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Shop Vacuums for Dust Collection

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Lean, Mean, Cleaning Machines
 
Get the most suction for your buck without spending a tidy sum.
 
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It used to be that shop vacuums were like the Marines: called in to clean up after the mess was made. But these days, many woodworkers also use a vacuum to collect debris directly from dust-producing tools, saving cleanup time. So, we examined five popular models that are not sweeping the nation.

Fast Facts

  • Unless you have some unique requirements, you don't have to spend more than $150 to get a shop vacuum that will handle all common workshop chores.
  • Since our last test (WOOD® magazine #78), shop-vacuum mufflers-to reduce the ear-ringing effects of using a vacuum-have become more widely available.
  • If you're buying a vacuum only for gobbling dust from portable power tools, consider instead a so-called "tool vac." Priced about the same as the larger-capacity models in our test, these small-tank vacuums offer tool-triggered convenience.

How we chose the five vacuums in our test
You can buy a full-blown dust collector these days for $200-300, so we don't believe you should pay more than $150 for a vacuum. With that in mind, we selected five popular models at or below that price point for our test: the Craftsman 17026, Fein Mini-Turbo, Genie PRO16-6026QH, Ridgid WD1660, and the Shop-Vac QSP 925-33. Most of the models offer 16- or 18-gallon tanks, designed for holding the wet or dry materials you vacuum up. The Fein Mini-Turbo has a 5-gallon tank.

The suction tests: Getting dirt into the tank
With shop vacuums, you can forget about horsepower ratings and motor amperage ratings. Neither of those numbers tells you how well a vacuum will suck up shop waste. So to find out how much suctioning capacity our five test machines had, we ran two tests: a water-lift test and a dry-materials suction test. Learn the results of those tests and more in the December 2000 issue of WOOD magazine, and turning to page 66.


 

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