Choosing a "good enough" shop vac

Not sure this is the appropriate place to post this, but here goes…

I getting ready to order a Shapeoko 4, and need to purchase a shop vac to use with it. I have a Dust Stopper separator I use with my table saw, router table, bandsaw, etc. My CNC will be in a different location, so sharing isn’t an option.

Having watched a slew of TY videos on dust collection and noise abatement with the Shapeoko, I’ve noticed many of them show users “slowing down” their vacs with AC speed controllers, stating that their vacs didn’t need to run full-out to provide adequate chip removal.

Can anyone recommend a “good enough” shop vac? No need for a large-capacity unit that can jump-start a 747 – I just want a decent (ok, cheap) vac with sufficient CFM to pull chips through to the Dust Stopper.


I have this one paired with a Dust Deputy.

VacMaster VM510



Slowing down a shop vac motor will end in the motor burning out. The motor speed from the maker is designed to cool the motor. Slowing it down accomplishes nothing. Too much vac is not a problem. If noise is a factor then shop by db level.


I’m attempting to solve for CFM, noise, and $$$. If a 3 hp vac would provide sufficient chip removal, there’s no need to purchase a 6 hp, for example.

What is the largest/coarsest tool you are planning to use in the most easily cut material?

That should establish the upper end of what you need to be able to pull.

I use a Festool CT Midi (older model, pre-Bluetooth, bought in a noise-induced, migraine-fueled rage) — which is more than good enough, and which I am usually able to operate at a fairly low setting (but mostly I use smaller tooling in tougher materials such as bamboo and Baltic Birch plywood).

Ridgid and Fein usually come up as “good enough” and “quiet enough” — what’s available locally?

I ended up with a DeWalt Stealthsonic (DXV12P-QT) – $119 at local BBS. At ~60 dB, it’s quieter than the tiny 1 hp Stanley I use to clean my laser cutter. Suction is really good – don’t think I’m going to have any issues. My S4 arrives tomorrow, so I’ll get to test it this weekend.


Please report back on how you like that one. I almost picked one up in passing the other day.

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Any Shop Vac will benefit from a cyclone dust separator. I have a dedicated dust collection system with a 5" Onieda Super Dust Deputy and it works great a prefiltering the the dust into the Super Dust Deputy bucket. The Jet Dust collector bag stays clean until the 30 gallon drum fills up and I see dust in the Jet bag I know it is time to empty the cyclone bucket.

The smaller 2.5" Onieda does great and there are a ton of other commercial ones on the market. The addition of a cyclonic dust separator makes any dust collection 2 stage. There are also diy solution. The bottom line is a shop vac filter fills up fast and reduces the efficiency of the dust collection. So a cheap cyclone will help keep the CFM as high as it can be and also reduces stress on the shop vac motor.

Here is the Onieda complete setup. They do sell the cyclone separate but then you have to find a bucket, cut a hole, seal the connectors and add casters if you want a mobile unit. So the complete kit is a deal at $139.00 from Onieda. Likely you can find it cheaper if you shop around.

Everything on dust collection needs to be grounded or you will get disconnects. So keep that in mind when setting up your dust collection. You have the perfect storm, moving air, dust and static to ruin your day and maybe your job.



I use a cheap Amazon dust cyclone and bucket upstream of my shop vac, it’s only the fines that make it through to the vac and much easier to empty the bucket.

Keep your total hose length down if you want to preserve flow for for shop vac type fan curves a 5m length of smooth walled solid pipe is better than 1m of crinkly hose for pressure and flow drop.


Agreed- dust separation is critical. As mentioned in my OP, I use the Dustopper from HD. Had one in my garage for years it works a treat. Will report back when I’ve had a chance to run tests.

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