If you use CNC machines to cut soft materials, you might have faced problems caused by dust in your shop.
In this article, I briefly discuss why you need a dust shoe, the factors you should consider while selecting a dust shoe, and I have also mentioned some of the popular dust shoes currently available.
Further, I have also included a section where I talk about making a dust shoe for your CNC router, yourself.
What is a CNC dust shoe?
Dust shoe is a CNC router accessory that attaches to the spindle or the router and encloses the immediate cutting area around the bit to provide a conduit to collect the dust generated. It also provides a seal for the vacuum of the dust collector to be effective.
Why is a CNC dust shoe necessary?
Cutting materials on a CNC router can produce chips and dust. These chips and dust spread in all directions.
If left unattended, it can get into the drive mechanism of your CNC and affect their performance.
The dust will also settle down on the other equipment you have in the room and makes it challenging to maintain a clean work area. It also increases the time you have to spend on cleaning the workplace.
Moreover, while cutting using a CNC machine, the workpiece can also become messy, making it difficult to see the cuts, making it difficult to prevent wrong cuts.
A CNC dust shoe with its bristles surrounds the dust and provides a seal for the vacuum in your dust collection system.
Without it, the shop vac wouldn't be nearly as effective at collecting the dust.
A dust shoe is an answer to all such problems.
Factors to Consider while Selecting a CNC Dust Shoe
1. Spindle/Router Size
The spindle/router needs to pass through the dust shoe.
Make sure you select a dust shoe with an opening that matches your choice of CNC spindle.
You should also consider the shape of the spindle body. For example, some spindles have a square body.
The most commonly used routers in CNC machines like the DeWalt and Makita have cylindrical bodies and come in standard sizes ranging from 60 mm to 90 mm.
2. Vacuum Port Size
You have to connect dust shoes to a shop vac to remove the dust and debris collected while cutting.
If you have a shop vac with you, make sure the vacuum hose of your shop vac fits your dust shoe.
If it does not, check whether you can make it fit using size converters or adaptors.
If you do not have a shop vac, look at the options of shop vac you could buy and choose a dust shoe that would be compatible with your intended shop vac.
Most dust shoes attach to the spindle or the Z-axis. This is a disadvantage as it adds additional weight to the Z-axis and produces torque on the Z-axis.
Additionally, the vacuum hose connected to the dust shoe can further restrict the movement of the Z-axis.
You must always select a dust shoe that attaches to the gantry rather than to the Z-axis if options are available.
4. Material of skirt
Do not choose a dust shoe with a stiff skirt. You must make sure the skirt is soft enough to bend under stress easily.
If the skirt is stiff, it can get caught up in the workpiece and restrict the movement of the spindle over the workpiece.
5. Brush Size
A rule of thumb for determining the brush height is that it should be slightly larger than the length of the tool while the tool is touching the workpiece.
If the length of the brush is too little, it will create a gap between the brush and the surface through which material and dust can escape.
If the length of the brush is too much, the compression caused by the brush will impede the motion of the machine.
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Best CNC Dust Shoes
In this section, I talk about the best CNC dust shoes available on the market today.
Although many of these are made by popular CNC brands, you can use them provided the spindle diameter of your CNC machine matches that of the dust shoe diameter.
|Spindle diameter||1" and 2"|
|Vacuum port size||2.5"|
Compatibility Table- Suckit dust shoe
Suckit Dust Boot was a project started on Kickstarter, and it gained popularity among the CNC community.
Due to its popularity, it was brought by Onefinity, the makers of the famous Woodworker and Machinist CNCs.
You can buy the Suckit Dust Boot from the official website of Onefinity for around $89.
It attaches to the gantry rather than the Z-axis and comes with 1” and 2” wide swappable spindle holes.
You can use either a 1” brush or a 1.5” brush according to your project requirement. The brush is included in the package.
You can connect the dust boot to your shop vac using the 2.5” adapter on the Suckit Dust Boot.
It has a transparent body that lets you view the cutting process without obstruction.
Clear dust shoes are generally more expensive compared to opaque ones.
Additionally, it attaches to the mount magnetically, making it easy to remove and connect the boot for tool changing.
You can use Suckit Dust Boot with Onefinity, Shapeoko, X-Carve, and other compatible CNC machines.
2. Sweepy 2.0
|Spindle diameter||65 mm and 69 mm|
|Vacuum port size||2.5” vacuum hose, 2.25” shop vac, and 36mm Festool/Fein|
Compatibility Table- Sweepy 2.0 dust shoe
Sweepy 2.0 is made by Carbide 3D, the makers of the popular Shapeoko series of CNC routers.
Sweepy 2.0 is available in two versions, 65mm version and 69 mm version.
The 65 mm version is for the Makita RT07 series of routers, and the 69 mm is for the Dewalt 600 series of routers.
It has a transparent polycarbonate construction that lets you view the cutting process.
It mounts directly to the spindle. The lightweight of the spindle does not add significant load to the Z-axis.
It is primarily made as an accessory for Shapeoko CNC routers but can be used with any machine using a Makita or Dewalt router.
The Sweepy 2.0 has a 2.5” vacuum port for dust extraction, which you can use to connect your shop vac.
Additionally, it comes with adapters for a 2.5” direct hose, 2.25” shop vac, and 36mm Festool/Fein.
You can buy the Sweepy 2.0 dust boot from Carbide 3Ds official website for around $45.
|Spindle diameter||Has unique versions for various spindles and routers|
|Vacuum port size||4" (adapters for various sizes available)|
Compatibility Table- KentCNC STANDARD dust shoe
KentCNC is a popular US-based CNC machine manufacturer. They are known to build quality parts for CNC machines.
The STANDARD split-shoe from KentCNC is available for a wide range of spindles and routers.
It has a 3" and 2" brush that you can use according to the tool you use.
You can buy it from the official website of KentCNC for around $150.
The dust shoe has a transparent top that lets you see the cutting process which is great for monitoring the cutting process.
For dust collection you can use the 4" adapter that comes with the dust shoe to connect the vacuum hose from your dust collector.
4. Daedalus NL330-Best Affordable CNC Dust shoe
|Spindle diameter||70mm, 75mm, 80mm, 85mm, 90mm, and 100mm|
|Vacuum port size||3.8"|
Compatibility Table- Daedalus NL330 dust shoe
Daedalus is a popular manufacturer of CNC spindles and makes good quality dust boots.
Daedalus makes the NL330 in six sizes - 70mm, 75mm, 80mm, 85mm, 90mm, and 100mm.
Make sure you have verified the size of your spindle before selecting the spindle as the dust boot mounts directly to the spindle.
It has a 70mm long nylon brush all around. The nylon brush is flexible enough for smooth movement over the workpiece.
The dust boot body is made of ABS, which is a durable material, but it obstructs visibility, and you cannot monitor the cutting process.
It comes with a 3.8” vacuum port to which you can connect your dust collection system.
The push-pull design lets you remove and fix the dust boot quickly for tool changes.
You can check the latest price of Dedalus NL330 from Amazon.
|Vacuum port size||2.5"|
Compatibility Table- Next Wave Shark HD dust shoe
These dust boots are made by Next Wave, the makers of Shark series CNC machines.
It is made from HDPE, which is rigid but does not allow you to see the routing process.
It bolts directly to the spindle mount using the bolts provided in the package and is primarily made for Shark CNC machines produced after 2008.
The dust shoe is attached to the mount using magnets which lets you remove and attach the dust shoe easily for tool changes.
You can connect the dust shoe to your dust collector using the 2.5” vacuum port provided on the dust shoe.
You can check the latest price of Next Wave Dust shoe from Amazon.
CNC Dust Shoe Design for Making One Yourself
If you require a dust shoe, that means you already own a CNC machine. So why not make a dust shoe using your CNC machine.
You can make the dust boot out of acrylic, polycarbonate, HDPE, MDF, plywood, or wood.
In my opinion, a polycarbonate construction will give you good visibility and rigidity, and at the same time, it will keep the weight down.
For making the skirt, you can use silicone, nylon, or plastic brushes. You can find plenty of them on Amazon.
I would suggest using a nylon brush as they are flexible enough to move over the surface easily and rigid enough to stop the chips from flying off.
You would also need Neodymium magnets for attaching the dust shoe to the dust shoe mount.
If you want to use a shop vac with your dust shoe, you’ll need an adapter to connect your vacuum hose to the dust shoe.
CNC Dust Shoe dxf
You can find lots of design files for dust shoes in DXF formats on the forum pages of your CNC machine.
STL finder website has several links to DXF files of CNC dust shoes that you can use for free.
You can download them and modify them to your device specification using any paid or free CAD software.
The dust shoe typically has two parts, the mount, and the dust shoe. The mount attaches to your CNC machine, and the dust shoe attaches to the mount using magnets.
The dust shoe mount can be designed as three separate parts. Two vertical parts attach to the gantry, and one horizontal plate goes around the spindle and houses the vacuum hose adapter.
You will also have to make holes on the horizontal part to place the magnets.
The dust shoe will have a similar design as the horizontal part of the mount. Additionally, the bottom side of the dust shoe will have slots all around the boundary of the part to insert the brush.
You must make pockets in the dust shoe to insert magnets and the pockets must align with the magnet pockets on the mount. This will let you attach and remove the dust shoe easily for tool changes.
Cutting and Assembly
After designing the parts, you can use CAM software to convert them into G-code and cut the sheets using your CNC router.
The three parts of the mount can be put together using any strong adhesive and mounted to the gantry using bolts.
Next, you should insert and secure the magnets into the pockets on the horizontal part of the mount and the dust shoe.
The brushes should be attached to the dust shoe in a way that will let you replace it, so do not glue the brush onto the dust shoe.
Once all that is done, you can take the dust shoe close to the mount, and ideally, it would stick to the mount due to the magnets.
Avid CNC has an open-source Universal CNC Dust Shoe project that you can use to make a custom dust shoe according to your machine's requirements.