This article was originally authored by me and printed in The Fan Collector Magazine. Photos and copy have been updated and it is re-published here with their permission.
One of the most common problems with the fan restoration hobby and something that has put me on thin ice with the wife is polishing brass to a mirror finish. Because we are polishing mostly brass this means that most of the wheels we use are very soft and generate a lot of lint. This lint combined with the fine rouge dust equals an absolute mess if it is not handled properly.
This month I’d like to detail the dust collection cabinet that I built for my buffing wheel as well as what I’ve already learned about it and room for improvement. This dust collection cabinet serves two primary purposes: collecting the dust that comes off the wheel and storing materials that are commonly used for buffing such as extra wheels, compounds, wrenches, etc.
The cabinet is approximately 34” wide, 18” deep and stands around 48” tall. It is made from ¾” plywood and 2x4” lumber. The front of the bottom frame is purposely omitted so that I can fit a Sterilite storage “cabinet” below the buffer. This is an economical (around $25) way to add drawers without having to build something more labor or cost intensive. The drawers can also easily be slid out to allow sweeping behind.
The base of the buffer sits about 32” up off of the ground, which is approximately the same height as it sat when I was using the original tripod pedestal base that came with it. The cabinet is approximately 18” deep. The dividers between the buffing chambers and the motor are cut out using a jig-saw to allow access to remove and add a new buffing wheel, as well as to tighten the nuts that hold the wheels on using wrenches.
At the top of the cabinet I added a nice little features which permits storage of various tools and rouges without having to worry about them vibrating or rolling off: I glued and stapled cheap carpet to the top and then sandwiched it in place with 1” lumber creating a lip.
Handling the dust collection itself is a 1hp Delta dust collector with a “nano,” or 0.5micron cartridge style filter attached. This is routed to the back of the dust collection cabinet using 4.5” woodworking vacuum tubing and fittings.
The ducts are cut into the bottom of the dust collection cabinet and attached to mini shrouds to create better suction past the wheels. The feature steel mesh screens staples over the opening of each one to prevent parts from getting dropped into the vaccuum. These screens catch a lot of lint so remember to remove the lint periodically as you are buffing. Each duct can be shut off individually to create the most suction on whichever side of the buffer your using.
Ultimately this setup is a major improvement over my prior solution: nothing at all. The shroud location at the bottom of the box works very well when the wheels are used at 1800 RPM’s. While my setup works, a higher horsepower buffer would likely function better, perhaps 2hp being ideal. Place ducts for the vacuum directly under the front most edge of the wheel because most rouge is shot directly down from the front of the wheel. If the duct is too far back it will miss a lot of lint that will be shot out at your belt instead of the vacuum.
In order to avoid getting too dirty when buffing, I use a canvas shop apron and a full face mask as seen below. Combined with some good quality rubber gloves allows you to clean up quickly and easily.