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Favorite vacuum for swarf and chips?

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  • Favorite vacuum for swarf and chips?

    Just asking... are shop vacs all the same, or is there one that really excels at getting up chips, swarf, and is easy to clean out?

    I know enough to clean by sucking rather than blowing, and I've got a few old vacuums around the house... but can afford something better.
    - andrew johnson
    - Berkeley, CA, U.S.

  • #2
    Shopvacs are not all the same. First of all, check the noise level of the unit. Some of the more recent units are quiet enough that you can have it running almost all the time. The cheaper units are so loud that you'll dread having to use it (not to mention waking up your neighbours). I have a 8 gallon QSP ShopVac and it does wonders in picking up those chips. My brother-in-law has the professional series with stainless steel drum and it's even quieter and sucks harder.



    • #3
      I use a Shop Vac Stainless Steel Contractor's vac with a Gore-Tex Hepa air filter. It sucks. Pound for pound however, My 3M Laser Toner (static free) sucks harder, but the filters cost more unless you can find the ones that can be disassembled and cleaned out with your Shop-Vac!

      The best vacuums I have seen are industrial models running off compressed air ($2K+) these are used for clean rooms and critical cleaning applications. They can suck up buckets of ball bearings with water...

      I use my Shop Vac for my router table and for brass and iron in particular (messy stuff) and while grinding. The Gore-tex filter is awesome - when it gets dirty you take it out, shake it off (you can wash it if it gets real dirty) and reinstall it. Water will not pass through it. You can get the Gore-tex "CleanStream Filters" for Most Shop-Vacs and Sears vacs from - highly recommend it.


      • #4
        I use a cheap noisy 16 Gal 12 Amp Craftman shop vac. It's plastic construction and low cost ($80 on the return line) ensure ready replacement should the time come. But it hasn't even blinked in the last 12 years. I keep forgetting to empty it before it gets too heavy meaning even those utterly cheap trashy plastic csters hold up well.

        I might buy better when this one dies but so far it's still going strong.

        Sigh. I just realized that by praising my miserable cheap shop vac, I've tempted the Fates to smite it with burn-out - or worse.


        • #5
          I've dealt with only a few, but I'm pretty pleased with the Ridgid brand. My only complaint is that the handles, which are integral with the top, are not sturdy enough to lift the whole unit if it's very full. The instruction manual, in fact, warns you of this. Hmmmm, it occurs to me now that it would be a simple matter to attach a pair of handles to the cannister itself. Well, off to the hardware store!


          • #6
            I use what Forrest uses, it works great but is noisy. I do keep it dumped often.


            • #7
              I have been using a household Eureka canister vac for about 10 years. (surplus from the household) Has a kidney shaped paper bag and a second paper filter over the motor/fan inlet. Can get 2-3 pounds of chips to the bag. Works great for all but stringy chips and swarf, mostly because of the 1-1/2" hose. Sucks better than my Genie shop vac and is quieter.
              Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
              ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


              • #8
                Got a 10 Gal. Shop Vac and yes it's noisy but I don't use it all the time. Since it has both a bag and a filter, emptying it is fairly easy.

                I only tried to use it once to clean up after a mill/drill job. The swarf got tangled and embedded in the hose and it took an hour to clean out. So what I would like to know is how do you prevent that? Is there a special hose? Or some attachment to collect the swarf before it gets in the hose? Or what?
                Paul A.
                SE Texas

                And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                You will find that it has discrete steps.


                • #9
                  I bought a Fein Turbo-Vac, based on someone's on-line recommendation (D. Thomas?). It seems to suck pretty good, but I really like the long hose and power cord, which allows it to be centrally located in my fairly small shop and still reach all of the machines.

                  Mike, near Chicago
                  Mike Henry near Chicago


                  • #10
                    I have one of the qsp plastic cannister vacs. Not too noisy but has a paper filter and blows alot of fine dust back into the room. That defeats the reason that I got a vac in the first place.

                    Norm on this old house has a central vac and I am considering one of those for my shop. Somebody in Fine Woodworking said that they are really noisy though. Anybody have any experience with them? Thanks--mike.


                    • #11
                      the Clean Stream filter I use in mine lets zero dust back into the room. I have even deliberately tried laser toner (very bad for your lungs) and it does not get past the Gore-Tex in the filter. A worth while investment - too bad 3m does not get them made for the Laser Vacs...


                      • #12
                        I installed a central vac system when we added a second floor to our house. It has been a great investment. The unit exhausts thru the wall to the outdoors, so any fine particles that are missed by the filter go outside, not recirculated in the house. Also the noise and the heat generated by the motor also go outside. My son has asthma and it has made a big difference (perhaps 80 percent) in his symptoms at home. I also use it as a shop vac. I was worried about some of the long metal spirals getting trapped in the pipes, so I made a "prefilter" from a 5 gallon wallboard compound bucket. A regular Sears shop vac hose (2.25 inches)attaches to the bucket and a "scotch brite" pad serves as a coarse filter at the fitting to the central vac hose. It is quiet enough that I can run it at 1 AM when everyone is sleeping. The only time I get to work undisturbed in the shop is when everyone is asleep. ;-)

                        [This message has been edited by fixxit (edited 11-12-2002).]


                        • #13
                          I put up a shop-vac "hang-up" (its the model name).

                          17 foot hose reaches all the shop, and it stays away from me so noise isn't an issue.

                          Even the shop cat like it, he hates vacuums, but with that one I can even vac chips out of his fur.


                          • #14
                            Got a vac that the chimney cleaners use. 4inch hose, and uses the same filter that the semi trucks use on air intake. The motor and blower sit on a 55 gallon drum. It works very well.


                            • #15
                              I have 2 systems.
                              One is a Canadian shop vac and is still running (loudly unfortunitely)after 30 years !
                              The second unit is a cheap Sears Shop vac (40$) outside, with a 2 inch pvc pipe running under the floor to the shop center, where it comes up into the top center of a 20 gallon drum. a 2 inch copper tube is attached tangently to the drum for the hose. The chips are thrown outward and collect at the drum bottom, keeping the vac and its filter clean. The system is so quiet,I sometimes forget it is running, unless I hear the rush of air into the hose.
                              Prior to this setup,in a former shop, I had run the 2"pipe in overhead without a drum and the chips would constantly hang in the suspended hose.
                              Green Bay, WI