Festool shop vac - is it worth it ?

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Forum topic by prime2357 posted 08-30-2014 11:00 PM 5932 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1541 days

08-30-2014 11:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question small shop dust collection shop vacuum festool

Hello all,

I’m looking to buy a new shop vac to replace my older Fein Turbo II vacuum. It’s been a good vac but loads up very quickly even with a small D/D attached. It is also very clumsy and does not have good hose/cord management.

I should also mention that I’ll be selling of my Jet 10” x 3hp cabinet saw and Jet 18” x 3hp band saw to free up floor space for a wider variety of projects.

I have already sold my Lathe and large central cyclone dust collector with a large canister final filter. No matter what i did, my small (two car) shop was always covered in fine dust. I’ve decided that I absolutely must collect the fine dust at the source, before it gets into the air. I plan to do this by using tools with well designed dust hoods and a powerful HEPA class vacuum right at the point of use.

Festool makes a nice plunge saw-rail system, sanders, routers and even a miter saw with great dust capture. In fact most of their tools have great “at the source” dust collection and a small footprint, also kind to a small shop.

So, the basic question is, would the Festool be a good choice for a small shops only dust pickup? And, which model would you recommend? BTW, I really don’t worry about the chips, it’s the dust I worry about.

Thanks for your help—-prime

-- Bridge City Woodworking

21 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3824 days

#1 posted 08-30-2014 11:12 PM

They work well. I had one I sold in a move.
You pay a premium for a rather well-thought
out design compatible with clip-on Systainers.

I have a Porter Cable now I got used from
a drywaller. The Festool was nice to part a
sander Systainer on top of and that clip
together system made it quicker to carry
the gear up stairs on a jobsite, but for
shop use the Festool is a spendy but very
refined vacuum.

View hotncold's profile


784 posts in 1720 days

#2 posted 08-30-2014 11:14 PM

I recently purchased the Festool ETS150 sander along with the CT26 dust extractor. This was my first Festool purchase.
Background: I was sanding some cutting boards using my Dewalt ROS with the “dust collection bag” attached. I have used this sander for several years and it’s a very good sander…but almost no dust collection.
When I finished sanding there was dust on everything. I didn’t see it happening while I was working but I even had dust on my eyebrows (thankfully, I was wearing a dust mask). That’s when I made the decision to look at Festool.
I have used my Festool sander for at least 100 hours since purchase and I can honestly say that’s its dust collection capabilities are unbelievable. Virtually NO dust escapes when sanding flat surfaces(small amounts when sanding on a narrow edge).
This purchase has caused me to look at other Festool products (most notibly the Domino) although (so far) I haven’t purchased any others.
I know that Festool makes a larger dust extractor than the one I bought and it might be able to go longer between filter changes, but I can’t see how it could collect dust any better.
I’m not a Festool junkie but I can see how someone could become one if all of their products perform as well as their dust extraction units.

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View waho6o9's profile


8487 posts in 2753 days

#3 posted 08-30-2014 11:42 PM

There’s a recon sale on Festools going on now.
I’d get this one:

583376 20% Dust Extractor CT MIDI $485.00 $388.00

Yes they’re worth it and as a system it’s remarkable.

Good luck now.

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1600 days

#4 posted 08-31-2014 12:44 PM

I own a Festool product but I do not own their vacuum. My shop vac works fine with it. I too wanted to upgrade my dust collection but I went with a finer 0.5 micron bag for my single stage dust collector.

Without fine collection, no vacuum is going to do a very good job. I would have suggested just upgrading your filter on your old unit.

If I was a contractor or really need the mobility of the Festool vacuum, I would be all over it.

-- Brad, Texas,

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2617 days

#5 posted 08-31-2014 01:08 PM

I’m curious what you mean when you say that the Fein loads up quickly even with a DD attached. I’ve got a Turbo II (9-20-25) as well that I’m using with the Rockler Separator. I also use it with the collection bag and changed from that bizarre cloth filter to a Gore Cleanstream HEPA rated filter (it was for Craftsman vacs, but fits the Fein). I find that this combination works quite well. My filter is pretty much as clean as it was from day one. Granted, this DIY solution is not officially HEPA certified, but I feel it’s good enough for me. Even after prolonged use of a sander, I don’t notice any more fines than there were before.

The bag does fill up, but much of that has to do with the idiotic, tip-prone design of the Rockler separator (it works well otherwise). When the bag fills, up, I just toss it and put in a new one. As long as I can keep that Rockler separator upright, it works reasonably well and it’s several months for me between bag changes.

The Festool dust extractors also use a bag in combination with a filter, so I suspect you’re going to get better filter life out of your Fein if you just add a bag to it (and get that Gore filter if you’re still using the cloth filter that came with it).

One more thing – when I bought mine, I compared it to the older Festool CT Mini and CT Midi ( item #s 583 not the newer versions currently available with item # 584). The I felt like Fein had more suction than those two units and didn’t warranty the additional cost. I haven’t compared to the currently line of dust extractors, but I would suspect that’s not the case any more. The suction is now consistent across the entire line, with seemingly the only difference coming from the size of the unit itself.

I have to agree with your other assessments though. I don’t like the cord storage on it and the hose storage is simply non-existent. I also dislike domed top – can’t put anything on top of it. If I had an opportunity to pick up one of the new Festool CT extractors for a good price I’d probably make the switch just for the ability to stack a DD systainer on top and free up some floor space.

Good luck with your decision though.

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2617 days

#6 posted 08-31-2014 01:22 PM

Without fine collection, no vacuum is going to do a very good job. I would have suggested just upgrading your filter on your old unit.

- timbertailor

Sorry, but I’m gonna have to disagree with this statement, especially the way the OP posed his problem. The whole concept of dust extraction with the Festool system is to collect fines directly where they’re generated. All their vacs are also HEPA rated to keep the fines contained. Using their tools hooked up to a good quality dust extractor, and IMO dust collection is simply unsurpassed.

I also don’t think using any tool with a small dust collection port with a full-size dust collector is a good idea. Dust collectors are designed for low static pressure, whereas dust extractors are designed for high static pressure. Kind of using an apple with an orange. Not only that, but it’s rather unwieldy to have to neck down from a 6” hose all the way to a 27mm port.

View prime2357's profile


9 posts in 1541 days

#7 posted 08-31-2014 08:45 PM

Thanks for all the great input so far…lots to think about. Still haven’t made my mind up yet. But I’m leaning hard toward the Festool due to the very high pressure differential it can create and the fact that it is HEPA rated.

Since I’ll be switching to Festools in several functional areas, it seems like the CT-26 would be the best match for super high particle pick up efficiency and containment.

Regarding the Fein vs Festool question they are both great units. I just like the form, fit and function of a unit like the ct-26 especially when used with matching Festools.

I’ve also used the Fein 6” RO sander and Fein Turbo vac in combination. They work very well together. But, not as well as the similar Festool combination. And the festool CT-26 should be fart easier to manage in the shop.

Thanks again…prime

-- Bridge City Woodworking

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2244 days

#8 posted 08-31-2014 09:09 PM

I’ll have to say “it sucks”. :)

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 2985 days

#9 posted 08-31-2014 09:10 PM

Prime you will be happy with the 26 I would think. Mine is pretty much used daily and in nearly two years I have managed to carefully empty the bag a number of times without festool s hopefull prospect of replacing it.

I no nothing of the fein system but cannot imagine any system being more efficient than festool s. I don’t know how you get more efficient than zero detectable dust

My initial concern before I got into the festool equip was that it would be too cumbersome with the hose and cord to deal with but I was wrong on that assumption. It’s quite a pleasure to use

View amt's profile


49 posts in 1894 days

#10 posted 08-31-2014 11:58 PM

I have a CT Mini, and if I had to do it over again, I would pick up a CT 26 or larger (probably the 36). Like any vacuum, as the bag fills up, there is less filter area on the bag, so less suction. And on a smaller capacity vacuum, that happens a lot sooner. That’s my only complaint with the smaller versions. And, ALWAYS use a bag with the vacuums. If you do not use a bag with the filter, you are basically throwing money away.

-- -Andrew

View jacquesr's profile


344 posts in 1599 days

#11 posted 09-01-2014 01:20 AM

I have a ROS 150/3 and a CT26.
I could sand with the piece of wood on the dinner table an nobody would complain.
Yes, it works that well.
Hope that helps!

View prime2357's profile


9 posts in 1541 days

#12 posted 09-01-2014 01:51 AM

Hey GT,

Just wanted to answer your question about the Fein loading up so quickly.

I was just using the standard conical cloth filter with a small Dust Deputy “cyclone”. The DD was total junk i.e. too much restriction, didn’t separate well and fell apart after about 6 months. Oneida told me “sorry but it’s not unusual and not warranted”...Thanks a bunch Oneida!

The Fein cloth filter was OK but seemed to cake up and reduce flow too quickly. It had to be cleaned every other day (messy job) probably due to all the fine dust that passed right through the junk DD.

Compare that to the large central cyclone system of my own design we used to call “the black hole”. We ran it for about a year with nothing in the clear poly bag under the large cartridge filter, even when I ran the shaker. Chips and dust, that were captured, went in and nothing came out. Yet we had to empty the 30 gallon trash can, under the cyclone, about once a week…The stuff must be on the other side of the Galaxy by now.

Thanks for the question…prime

-- Bridge City Woodworking

View prime2357's profile


9 posts in 1541 days

#13 posted 09-01-2014 02:06 AM

Hey all,

I see even more good information is flowing in. My thanks to all.

I have pretty much decided to switch the shop over to Festool with the dust collection handled, at point of use, using a ct-26e or 36e. Thanks again for your help…prime

-- Bridge City Woodworking

View spcbike's profile


40 posts in 2149 days

#14 posted 09-02-2014 01:46 PM

Hey Prime, how did your DD Cyclone fall apart? Are you saying that the actual cyclone unit did? If so, I can’t imagine how Oneida would say this was normal after 6 months.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5257 posts in 1896 days

#15 posted 09-02-2014 02:00 PM

It sounds like it would work well if and only if you’re set on only doing projects where lighter portable tools will be needed. On anything larger, much like what you’re selling, no portable vacuum will provide the airflow required.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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