The Amazing Oneida Air Dust System by Roy Mackey

     If you are considering buying a new dust system and don’t want to throw your money away check out this post. We are real users of the Oneida dust system and love it.

Pictures and pointers of our installation…

     If you are the type of person who really likes to make things out of wood and have the tools to do it you really do need to check out the Oneida dust systems. These things are seriously very cool and a purchase you and your body will never regret.

     While managing the ARC, Artist Resource Centre here in Vancouver BC my brainstorming buddy, Richard and I concluded that our wood shop in the basement needed a good dust system. I had done a pile of research on the net and was pretty well sold on the Oneida systems. It seemed to have the lasting quality I was looking for.

     After finally getting approval from our head office here a new system was ordered from Oneida. Being up in Canada I admit I was a little nervous but that ended the second the system arrived! Once we had it up and working we were even more amazed.

This machine is extremely cool! I guarantee if you use one of these for a couple of days you would never even consider those “double bagger dust storms” that most places sell.

     Since we were quite serious about getting a quality system that was made well and actually worked we never even considered imported. Anyone well versed in tools knows that cheep tools are for the birds and just too expensive. I wanted something that we could buy once and that was it!

Here is our old double bagger on the left and Oneida on the right.

You pick!

     Personally I think they could make a real funny video showing someone trying to dump those cloth dust bags out. Not only are they heavy but very awkward. I once watched this lady shop user going through the ritual and within seconds she was covered head to foot in dust. This woman was no slouch either since she was a professional woodworker who does stuff beyond belief. I would have helped but was too busy laughing. : ) If for no other reason than changing the bags the Oneida is worth it right there. Since the above photo I have added wheels and handles to the drum which makes it even easier to take out to dump. See the pics below.

     Here I attached a piece of round three quarter inch medite and then screwed some cheap wheels onto the bottom for easy moving to the dumpster. Normally I hate cheep wheels but this thing never moves far or that often to warrant good ones. Also it was not my money to spend! : )

To clean out the drum!

     The nice thing with this system is you just flip off the past center clamp, lift up the lid, roll out the drum, take out to dumpster and dump in. If you careful you would get virtually no dust on you!!

     I would say the old double baggers are not totally useless. We did notice that it seemed to look after the big stuff fairly well, though the real fine stuff, which is hazardous to your health, was a different story. We found that when the bag was actually sealed against the metal it was not as bad. Often the problem was getting the bag sealed properly which seemed impossible without a big fight. The ultra fine dust would then leak out and spray all over the wall. The wall behind the dust system was always covered in a quarter inch of dust. This dust seemed finer than flour. The air never looked that dusty in there but bang one of the overhead pipes and this ultra find dust would rain down. This problem is virtually all but gone with the new Oneida installed.

     Ceiling Mount Dust Filters? ? ?

     Just an added note here that I have heard some people say they are just going to install one of those ceiling mount dust filters. Those may be fine but they do have a couple of drawbacks. The first being they are filtering dust out of the air you are breathing. The real goal in dust collection is to get the dust before it gets into the air you are breathing!

     Also if you try blowing your shop out sometime you will notice before very long that most of the dust is closer to the floor than the ceiling! That is because dust always settles down eventually. The ceiling filters are cleaning the cleanest air in the shop and often air above your head!!! Mind you if you put the dust filter near the floor or at your face level where it would do the most good it would be plugged up before you knew it since the dust would be far thicker near the floor. I would rather know the dust never gets into the air in the first place. This is what the Oneida dust systems seem to do since of course it has so much suction.

     I am sure one of those ceiling mount systems may impress your wife but won't likely impress your doctor much! You sometimes have to assess whether you think you are worth the benefits of a good dust system or not.

     Of course with the double baggers you also have to worry about the fact all the dust dirt and wood chunks have to go through the impellers. If a piece of steel got sucked up it could create a spark and ignite the dust bags. Twice over four years we had our dust bags smoldering though not really sure why. Some systems claim to have aluminum impellers to prevent sparking which is fine but the housing is still steel. With the Oneida virtually everything is taken out by the cyclone before it gets to the impellers! I have actually sucked up large blocks of wood that would have possibly jammed the old system but with the Oneida those blocks just fall into the drum and never get near the impellers. I was also amazed, by the way, how much suction this thing has and what kind of chunks it would suck up.

     Another interesting point to also note is the footprint of the Oneida is almost half that of the double bagger! In fact ours would take even less if we were able to use the wall mount bracket! With shop space always at a premium this is vital!

Shop Vac... Were building a small shop to store ours...!!?!?!

     One other thing as a side note, have you ever noticed how idiotic shop vacuum cleaners are? Most of the shop vac makers seem to miss the point completely but floor space these days is at a premium price wise. You would think some of those computer geeks designing these things would check yahoo news once in awhile!

     I say this about shop vacs since they have to be the biggest bulkiest space takers you could possibly have. The worst part is they are such odd shapes that they fit nowhere, not to mention their hoses are almost ridged and impossible to coil. I think shop vac companies need to fire their CAD geeks and hire someone who actually has a wood shop to design one. I don’t need some bulky space age buck rogers looking piece of junk to vacuum shop dust!! I would bet there is not one shop user out there that wishes he woodshop was smaller!! The shop vac we have here takes almost the same floor space that our new Oneida does!!! : )

     Now speaking on the shop vac with this new system we have pretty well eliminated the use for our shop vac anyway. We have so far installed three floor sweeps which work extremely well. Though sweeping does rile up more dust, with our smooth floor and fine bristle broom it is not that bad. On top of that there seems to far less floor dust that we used to have by a huge margin!

     Here is our band saw hooked up. We decided to run solid ducting all the way whenever we could. Less resistance than the flex stuff and looks a little cleaner. We found the plastic blast gates are great if you like extra work. They are cheap come apart thus you have to change them twice… as usual buy cheap and buy twice! We now use only metal ones. When this one breaks in a few days we will change it to metal.

     For the drum sander we had no choice but to use the flex hose since the top has to open up easily.

     With the drum sander we did hard ducting all the way. Working with the ducting is not all that hard.

Make sure you use aluminum tape and NOT DUCT tape for sealing the joints.

     In a short time the duct tape glue separates from the cloth and you just end up with one hell of a mess. The aluminum tape is the way to go. Plus is a lot easier to remove if you have to. Since the Oneida sucks so well you can hear the seams and joints whistling until they are taped! Make sure you press the tape down thoroughly. Though not shown in this picture there is a floor sweep at this point now also.

     For the jointer I fabricated a five inch flange so that the ducting did not have to reduce down to 4” right at the machine. Fortunately I have a PlasmaCam in my own studio which made it easy. Since I am not the sharpest tool in the shed I had to redo this one metal blast gate. The jointer should have t’eed in above the gate that way we could have shut off the table saw giving the jointer full suction. I have since changed this not that it was that vital since the suction is so good. Just the same we tried to get it as close to the book as possible since the more suction at the machine means the less airborne dust you end up with. Remember ultra fine dust is harmless… if in the drum… otherwise in the air it could very well kill you!

     Again for the planer we did use the flex hose for ease of installation and the fact that there needs to be give for the planer head to go up and down. We may tweak this some more but so far it seems to be adequate.

     Next on the list to get hooked up is the new lathe. We have also installed a floor sweep here just behind where the opperator works. That will make clean up of the shavings that kick back easier. By the way if you lead a dull life like I do using the floor sweeps is a real riot. It is amazing how well the suck up sweepings! I wished the shop was like it used to be before just so I would have more floor dust to suck up. I tell you it is like magic.


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