Dust is the worst enemy in the workplace.
When you start processing wood, dust will be released and tends to crawl into your lungs through your mouth and nose.
If you were to look at a list of operations where the most dust will be released, sanding will undoubtedly score high.
To protect ourselves against the sanding dust, we can wear masks, which is an absolute must, but they never give the full 100% guarantee.
That is why we have to think about removing the dust as soon as possible after it is released.
All dust that is immediately removed makes less chance of penetrating deep into your lungs through a small opening between the mouth mask and your skin.
Fortunately, many power tools are already equipped with a dust discharge connection to do this.
But what if you want to sand by hand?
For this, this downdraft table is a fantastic gadget that can ensure that most of the dust can be vacuumed away immediately after it is released.
Such a downdraft table is easy to make yourself, and you can connect it to any dust extraction you have in your woodworking workshop.
In this step-by-step guide, you will discover how to build your own downdraft table, and you can download free construction plans to help you build.
Moreover, this downdraft table has sandpaper storage as an extra advantage, so you always have all the material at hand when you want to start sanding.
Done with sanding? Then just hang this downdraft table on the wall thanks to the built-in french cleat system.
After hanging this downdraft table, you still have access to the sandpaper storage.
Do you want one of those too?
Discover below how you can build your copy.
- What do you need to make a downdraft table?
- Watch the video here & learn how to make a downdraft table
- What is a downdraft table?
- Don’t have a dust extractor for your workshop yet?
- How to make a downdraft table step by step
- Step 1 | Preparation
- Step 2 | Making the base
- Step 3 | Make the box airtight
- Step 4 | Downdraft table top
- Step 5 | Vacuum cleaner connection
- Step 6 | Sandpaper storage
- Step 7 | French cleat system
- Step 8 | Start using your downdraft table
What do you need to make a downdraft table?
To prepare you for building this downdraft table, I have made a few handy lists.
In addition to a few personal protective equipments that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this downdraft table .
* Safety is always your own responsibility!
Safety first! Protect yourself!
Materials I used for this
(power)Tools I used for this
Watch the video here & learn how to make a downdraft table
Here you can watch the video and see how to make the downdraft table.
After watching the video, you can continue reading the step-by-step guide to making this downdraft table yourself.
What is a downdraft table?
Downdraft tables come in 2 types.
The first type is free-standing workbenches in which built-in ventilation is placed.
Another type is a portable mini extension that can be added to existing workbenches and connected to an external extraction system.
The principle of a downdraft table is that it sucks away dust, smoke, and fumes that are released from the material being worked on.
A downdraft table has a perforated surface, the bottom of which is connected to the ventilation or dust collection system.
By switching on the ventilation system, dust, smoke, or fumes will be drawn through the holes in the perforated surface.
In this blog, you will learn how you can make a portable type and connect it to the vacuum cleaner in your shop.
Don’t have a dust extractor for your workshop yet?
If you don’t own a dust extractor yet, then be sure to check out these suggested vacuum cleaners.
When you invest in dust extraction, remember that you are investing in your health. So choose quality and ease of use.
The examples below are top-quality dust extractors and with a little care, they will last a lifetime. I personally own the Festool and can highly recommend it.
How to make a downdraft table step by step
Step 1 | Preparation
After you have downloaded the free plans in this blog, you can cut all parts to size according to the dimensions.
To cut the parts I used my table saw with the fence and my crosscut sled.
I built both the fence and the crosscut sled myself and I offer the free plans so that you can also build them. So be sure to click through the links to read the step-by-step guide and download the free plans.
Step 2 | Making the base
After cutting the parts I first connected all sides. To make the connection I used wood glue and 25 mm brad nails.
The base of the downdraft table looked like the picture below after all sides were joined together.
Then I took scraps of wood and saw strips with a width of 18 mm. Because the wood I used for this is 18 mm thick, I got square pieces of wood that I could use as support for the tabletop.
These supports were attached to the inside of the downdraft table with wood glue and brad nails.
To determine the depth of the supports I took a piece of scrap wood which I placed flush with the top of the downdraft table. By then placing the supports against the underside of the scrap wood I was sure that they were fixed at the correct depth, and the tabletop would lie perfectly flush with the edges after installation.
Then the bottom was installed. Make sure that the bottom is placed on the side where the sandpaper will be stored.
On the other side, the bottom is left open to be able to hang the downdraft table on the wall with the french cleat system.
After placing the bottom, the sloping bottoms could be placed.
For this, I used a 3mm thick plywood.
These sloping bottoms ensure that dust is brought to the center as much as possible so that it can be more easily extracted by the dust extraction.
Through the opening where the sandpaper storage comes, the furthest part was first inserted and fastened to the bottom and the bottom of the support with brad nails.
Then it was the turn of the second sloping bottom, which was fixed in the same way in the downdraft table.
Step 3 | Make the box airtight
In order to maximize the suction power through the holes in the surface, it must be ensured that air cannot be drawn in through gaps between the joints of the wood.
Any small opening would reduce the vacuum of the extraction and the downdraft table will not work optimally.
To ensure that these gaps were closed, each seam was sealed with white caulk.
For a downdraft table with these dimensions, you only need 1 tube of caulk.
Do this accurately and make sure every gap is sealed.
Step 4 | Downdraft table top
Okay, this may seem like the least fun part of building the downdraft table, but this job was done pretty quickly. Drilling all these holes manually seems like a lot, but with good preparation, it is not too bad.
Beforehand, I marked both horizontal and vertical lines at a distance of 3 cm from each other.
The first row was also placed 3 cm from the edge each time.
All these holes were drilled out with a 10 mm drill.
To avoid tearing at the bottom, it is best to place a piece of scrap wood under the place where you need to drill.
The sides of this table-top, like all edges of the downdraft table, were chamfered with a chamfer bit on my palm router.
This way, the edges are stronger on will not break easily when something hits them.
Step 5 | Vacuum cleaner connection
In the middle of the downdraft table, where the sloping bottoms meet, an opening has been made through which the extraction can be connected to the downdraft table.
The diameter of the extraction nozzle was 36 mm in my case, so I made a 35 mm opening with a Forstner bit.
The opening is slightly smaller so that the extraction nozzle can be securely connected and cannot come loose during work.
Step 6 | Sandpaper storage
An extra advantage of this downdraft table is that the hollow space under the sloping bottoms is used as sandpaper storage.
Every space counts for anyone who has a small workshop.
Therefore, a metal bar was provided on the short side of the downdraft table through which rolls of sandpaper can be hung.
Because the metal bar should not come loose during transport of the table, I looked for a solution that can ensure that, but also where the metal bar could easily be opened to replenish sandpaper.
I did this by mounting 2 small blocks with an opening through which the metal rod could go.
I attached the first block with wood glue and nails to the side where the metal rod goes through the side.
The block that will be placed on the other side and ensures that the metal tube remains in place, was clamped against the already attached block.
By now drilling through the side and the two blocks, all parts that have to hold the metal bar have a hole at the same height.
Under no circumstances should a hole be drilled on the other side!
The second block was attached the same distance on the other side and the metal bar cut to length.
The length of the metal bar is the outer distance of the 2 small blocks.
This makes it possible to drill a hole across the hole through which the metal rod passes. A screw can now be placed in that drilled hole that blocks the metal rod and secures it against loosening.
To make it easy to rip off the sandpaper, a piece of wood was mounted on the top.
The holes through which the screws go were intentionally widened and the screws were not tightened properly.
As a result, this part can move and sandpaper can slide through easily.
Step 7 | French cleat system
To save space in the small workshop, this downdraft table can be hung on the wall.
I did that with a French cleat system.
By placing the saw blade of the table saw at an angle of 45 degrees and saw a long piece of wood, I got 2 parts that hook together.
One part was attached to the bottom of the downdraft table and another part to the wall.
Step 8 | Start using your downdraft table
Your downdraft table is now ready for use.
You only have to connect it to your dust extraction, and you can start sanding cleanly.
To tear off a piece of sandpaper, pull the sandpaper out to the length you need, clamp the moving bar and tear off the sandpaper in one motion.
Sandpaper replacement is quick by loosening the screw and pulling out the metal bar.
If you want to know more about how to determine the right sandpaper for your project, be sure to check out my blog: The perfect sandpaper grit guide for woodworking.
Everything you need to know about sandpaper can be found in this article. It will no doubt give you a better understanding of the proper use of sandpaper.
There is also a FREE downloadable guide available to help you determine the right sandpaper grit.
How to build your workshop on a budget?
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That’s how I could spend my money more wisely and save big bucks.
I really suggest it to all of my fellow DIYers and creators!
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I hope this information on how to make a downdraft table was helpful, and that this blog and video inspires you.
Let me know in a comment below.
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It will be much appreciated.
I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.
Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration
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