How do you convince your wife to let you have a dust spurting, noise making, time sucking saw in the spare bedroom of your apartment? Build an over engineered, complicated, sucking machine ready for any hurricane of dust thrown at it (and create her a few things to negate the time sucking aspect).
I got this saw for my birthday (gift to myself, of course) to keep from going crazy during the Minnesota winters. Outside was worse than the inside of my freezer and the idle hands were getting anxious. You can blame almost every woodworking project on this site as a result of getting this saw - it kick started an endless supply of projects.
When I brought the saw home I used the box it came in as a make-shift dust hood by cutting one side out and placing it behind the saw to catch any stray debris. This worked surprisingly well for the time being, but I knew it could be improved. The engineer strikes again!
The main goal of the dust collection hood was to add a shop vac for collection and enclose it as much as possible to help contain the dust created when making cuts. Using the cardboard box as a start, I made a prototype out of cardboard and duct tape to get an idea of the overall shape. When I had the basic dimensions down, I used 1/2" plywood from the home center to build the whole hood.
The base platform that the saw now sits on is essentially a down draft table. I built a shallow box using 1x3 lumber for the sides and 1/2" plywood for the top and bottom. On the back half of this box, I drilled a series of holes into the box. I also made a port on the side of the box that a shop vac hose would fit into. By hooking up a shop vac to the port on the side of the box, a draft of air is sucked down through all of the holes. This will help later when we fully enclose the hood by keeping a constant draft of air flowing into the hood, thus encouraging the dust to stay in the hood and not bounce off the back wall and come back at me.
After building the down draft base, I assembled the sides and top of the box cutting out around the features of the saw to create a custom fit box that was decently dust tight. To keep the miter functionality of the saw and remain able to produce angled cuts, I designed two removable wings and a folding top that finish off the box. These two wings and top are installed when cutting at 90 degrees and keep the hood very enclosed with the only open space around the blade and motor. When cutting an angled cut, the top and both wings can be removed opening up the front and top of the box to allow room for the saw to pivot. Obviously the efficiency of the dust collector is decreased in this state since it is less enclosed, but I'd say that 90% of the cuts I make are at 90 degrees anyway.
In addition to the down draft feature, the shop vac is also hooked up to the back of the saw's factory dust port. The combination of the factory dust port, down draft, and enclosed hood make the dust problem on this saw a thing of the past. I can easily cut through a 2x4s without worrying about creating a dust cloud down the hall. While it doesn't capture 100% of the dust, it's a vast improvement and allows me to crank out projects from the middle of a two bedroom apartment.
Be sure to check out the video below for a closer look at how the hood works.
UPDATE December 21st 2019: In 2019 I updated my design and created a 3D model and plans for others to reproduce. See the link below to view the updated design and to get plans to build one for your miter saw.