Mini Dust Collector
This smaller system offers the power or dust collection capability of a full-size vac.
As a remodeler, I wear a lot of hats on every job. I demo, I frame, I run trim — but more than anything, I clean, clean, clean. I also work out of a compact pickup truck, so when there’s a chance to shrink my tools and cargo, I strongly consider it. Enter Festool’s 15-lb. CT SYS. This new tool-activated dust collector and vacuum (previewed in “Tools and Materials,” FHB #261) is about as big as a medium-size Festool Systainer, one of the company’s well-engineered modular cases. It’s actually two Systainer components. The lower half is the vacuum; the upper half is a carry tray that holds the hose and power cord. The CT SYS includes a 10-ft. antistatic hose, a filter bag, a HEPA filter, and a shoulder strap. The vac is quiet (67 db.), and at 106 cfm and 80 in. of static water lift, it approaches the specs of Festool’s larger wheeled vacs. Compared to full-size vacs from Festool, Bosch, and Fein (see “Shop Vacs,” FHB #240), the CT SYS showed no noticeable difference in power or dust collection. For moving around, the CT SYS is a dream. Moreover, because of its squat, almost cube shape, it’s easy to stack beneath or on top of almost anything.
Even though the vac itself works great, the 0.9-gal. filter bags fill up fast and cost about $4 each. (For $80, you can get a reusable filter bag.) I’m also frustrated with Festool’s antistatic hose. The hose wants to stay in its coiled shape, and it’s sufficiently rigid that you can mar the edge of new woodwork or chip veneer plywood if you’re not careful when you’re dragging it around. I’d also like a little more room in the top portion of the unit, which stores the cord and hose.
The CT SYS is small, quiet, powerful, and convenient — but is it worth $375? For me, the answer is yes. I find myself throwing it in the truck even when I would’ve previously convinced myself I didn’t need a vacuum that day. Yes, the price is steep, but you’ll soon be wondering how you lived without it.