Wise Buys: Tool-triggered Vacuums
Why buy? Good dust management begins at the tool, which is why we like a tool-triggered vacuum that turns on and off automatically with the tool plugged into it. (Such vacs also switch on/off manually.) Tool-triggered vacs feature high-efficiency filtration, disposable bags to trap debris, a few seconds of run time to clear the hose after you switch off the tool, and considerably lower noise levels compared with typical tub-style shop vacuums. Two variables to watch for: Dust ports on portable power tools vary so much in size and shape that we often had to use adapters (and sometimes duct tape) to attach the vacuum hoses. And, the capacity of the on-board outlet likely will limit you to using the vacuum with low-amperage tools, such as sanders, biscuit joiners, or midsize routers, because all but one of the vacs' power cords are rated for only 15 amps. Do not exceed the manufacturers' stated power availability.
Shop-Vac On-Demand 925-63-10
Capacity: 12 gallons
Hose: 1-1/4" x 12'
Tool Amps: 8; Noise Level: 78 dB
My basement workshop is right below my bedroom. So not only do I appreciate the quietness of Shop-Vac's On-Demand vacuum, but so does my wife when I'm working late at night. Whether I used the cartridge filter alone (with chips falling into the tub) or with the collection bag (which traps nearly all of the dust and chips), it sucked up every mess I made. The hose flexes enough for good maneuverability without being too soft and crush-prone. The On-Demand worked great with my random-orbit sander, but when I used it with my 3-hp router, an onboard electronic controller reduced power to the vac motor, which reduced suction. (Shop-Vac says this could damage the motors on one or both tools.)
-- Tested by Jan Svec, Projects Editor
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