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No matter what workshop you work in, extraction is paramount. Your safety should always come first and making sure you have the right extraction system in place will improve this no end.

If you’re an employer or employee, you will have undoubtedly heard of LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) and its implications, as in the workplace you have to comply to COSHH (Care of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations. But if you’re a home user, you may not have heard of it.

Dust Extractors

What is LEV?

Simply put, LEV is extraction and is about getting the right system in place for the type of work you do. This is so you can reduce exposures to airborne contaminants such as dust in the workplace.

The basics

An LEV system typically comprises five parts:

  1. Hood – Captures the contaminant at its source
  2. Ducting – Conducts air from hood to discharge point
  3. Air cleanerFilters or cleans extracted air
  4. Air moverThe engine that moves the air through the system – usually a fan
  5. Discharge – To release air into a safe place

We could go on and on (very easily) about this subject but we won’t as you would be here for quite a while. If you want to learn more about LEV, the HSE has an extremely thorough guide on all of its aspects which you can find here http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg258.pdf.

What we ARE going to give you is a brief insight into how you can get the right LEV system in place for your wood workshop so you can stay safe while working.

The small home workshop

As this generally involves you, working in your own workshop, you don’t have to comply to COSHH regulations about LEV. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about it, far from it in fact.

When thinking about extraction at home, it’s important to consider the size of the machines, their extraction ports and the air velocity needed to safely extract the waste.

A lot of smaller machines will have extraction ports in varying sizes ranging from 31 to 63mm, so getting the correct extractor and extraction system that will maintain high air velocity in these systems is vital. We would recommend a vacuum extractor (low air volume, high vacuum pressure) to reduce the risk of blockages.

Other things to consider with this is a 63mm extraction system and rubber reducers to connect the smallest of the machines to the system itself. If you’re someone who uses a mobile vacuum extractor connected to a single machine then a 63mm hose kit will suffice.

Small Workshop

The large home workshop

Once again, this shouldn’t have to involve complying to COSHH regulations if it’s just you using the space, but depending on the machines you’ll be fitting this to there are a few questions to answer.

When discussing a larger home workshop, we’re talking about machines with 100mm dust extraction ports which will require high volume, low pressure extractors such as the AWEDE2, which has a 1hp motor.

If you’re connecting a single machine to the extractor, a 100mm hose kit with hose clips should suffice, as long as the extractor you’re using has an airflow higher than the machine’s minimum extraction airflow rating. These ratings will be found on the machine’s specification tag, on the website or in the product manual.

Connecting to multiple machines? A basic 100mm dust extraction kit is a great place to start using an extractor with a bit more ‘suck’. A 2hp model will generally have enough airflow to cover using a couple of machines at once.

Large Home Workshop

The trade workshop

The place where COSHH regulations must be considered, a trade workshop should already have an extraction system in place that will be able to cope with the quantity and size of machinery in the shop.

If however, you are looking to set up a trade workshop, there are important things to consider when designing your extraction system. Firstly, how many machines you will have in your workshop, the amount that will be in use at the same time and also the type of machines you will be using.

This should now determine the extractor you should buy. Many machines in use? An extractor with high airflow will be needed. A sander in your workshop plan as well as a table saw, planer thicknesser and bandsaw? Then a fine dust extractor is a must. Always consider the airflow that will be needed in your LEV system as maintaining the required air velocity will help greatly with compliance.

Now for the system in place. In the trade workshop, it’s best to place your extractor in a fixed position, in a room on it’s own, outside of the workshop. This will not only help reduce noise, it will also help maintain safe working distances from the extractor and is a good space saving idea.  

A metal ducting kit will provide the longevity you need in a trade workshop and using manometers just after the blast gate of each machine will give you an at-a-glance indication of how well the system is performing.

In the trade workshop, always remember to consult with COSHH guidelines and make sure your LEV system is tested at least once every 14 months to remain compliant…….

workshop-extraction

Key points:

  • Hood design and selection are critical in the performance of LEV systems. Most machines will have this incorporated in their design (i.e. table saws & planer thicknessers) but some, such as mitre saws, will need upgrading.
  • Always consider the potential machines you could use at the same time, to make sure airflow will be maintained no matter how many you use.
  • The diameter of the ductwork should be large enough to enable the correct VFR (Volume Flow Rate) to be maintained.
  • Ductwork should have as few bends or long lengths as possible, as this will reduce the efficiency of the system.

Final thoughts

No matter what the workshop, extraction must be considered and not just any old extraction, you need the right extraction for your needs. Always make sure you have an extractor with comfortably enough air flow, a system that will allow air velocity to be maintained and that you equip yourself with products from a supplier that you trust.  

With all of these things you can be confident you and your colleagues will be working in a safe environment so you can concentrate on the important things.  

Would you like to know anymore about LEV? You can call our Business Services Team on 0800 371822 who will be able to provide advice on the system for you. We can also put you in contact with a trusted partner if you require testing or installation of LEV systems.

  • Stooby

    This isn’t much of a guide, can’t you assume people looking at this have no idea where to start. I have a small workshop. How do I know the right fittings for my machines, get a reducer doesn’t help, how will I check which one.
    If I want to set up ducting in a very small workshop what would this look like? Can’t you do a few diagrams to show some mocks ups with 63mm and 100mm ducting that show what to do and what to avoid?

    • Rob Stoakley

      Setting up a dust extraction system in a small workshop isn’t too difficult, but it does require some thought to determine the best extractor to suit your needs. This is determined by the type of wood waste you wish to extract, ie large chippings from a p/t, and/or sawdust from a table saw and/or very fine sanding dust and it may be that you require more than one extractor, especially if there’s a lot of mdf dust in the ‘shop. The 63mm kit is a great jumping off point for the smaller ‘shop, but100mm hose is recommended if your shop uses bigger machines. Experience has taught me that blast gates should be installed with the gate vertical (if possible), not horizontal as shown in the pics. If the gate is horizontal, dust gets trapped in the slot and won’t be removed by the vacuum; if it’s vertical if will fall out and get sucked away. Simple really! The other thing worth doing is to wrap all connections with duct tape to make sure that they’re air tight…any slight leakage will degrade the performance of the system.

  • AlanTheBraw

    Hi their I bought a Axminster Hobby Series AWEDE2 Extractor and in my mind its not got much suck I bought this for my workshop and had plans to set up a three machine gated system I also own the Axminster ts 250 saw which is notoriouse for dust and this extractor just cant cut it. I had to use a shop vac on the blade guard and extractor to the rear. Now do I throw this extractor in the bin Or is it possible just to throw a 2 hp motor at it? which is all I can think of to do also to improve suction I thought of reducing 100m hose down to 50 m watcha fink mate? those are the only three options I have 1: 2hp motor 2: reduce hose diameter 3:Bin it. any help would be apreciated

    • Rob Stoakley

      I used to own a much earlier version of the AWEDE2 which I used as an extractor for a stand alone planer-thicknesser and for this it worked very well. In my view, this extractor is not really suitable for use in a three gated system because as you rightly point out, it may not provide enough suction. That said, I would keep the machine for it’s intended purpose (i.e. extraction from a small p/t) with a view to changing it later on. To extract efficiently from this type of table saw is difficult without making some fairly long winded modifications, one of which involves the construction of a hopper underneath which is then connected to the extractor. I did this modification some years ago on a Kity 419 saw and it worked reasonably well, but not perfectly. Changing the hose diameter is not recommended as it alters the airflow, please see point 7 in the article in the link provided: http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclone/ducting.cfm

      • AlanTheBraw

        yep Rob I think Ill keep this one as it is and in the new year sales ill buy a trade one I was a bit overly enthusiastic Ill use it on the saw and buy some shop vacs for each machine Ill also shorten the hose length thanks for your input mate its always a good thing having a wee blether with other guys who know the score Thanks

        • Rob Stoakley

          Happy to oblige, but as you probably realised from a quick peek at that article, dust extraction is a ticklish business! If you have any other queries I’ll try and help find a solution.

  • Mark Lawrence

    Hi I was just wondering I work in a factory and we have a dust extraction outside which has to be claimed twice a week extreme amounts of dust gather I am an operator and I am told by my boss is that it is my job to clean and maintain it is this true or is it an engineers job

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