Buying a Shop Vacuum

A wet/dry vacuum is an invaluable aid that quickly gobbles up sawdust, large wood chips,and nails
as well as large and small spills.
You can also hook one to a sander or another tool to remove dust as you work, (but a vacuum is
no substitute for a proper dust collector if you so a lot of sanding and sawing).

Power and performance.

Determining a shop vacuum's power is not an easy matter. Neither a high "peak horsepower"
nor a gee whiz demonstration of lifting power is a reliable indicator of a units capabilities.
Luckily, most brand name units sold in home centers and department stores are adequate
for home workshop use.

If you do not want to compare units, multiply the vacuum's sealed pressure, also called sealed
suction, water lift, static pressure by it's airflow. The resulting figure should be at least 5,000;
the higher the number the better. If the information is not available at the store, most manufacturers
will send product fact sheets on request.

Tank and Body of a shop vacuum

Plastic is the most common material and is fine for most workshops. It has the advantage of
being light weight, rust proof, and dent-resistant. Steel used in some higher end models,
is durable and less proned to damage from heat and solvents.
A 10 to 16 gallon capacity is adequate for most home shops.

Filter type

If you vacuum mostly dry debris, a pleated cartridge filter provides more surface area for dust,
reducing the number of filter cleanings, but the pleats are hard to clean when the dust is
wet or caked on. If you do a lot of wet pick-up, a flat paper or foam filter will work better.
Some units will accepts both types of filter.


Large and small diameter hoses are available. A large hose is handy for picking up sawdust
and chips and a small one for picking up nails and particles.
Many large hose units have adapters to accept small hoses as well as extention wands, floor
nozzles and crevice tools.

Extend the life of your shop vacuum filter and avoid having to clean it often.
Cut the legs off an old pair of pantyhose, tie the cut ends in a knot.
Now stretch the the waistband top over the filter. The suction won't be affected
and you can clean the pantyhose by just rinsing.