were making something intended to last, I'd probably find one. But for a duct tape and cardboard solution, I use what I have lying around.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I LIKE IT! I'm thinking air compressor blow off tool for the indoors, with pressure regulator. Maybe let her catch you in the act. She'll never ask you to clean again! BWAHAHA

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    This was actually my second attempt to build a shop air scrubber on the cheap. My first try was a furnace filter taped to a 20" box fan. This one worked a great deal better. (I think the box fan leaks too much air around the corners of the fan, so it doesn't pull as much air through the filters.) The blow-the-dust-up-into-the-air technique works fine, for dusting. It's how geeks have always dusted the interiors of their computer cases, but you need somewhere for the dust to go. If I was to do this in the living room, I'd just stick fans in the windows and blow the dust outside. In my basement shop, I don't have windows. I've abandoned the outer filter. I found it did nothing but make it more difficult to clean out the inner filter. Aside from that, it's as described. I'll probably build something out of plywood, someday, but this is working for now. (The workbench is done, too, and turned out very nicely.)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    then kind sir u have an illegal basement. u are required under laws to have windows. there to help u get out if theres a fire. perhaps your other half will allow u to put in a bunk door in there as well. 4 active air flow an being able to escape to fresh air.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I would go with a cyclonic trap.


    Your system looks like a good idea for the exhaust to me airbrush box.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    What Cyclonic separators do best is to separate out the large stuff. So they're commonly used in woodshop dust collectors.

    Think about a table saw - you'd likely have a hose running from beneath the saw blade to your dust collector. A cyclonic separator there makes good sense, because it's going to pull a lot of chips and debris, and not just fine dust.

    An air scrubber like this isn't a replacement for a dust collector, it's more of a supplement - to pull the fine dust out of the air that the dust collector missed. As such, it isn't going to have to deal with the larger chips that a cyclonic separator deals with.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've been thinking about making a similar box.

    But I have found that one of the HEPA filters for our shop vac helps a lot too. Previously way to much fine dust went right through the shop vac filters.

    A air scrubber will probably be next (similar to this one but bigger) then eventually a chip collector based on the Bill Pentz design ( check out and READ the billpentz.com site if you have any interest in clean air in a shop, or even the health issues involved ... Bill did this design because without it, his Dr wouldn't let him work in the shop anymore)

    Good starter scrubber! ...

    Actually, I might use this... we have five cats and the litter dust has just about driven me crazy.

    Cheap, simple, practical. Thanks.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    If you want a dust-free space for painting or whatever, you can put the filter on the front of the fan and blow filtered air into your workspace from an outside source. the increased "clean" air will pressurize the room and suck all the dust out whatever leaks you have in the room. Basically exactly the same setup.