Whether you own a little bitty palm router-trimmer, a massive table saw, or dozen assorted power tools, the one accessory that you just might be doing without that you shouldn’t (perhaps even mustn’t) be doing without, is a dust extractor.
For an outlay as low as pivoting around the £100 mark you can bypass the usual dust headaches associated with woodworking, metalworking, and power tools and eliminate cleaning up dust from post-task tidy-ups. Most importantly you would safeguard your and your family’s health from dust, keeping in mind that dust from metals, African teak, beech, chromate-treated woods, laminates, MDF, veneered sheets, and various other materials is toxic, even carcinogenic.
On this note, dust extractors may or may not have a letter ‘Class’ designation which may be ‘L,’ ‘M,’ or ‘F.’ Those that don’t have a Class designation do not comply with any safety standard. ‘L’ for ‘Low-Risk Dust’ is the minimum standard, ‘M’ for ‘Medium Risk Dust’ is the required rating in workplace environments, and ‘H’ for ‘High-Risk Dust’ is necessary when suctioning industrial or carcinogenic dusts such as from asbestos and silica. Compliance with each succeeding Class rating means that the respective dust extractor is required to extract smaller-sized particles; therefore, each succeeding Class rating also captures a greater percentage of dust.
You can take further care of yourself, your family, and your dust extractor by jettisoning the complementary dust bags and specially purchasing fleece bags. First, when you empty out dust using a fleece bag by disposing off the bag, the majority of toxic dust is trapped inside the bag. As the bag is thrown away as-is, toxic dust is not released in your surroundings.
Second, fleece bags trap more dust and finer dust than regular bags and thereby they are another line of defence, i.e. besides your filter, in protecting the dust extractor’s motor and bearings. If your filter gets clogged or develops a tear, a fleece bag might make the difference between a working dust extractor and a dead one.
Although the prime motivator for buying a dust extractor is surely health and safety, when doing comparisons between models be sure to consider suctioning power, capacity, portability, noise, connectivity, auto-power, and auto-filter cleaning.
Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
See our top pick below –
Superb on every score, on criterion #1, dust extraction, this Festool kit is superlative but there’s a lot more like onboard outlet, auto-start, brake . . .
Festool’s 8.8-kilogram 15-litre MIDI sports an impressive 1200 watts of power. It is a designated L Class dust extractor meaning that it is rated for dust with limit values > 1 mg/m³. The airflow of the extractor is 95 m³/h and for the turbine, it is 222 m³/h.
This kit is slated to have a ‘high-performance turbine’ and so it does. Even when used with a circular saw it leaves your workspace virtually dust-free. Dust extraction is top-notch – yet it is very quiet. Festool’s CTL Midi reminds one of that Old Values motto: ‘Service in Silence.’
It is a model dust extractor and is a clear top pick. But there’s more – much more.
It has an onboard power outlet with 1800 watts of power (U.K. 240-volt model). Plugin your Festool – or any other – power tool, attach to the dust extractor, and you can opt for automatic dust collection during usage of the power tool. It will extract for several seconds after the power tool is switched off in a ‘mopping up’ operation.
It is also suitable for wet extraction provided you install the optional Festool wet filter.
It has a suction power control knob, especially useful when using with sanders. Safety features include a brake at the front and a power cut-out to protect against overheating.
Festool’s clever storage design is manifest by the sys dock at the top on which Festool’s systainers can be secured. In fact, the design overall is superlative and so is the build quality.
It can also be used as a plain jane home vac with the correct set of optional accessories.
Festool’s dust-collection bags are among the best but they’re also costly.
This wheeled vacuum is relatively lightweight at a touch under 9 kilos and has a compact design. It is supplied with a filter bag, hose holder, and suction hose which can be stored on-board.
The power cord is a generous 7.5 metres and the suction hose is 3.5 metres.
For those who can plunk the green stuff, the Festool CTL Midi Cleantec is an easy top choice.
- Outstanding airflow, suctioning, and dust extraction capabilities.
- On-board power outlet for auto-start and -off when attached power tools are switched on and off.
- High-end dust extractor meant for power tools is convertible to a humble home vac.
Although you can’t be sure of a unit’s functionality, if it works – as the vast majority do – Lumberjack gives you a monster hoover at a midget price.
Lumberjack’s 10.5-kilo BDE1200 has a 1200-watt motor and huge capacity of 50 litres. It boasts filtration of 0.5 microns. It has an airflow of 183m3/hour.
Its impressive uptake is self-evident when the 100-millimetre hose is attached; the airflow it generates and its powerful suction are truly excellent. The price to pay for all the power is noise – big noise.
It is not too heavy, has wheels, is not large, and is very inexpensive; these four factors make it a very good choice for small workshops that DIYers may have in their basements and garages.
However, like a great many budget-priced power tools, Lumberjack’s BDE1200 suffers from quality control issues. A few kits may have next to no suction; on another kit the motor may burn out. But if you get a good piece, you’ll be a happy camper.
The lid of the drum has a ‘quick action clamp’ which makes it quick and convenient to open, empty, and close this dust extractor. However, there is no indicator or signal when the container is full – you will know it is when the hose gets clogged or the Lumberjack stops vac’ing.
It has a reusable filter that you slide out, clean, and slot back in.
Included is a 2-metre long huge 100-millimetre hose which is semi-rigid yet sufficiently flexible, and quite tough like the unit itself.
Also included are a set of adaptors of 105, 70, 45, 40 and 35 millimetres. The supplied adaptors may not fit many of your power tools so you’ll have to shop around for attachments and adaptors, and use tape to seal or otherwise improvise.
At its budget price, this simple and sturdy rig is a top value for money.
- Eye-popping capacity of 50 litres and equally huge 100-millimetre hose.
- Admirable suctioning and dust-extracting power.
- Equally admirable pocket-change price makes it a great value.
- A small proportion of units are defective, and if you’re unlucky you may wind up with one.
- May be difficult to connect with some power tools necessitating a hunt for adaptors.
- No container-full indicator.
Very powerful and effective, Dewalt’s extractor’s strongest suits are its excellent features like self-cleaning dual filters, on-board outlet, and wet pickup.
Dewalt’s DWV901L-GB weighs 9.5 kilograms and has a capacity of 30 litres. It is a designated L Class dust extractor meaning that it is rated for dust with limit values > 1 mg/m³. Its 1400-watt motor generates an airflow of 29.5 litres/second. It is designed to maintain constant suction and airflow regardless of the fineness of the particles.
This kit has a dual filter cleaning system to handle construction dust and also has an automatic filter cleaning feature. Every 30 seconds one of the two filters is automatically cleaned. You know when it does so because of the odd soft sound it makes during cleaning.
One of its best features is the onboard 1600-watt power outlet to which a power tool can be plugged in for auto-start and -stop of dust extraction, which shuts off 15 seconds after the power tool is switched off so as to clear out residual dust.
It can be used with or without a bag but its suctioning power declines when a bag is attached. In fact, suctioning power is not this dust extractor’s strong suit as it leaves behind at least a little bit of dust. It can be used for both dry and wet pick up.
It has a swivelling adaptor with quick and easy air-lock fittings and it works wonderfully well with Dewalt power tools of late vintage.
Overall, this dust extractor is robust and durable.
There are no accessories; it comes with the filters, a bag, and a 4.1-metre long 32-millimetre hose.
Dewalt provides a 3-year guarantee if the purchase is registered within 30 days.
- Dual filters that self-clean, allowing for maximum dust removal and that extend the life of both the motor and the filters.
- On-board power outlet for auto-start and -off when attached power tools are switched on and off.
- Very robust and durable, and built to last.
- Airflow and suctioning power decline when a bag is attached, and it has trouble clearing all the dust.
- No accessories to speak of.
Very powerful for a cordless kit, Bosch’s ‘large carton’ is also very efficient; it is an affordable mid-sized all-rounder that can be used as a home vac.
Bosch’s cordless GAS 18 V-10 Large runs on 18-volt batteries that are available in various capacities from 1.5 Ah to 7.0 Ah.
Bosch Professional GAS 18 V-10 comes in two variants, the 6-litre ‘large carton,’ which we recommend here, and the ‘small carton’ with 700-millilitre capacity. Beware the latter variant which, because of its very low price, far too many people are taking a losing bet on. In two words, it sucks (in the wrong way).
The ‘Large’ model is really powerful for an 18-volt cordless kit and generates an airflow of 24 litres/second. Notwithstanding the ‘Large’ in its designation, it is very lightweight at 4.7 kilogrammes and is quite compact at 44.2 x 33.4 x 36.4 centimetres.
It is suitable for both dry and wet usage and is powerful enough to pick up chips and debris.
It has a HEPA filter and a rotational airflow to extract ‘most of the dust and debris from the incoming air before it can reach the filter.’ It is rated to capture over 99.9 percent of dust.
Its ‘Click and GO’ interface enables quick and easy transportation of this robust and durable kit.
Like the Lumberjack, it is not too heavy, is not large, is very inexpensive, and though it does not have wheels it is lightweight; these factors make it a very good choice for small workshops that DIYers may have in their basements and garages.
All Bosch batteries are compatible but this little guzzler drains even 4 Ah batteries very fast so it is a good plan to buy and use the 7 Ah’s.
A crevice nozzle, elbow pipe, floor nozzle and three extension pipes are included, making it immediately useful for hoovering up worktables and floors.
This is an inexpensive, very affordable, no-frills kit that is an excellent value for money.
Bosch provides a 3-year warranty if the purchase is registered within 28 days.
- Relative to its size and price it is very powerful to the extent that it picks up wood chips and debris.
- Rotational airflow and HEPA filter combine to collect the maximum amount of dust.
- For what you get, the price is a bargain, making it a super value.
- Consumes battery charge quite quickly.
- The same model is available in ‘large carton’ and ‘small carton’ models, and users may get mixed-up between the two, to their detriment.
Makita’s teeny cordless kit is super-light and portable yet it generates amazing power and impresses with features like soft start and blower capability.
Makita’s Cordless DVC350Z weighs a mere 3.28 kilograms. It runs on 18-volt Li-Ion batteries which are available in 3, 4, and 5 Ah capacities. It generates an airflow of 3.4 cubic metres per minute. It has a 3-litre capacity.
It boasts some nifty features like soft start, two speeds for high and low airflow, and dual-function blower capability. It converts into a blower by attaching nozzle assembly.
Its weak point is that, like many a cordless kit, the battery gets drained all too fast. It functions for 15 to 30 minutes on a 5 Ah.
That said, it is impressively effective for such a low-powered teeny-weeny kit. Apart from its 3-kilo weight, it measures 29 x 31 x 27 centimetres. Indeed, it is equipped with a belt so you can sling it on your shoulder. It is an ultra-compact, ultra-portable little kit that you can use one-handed.
It is most suitable for – and is even a smart choice for – dust extraction of limited quantities and from smaller power tools that do not generate mounds of dust; though it will work with sanders and circular saws, it will also fill up very quickly. It can choke on wood chips.
It comes with no special accessories; included are a hose, dust bag, nozzle, and the strap.
Makita provides a 1-year warranty extendable to 2 years if the product is registered within 30 days of purchase.
- For a cordless kit that is toy-sized, this kit is a hoovering dynamo.
- Impressive and useful features like soft start and blower convertibility.
- So light and little that you can sling it on your shoulder and use with one hand.
- Drains batteries in no time.
- A bit costly for its size and specs.
How Does A Dust Extractor Work?
A dust extractor is a specialised type of dust collection system and it works in its own way on the principle of capture, convey, and collect. A motor generates a vacuum to cause a large volume of airflow at low velocity which in turn captures a large amount of loose dust. Airflow is measured in litres-per-second or cubic-feet-per-minute.
This dust is conveyed through the hose into the housing and its ducting, where it meets a filter.
As the air with the dust moves through the pipe and ducting, if any, its velocity decreases, and this – perhaps counter-intuitively – aids in the next step of dust collection.
Chips and large particles simply get collected even before reaching the filter by mere force of gravity – they simply start to fall inside the housing, often appearing in the hose itself. The filter stops those dust particles that are not smaller than the filter’s capabilities to strain out. Some extractors have two-stage filtration, a regular filter and a HEPA filter. While some particles adhere to the filter, clogging it, a majority of the particulate matter is collected in the attached dust bag or directly in the canister. Dust-free air circulates through the outlet vent.
Dust extractors can be attached through an adaptor to the outlet or port of a power tool from where it captures dust or they can be used to hoover up dust directly from the floor or work table.
Can A Vacuum Cleaner Be Used As A Dust Extractor?
The correct answer to this tricky question is “yes and no.” No, because by definition and engineering a vacuum cleaner is not a dust extractor; yes, because in results achieved both accomplish similar ends but with different purposes and goals.
Essentially, dust extractors use suction to generate a large volume of air travelling at low velocity through a wide-bore pipe whereas, conversely, vacuum cleaners operate by generating a small volume of air travelling at high velocity. And that makes sense because vacs need to ‘vacuum’ small amounts of embedded, caked, or deeply-layered dust, such as from carpeting. On the other hand, dust extractors are engineered to pick up much larger amounts of dust that is loose and readily available either from a connected source or off a surface. We can make an analogy with intensely sucking a soft drink through a narrow straw from a bottle versus quaffing beer in big gulps from a tankard.
So, to refine our yes-and-no answer, “Yes, as a pressed-into-service not-fit-for-purpose dust extractor.”