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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

Things finally returning to normal, and our new Clear Vue Cyclone dust collector!

Whew! What a busy four months it's been. Between finishing up client work, shipping product orders (thanks everyone! hope you love your trees!), Autodesk University, our big trip , and wrapping up loose ends at Gensler, well, time for even eating and sleeping has been scarce! But finally things are starting to settle down some, so we can get back to blogging more about what where up to as well as what new cool stuff we've found.
But first off, one big update is that I'm leaving Gensler soon. It's bitter-sweet to be sure, leaving to just do your own thing is a dream many have that is now becoming true for us; yet Gensler is probably the best firm and people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. It was a great experience, and I doubt I'd be able to do what we are now if I hadn't had taken the job there. And I certainly wouldn't have gotten the chance to work on 54-story funky skyscrapers for downtown LA. Rock on. But now I leave a really good job to cut plywood for a living. Go me. Heh. But it seems the right thing to do. Might do some consulting for the Big G in the future anyways, so I hope I'll still get to see the folks I know there from time to time.
Behold the mighty dust-sucker!
And now, onto some less boring updates. We just got one of these! It's almost... no, it is frightening. It pulls 25 amps, required it's own dedicated line for power, sounds like a small jet taking off when it's on, and can suck up a whole tape measure. Not that we ever did that. Oh no. But they do warn you not to allow small animals in the room when it's on. They are serious when they say this. It's like there's a small fragment of a black hole in the damn thing when it's on. Here's a way cool movie of it in action.
Image from Wikipedia
It's a Cyclonic separator. So, the big fan on top sucks air up and out of the cone while spinning it very quickly. Particles via the magic of physics that are sucked into the cone via the hose then spin out of the air, into the bucket below. It's amazing, it forms a perfect 'reverse tornado' stream of sawdust that dutifully spirals right down into the bin. I think it's cool that it's clear too. OK, I'm easily amused. But it is neat to watch, and actually, it's clear so you know when the bottom bin is full, and that it's working.
Clear and cool
Why is it so important to know that it's working, and why did we go buy such a crazy giant (and expensive) thing? Well, not to scare y'all, but if you go to this website, and read up, you'll find that wood dust is bad. Really BAD. More or less it contains a lot of silica, which winds up in your lungs. Sadly, a lifelong woodworker found this out the hard way, and also found out that a lot of commercial dust collectors (the bag types) don't really do much to stop the worst of the dust (the fine dust that you really can't easily see). So, this being America, he goes on a lifelong quest to A. understand why wood dust is so bad for you, and B. to design the most perfect dust collector ever. And, thankfully, he posted it all online. Hours and hours and hours of it. Read, and be scared. A quick note to the skeptics: this guy's been posting this stuff for seven years or more. It's not some scam to get folks to buy his collectors, the guy doesn't even make them himself, and he freely posts his plans to all.
So anyways, the guy put his perfect dust collector design online with plans to make one. And, for those of us with more money than time, he licensed his design to these fine folks who make ready-to-go versions. Which is what we ordered, the 'small' version (scary to think what the big version is).
Now, a few other companies make Cyclones too. But they aren't as cool, aren't clear, and actually aren't as nice. I mean, this thing really, really works. It's designed to perfectly minimize turbulence of the airflow, make for damn-near-perfect separation. We've looked in the output filter (the last thing the air goes through before it returns into the shop) and it's as clean as when we bought it, and we've cut probably at least 20-30 full sheets or more... It's like a night-and-day difference now. The shop, and therefore the whole house too, is much, much better than before. No dust, much less mess. And now we won't get cancer or ruin our lungs, so hey, there's a nice side-bonus.
Seriously tho, if you do a lot of work with fine dust, do yourself a favor and get better protection. You don't need to go this far, but just getting a shop vac that accepts a HEPA filter and wearing a respirator is a good start. And there are tiny versions of this sort of thing that strap to a bucket and let you use a shop vac for the suction but catch just as much dust as our big one (nothing winds up in the shop vac!).
Protect your lungs!
Jeffrey McGrew