Dust collection is an important part of any woodworking shop. Wood dust is both a health hazard and time consuming to clean up. The table saw is notorious for creating a lot of dust in the shop and is a machine that needs some extra attention. A lot of the newer table saw models have some good built-in dust collection features but saws that are a little older don't have these features. I've come up with 4 basic upgrades that I made to my contractor-style table saw that have vastly improved the dust collection. The upgrades can be applied to just about any style of table saw though to improve your dust collection.
The upgrades include a dust port in the bottom of the saw, enclosure panel on the back of the saw, custom cut foam to seal smaller openings, and a shop-built overarm dust collector. The overarm collector captures the dust that spits off the back of the blade which is often the most difficult to collect. If you have a Delta contractor-style table saw you can download the free plan below for the magnetic back panels.
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#1 - Dust Port
The most basic dust collection that you can add to your table saw is a dust port below the blade. Inexpensive plastic trays with a built-in 4" port (see link at bottom of page) work well for saws that are open on the bottom like a contractor's saw. The tray can be cut to suit the size of your saw or if the tray is smaller than the bottom of the saw you can add MDF fillers around the perimeter like I did. Some duct tape seals up any small opens left and holds everything in place. If you have a cabinet-style saw you can often add these ports to the back or side of the cabinet.
#2 - Close the Back
Most portable and contractor-style table saws are open at the back which makes for very poor dust collection. Having the back open allows dust to escape from the back as well as making it impossible to concentrate the suction from the dust collector. I designed custom MDF panels for the back of my Delta contractor-style table saw that attach magnetically. There are two panels that fit together to form a complete enclosure and also allow for the drive belt and motor mount. The panels have rare-earth magnets embedded in them which give a strong connection to the saw but make it quick and easy to remove the panels. Click on the button below to download a free PDF plan for the back panels.
#3 - Fill the Gaps
The majority of the gaps around the saw should be closed in to help concentrate the suction to around the blade and help keep dust from escaping. You don't want to fill every gap and make your saw air tight otherwise you will starve your dust collector of air and lessen your dust collection efficiency. I used upholstery foam that I had kicking around the shop to cut to custom shapes and sizes to fit in around the blade tilt slot as well as the gaps between the saw top and cabinet. There are plenty of small gaps left like around the openings in the back panels and the hole and slot in the throat plate to supply air to the dust collector. The idea here is to close in the extra gaps and openings to help direct the suction to where the blade is doing the cutting. The more air that is drawn in close to the blade the better the collection will be.
#4 - Overarm Collector
The dust that is the hardest to effectively capture on the table saw is the dust that spits off the back of the blade. This dust flies into the air and spits back toward you making you look like you just walked through a sawdust storm. There are different commercially available overarm collectors available but I have designed my own shop-made version (we all know that I love shop made efficiency solutions). The dimensions of the overarm collector will be different for every saw but you can see how I made mine in the video below.
The overarm uses a Bosch RA1175 dust collection attachment (meant for a router) and you can purchase that through Amazon below. By using my affiliate links you're helping support the site and the DP Shop Talk channel which helps me help you by bringing you more content. There is no extra cost to you but Amazon gives me a small commission from all items purchased. Any support is very much appreciated! If you have any comments or questions be sure to leave them in the comments box at the bottom of the page.