If you want to spend more time woodworking and less time cleaning shop, dust collection is a big help.
A large dust collector is expensive, difficult to design and hard to install. With a bit of electrical know-how and a small vac, it is easy to realize the benefits of a dust collection system, at a fraction of the cost.
In the picture above, you can see the router table I have set up with a dedicated small vac pulling dust and chips out the back of the fence. By installing a switched outlet, I can turn on both the router and the vac simultaneously.
As the schematic above shows, I chose to switch only half of the duplex outlet. This allows me to light up the area during setup, as well as when the router is running.
Although this project is focused on the router table, you can easily adapt it to any tool in your shop that throws chips.
This is easy to do, and Ill show you how.
First, Safety Notes
With this setup, the switches on the router and vac will be always ON.
The tools will appear to be off when the switch is off. Always turn off the switch strongemon the tool/em/strong before adjusting the router or cleaning the vac filter . Accidentally flipping the switch will start the tools if the individual switches are not turned off.
Where sharp and dim collide, there is trouble!
I dont think of myself as dim (although others would argue the counterpoint), but because my router table is in a dark corner of my shop, I have a light mounted to my router table. To power the light, I wired half of the duplex outlet to be always on because I need the light even when the router isnt running.
Unlike the first Lumber Lab project, the Switched Outlet with Fuse, the switch and outlet for this project are mounted in separate boxes. This lets us mount the switch box in a convenient location.
The Outlet box is mounted on the backside of the leg, below the switch box. There it is hidden from view and out of the way.
Important note about ELECTRICAL CODE:
CODE also suggests that you keep the outlet a safe distance from floor. At least 12 up is a good goal, which places it within easy reach.
If you share your shop space with vehicles, you MUST place your outlet span style=text-decoration: underline;at least/span 18 off the floor. This is to reduce the risk of an electrical spark igniting automotive fumes.
CODE also states that wiring staples must be used within 12″ of any metal box. I think I used 4 over 2 feet, so Im good!
A few aspect of this project are very similar to what I covered during the Switched Outlet project, so check that out if you have question about some of the techniques or tools.
What is the same?
The switch Again we are just using a typical household switch. The only difference here is this time I got switch rated for 20 amps.
Drawn Metal Boxes: I like these especially for shop project. They are much more durable than the plastic boxes and are easier to mount.
Cable Connectors: For the Switched Outlet, I reviewed three different Non Metallic cable connector types. As mentioned in that post, it is essential to install connectors when using metal boxes. This time I decided to use the Gripper style connector to get in and out of boxes.
What is Different?
Double Crimping: We need to double crimp a couple of connections, so instead of looping the wires with our strippers and securing two wire under a screw, we will use the Back Wiring option, so be sure to get an outlet with this feature. Double crimping under a screw is acceptable but I tend to do so only for bare ground wire connections.
Break to Fix: All outlets have a tab connecting the terminals on either side. Breaking this tab separates the outlets so they can be wired or controlled independently. This is what allows us to switch only one of the receptacles.
Step By Step
1) Box Installation
Following the notes listed above to mount the switch and outlet boxes on the router table.
2) Plug and Cord
Example from last project:
Wire your plug as we did in the previous project.
Bring the stranded cord into the metal box through a cable connector.
3) Pig Tails
Make the Pig Tail wires by cutting 4-5 pieces of wire. One each of Black, White and Bare 12 AWG wire.
Connect the stranded wires from the plug cable to the pig tails with appropriately sized wire nuts.
Cut a piece of 12-2 wire that is about 12 longer than the distance between your two boxes.
Strip 4 of the plastic jacket off each end.
Install the wire into the switch box through a cable connector, pulling about 6 into the box.
Strip and loop the Black, White and Bare wires.
Connect the wires to the switch using the screw terminals.
Bring the other end of the 12-2 wire into the outlet box.
Strip all three wires but loop only the Bare wire.
Wire the White Neutral pigtail wire on the Neutral side, as indicated on the outlet. Do Not break the tab on this side of the outlet.
Double crimp the Black Pigtail Wire and the Black Switched wire into one of the receptacles on the HOT wire side.
Break the tab between the receptacles on the Hot side.
Wire the White Switched wire into the HOT side of the switched receptacle. emThis is a bit counter intuitive, because normally White is Neutral./em
Double crimp the Bare wire pigtail and Bare wire from the switch cable into the Ground screw on the outlet body.
Push the switch and outlet into their boxes and screw them down.
Install the faceplates.
blockquoteUsing Metal faceplates ensures that a connection is made between the body and the box on both the switch and the outlet. This eliminates the need to wire the Bare Ground wire to a ground screw on the box itself./blockquote
As noted above, code requires a staple within 12 of the box. My router table legs are 2x stock, so it was easy to hammer in a few.
Just plug your router and vac into the outlet extender and then into the switched receptacle. Plug in your light to the other, and your will be ready to work!
This project is a major shop convenience. Think about all the times we have paid a price for convenience, like every time we buy bottled water. Whats nice about this expense for convenience sake is that it pays us back, in both time and health, every time we use it. Keep the dust out of your lungs AUTOMATICALLY and spend more time woodworking.
Visit The Lumber Lab aStore to get tools and supplies for this project.
One Last Tip: The Vac Hose
When I first setup the dust collection on this router table, I had the 1 1/4 diameter, 14 long hose between the vac and the fence. This worked for fine dust, but would often get clogged with the larger chips that break off when routing against the grain.
At first, I assumed the vac model I have was limited to a 1 1/4 hose, since thats what came in the box. It wasnt until I got a box of 2 1/1 extension hose for another vac project that I realize that the vac connector was the same size for the larger hose size.
I had a 4 chunk of large vac hose left over and installed that instead of the small hose. This did wonders for the suction at the fence and clogs much less frequently.