What’s the Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop?
Dust extractors, especially for a small home shop, are often an afterthought. We can get very excited about saws, planers, and all the other power tools that improve the way work. I don’t think that there’s much of a thrill in buying a dust extractor. With that said, they do form an important addition to any shop.
Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop?
We’ve chosen four of the best, most highly rated portable dust collectors (shop vacs) available and will be providing you with a detailed review of each product. Going by user reviews, the Bosch VAC090AH seems to be a big favorite and certainly worth considering as a wonderful solution for a small shop or a jobsite. At roughly the same price, the DeWalt DWV012 is an equally great option. As I’m partial to the brand, the DeWalt is my personal number one. Though this is very much a personal opinion and there’s no reason to say that any of the others are lesser machines. The Makita XCV08Z – 18V X2 LXT is likely to be your best option if you’re looking for a compact, cordless dust collector. For the power tool connoisseurs, we’ve also included the superb Festool 584084. As this is a very expensive machine, it may not appeal to everyone. Though anyone familiar with Festool products will tell you that this brand is the Rolls Royce of power tools.
These unsung heroes of the workshop are essential, especially in a woodworking shop where a lot of fine dust is generated. Sawdust is a health hazard and it’s said that hardwood is particularly bad for the respiratory system. This is because the dust is finer than softwood and tannins in hardwood are more toxic. It’s not just our health that is affected. Dust creeps in everywhere and collects around the moving parts inside our tools. This reduces their efficiency and the lifetime of the tool. Collecting the dust before it gets a chance to cover your shop means less cleaning. A clean shop does a lot to improve the quality of your finished product. When applying a sealant to wood or applying paint to any material, a dust-free environment is essential. Even the smallest grain of dirt or sawdust can ruin an otherwise perfect finish. So, like it or not, the need for a quality dust collector is more important than many may realize.
The top dust collectors are able to filter the air to a high degree, removing just about all the particles. Many utilize HEPA filters which leave the air in your shop cleaner than the surrounding environment. This means that despite the excessive sawdust emitted from cutting and sanding, the air inside your shop is actually healthier than the air you breathe outside.
These machines serve both as a dust collector when the pipe is connected to the dust port of your power tools, and as a shop vacuum for doing general cleanup jobs around the shop, garage, or even in your house. Because of these multiple uses, there are a number of features that you may consider as being important. I’ve listed some of the criteria that constitute the best dust collectors / shop vacs.
- Air flow (CFM) indicates how much air the impeller is able to move. Since the dust is suspended in the air, a greater airflow results in a larger volume of dust being collected. Every tool has an airflow rating for dust extraction, measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Simply put, this is the volume of air that is moved over a one minute period. While small, portable dust extractors may not provide sufficient airflow for some large wood working tools, like a drum sander or large belt sander, they should provide you with the CFM to work with most (if not all) handheld power tools.
- Power tool actuation allows the dust extractor to be automatically switched on or off when the tool starts or stops. While this is not an essential function, it makes things much more convenient.
- Automatic filter cleaning is another great convenience that can be found on some of the best dust extractors. The vacuum will automatically blow dust from the filters as you work (generally, every 15 – 30 minutes). This keeps the dust extractor working at its optimum capacity. As filters become clogged, air flow is reduced. So keeping them clean on the go, means a more constant air flow and reduces the need to remove and clean your filters manually.
- HEPA filters remove 99.97% of all airborne particles and provide the cleanest air. All of the top Dust collectors do a good job of providing clean, healthy air. But those that make use of HEPA filters exceed the basic requirements, providing the cleanest air possible.
- Wet Dry Vacs are not necessary for dust extraction, or for general cleaning around the workshop. It is, however, a useful extra feature for cleaning up spills and even draining the basement. So, while not essential, this versatility may prove useful to many users.
So why not take a little time to find out which is the best dust collector? It’s going to make life much more pleasurable. Improving the air quality in your shop has many benefits.
Review | Best Dust Extractors for a Small Shop or Garage
Taking into account the views of shop vac or dust extractor users, this review will give you the information needed to decide which is going to be your best option. They are all fine machines, rated very highly by those who have bought and used them. So you already have the reassurance that you’re getting the best. It’s merely a matter of deciding which is going to best meet your personal needs.
Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop.
- Automatic filter cleaning – cleans filter every 15 seconds to help maintain maximum suction power
- HEPA filter – captures 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns or larger
- Bosch PRO+GUARD – is an end-to-end dust system that helps users move toward OSHA Silica Table 1 dust compliance
- Strong airflow and suction power – delivers a maximum 150-cubic-feet-of-air-per-minute rate (CFM), with a sustainable maximum 97 In. static water lift
- Power tool activation – allows power tool’s switch to turn vacuum on and off
- Power Broker dial – for allocating power between vacuum and connected power tool
- Fleece filter bag – helps protect the filter from abrasive materials and provides the optimal containment of dry dust and debris
- Wet vacuuming water-level sensor – automatically shuts down vacuum when water reaches maximum height to protect motor
- Lightweight and portable – for easier lifting and transportation
- Hose wrap – keeps vacuum hose secure and out of the way during storage or transportation
- Cord wrap – for convenient cord storage
- On-board storage of attachments – convenient storage for easy access to optional wands or nozzles
- Rugged construction and polypropylene tank – extended-life and rust free
- Durable wheels and locking caster – built to withstand the demands of a jobsite
- L-Boxx integration – instantly creates a mobile workstation
Possibly the most popular portable dust extractor on the market, the Bosch VAC090AH makes a fitting first on our list. It’s easy to see why this is such a respected machine. Rugged German engineering and a full house of features make it an obvious choice. When you consider that the Bosch shop vac can hold its own alongside any of the very best machines, the price tag is refreshingly low. Okay, it’s not exactly cheap, but in the context of high-end products, the Bosch is incredible value. Cheap machines aren’t going to last like this one. So when you look at the cost of replacing a cheap dust extractor every few years, you’ll probably end up saving quite a bit in the long run.
If you look at the list of features that I mentioned as being important when selecting a dust extractor, the Bosch VAC090Ah has them all – and then some. It’s more than capable of meeting the requirements for most small to mid-sized power tools. A super-efficient 9.5A electric motor provides 150 CFM airflow with a suction pressure of 97.3 inches static water lift. The self-cleaning filter function operates every 15-minutes to ensure that the air flow and suction remain almost constant. You won’t need to clean the filters that often, nor will have to empty the 9-gallon dust canister all the time. The Power Broker dial enables you to match the suction power to the requirements of your tools.
The Bosch has a wet-vac capability, with a variety of bag and filter types for every situation. It has an automatic shutoff that will stop the machine if the water level reaches the maximum height. It also has power tool actuation for automatic starting and shutoff when connected to your tools. Another great convenience is the L-Boxx integration which improves your general portability by allowing you to stack your other tools and accessories using the L-Boxx System. So you can use the Bosch VAC090AH as a mobile workstation and wheel everything about on the machine. Large rear wheels and locking front casters make mobility a breeze. It’s not at all heavy (28 LBS) and has a large handle at the top for perfect portability. The cord and hose wrap around the machine and are held in place with sturdy brackets that unclip easily. All the accessories also have neat onboard storage.
The Bosch meets the strictest air-quality control standards with a range of HEPA filters for wet and dry conditions. It provides 99.97% particulate removal, down to 0.3 microns. So, when used with the Bosch PRO+GUARD system, this guarantees OSHA Silica Table 1 compliance.
The long 9.85’, 1.37” diameter hose is yet another feature that enhances the practicality of this great dust extractor. A full range of adapters make it possible to connect the hose to all common power tool dust port sizes. A VX120 power tool nozzle adapter is supplied with the vacuum, along with a VX100 bend nozzle.
The Bosch VAC090AH definitely offers the full package. It’s a robust, very portable dust collector. Along with every modern convenience, this machine is ideal for any small shop or jobsite. The Bosch brand is respected worldwide and service centers are everywhere.
Easily, one of the Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop.
- Automatic Filter Clean pulses every 30 seconds for continuous operations without stopping to clean filter
- Powerful 15 amp motor delivers 155 CFM of airflow for maximum suction
- Power Tool Actuation controls the On/Off operations of the vacuum with a power tool
- Meets the EPA Lead Related Renovations, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule for HEPA vacuum only when DWV9330 Filter is used (Filter included with unit)
- Variable suction controls vacuum’s power consumption and amount of suction
- Telescoping handle for easy transport
- Universal hose connector provides a robust connection with swivel capability
- Lightweight and portable weighing in at only 33.5 lbs
- Heavy-duty wheels and casters provide job-site durability
- Multiple lift and tie down points to secure vac to scaffolding or during transportation
- Simple one switch operation to select tool actuation or vac only
- Unit comes fully assembled
- Can be used with wet or dry applications
The familiar black and yellow DeWalt branding always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, evoking a sense of extreme confidence. Over the years, my experience with DeWalt products has led me to rate them as one of the best power tool manufacturers. Even though many buyers are sold on the Bosch VAC090AH, I’d go for the DeWalt DWV012 in a heartbeat. It’s way more powerful and, in my opinion, a more robust machine. On top of it all, this dust extractor offers all the features one could possibly want.
The immensely powerful 15A motor doesn’t give you a much higher CFM spec than Bosch equivalent. The DeWalt DWV012 is rated at 155 CFM (compared to 150 CFM for the Bosch). But this extra power does afford the DeWalt a better dust collection capacity. It has a whopping 10-gallon drum and the suction remains constant as it fills. In addition to this, it has automatic filter cleaning, pulsing every 30-seconds. This means long, uninterrupted working times – ideal for the busy shop or jobsite.
I always expect DeWalt tools to at least meet (if not exceed) the standards set by other manufacturers. To this end, the DWV012 has fantastic HEPA filters and can be used as both a wet and dry vacuum. As far as user friendly practicality goes, the DeWalt is purely magnificent. It has a super long 15 Ft hose (1.25” diameter) and the cord is also 15 Ft in length. The hose connects to the vacuum by means of very robust swivel fitting. Together with power tool actuation, the DeWalt DWV012 is versatile enough for every situation. It also has one of the best variable power control dials, allowing for virtually infinite settings for suction power.
The DeWalt DWV012 is a large tough machine with heaps of power. As much as all this makes perfect sense to me, it is heavier than many others at 33.5 LBS. I appreciate that this extra weight is an indication of the superior build-quality, it does hinder portability slightly. Though, to compensate for this, DeWalt have fitted large rear wheels at the back of the machine and locking casters at the front. In true DeWalt style, these wheels are super tough industrial-grade items. Further aiding portability, is a telescopic handle and multiple tie down points which make it possible to secure it during transportation or when working overhead, like on scaffolding. The pipe, cord, and attachments are practically stored on the machine.
So, to my mind, the DeWalt DWV012 stands head shoulders above any other portable dust extractor in this price range. It’s a true winner when it comes tough durable design and is one of the most versatile and easy to use dust extractors for a shop or hardworking jobsite. You’re covered by one of the best warranties in the business (a 3-year warranty, 1-year free service plan & 90-day money back guarantee) and you have the reassurance of excellent DeWalt after-sales service and parts availability.
Makita XCV08Z — 18V X2 LXT
18V X2 LXT Lithium‑Ion (36V), Brushless, Cordless, 2.1 Gallon, HEPA Filter, Dry Dust Extractor/Vacuum, AWS. Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop or garage. Pro-grade quality.
NOTE : Batteries sold separately — Makita BL1850B-2 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah Battery Twin Pack
- Powerful Makita-built BL Brushless motor delivers 74 CFM and 39″ water lift of suction using two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries (batteries not included)
- Efficient three stage HEPA filtration system captures 99.97% of particulates .3 microns and larger
- Filter cleaning system is designed to maintain optimal suction efficiency and longer filter life
- Auto-start Wireless System (AWS) utilizes Bluetooth® technology for wireless power-on/off communication between tool and dust extractor
- Up to 75 minutes of continuous run time on low setting and 40 minutes on high setting using two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah batteries BL1850B (batteries not included)
- Efficient BL Brushless motor is electronically controlled to optimize battery energy use for up to 50% longer run time per charge
- The BL™ Brushless Motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the BL Motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life
- Precision lightweight motor components and efficient air ducting produce an overall weight of only 18.4 lbs with batteries (batteries not included)
- Oversized on-off switch for operator convenience
- Motor chamber constructed of quality sound-absorbing materials for quiet operating sound levels of 66 dB(A)
- Variable speed control dial for a variety of applications
- Large rubber bumper helps prevent damage to the work environment
- Locking cover for added protection of batteries (batteries not included)
- Quick-release metal latches for easy removal and disposal of debris from canister
- Rear casters feature locking levers to prevent the vacuum from moving
- Removable storage box for storing attachments and batteries
- Includes two anti-static hoses (1-1/2″ x 8’ and 1” x 11-1/2′) and three adapter cuffs for various applications
- Dual L.E.D. battery indicators show charge level for each 18V LXT Lithium-Ion battery (batteries not included)
- Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls to protect against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
- Compatible with Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries with a Star symbol
- 3-year limited warranty
- Only use genuine Makita batteries and chargers
Producing a competent cordless vacuum cleaner / dust extractor is not easy to achieve, these machines need a lot of power and that tends to suck the power out of the batteries at a rapid rate. Though, if anyone were to pull this off, it would have to be Makita. These guys pioneered battery-powered tools, way back in 1970’s. With that much experience behind them, the engineers at Makita know what it takes to manufacture batteries, tools and chargers that deliver the goods. Now the Makita XCV08Z is not a big machine and is certainly nowhere near as powerful as any of the corded dust extractors. But for a compact, lightweight vacuum / dust extractor that can be used anywhere, it’s absolutely fantastic.
As a portable machine for a small shop or a jobsite, you can’t beat the size and weight of this little wonder. It weighs only 18.4 LBS and this includes the batteries required to power it. While this makes it perfect for transporting, it doesn’t have a very large capacity, only 2.1-gallons. It’s also not the most powerful, producing 74 CFM with a suction power of 39” static water lift. So you’re limited to smaller hand tools. I’d think that if you’re using a small portable unit like this, it’s very likely that you’ll be using equally small battery-powered tools, so it’s perfectly suited to this type of working environment.
The brushless 36V electric motor is nothing short of brilliant. It’s equipped with Makita Star Computer controls which maximizes your working time and keeps the power delivery constant. The batteries are also protected from over charging, over discharging and overheating. This means that the LXT batteries (sold separately) are going to last as long as possible. I’ve noticed that Makita batteries only need to be replaced long after most others have been discarded. You can expect an incredible constant working time of around 75-minutes at the low power setting and up to 40-minutes at full power. LED power indicator lights let you keep an eye on the battery status at all times. The Makita rapid charger also provides just about the best charging times and uses sophisticated electronics and a cooling system to protect the batteries, increasing their lifespan.
Your uninterrupted working time is further enhanced by automatic filter cleaning. These are HEPA filters of the highest order – extracting 99.97% of airborne particles, down to 0.3 micron in size. As a world leader in cordless technology, Makita have developed a wireless tool actuation system. By using Bluetooth technology, the Auto-Start Wireless System (AWS) will activate the vacuum when the tool is started and switch it off when stopped, without the need to plug the tool into the vacuum. Noise levels are astoundingly low. Thanks to the extensive use of quality sound-absorbing materials, the Makita cordless dust extractor has an impressively low noise level of only 66dBA.
The Makita XCV08Z kit includes two anti-static hoses, 1 X 1½”; 8’ and 1 X 1”; 11’. They’ve also included a bunch of adapters for all common dust port sizes, a straight tube, a curved tube, floor nozzle and a crevice tool. A removable storage box is also included to store the accessories, batteries, and charger. So you’re getting a comprehensive list of extras with your purchase.
Robust engineering is synonymous with the Makita brand. So you can expect this machine to be a faithful companion for many, many years. Large bumpers and tough casters are among the many visible signs that this vacuum is built to endure the rough treatment of a construction site.
I’ve always rated Makita as one of the best manufacturers of battery-powered tools. The Makita XCV08Z is yet another example of this and is an amazing addition the extensive range of tools using the 18V LXT battery. It’s not all that powerful and can’t hold much debris in the small canister. Though I wouldn’t have expected a large capacity from a small cordless vacuum. In fact, I’m very impressed that such a small, lightweight portable machine can do what this one can. For its purpose, the Makita XCV08Z is the perfect solution. Makita service is as dependable as their tools and you’ll get an excellent 3-year warranty on this dust extractor.
Best Dust Extractor for a Small Workshop.
- Automatic Tool Start and adjustable suction with tool triggered or manual on-off switch and infinitely variable suction force, can be used wet or dry
- Supplied with 11-1/2 foot long anti-static hose that is flexible and kink-resistant and will minimize shock hazards as well as reduce static cling
- Sys-dock and hose garage feature allows for the storage and transport of Festool Systainers (not included) on the top of the flat, low-profile unit
- Large wheels, low center of gravity, and ergonomically balanced design allows you to move the CT effortlessly around the jobsite
- Equipped with one HEPA main filter that is flat and are positioned over the collection area for maximum capacity with a compact design
- Lightweight, high-capacity design at 35.9 lbs
Some may say that we’ve saved the best for last. The Festool 584084 CT48 is undoubtedly a remarkable example of pure engineering brilliance. At this price, anyone would expect it to be the very best that money can buy. Is it worth paying so much more for the Festool dust extractor, when there are much more affordable options available to you? That is a tough call. It doesn’t have the CFM capacity to match either the Bosch or DeWalt models in this review. Though it is a Festool product and I know many carpenters who swear by the brand. That is, those who can afford it.
VIDEO | Learn more about Festool Dust Extractors
The Festool has a great variable power control dial ranging from 350W at the lowest setting, up to 1200W. Though, even at max power, the Festool only provides 137 CFM. If used with Festool sanders, planers and saws, this isn’t much of a problem. These tools are designed with the best airflow technology and don’t require a large volume dust extractor. In general, though, it should be sufficient for most tools from other brands.
One thing I’m always amazed about when using Festool machines is how incredibly quiet they are. Even their circular saws seem to whistle and not scream like others do. A dust extractor is known to be noisy, but not this one. At low power, it’s hardly audible (62dBA). Even when you crank it up to the full 1200W, it’s nowhere near as noisy as any other, only 71dBA. This isn’t much louder than a speaking voice. These noise levels make for a very pleasant working environment, but I feel it goes beyond just user comfort.
Most of the noise that we hear from our power tools is as a result of friction on the moving parts. So, the fact Festool are machines are so quiet, gives me the impression that they use much better bearings and more precision engineering has gone into the shafts and other moving parts. Bottom line, the quieter Festool machines are better engineered and should, logically, last longer with less maintenance. In practice, this definitely seems to be the case.
The Festool CT48 has a huge drum capacity of 12.7-gallons and self-cleaning filters, so it’s perfect for large volumes of debris. You won’t need to clean the HEPA filters all that often and you can work for quite a while before emptying the dust bag. As you work, suction remains constant and air quality is as good as any of the best machines.
It has an ultra-tough anti-static 1⅟₁₆”diameter hose with a very practical length of 11½’. You have the option of a Y-connector (sold separately) which allows you to use two tool simultaneously. It works with the Festool Systainer, stackable storage system, which is one of the best compact and logical multiple storage and transportation solutions for tools. I particularly like the way the hose is stored on top of the dust collector, completely protected by a tough shock-resistant frame.
The machine is designed for perfect mobility and portability. It weighs 35.9 LBS, not exactly light, but this is to be expected from a heavy-duty dust extractor like this. It has incredibly strong wheels with swivel casters at the front and a foot brake. The practical square shape and perfect onboard storage systems make it a great jobsite machine and, in a small shop, it won’t be in the way. A great telescopic handle is available as an optional extra. As one would expect, the Festool has automatic power tool actuation.
When we look at the specs, it’s only the large debris bin that gives the Festool an advantage. For the rest, it may appear to be on a par with the cheaper machines. Even at a slight disadvantage in terms of CFM. This may lead many to pass it by, especially when you look at the price. Though, for the few that realize the value that comes with Festool engineering, this is going to be the obvious choice. The rest of us may just look on in awe and wonder.
As a premier manufacturer of woodworking tools, Festool are serious about customer satisfaction. This means impeccable after sales service and a great 3-year warranty, 30-day money back guarantee. Truly, this Festool is as good as it gets, and deserves your consideration as the best dust extractor for a small workshop. Highly recommended!