Dust Collectors for Power Hand Tools?

Article - June 15, 2007

This question about dust collectors for power hand tools comes from Robert:

I would like to ask a question about dust collection. I have a small workshop in my garage and have found dust to be a major problem. I don’t have any large machines but I do have small power tools such as routers, circular saws, biscuit joiner, sanders etc. and hope to get a saw bench and a thicknesser some time in the future. I seem I have two options: a dust extractor with 4 inch pipe reduced down to the hand tool size hose or a workshop vacuum. As my wife watches your podcast with me she straight away picked up you saying that your workshop vacuum clogs up sometimes and is adamant that I need a dust extractor, but I am working on the theory that the dust extraction on the tools I have would work better with the greater suction of a vacuum rather than the greater flow of the extractor. I’m happy to be in the wrong; I just would like to buy the correct unit for our needs. Could you give us the benefit of your experience in this matter?

And here was my reply:
festool-router-dustFirst let’s clear the air on terminology. For the most part, a dust extractor is a specialize shop-vac style unit that’s intended for use on small tools. A dust collector is a larger unit designed to collect dust from larger tools. So when you say “dust extractor” I assume you’re referring to a traditional large unit dust collector. In that case, I do feel a dust collector is a good investment, but I would pretty much reserve it for stationary power tools. I don’t think a dust collector is a good option for the powered hand tools. I suppose you could do it, but it think it would be a big pain in the butt. By the time you reduce the diameter down to a hand tool size, the suction wouldn’t be very good and the 4″ hose would be quite annoying to work with. I use a true dust extractor for my hand tool applications these days. I got sick of the shop vac clogging up on me all the time and I upgraded to one of the Festool vacs. This guy is meant for dust extraction from tools and isn’t harmed by the fine dust. Plus, its a heck of a lot quieter than running the cyclone or a shop vac.

So i would say stick with the Shop Vac for now. And if you decide to upgrade in the future, be sure to upgrade to a higher quality extractor like the ones Festool offers. Keep the big dust collector for the big tools. Good luck.

For a more thorough answer to a similar question, check out this article.