Wood and metalworking projects can range from entertaining hobbies to necessary professions, like carpentry and auto mechanic work. However, the one thing they have in common is the mess that can be created by cutting, grinding, and sanding these materials. While the mess can be cleaned up after the project is complete, the dust can get everywhere, even obscuring the material while you work.
The answer to the problem is a dust collector. These devices connect to the power tools in order to provide consistent suction, pulling in any dust and debris that is created while working on the project. The best dust collector for your workshop depends on the size of the space, the amount of dust that is typically produced, and whether a portable or fixed dust collector would be better. Take a look at the top products listed below to get a better idea of possible options, then keep reading to learn about important product factors that can help you choose the best saw dust collector to keep the workshop clean.
- BEST OVERALL: SHOP FOX W1727 1 HP Dust Collector
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER dustbuster Handheld Vacuum
- BEST HORSEPOWER: Shop Fox W1666 2 HP 1550 CFM Dust Collector
- BEST WALL-MOUNTED: POWERTEC DC5370 Wall Mounted Dust Collector
- BEST FOR HAND TOOLS: DEWALT Dust Extractor, Automatic Filter Cleaning
- BEST ROOM FILTRATION: WEN 3410 3-Speed Remote-Controlled Air Filtration
- BEST CORDLESS EXTRACTOR: Makita XCV11T 18V LXT Wet/Dry Dust Extractor
- BEST FOR MITER SAWS: Rousseau 5000 Dust Solution for Miter Saws
Types of Dust Collectors
There are several different types of dust collectors that are typically grouped based on dust collection capacity, portability, and power. These types include standard shop vacuums, dust extractors, single-stage bag dust collectors, canister dust collectors, and cyclonic dust collectors.
- Standard shop vacuums come with hoses that can attach to dust collection outlets on some power tools, though adding a dust separator to these devices helps to improve the dust collection suction and reduce clogging.
- Dust extractors are essentially a specialized type of shop vacuum that is only made for use with small hand tools.
- Bag dust collectors are a step up from shop vacuums. They have a higher power output and can connect to multiple tools, making them ideal for small yet busy workshops.
- Canister dust collectors are similar to bag dust collectors in that they can connect to multiple tools, but these dust collectors have a cartridge system that is better at capturing 1- and 2-micron dust particles.
- Cyclonic dust collectors can also be referred to as two-stage dust collectors because they use cyclonic action to separate smaller dust particles from larger pieces of debris. The larger pieces fall into a central collection chamber, while the smaller particles are pulled through a fine filter to help capture as much dust as possible.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dust Collector
With the various dust collector types in mind, it’s easier to understand the important factors that can affect your choice of dust collector for the workshop. Before deciding on the best dust collector, consider the size of the workshop, dust collection capacity, motor power, suction, and whether a fixed or portable dust collector is better for keeping the workshop clean, in addition to several additional elements that are outlined below.
Size of Workshop
Before selecting a dust collector based entirely on power, it’s necessary to consider the size of the workshop. Some dust collectors, like standard shop vacuums and dust extractors, can be used in just about any workshop because they are small and portable. However, these products may be ineffective options for a workshop that has multiple users because they can only connect to one tool at a time.
Larger workshops benefit from bag and canister dust collectors because they can be set up in a central location in order to collect the dust from multiple tools at the same time. These systems, however, aren’t the best choice for smaller workshops because they take up too much floor space. A wall-mounted bag dust collector may be the best option for a busy yet small workshop because it doesn’t take up any floor space, yet it can still connect to more than one tool.
Dust Collection Capacity
The amount of dust that is regularly collected, as well as the frequency with which the dust collector is emptied, are two factors that affect your decision when it comes to dust collectors because while these tools are made for collecting dust, they still have a finite amount of debris that the bag or canister can hold. This is referred to as the dust collection capacity.
For large workshops that regularly produce a high amount of dust and debris, it is best to opt for a dust collector with a dust collection capacity of at least 5 cubic feet. Smaller workshops or small hand tools can use smaller bags or canisters, though they will need to be emptied more frequently.
Motor Power and Suction
The power output and air suction potential are determined by the horsepower of the motor, as well as the volume of air that the dust collector can move, which is measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM. Motor power is measured in horsepower (HP) and dust collector motors will typically fall between 0.5 and 1.5 HP, though there are some products with motors that exceed 3 HP.
The air volume or suction ability of the dust collector can be about 100 to 150 CFM for shop vacs and dust extractors, but typically a dust collector will have about 400 to 500 CFM. However, busy workshops may require a dust collector with an air suction power rating of 1,000 CFM or higher to adequately provide suction power to multiple tools at once.
Fixed vs. Portable
Dust collectors come in several different types based on motor power, suction ability, and dust collection system, but these tools can also be separated by their portability. Typically, a dust collector is a portable tool that is either light enough to carry or it has a wheeled base or frame that can be used to move the tool around the workshop. However, this style of dust collector takes up floor space and can become a tripping hazard.
Mounted or fixed dust collectors are installed on the wall or ceiling to help save space in a crowded workshop. Just connect the hoses to the dust collector and turn it on to start cleaning up the work space. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the longer the hose, the less suction power the dust collector will have, so it’s a good idea to mount the dust collector in a central location.
The filter efficiency refers to the ability of the dust collector’s filter to stop dust and other contaminants from passing through. By trapping large debris and dust particles in the filter, the dust collector can continue to work at a high level of suction power without the user having to worry about clogs.
Filter efficiency is typically measured by the minimum size of particle the filter can capture, or the absolute micron rating. For instance, a high-efficiency filter may have an absolute micron rating of 1 micron, indicating that it will stop particles and debris larger than 1 micron at least 95 percent of the time. The average dust collector filter will have an absolute micron rating of about 2.5 microns.
Many manufacturers include features that are not strictly necessary for the dust collector to function, but they help to increase product efficacy and improve on the dust collector design. Some examples include remote controls, noise-reducing insulation, handles, wheels, and hose storage spaces.
- Remote controls are ideal for fixed or mounted dust collectors because the user doesn’t need to walk across the workshop to turn on or turn off the device.
- Noise-reducing insulation helps to reduce the amount of sound that the motor makes while the dust collector is in operation.
- Handles and wheels are both used to help increase the portability of a dust collector. They make it easier to move the dust collector around on a flat surface and also easier to pick it up.
- Hose and hose attachment storage spaces help to keep the workshop neat and tidy after the dust has been cleaned up. These are typically located on the side or top of the dust collector.
Our Top Picks
The list of top products below is made up of several different types of dust collector that were selected based on dust collection capacity, motor power, suction, filter efficiency, and overall value in order to help you find the best dust collector to keep the workshop clean.
This bag dust collector from Shop Fox helps to keep users safe with a built-in safety switch that must be operated with a removable key. The 1 HP motor provides enough power to generate up to 800 CFM of air suction power, making it easy to keep the work area clean while sanding, grinding, or cutting. When the dust and debris are pulled into the dust collector, pieces of wood or metal that are larger than 2.5 microns are trapped in the filter and dropped into the 2.1-cubic-foot dust collection bag.
The combination of high air suction power, good air filter efficiency, and voluminous dust collection capacity are primary contributors to the success of this product. It even has built-in handles and wheels to improve the portability and offset the 59-pound weight. However, the 4-inch hose outlets need to be adapted to a 2.5-inch hose for use with smaller tools.
- Horsepower: 1 HP
- Air Suction Power: 800 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 2.5 microns
- Built-in safety switch
- High air suction power
- Handle and wheels for portability
- Must be adapted to a 2.5-inch hose for small tools
While this affordable handheld vacuum cannot connect directly to any power tools, it is a lightweight, cordless option that makes it simple to clean up a small sawdust or metal dust mess. The cordless vacuum has a 0.1-HP motor and 100 CFM air suction power as well as a washable filter that can catch debris and particles that are larger than 5 microns.
Make use of the built-in accessory tools, including a flip-up brush, an extendable crevice tool, and a rotating nozzle, to clean dust and debris from tough-to-reach places, like behind the workbench. The vacuum uses cyclonic action to separate large debris from small particles in order to help prevent clogs in the system.
- Horsepower: 0.1 HP
- Air Suction Power: 100 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 5 microns
- Built-in accessory tools
- Washable dirt bowl and filter
- Cordless for improved maneuverability
- Low power output
- Low air suction power
- Cannot connect to power tools
The Shop Fox W1666 dust collector isn’t the best choice for a small workshop because it weighs about 107 pounds, it’s difficult to move around, and it takes up about 5 square feet of floor space. However, for medium- to large-size workshops, this powerful 2-HP bag dust collector is a great addition that comes with two 4-inch hose outlets that can be used at the same time.
It’s an impressive product with a 2.5-micron filter efficiency and 1,550 CFM air suction power that quickly pulls in dust and debris for storage in the 5.4-cubic-foot dust collection bag. Unfortunately, all of this power and dust collection potential comes at a higher price than a smaller product, so it’s important to figure out if this amount of air suction power is necessary before deciding on this bag dust collector.
- Horsepower: 2 HP
- Air Suction Power: 1,550 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 2.5 microns
- High 2 HP power output
- Powerful air suction
- Large 5-cubic-foot dust collection capacity
- High price
- Difficult to move at 107 pounds
Small but busy workshops can benefit from having a wall-mounted dust collector like this impressive product from Powertec that has 537 CFM suction power and a 2.5-micron filter efficiency rating. The wall mount ensures that the dust collector remains up off of the floor, giving users more space to move or store items. Just secure the dust collector to the wall with the included mounting brackets, then use the hose to suction up dust and debris from the project or material.
A built-in window on the dust collection bag makes it easy to see when the bag needs to be emptied, and the safety on/off switch helps to prevent accidents. This dust collector weighs 41 pounds, and it has a 4-inch hose that would need to be adapted to 2.5 inches for smaller tools. The machine runs on a 1 HP dual-voltage motor, allowing it to be used on either 120V or 240V power systems.
- Horsepower: 1 HP
- Air Suction Power: 537 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 2.5 microns
- Wall-mount saves floor space
- Dual-voltage motor (120V/240V)
- Safety on/off switch to prevent accidental misuse
- Must be adapted to a 2.5-inch hose for small tools
- Heavy at 41 pounds
Keeping any project neat and clean while working is an important step that can mean the difference between an ideal outcome and a botched result because the reality is that if the user cannot see the material, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve the desired look or appearance. The DeWalt dust extractor connects directly to small power tools for the purpose of cleaning up dust as soon as it’s created.
The 2-HP motor provides a significant amount of power to the tool, though despite this high power output, the air suction power is just 150 CFM. However, 150 CFM is more than enough to handle the small volume of dust that is typically created by small hand tools, and the 0.3-micron filter helps to ensure that the dust extractor doesn’t clog.
- Horsepower: 2 HP
- Air Suction Power: 150 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 0.3 microns (DWV9330 filter)
- Built-in wheels for easy portability
- Long 15-foot hose for maneuverability
- Can be equipped with a high-efficiency 0.3-micron filter
- Large 8-gallon dust-collection capacity
- Low air suction power to motor power ratio
- Air suction power is inconsistent
The WEN air filtration system is a whole-room filter that can be installed on the roof of a garage or workshop using the included hooks. Once in place, it can operate at three different air suction powers, including 300, 350, and 400 CFM, according to the user’s preference. Just use the included remote control to set the air suction power, turn the air filtration system on or off, and even set a programmable timer to shut the system off after the scheduled period of time.
While this product cannot be connected directly to power tools, it does passively pull air through the 1-micron or 5-micron filter, trapping any dust and debris in order to clean the air within the room. The air filtration system has a 0.17-HP motor and operates at just 50 decibels, so the sound is about as loud as a regular conversation.
- Horsepower: 0.17 HP
- Air Suction Power: 300, 350, or 400 CFM depending on the setting
- Filter Efficiency: Comes with a 1-micron and a 5-micron filter
- Passive air filtration
- Quiet 50-dB operation
- Remote-controlled functionality
- Cannot be connected directly to power tools
- May take several hours to filter the air
This cordless dust extractor weighs just 10 pounds, and it has a foldaway handle as well as a hose storage space, making it easy to pick up and carry around the workshop or even load into a car or truck to take to the job site. The battery lasts for up to 60 minutes of continuous runtime when equipped with one of the two included 18-volt batteries. Each battery takes about 45 minutes to charge, so while one battery is in use, the other battery can fully charge.
The Makita cordless dust extractor has a highly efficient HEPA filter that captures dust and debris that is larger than 0.3 micron in size. However, the dust extractor is limited by the low power output of just 0.1 HP and the 57-CFM air suction power, so it isn’t the best option for a busy workshop.
- Horsepower: 0.1 HP
- Air Suction Power: 57 CFM
- Filter Efficiency: 0.3 micron
- High filter efficiency
- Lightweight design
- Multiple speed settings
- Low power output
- Weak suction power
While not technically a dust collector, this Rousseau dust collection system is an ideal solution for the mess that miter saws and chop saws can create when they are in use. It consists of a hood that sits over about half of the saw—without interfering with the movement of the blade—in order to trap any dust that is produced. However, the dust collection system doesn’t have any suction power on its own, so in order for it to be effective, a shop vac or dust collector needs to be connected to the 4-inch vacuum port to provide continuous suction while using the saw.
The hood is compact and easy to set up or fold down for simple storage, but a limitation of this dust collection system is that the hooded design isn’t suitable for all power tools. In fact, it’s best if this tool is reserved for use with miter and chop saws.
- Horsepower: Can be used with any shop vac or dust collector that has a 4-inch vacuum hose
- Air Suction Power: Only provides an area to collect the dust; suction power determined by the shop vac or dust collector that’s connected
- Filter Efficiency: Not equipped with a filter
- Easy to use
- Folds up for compact storage
- Designed to capture dust generated by miter saws
- Cannot be used effectively without another dust collector
- Not equipped with a filtration system
- Not suitable for tools other than miter or chop saws
For its impressive 800-CFM air suction power, 2.5-micron filter efficiency, and 2.1-cubic-foot dust collection capacity, the SHOP FOX W1727 Dust Collector is an outstanding option for small or medium workshops. However, if a simple, affordable vacuum suits your needs, the BLACK+DECKER dustbuster offers great value and several built-in tools for specialized cleaning.
How We Chose the Best Dust Collectors
There are many different features to consider when selecting the best dust collectors, but the main factors that were explored during extensive product research include the dust collector type, the product suitability, horsepower, air suction power, filter efficiency, and functionality. The dust collector type was important to incorporate because not every type of dust collector is suited to every user.
The product type is also affected by the suitability and functionality of the product. For instance, not all listed products are dust collectors, but every product on the list can be used to make dust collection easier, such as the Rousseau 5000 Dust Solution. It’s almost useless on its own, but when paired with a shop vac or dust collector, it makes it much easier to keep the work area of a miter saw clean, despite the typical spray of sawdust.
Horsepower, air suction power, and filter efficiency were top considerations while researching these products because these specifications greatly affect the dust collection ability of the dust collector and provide measurable information to help make comparisons between products.
After taking the time to learn about the top considerations for choosing a new dust collector, you may still have some lingering questions about the noise level, power, and even the functionality of a dust collector. Keep reading for answers to these and several other frequently asked questions that are addressed below.
Q. What does a dust collector do?
A dust collector does exactly as indicated by the name: It collects dust. These devices connect to your power tools in order to provide active suction while you work. This cleans up the dust as it’s produced, ensuring that you can see the project at all times and keeping the workshop clean in the process.
Q. What is the best dust collector?
The best dust collector for your workshop depends on a range of factors, including workshop size, dust collection capacity, and power output, so the best dust collector for one person may not be the best for someone with a different setup. However, the SHOP FOX 1 HP Dust Collector is one of the best options available.
Q. Are dust collectors loud?
On average, dust collectors produce about 50 to 65 decibels of sound, depending on the size of the motor. To put this in perspective, a regular conversation is about the same noise level.
Q. How far can a dust collector work?
The maximum length of the hose with which the dust collector can continue to work effectively is determined by the power output and air suction power of the tool. On average, a 2-HP dust collector can be used with up to 25 feet of hose, but a 1-HP dust collector is only powerful enough for about 15 feet of hose. Also, keep in mind that any bends in the hose will reduce the suction power of the dust collector.