Top 9 Woodworking Shop Vac Smack Down: Ridgid vs. Festool vs. Fein and More

Hundreds of forum posts. Tens of reviews. Thousands of seconds. That’s what it took to bring you the woodworking shop vac smack down. We gathered and reviewed the reviews and then read every forum thread we could find that discussed shop vacuums used in the woodworking work shop primarily as dust extractors. Before we leap into our recommendations though, a word on using shop vacuums for dust collection:

Note on Shop Vac Dust Collection Usage:
-NOT recommended as sole dust collection approach (but better than nothing)
-Ideally for portable tools only: random orbit sanders, miter saws etc
-Compare CFMs as relative power baseline
-Check hose compatibility with your tools
-Some may still require hearing protection

Gore CleanStream Filter Recommended Over and Over…
…and over and over by woodworkers. They’re 99.7% efficient at 0.3 microns which means they get the nasty stuff out of the air and help protect your lungs.

Mini CV06 Clearvue Cyclone Recommended Over and Over…

“The only requirement is that your container be sealed completely and be strong enough to withstand the vacuum created by the shop vac..”
(halfway down that page, no way to link directly)

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the top 9 woodworking shop vacs! Enjoy, and don’t miss all the links and resources at the bottom of the page!

1) Ridgid 16 Gallon Shop Vac WD1851

Ranking:
-22 Forum Recommendations
-9 MORE Forum Recommendations for >>Clearvue Ridgid Conversion + Ridgid WD1665 or WD1670
-Ridgid WD1450 named #1 in Popular Mechanics 2007 >>

Related discussion:
Advice Needed – 16 Gallon Ridgid Shop Vac
Ridgid 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac with Detachable Blower Model WD1660 review in Epinions

2) Festool – Cleantec (CT) 33 Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
-6 Forum Recommendations
-Editors’ Choice in Fine Home Building 2007
-top-rated shop vac in a survey of more than 9,000 readers of Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking in Taunton’s 2008 Tool Guide
-ranked second to the Fein Turbo III in FWW/FHB Taunton’s 2005 Tool Guide

Related discussion:
Festool CT22e Vacuum Review
Festool CT22-E Shop Vac Eval…..PICS
Festool vs Hepa shop vac cartridge
Review of the Festool CT 22 E Mobile Dust Extractor
The Best in Shop Vacs – Fein vs. Festool

3) Fein – Turbo II Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
-5 Forum Recommendations
– “best value” in Taunton’s 2008 Tool Guide

Related discussion:
>> Fein – Turbo II at Consumer Search
>> Fein – Turbo II at Taunton
The Best in Shop Vacs – Fein vs. Festool

4) 16 Gallon Craftsman Shop Vac 17761

Ranking:
-7 Forum Recommendations

Related Discussion:
>> Craftsman 17761 at Consumer Search
Craftsman Shop Vac question
Big Craftsman shop vac to circular saw

5) Shop-Vac 18 Gallon

Ranking:
-8 Forum Recommendations

Related Discussion:
Shop-Vac Ultra Pro at Consumer Search

6) Porter-Cable – 7812 Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
-2 Forum Recommendations
– Taunton’s 2005 Tool Guide recommend the Porter-Cable 7814 for heavy-duty workshop use
– earns top ranking from Fine Woodworking 2003

Related Discussions:
>> Porter-Cable – 7812 Shop Vacuum at Consumer Search
>> Porter-Cable – 7812 Shop Vacuum at Taunton

7) Nilfisk-ALTO / Wap – Attix 12 RDFD XC Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
-2 Forum Recommendations
(far too expensive for most home shops)

Related Discussion:
>> Nilfisk-ALTO / Wap – Attix 12 RDFD XC Shop Vacuum at Consumer Search
>> Nilfisk-ALTO / Wap – Attix 12 RDFD XC Shop Vacuum at Taunton
Nilfisk-ALTO / Wap – Attix review

8) Bosch – 3931A Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
-3rd place in Taunton’s 2008 Tool Guide
-ranks at the top for power, but loses points for noise and awkward mobility in Fine Homebuilding 2007

Related Discussion:
>> Bosch – 3931A Shop Vacuum at Consumer Search
>> Bosch – 3931A Shop Vacuum at Taunton

9) Milwaukee – 8936-20 Shop Vacuum

Ranking:
No forum recommendations I could find.

Further Discussion:
>> Milwaukee – 8936-20 Shop Vacuum in Taunton

More Shop Vac Reviews:
Wet/Dry Vacuum Showdown: We Test 6 New Clean Machines
Wet/Dry Vacuums
Shop Vacuums
Choosing a Woodworking Vacuum

More Forum Shop Vacuum Discussion:
Shop vacuum recommendations (04-25-2008)
Shop vac as dust collection system for small tools (03/28/08)
Advice Needed – 16 Gallon Ridgid Shop Vac
Shop vac. vs. Dust Collector question (newbie)
Festool CT22-E Shop Vac Eval…..PICS
Craftsman Shop Vac question
Festool vs Hepa shop vac cartridge
Big Craftsman shop vac to circular saw
Shop vacuum recommendation request
Anything New in the Shop Vacuum World?
Dust collection recommendation
Saw/Shop Vac Review
Dust collection for small shop
Dust collection- Oneida “Dust Deputy” mini review
which shop vac?
Need help deciding on a new shop vac.

Related Shop Vacuum Forum Discussion:
shopvac filter
Shop vac remote turn on
Shopvac filters
How to quiet a Noisy shop vac motor question………….
Muffler for shop vac

Dust Collection Resources from ToolCrib.com:
Woodshop Dust Collection on a Budget
Cyclone Dust Collectors: Gorilla vs. Clear Vue vs. Grizzly

>> More Top Tools Comparisons from Tool Crib
Top 16 Trim Routers: Bosch Colt vs. Makita vs. PC310 vs. Ridgid R2400 and MORE!
Top 10 Hybrid Table Saws: Craftsman vs. Grizzly vs. Steel City vs. Jet and MORE!
Cyclone Dust Collectors: Gorilla vs. Clear Vue vs. Grizzly
Best 14″ Bandsaws: Grizzly vs. Rikon vs. Powermatic vs. Laguna and More
Table Saw Fence Buying Guide: Biesemeyer vs. Unifence vs. Vega vs. Incra
The 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Showdown: PC vs. HF vs. Bostich vs. Senco and MORE!
Combination Blade Showdown: Forrest vs. Freud vs. Tenryu and More
Best Plunge Router: DeWalt 621 vs. Bosch 1617 vs. Festool OF 1400
Dovetail Jigs: Leigh vs. Akeda vs. Porter-Cable and More
7 Best Sandpaper Brands: Klingspor vs. Norton vs. 3M in the Sanding Supplies Showdown
Compact Drivers: Bosch vs. Milwaukee vs. RigidMost Used Belt Sanders: Porter Cable vs. Dewalt vs. Bosch
Best Table Saw Miter Gauge: Incra vs. Osborne vs. Kreg
The 11 Top Woodworking Power Tools That Give 100% Satisfaction or Better

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7 Responses to Top 9 Woodworking Shop Vac Smack Down: Ridgid vs. Festool vs. Fein and More

  1. JERRY COSGROVE says:

    We bought a Rigid Shop Vac 9 yrs ago. Worked great. Our son nicknamed it R2D2. Moved with it five times. Last month the blower motor died. Got on line and chatted with Rigid. It was still under warranty. They emailed us a printout and told us to mail it back and they would see if it was fixable. Cost us about $40 bucks to send just the blower. Two weeks later, a brand spanking new shop vac arrives complete with extra filter. No hassles. Awesome! Thanks Rigid. You know what customer service means. We were blown away – no pun intended.

  2. toolcrib says:

    Hey Jerry,

    That’s unbelievable service. Truly unbelievable. 1 for Ridgid customer service :)

    Thanks for your comment.

    G

  3. Tim says:

    I also have a Ridgid shop vac. Actually I have two of them (12 gallons I think). A few years ago, I got an unbelievable deal from Home Depot so I bought two. One actually blew on me a while ago. I’ll try to give them a call and see what they can do.

    Tim

  4. JC says:

    I just called Shop-Vac company after noticing how noisy my 10 Gallon Quiet-Deluxe model has become. Our yellow Labrador even chewed the power cord in two a year ago when we left it on the porch (unplugged). After all that, when I called the Shop-Vac service number and explained my case about the noise, they told me they are sending me a new blower unit free of charge! Thank you Shop-Vac for such great service after all this time.

  5. Ian says:

    My power unit on my little shop-vac “all around” stopped working one day, i called CS and he got my address, and is sending me a new power unit. I was on the phone for maybe 5 minutes including wait time. I love my vac and will definitely stay with shop vac from now on.

  6. The IQAir is great, and the machine tells you when to vary the filters, so it keeps working and working. And the V-5 helps take chemical smells from varnish out of the home very quickly.

  7. Joe says:

    Wow! I am looking for a shop vac and Rigid is on my list. I hope you guys are for real because I am going to get one because of your comment on their customer service.

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