When it comes to dust-making power tools, my table saw is probably the biggest culprit. Besides being a nuisance, dust poses a health risk. These handy tips can quickly improve the dust-collection capabilities of your table saw without spending a lot of money.

The best places to start sealing are the large openings. For a contractor-style table saw, that means the big opening in the back of the cabinet. My solution is a 14” plywood panel with notches and openings to wrap around anything in the way. The panel is held in place with strong rare-earth magnets recessed in each corner.

This panel only works for cuts when the blade is 90° to the saw table — which accounts for most of the cuts that I make. For bevel cuts, I just take the panel off.

Once the large openings are taken care of, you can look for smaller gaps. One is shown here. The blade height wheel of the table saw rides in a curved slot to follow the blade tilt. To narrow the opening, you can apply a sheet of self-adhesive foam to the inside. A slit in the foam allows the mechanism to move. (You can find the foam sheets at an office-supply store.)

One final gap to close is where the saw cabinet joins the table. To close off these narrow, irregular openings, I use foam pipe insulation and backer rod. These are easy to cut to length and stuff in place.

There’s another large opening found on contractor and benchtop table saws I haven’t mentioned, up until now. And that’s the one at the bottom of the saw cabinet. Out on a job site, dust and chips can simply fall to the ground — no big deal. In the shop, this isn’t the best option. You can buy an inexpensive plastic hood that rests inside the saw cabinet (Ours came from Rockler). A fitting in the middle allows you to connect a 4″-dia. dust-collection hose.

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