Even having good dust collection system in the shop, you really need to purchase a vac for use as dust collection for small power tools, cleaning up the fine dust here and there without spewing it back out, etc. Best shop vac for woodworking should be quiet with very good filtration, it must be reliable enough to work flawlessly for a long time. It’s great if you can plug your power tools into vac and it will turn on when you turn on the tool. We’ll discuss brands you should consider and give you our recommendations to make informed decision.
If the quality is in the first place: Best shop vac for woodworking brands
The Festool and Fein are the two brands that get talked about the most. Both are expensive quite a bit, but you will be amazed at how quiet they are, and of course, you can plug your power tools into it.
One of the best setups you can have is pairing an Oneida Ultimate Dust Deputy with Fein dust extractor. You will mount the deputy atop the vac and roll around together. The set collects all dust and dirt whatever you need, with hardly anything ever making inside the vacuum and into the filter bag.
The Festool vacuums come with very efficient filtration system, and when using the dust deputy, will work for a long time with high suction power. You just empty the deputy when it fills, clean vac filters occasionally and it will work for many years.
Another fact not mentioned is that the higher price vac do not use the air pulled in by the vacuum to cool the motor. On these type vacs the motor is cooled by it’s own fan and does not overheat if the airflow is restricted through your vac hose.
Festool and Fein are both high-performance vacs. Festool comes with ability to adjust suction at the unit. The older Feins also had this setting, but it is not available on some newer items. Full suction power is not needed every time you use the vac, but when connected to an Orbit Sander or even drill sander attachment, full suction helps to operate better.
Best intro shop vacs for woodworking
As mentioned earlier, most of the better vacuums out there are much quieter than the cheaper ones that are available. But if you don’t use them 24/7, it is may not be so important.
For example, you can buy a 16g Shop Vac from less expensive brand like Craftsman, 5g bucket with lid, good dust deputy and an iVac switch. This set will save to you literally hundreds dollars. Yes, the set won’t be so quiet, but you can Spend the savings on other goodies.
My DIY enthusiastic friend is amazed how well his Dust Deputy works. I saw his system, the deputy works really effective and everything end up in the bucket under it. The vacuum is not even shop vac, but it has HEPA filters, so in fact it works as good as high dollar vacuums.
Apart from a little more noise, this system has another disadvantage. It’s not mobile, but is permanently mounted in the attic of the shop with the pipes and several inlet ports where needed. The vac does a great job of vacuuming the floor and collecting the dust from the smaller tools.
Best Ridgid shop vac for woodworking
I have also seen at work a Ridgid shop vac. According to my feeling, it is much quieter than Craftsman. Another great option is that you can buy a HEPA filter. With an iVac switch and a HEPA filter it costs less than $200 – less than half the cost.
In my opinion, optimal Ridgid vac is 14 Gallon vac, for example Ridgid Wet Dry Vac. It has a rugged construction and with a wet dry vac you will meet the demands of any cleaning job. I do like the pricey vacuums talked about above, Fein, Festool etc., but I Ridgid’s work great enough for occasional work and the customer service is great.
I think, Ridgid vacs are cost effective solution, especially if you have a central collection system for the big tools. And if not, you always can hook up a Ridgid through a DIY Thien top-hat separator on a can setup for your semi-stationary tools. With a separator a bag and HEPA filter will rarely need attention since the top-hat collects all very well.
For a professional who uses shop vac every day Festool and Fein tools are no question choice. There is nothing more more valuable than your health and productivity.
For a DIYer and occasional use cheaper devices may be up to par. You may well run out with more noise and less reliability if you use the device once a month. After all, when using this way it will still last forever, and the impact of dust on your lungs will be less significant than inhaling air near a busy road.
If you really want to get high effective and low cost solution, you really can. Just buy a dust deputy, middle-priced HEPA vac and iVac switch. This set will meet most needs. You can choose any models with needed equipment/features/capacities and save a lot of money.