How about your chop saw? You may think having bags on your saws is enough. Try this test: Stand to the side of your chop saw while someone is cutting a piece of solid surface material. Look at how much dust is not captured by the bag. When cutting MDF, which many of us use for buildup, it's even worse. That dust is just spilling out into the air. There's a product that can be attached to your chop saw called a down drafter. It basically encapsulates the back of your saw and sucks the dust into either your dust system or vacuum. Some fabricators attach vacuum hoses to their chop saws to solve the problem. The point is to keep the dust from floating around in the air.
Sweep as much as possible. Though it is much easier to grab an air gun to blow off your work, this will only add to your dust problem. Our fabricators keep shop brushes in their toolboxes to clean off their work. There may come a time when air guns would be eliminated altogether if it meant safer, cleaner air.
There are other products that may be worth a look, such as down-draft tables and wet sanding. Check out the advertisements in SolidSurface magazine, go to the solid surface show, or do a Google search. You may find just what you are looking for.
Controlling dust will always be a challenge. You may want to visit Web sites like solidsurfacegeeks.com or the ISSFA bulletin board. They have sections devoted to the elimination of dust. Why not participate in the discussion? The task of controlling dust is too big for just a few to deal with. We all need to find better solutions for keeping our work environments safer and healthier. Then we can all reap the benefits of a cleaner shop.
About the author:
Jon Olson is the production and operations manager for Sterling Surfaces in Sterling, Mass. He has been a solid surface fabricator since 1982 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.