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Articles | Videos | Woodworker Showcase
last updated: 9.30.2010 | archived articles
Let's face it, the router table is second only to the bandsaw as the messiest tool in the shop. This nature comes primarily from the fact that the router table is used to perform so many different types of cuts. Edgeforming, requires dust collection at the fence because of the huge amount and size of chips removed from the edge of your material. Rabbeting is also effectively controlled by dust extraction built into the fence. The Wonder Fence is an excellent solution for these types of cuts with through the fence dust collection and a 2-1/2" port for your shop vacuum built right into the fence. Grooving and dadoing however require a little different consideration if you really want to reduce the amount of dust on your floor and in the air.

Many grooving and dadoing operations require the fence to be moved a great distance away from the cutter. This, combined with the fact that the cutter is completely covered by the material won't allow fence mounted dust collection systems to do their job effectively. For these types of cuts you need dust collection that captures the chips at the source of the cut right where the cutter meets the wood. You need a downdraft (under the table) dust collection cabinet.

A downdraft dust collection cabinet is basically a box mounted to the underside of your router table that surrounds your router. The box includes a dust collection port to fit your shop vacuum system and when turned on, collects the chips right through the opening in your router's mounting plate.

Commercial downdraft dust collection cabinets first made an appearance on the router table accessories market about 10 years ago, but they were not very well received initially because they were small enclosures and did not permit much in the way of access for changing cutters. While the cabinets have gotten bigger over the years, easy to lift out router mounting plates like INCRA's solid aluminum MagnaLock Plates, and the INCRA/Woodpeckers PRL-V2 Lift and INCRA Mast-R-Lift, which permit quick above the table bit changes have greatly reduced the cabinet size requirements. The best part about a downdraft dust collection cabinet is summed up in three words, "these things work", and this means a cleaner, safer and more productive work environment. But let's talk a minute about noise reduction.

I doubt there is anyone out there who can say that they actually enjoy the sound of a finely tuned router humming along at 20,000 rpm. A router table is certainly one of the most important and most versatile power tools in the shop but these things are screamers. One of the most interesting side benefits of a downdraft dust collection cabinet is that of noise reduction. Once enclosed in a downdraft cabinet, the "scream" is sucked into your dust collector and filtered to a reasonable purr. OK, the dust collector doesn't really take the sound away. It is simply the muffler effect of the enclosure, but the bottom line is that it sounds MUCH better. Ready to add a downdraft dust collection cabinet to your router table, but don't like the sticker shock of purchasing a commercial model? How about free plans to build one out some scrap plywood? You got it.
Downdraft Cabinet
Router table guru and INCRA expert Mark Mueller from Indianapolis recently spent a little of his shop time to devise an easy to make and extremely effective dust collection system that will be perfect for your router table. The Downdraft Cabinet uses common hardware store fasteners and hardware and is made with all wood construction. It's a great beneficial project for your shop. I particularly like
the all wood construction, because it provides even better noise suppression than the old metal cabinet I used to use. The pivoting door design is great for wide open router access and won't SLAM shut when you forget to close the door before turning on your dust collector. For the cover photo shown above, Mark glued up a decorative panel to dress the design up a bit, but a solid plywood or MDF panel will work just fine. Treat your woodshop, your lungs and your ears to this wonderful project.

You'll never regret it!

Keep us posted on your unique shop layout or any special project you may be working on by dropping me an email: perry@incra.com.

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