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Dust Collection - Which Festool Vacuum Should I Get - Demo Day This Saturday


Dust Collection - Which Festool Vacuum Should I Get - Demo Day This Saturday 1These days a dusty shop, and tracking dust all over the house, is considered less and less acceptable and having a clean job-site is increasingly a contract requirement. Let's first talk about some basic definitions and then some recommendations.

When we talk about a "Dust Collector" in the workshop we usually mean a cyclone which though a system of ducts sucks dust, shavings, and what have you, from all the machines in the shop into a cyclone patter when most of the dust drops out into a large bag. These systems take huge quantities of garbage and don't have replaceable bags, so they are easy to maintain.

Traditional vacuum cleaners, or "dust extractors" as Festool calls them, suck the dust into a filter bag and then further filter the air with additional filters before releasing it back into the room.

Because a shop dust collector requires ductwork and uses large bags it is a stationary machine and isn't used on jobsites. It also has a limit to how fine a particle the swirling cyclone can separate out.

Regular vacuums, because they use bags have a practical limit in size and regularly using them in a shop would fill up a bag very quickly when milling wood or doing a lot of routing. But because they use sets of filters, vacuums can clean the air far more effectively, and on a job site switching to a new bag, is less messy and faster than trying to empty a bag (although permanent bags are available).

Vacuums are rated by how much suck they have and how fine a particle they can filter out. Modern vacuums can be HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) rated and in some cases "lead certified". From a user perspective HEPA vacs trap particles down to .3 microns. If you work in lead removal you will need a HEPA vac that also is lead certified. In Festool's case all their vacs are HEPA (except for the CT36 AC which is for plaster) and can be lead certified, which requires paperwork and dedicating a vac for lead removal, but for most of us that isn't really an issue.

If you mill solid wood in your shop having a regular cyclone dust collection is a must. We don't stock them, I don't know much about various brands. I don't know where ours came from (picture above but it's not fully set up after the move), I do know that to some extent the cost is proportional to quality, loudness (ours is very loud) and capacity.

If you work mostly in sheet goods, and don't do any thicknessing a large vacuum or dust extractor might be more convenient. I get this question all the time - "Which vac should I buy"? And not coincidentally, from now until June 30th, Festool is offering a 15% discount on all vacuums and most (but not all) bags and accessories. For a change this discount isn't tied to a tool purchase and it includes all the vacs except the new CT-SYS (which you get 10% off on when you buy a tool at the same time). The 15% is instead of the 10% not an additional discount.

Dust Collection - Which Festool Vacuum Should I Get - Demo Day This Saturday 2
In Europe the CT-SYS is the most popular vac. My guess is that in the US is will become number one too, mostly because it is the least expensive, most portable vac that Festool makes and I think it will be a hit for installers but the low cost (for Festool) will appeal to a lot of people. After that Festool makes two groups of vacs, the CT Mini and Midi which are basically the same except for bag size, and the more powerful CT 26, 36, or 48. The latter group larger and marginally more powerful than the Mini/Mini but otherwise identical except for bag size. The numbers of the CT vacs refer to the bag size in liters. The Midi has almost twice the bag capacity of the Mini and then there is a big jump in size to the CT 26.

I never recommend the Mini to anyone. We sell a bunch to people who have specific uses for sanding on a job-site and want the lightest vac possible. But now with the new CT-SYS (even smaller bag - get the reusable bag) I think the Mini really makes no sense. The Midi on the other hand is really popular with people who do sanding, some sawing, and maybe some joinery. It of course works for the occasional routing but you will fill up a bag very quickly. This is a great vac for the small shop, the on-site contractor, and even big shops like the Midi for dedicated sanding stations (because of the HEPA filters) and the big stuff is hooked up to a big dust collection system.

For shop use the CT26 is the most popular - mostly because of the larger bag size, And it is portable - just heavier. It's the most popular vac in the States right now. If you do a lot of routing consider a CT 36 or CT 48. We sell a fair number of 36's but very few 48's. The footprint of all three larger vacs is the same but the bigger ones are just taller. I think the issue with the 48 is that unless you really do a lot of routing you don't really need the capacity and a mostly full CT48 is a heavy vac to lug around if you don't need to.

Plaster dust can easily clog fine HEPA filters, so Festool makes an autoclean vacuum that is NOT HEPA and has a special feature where it bangs on the bag periodically so the bag doesn't clog with plaster. It is basically a CT36 with non-HEPA filters and the special feature, but it comes with a different hose to connect it to the Planex so while you can convert it back to a regular vac it isn't an instant transformation.

One more thing.

This coming Saturday, May 14, 2016, from 11:00-2:00 we will have our Festool rep set up with all the tools, you can try them out, check them out, and ask those weird questions. We were thinking about having a scratch and dent sale after the demo sessions but it's been postponed. We have more stuff coming, and we just don't have time to prep, and it might have to be a two day event on it's own. Look for the sale in the early summer. See all of our scheduled events on the new EVENTS menu option.

Join the conversation
05/11/2016 RWL
How about a festool vac + a vortex add-on, like the canister shown in your picture--the trash can with the top? Mine works great on a small bandsaw--catches the big shavings and the bag traps fine dust. I want to see how it works on a 14" dual port bandsaw.
05/11/2016 Dietrich Speer
I use a broom and a dustpan.
For what use is there this yellow barrel?
Is this an aditional container for dust?
The yellow barrel was an experiment. We grind metal and it was an attempt at making a giant water trap for spark. Dust went into the barrel, hit the water, air was sucked out, leaving a watery mess. It didn't work well enough to keep around and is now gone from the system.
I have found that using the Festool Mini works best when connected to the tools that dont create as much dust or shavings, such as the Festool Dominoe cutter. Just removing the cut wood parts allows the tool to work and run much more smooth and accurate. The smaller vac is less likely to get in the way.
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