Woodworking is an incredibly rewarding pursuit. Above most other hobbies, both health and safety are absolutely key. Workshops are filled with potentially dangerous tools. They can also kick out large volumes of sawdust.
Perhaps you might feel that wearing safety goggles and a mask is adequate but it’s not. Dust can work its way through some masks and it also tends to linger in the air for a long time. The best way to prevent dust from coming in is to invest in a reliable dust collector as a tool of the most experienced craftsmen.
Dust Collector: A Tool Or An Accessory?
There really is no substitute for the best dust collector if you want to place both your health and safety uppermost. Dust can be pretty harmful if you are in contact with it for prolonged periods.
Even though some people see them as an accessory, dust collectors are very important in keeping the air clean and dust-free. Today, we’ll explore 5 dust collector reviews so you can keep your working environment free of debris without spending a fortune.
What About Shop Vac Handy Vs. Dust Collector Units?
If you have a shop vac handy, you might think that a separate dust collector is not necessary. It is. Shop vacs are usually designed with high suction but low airflow. They are no use whatsoever if you are breaking out the power saw. A dust collector, on the other hand, deals with a greater volume of air at a higher velocity.
We’ll get started with a quick rundown of the 3 main dust collector types before reviewing the leading products to help you along the way. After that, we’ll take you through a brief dust collector buying guide so you should have all you need to get the best equipment for your requirements.
If you’ve got a small workshop with very limited space and a bare handful of power tools, a portable dust collector might be the best bet.
With motors up to ¾ HP and a CFM (cubic feet per minute air volume) of 650, these dinky appliances can suck up at least most of the dust.
These units are extremely affordable. You can save space in a tight workshop by mounting them on the wall.
On the downside, the filter bag collects the dust. Since air has to flow back in to your workshop, these portable dust collectors don’t trap all particles inside effectively. With smaller portables, you’ll also need to empty out the dust bag more frequently.
Stepping things up a gear, a larger workshop with a decent selection of tools might benefit from a medium-size dust collector.
Motors usually develop 1 HP and the CFM rating is normally in the region of 700.
These models are more expensive but deliver superior results.
There’s a disposable collection bag provided. One bag will trap larger particles while another bag collects the fine dust.
This level of dust collectors is not fit to deal with a duct system. They also tend to be restricted to a single outlet meaning you can only connect one power tool at a time.
Do you have a larger shop and plan to install a duct system so you can hook up multiple tools in one go?
If so, you’ll want a large industrial dust collector with a 1 ½ HP motor and a CFM rating of around 1100-1200.
They come equipped with filters that trap dust down to particles as tiny as 1 micron.
The only real drawback of these dust collectors is their high price tag and ongoing running costs. If you’ve got a substantial shop and you want it kept clean, though, investing in the best dust collector really is a must. It’s just a question of which size works best.
REVIEWS OF THE BEST DUST COLLECTORS 2018 - COMPARISON CHART BY MITERSAWJUDGE.COM
When it comes to getting the best dust collector, you are spoiled for choice.
Detailed Dust Collector Reviews
1. Festool 583492 CT 26 E
First up in our look at the best dust collectors is an outstanding HEPA-rated extractor. The Festool dust collector CT 26 E is not cheap but offers a great bang for the buck.
This German company has been manufacturing top-tier tools for almost a century now. Their products are the go-to choice for woodworkers and tradesmen alike.
This is a fantastic vacuum system. The feature I like is that you can plug your other saw, router etc. into the front outlet and the unit will turn on whenever that dust producing tool runs. I have used it with the Festool TS 55 Track Saw as well as a Kreg DB 210 Pocket Hole Machine. It works great. The HEPA bag inside the Dust Extractor holds a fair amount of saw dust and replacement bags are reasonably priced and easy to install. You may have to use an adapter for tools that are not made by Festool.
By Tom B.
- Variable CFM up to 137
- Extremely portable unit
- Automatic Tool Start
- HEPA filter
- 11 ½ foot flexible hose
If you want a real powerhouse of a dust collector that’s still relatively compact, this wheeled extractor delivers fully.
This is a highly versatile dust collecting solution you can use wet or dry. There’s a nifty dial so that you can vary the CFM and the amount of power consumed.
HEPA-filtration is the gold standard when it comes to filters. 99.9% of dust is trapped inside. The Festool can cope with particles as small as 0.3 microns.
There’s a lengthy hose that gives you plenty of freedom. It’s designed to stop static and lessen the chance of shock. The hose is flexible and won’t get tangled up or kinked.
The machine fires up automatically with a tool-triggered start. Maintenance is absolutely minimal. Between cycles, the cleaning bags will self-clean. The last thing you want is to attack a dust problem then be faced with a messy clean-up.
Although the Festool dust collector is capable of eliminating all sawdust and debris like a much larger unit, it’s highly portable thanks to its fairly compact nature and wheels. Whether you want to keep the Festool at home or press it into action on the job site, you get performance without a hulking, unwieldy extractor.
- Tool-triggered auto-start for your complete convenience
- Ultra-portable unit with handy rollers
- First-class HEPA filter keeps all fine particles locked away
- Lengthy 11 ½ foot hose gives you freedom of movement
- Parking brake to prevent any drifting about
- Great for the workshop or the job site
- Expensive, although still great value
If you want a real powerhouse of a dust collector that will give you many years of service, you should definitely look into the Festool CT 26 E. With a striking design, exceptional HEPA-rated performance and rugged build quality, this extractor really has it all.
Look beyond the bottom line at the overall value this dust collector represents. It really is hard to beat.
2. SHOP FOX W1685
Next up in our look at the best dust collectors is a superb medium-sized unit from Woodstock International’s SHOP FOX brand.
The W1685 has a striking, minimalist design and should provide sufficient suction to clean up after most woodworking jobs. Although it’s not strictly an industrial-grade piece of kit, it should suck up most debris that a home workshop kicks out.
The Shop Fox W1685 is my first dust collector. My goal was to eliminate the massive piles of sawdust accumulating after the use of my joiner and planer. I didn't want to run duct work or rewire my shop for 220V. The goal was to pick up more dust so I could spend more time effectively making things. The Shop Fox met my expectations.
By Drew M.
- Rugged 1.5 HP motor
- Single phase 3450 RPM
- Powder-coated finish
- Large capacity bag can hold over 5 cubic feet of dust
- Steel impeller
The motor is more than able developing 1.5 HP and maxing out at 3450 RPM. This should be ample for the average home workshop, even if it’s packed with power tools. You don’t just get power, though. The single-phase motor runs on 110 volts and uses comparatively little electricity.
There’s a handy safety switch which should put paid to the machine being powered up prematurely. All you need to do is hit a large, ergonomic paddle and you’re good to go. There is also a removable lockout key.
A 6-inch inlet lets you hook up your tools with ease. There is a detachable Y fitting that has a pair of 4-inch openings.
Suction is first-rate at 1280 cubic feet per minute. Particles down to 2.5 microns will be dealt with fuss-free.
Emptying dust collectors can be tiresome. Fortunately, the bag on this SHOP FOX holds 5.4 cubic feet so you won’t be permanently running to the trash can.
- Outstanding air suction rated at 1280 CFM
- Extremely powerful 1.5 HP motor
- Durable and built to last with superb build quality and rugged steel
- impeller that won’t let you down
- Safety switch stops any accidental firing up
- Single-phase motor runs at 3450 RPM and delivers raw performance without consuming too much electricity
- Bag will hold over 5 cubic feet so you won’t need to empty it constantly
- Some users report problems using with a joiner planer
If you want a dust collector that’s powerful enough for the workshop or the job site without spending a fortune, SHOP FOX’s W1685 is well worth popping on your shortlist.
You’ll get a very cost-efficient and capable extractor which will help you to work safely and without any irritation to your eyes, nose or throat. Although it’s not the cheapest possible option, it represents fantastic value for money.
3. Jet DC-1100-CK cyclone
Next in our dust collector reviews is a more expensive piece of kit from the highly reputable Jet. They offer a very wide range of extraction solutions and the DC-1100VX-CK is an incredible and highly versatile way to combat dust in the workshop.
Running on either 110V or 230V, the Jet is a versatile piece of kit. It’s not cheap but the best things in life rarely are.
Works great, assembly was easy following the included instructions.
So much suction and great not having to continuously empty the shop vac while planning. What a difference it made on the router table as well, would definitely recommend.
By George C.
- 1.5 HP single-phase motor
- Runs on 110V or 230V
- 29 pounds
- 2 micron canister kit
- 1100 CFM airflow
- 4 casters
Although the DC-1100VX-CK is man enough to suck away all the dust from your workshop, it’s nimble enough to move around without straining yourself. It only weighs 29 pounds. There are 4 handy casters so you can push it around with absolute ease.
The airflow is rated at 1100 CFM. You can see off particles as fine as 2 microns.
Jet’s patented cyclone system has 2-stage separation which delivers superior CFM to single-phase alternatives. The ultra-fine dust is filtered out through a pleated material so that particles as small as 2 microns are wicked away.
There’s a remote control so you can operate your dust collector from a distance without a hitch. It’s little extras like this that you appreciate when you have paid out good money.
The dust drum holds 30 gallons and you can simply hit the quick release levers when it’s time to empty it then you’re all set.
- Traps even smaller debris down to 2 microns so enjoy a truly dust-free workshop
- Powerful but portable with 4 casters so you can easily move this 29 pound beast around the shop or job site
- Highly flexible operating on either 110 or 230 volts
- Single-phase motor kicks out 1.5 HP and is powerful enough for most regular woodworking needs
- Cyclone system with 2-stage separation for maximum efficiency
- Direct-mounted filter to eliminate weak points and improve extraction
- Very expensive but think of this in terms of a one-off investment for your workshop
The price tag might seem steep but when you factor in what kind of dust collector you are getting for your money, the Jet doesn’t seem such bad value after all. It’s tough to put a price on your health and safety.
If you want a hard-hitting extraction system that punches above its weight, put your trust in Jet’s DC-1100VX-CK and you can focus on your woodworking projects without worrying about menacing dust and debris.
4. Powermatic PM1300TX-CK
As we near the end of our dust collector reviews, we look at another pricey but highly effective extractor from Powermatic.
This American family-owned company has been going strong since 1921 and offer a full range of woodworking machinery and accessories. You can buy into this brand heritage with the PM1300TX-CK and take care of all your dust extraction without needing to lift a finger.
An excellent dust collector. Works as well as advertised. I wish there had been an option for a three-way 4" port (it comes with a two-way plastic 4" port). I was able to order a metal 6" x 4" x 4" x 4" port from Grizzly. Now I'm set to collect dust and chips from planer, jointer and table saw with automated blast gates.
By David W.
- Turbo cone dust collection
- 1.75 HP motor
- Remote control
- Canister filter
- 115 or 230 volts
- Traps particles down to 2 microns
The PM1300TX-CK packs a potent 1.75 HP motor leading to incredibly strong air pull. Not only that, it doesn’t put out too much noise either.
If you want to give your dust collector a burst of up to 99 minutes, just hit the remote control and the job’s done.
The conical filter is super-efficient. The design of this also goes some way towards reducing clogging.
Constructed from metal alloy, the build quality on the Powermatic is first-rate. Although it’s not cheap, it really will last for years.
Generally, any manufacturer that offers up a strong guarantee shows clearly how much they believe in their product. You’re covered for 5 years by Powermatic which really takes the uncertainty out of your purchase.
- Supremely powerful 1.75 HP motor is also very quiet at 75-90 decibels so suck away the dust without hurting your ears
- Time up to 99 minutes with nifty remote control for total ease of use
- Perfect for both 115V and 230V so a very versatile unit
- 5-year limited warranty so buy in complete confidence
- Pair of 4-inch dust ports so use 2 machines at the same time
- Filter in canister form up to 6 times as effective as regular bags
- Not the cheapest option at your disposal
- Design is not particularly appealing
The Powermatic is another example of an expensive dust collector that actually translates to excellent overall value.
You can operate more than one machine simultaneously and see off even tiny particles of bothersome dust. If you are looking to keep your workshop meticulously clean and don’t mind spending a little for top-tier equipment, think long and hard about the Powermatic PM1300TX-CK. It will not disappoint.
5. Central Machinery Industrial CM45378
Last on our list of the best dust collectors is an industrial powerhouse from Central Machinery at an incredibly keen price point.
While it won’t win any prizes as an ornament, that’s not its intended purpose. If you want a workhorse that will get the job done without costing the earth, Central Machinery deliver in fine style with the CM45378.
This dust system is ideal for a table saw I use it for my panel router and table saw I run both hoses at the same time with a t coming off the unit it works excellently.
By Nick S.
- 2 HP motor
- 1550 CFM airflow
- 103 pounds
- 2 collection bags
- 110 volts
- 4 casters
The CM45378 boasts a single phase, 2 HP motor which tops out at 3450 RPM so you have an incredibly powerful extractor that’s equally at home in the shop or out on site. That puts it among the most reliable industrial dust collector tools out therre.
Although it’s not lightweight at over 100 pounds, when you need to relocate your machine, simply roll it along making use of the casters underneath.
You’ll get 2 collection bags thrown in which is a nice touch for a budget model. These have see-through bottoms so you can see when they need emptying at a glance.
The airflow is quoted as 1550 CFM so this is well above the 1100 CFM benchmark for commercial dust collectors. Whether it’s being used in a busy shop or a small home woodworking studio, the CM45378 gets rid of everything in style. From fine dust right on up to more substantial bits and pieces, this quiet and capable extractor sucks it all up without fanfare.
- Incredible value for money costing one-fifth the price of many inferior models
- Exceptional airflow rated at 1550 CFM for maximum extraction efficiency
- Maxes out at 3450 RPM so more than fast enough for even heavy requirements
- Bulky, durable unit but easy to move around on its 4 casters
- Transparent bag so you can monitor proceedings without breaking your stride
- Gets rid of all debris from very fine sawdust through to much bigger pieces
- Check contents upon arrival as some reported issues with missing components
Not everyone wants to drop four figures on a tool like this. However, this industrial dust collector from Central Machinery comes in at an impressively affordable price with no compromise on quality.
For a no-nonsense utilitarian dust collector that is ideal for the home workshop or the job site, the CM45378 takes some beating.
Who Needs Dust Collectors?
Anyone with a workshop and power tools would benefit from having a dust collector.
Whether it’s a miter saw or a table saw, a jigsaw or a band saw, cutting down and working with wood creates clouds of sawdust and debris. Relying on a mask and the occasional blast with a shop vac is just not good enough.
In the overall scheme of a complete tool kit, a dust collector is not expensive. For a small investment you can guarantee that your working environment will be safe and won’t cause you any health problems.
It might be tempting to think of a dust collector as something that will not give you same enjoyment as a circular saw or anything else you will use for plenty of rewarding projects. Don’t make this mistake. If you are a keen woodworker with your own workshop, you need a dust collector to operate efficiently.
We’ll walk you through some of the things to think about when you’re on the hunt for the best dust collector.
Although you can easily spend thousands on commercial dust collectors, for most home woodworkers an adequate model is not so expensive. Think about how much you have to spend. This will simplify your buying decision from the start.
Take your time and research the products on your shortlist. There are plenty of comparison sites and the reviews sections of e-commerce sites provide very useful information.
Think long and hard about the type of work you do and the amount of use your workshop gets.
Once you have an idea about price and your needs, there are a few common elements that will crop up when you’re looking at dust collectors…
Usage and Maintenance Tips
Using a dust collector is straightforward.
Once you’ve got the right size unit for the job, everything falls into place. If you have adequate airflow and a motor in line with your needs, it really is plug and play.
Luckily, maintenance is just as simple. Aside from keeping things clean on the outside and emptying it frequently, your dust collector should run for years without giving you a headache or a tedious maintenance routine. This is just as well… The last thing you need is a cleaning solution that ends up requiring even more work!
We hope that you have enjoyed these dust collector reviews.
Accessories make all the difference when it comes to woodworking. Buying a few tools alone is not enough.
By properly analyzing your needs and taking your time, it’s really not rocket science to get the best dust collector. You will keep your workshop spotless while avoiding any irritating sawdust in your face. Not only can this be uncomfortable and bad for your health, it can be potentially lethal as well.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback at all. We love to hear from our readers and are ready to help in any way we can.
Now make sure you get the best dust collector you can afford and make sure it’s the right one for the size and scope of your workshop.
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