I've been searching for the answer to my woodturning dust collection problems. I've come to the conclusion that this Ultimate Lathe Dust Collection setup that I made is the best thing out there for sanding on a mini lathe. However, it doesn't help very much when it comes to turning. I think that trying to contain all of the chips that woodturning creates is an almost impossible task. But like I said, building this is worth it just because it collects sanding dust so well. Let's get started!
Step 1: Cut the Pieces
I built this on the spot without any plans, so I don't have exact measurements to give. It's basically a box that consists of a back, two sides, and a lid that is hinged to the back. It measures 8" tall, 6" deep, and 10" long. During this build, I came to the realization that the length of the box determines the length of future turnings. The boxes length limits the size of work you can do in the future, so this may not be perfect if you make a little bit of everything. I have a 16" lathe that I do most of my work on, but this mini lathe is only used for pens, so I built the box to fit my pen mandrel perfectly. Keep this in mind while building this.
So the back measures 10"x8" and I used 3/4" ply for everything. The sides measured 6"x8". Two of the pieces for the frame were 10" long and the other two were 5" long. All pieces were ripped from 3/4" ply to 1/2" thick.
Step 2: Cut the Curves
On the back, I measured 1 1/2" from the bottom edge and extended the line with a speed square. I used a bottle cap to draw a curved corner 1" in from each end. I cut this shape at the bandsaw. This cutout allows the banjo of the lathe to move behind the box.
I also needed to remove a section of each side so that the sides can slip over the centers of my lathe. My mini lathe has a 10" swing, so dead center is about 5 1/8". I measured that distance from the bottom edge of each side, extended that mark with a speed square, and made another mark 4 3/8" down the line. That intersection was then drilled out with an 1 5/8" forstner bit at my drill press. I then used a speed square to draw lines from the edge of the side to the outside of the hole. I cut those lines at my bandsaw and that left me with two slots for my lathe centers to slide in and out of. It's hard to get an exact fit on this and it doesn't really matter too much so make these oversized.
Step 3: Sanding
I sanded all of the edges at my oscillating spindle/belt sander. A spindle sander is a handy tool to have for sanding curves, but if you don't have one, I'd recommend a cheap harbor freight drum sander attachment for a drill press. If you don't have a drill press and drum sanding attachment, hand sand these.
After I sanded all of my edges, I sanded the faces of everything with 180 grit paper on my random orbital sander.
Step 4: The Dust Collection Hole and Fitting
I had this 4" dust collection faceplate that came with a dust collection kit I bought last summer when I set up dust collection. It's basically a 4" coupling with a face to screw onto the back of this box. A hole needs to be cut where this faceplate is going to be installed. So I placed the faceplate in the center of the back and traced the inside profile with a pencil to the back. Now, I would normally use a jigsaw to cut this shape out...or even a scroll saw if you have one. But, my jigsaw burnt up on me last summer and I've been putting off buying a new one. I don't own a scroll saw either. So after scratching my head and thinking for a while, I decided to hog out as much of the opening as possible with a forstner bit and then clean it up with my spindle sander. It took a while, but it worked out alright.
Step 5: Assembly and Painting
I used wood glue and brad nails to assemble all of the pieces together. I tacked the back to the sides and the four pieces of the frame together. You don't have to paint this, but I wanted to clean this up a little and make it look nice. So, I painted it with some black spray paint.
Step 6: Plexiglass and Hinges
I cut down two pieces of plexiglass at the table saw. You can actually cut this with a table saw, but DON'T use a heavy tooth blade. I used a fine finish blade, but a general purpose would also work. One of the pieces got screwed to the top of the frame with a self drilling hex screw. The other piece got screwed to the top of the front of the box, just above the cutouts for the lathe centers. Do not over tighten the screws for the plexiglass or else they will crack. I recommend starting the screw with a drill or impact driver, and finishing it with a screwdriver, so you can feel how tight the screw is. I also screwed the 4" dust collection fitting on the back over the opening.
Step 7: Done!
I attached a 4" hose from the box to my blast gate that connects to my 2HP dust collector. I really like this for sanding. No sanding dust whatsoever escaped the suction. However, for chips, this doesn't do a great job. It did suck up a lot of chips but a lot still flew out of the box. The purpose of the plexiglass top and front is to shield chips from flying out of the box and to keep them near the suction. The only problem is that due to static, chips will stick to the plexiglass. I'm working on a solution to this that involves a dryer sheet. Let me know what you guys think down below in the comments section!
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