Dust Suck

Cyclones rule.  I keep finding myself challenging it and seeing it cope, again and again.  I keep checking the dust bag in the vac as well – at this rate I’ll need a new one soon….in about 10 years or so soon that is.  Pretty much nothing is carrying across to the dust bag.

Cyclones rule!

Cyclone Power

I’ve also been playing with the Festool vac, and have changed the bag to the long-life variety.  (Not yet christened)

Festool Longlife Bag

The primary difference between the Longlife variety and the ‘garden variety’ Self-clean disposable bag is just that: the Self-clean is designed to be thrown away once full, and the long-life designed to be emptied and reused.  The rear of the Longlife bag has a clip that is removed so the bag can be emptied easily.

Bag Clamp

At the other end of the bag is the connection for the vac.  Unlike disposable bags, this is more substantial and has a cap to cover the inlet when transporting the bag for emptying.

It doesn’t look to have the same capacity as the self-cleaning bags, but that is definitely mitigated by the capability to be emptied and reused.

Bag Nozzle

Fitting a Boom Arm

Where it comes to actually working with hand-power tools there are a few inconveniences.  One being the storage of a tool that has a power cable attached, and in a lot of cases with the Festool range, they use the detachable power lead concept (although surprisingly some still have a dedicated lead, such as the BS105 belt sander).  Another being on-tool dust collection.  When you bother to use it, the power lead gets in the way, the dust collection hose is a pain, you trip over it, it snakes around other tools, catching, fouling etc.

The Festool system is pretty cool in that it addresses a number of these issues, and in part is the reason why I opted to head down that route.

When I got the vac recently (the CT36 in my case), I always intended to utilise all the advantages it offers, and that included the Boom Arm.  It is a bit high at the moment – or rather my roof is a bit low, but I’ll find a workaround for that.

(Sorry about the picture quality – just a quick snap, and as you can see from the background, lots of shed cleanup is way overdue!)

Festool CT36 with Boom Arm

I will be looking to find a more permanent storage for the vac, and the boom arm (which also carries power for the tool) will help a lot in that.  It is pretty high – to the extent that there is no problem at all for me to walk under it, the hose stops just short of the ground and yet there is still plenty of length not to find the tool at all restrained by the power and dust systems.  And of course the vac auto starts and stops when the tool is used.

Vacuum Storage

The other question I had recently was about the CT36 – the Cleantex Vacuum from Festool (Ideal Tools)

Storage of the components (particularly for transportation) for the CT36 is very easy – there is a holder at the back of the machine to wrap the power cord around.

The hose coils up into the cavity in the top of the machine, and you can also store the floor nozzles and tubes in there as well.

Hose Storage

Alternately, you can use a Systainer1 which is a perfect size, and of course attaches directly to the top of the Cleantex

Systainer for Nozzle Storage

Finally, as far as the size of the cavity – 36L sounds like a lot of dust, but what the dust collection area looks like:

Dust Compartment

No – I didn’t suck up a blade – I put it in there to give a sense of scale!  That is a 10″ blade (250mm), so just a little more capacity than the standard house vacuum!

I’ve given up on house vacs (even though I was buying them cheaply) for the shed.  My record so far

Vacuum 1: barrel model: melted, to the point that the motor physically fell off the back of the vacuum when it had melted its way free.

Vacuum 2: modern barrel: caught fire.

Vacuum 3: shop vacuum (upright barrel): became better at producing ozone than suction, then became useless at both.

Vacuum 4: ShopVac: current, and still going strong (still pretty new), using a cyclone as a preseparator

Vacuum 5: Festool CT36: what can I say!

Sometimes it pays to buy quality.

Oneida 1, Stu’s Shed 0

Gave a real crack at sorting out the Systainer version of the Dust Deputy, making up a strong box to go inside the Systainer, all Dominoed together (used the Domino with the Cleantex for the first time……nice!) and slots cut to match the inside of the Systainer using the router table in its new configuration which also worked very nicely.

Tried it out again, and with all the additions, still very little dust was collected, the majority passing through to the vacuum bag.

Inner Skin

So with such an unexpected failure of the concept, I wondered if it was just the Festool Cleantex that was too powerful for the size of the cyclone.  I then tried the unit using the Shopvac, which has been very successful in the past, and although the collection was improved, still no decent result.  I can only suspect now that the shape of the collection container plays more of a part than I first suspected.  I may play again another day, but at this stage I couldn’t be bothered wasting any more time on the development.

So I reverted the cyclone to its original (commercial) orientation and tried the Cleantex again.

Big dust pile test

The Cleantex certainly has a fair suck on it – the problem I have highlighted in the past about the original lid of the Dust Deputy bin not being strong enough was significantly exaggerated – the lid getting badly sucked in (but still maintaining a seal)

At the end of a dust mountain (about 1/2 the dust drum), I checked the Cyclone bin, as well as the Cleantex dust bag.

Cyclone bin – nicely full, Cleantex bag – nicely empty.

Suck results - full bin, empty bag

So reverted everything back to pre-mod orientation – the Cooltainer back to being a Cooltainer, the Cyclone back to original, and the other Systainer put back together.  It still has a hole in the lid, and I still like the idea of a cyclone that fits on top of the Cleantex.

So I took the second dust bin of the Dust Deputy, and screwed it straight to the top of the spare (and somewhat aerated) Systainer.  Now I do need a longer initial hose, but the concept is there, just not as elegant as I intended. (Bugger).

A version of my vision

Cyclonic Festool

With Safety Week drawing to a close, thought a couple of practical articles would be good to offset all the theory during the rest of the week!

With the arrival of the Festool Cleantex Dust Collection CT36 and coincidentally the Dust Deputy, it seemed ideal to couple the two together, and especially given that Systainers can be locked solidly to the top of the Cleantex, transforming one into a dust bin seemed perfect.

Step one involved removing the lid from the systainer, and that was easily achieved with the lid open, and a screwdriver inserted into the pin/hinge and a gentle rap with a rubber mallet. Rinse and repeat for the other side and the top came straight off.

Next, I took the Dust Deputy cyclone off its original lid, and used that lid as a template to mark out where the holes need to be.

I needed to offset the cyclone so it didn’t impact on the handle, and especially the forms on the inside of the lid.

Marking out the holes

I originally thought that I’d use this Systainer on top of a second, with the base of one cut away, and the top of the next cut away so I could detach the top Systainer completely so the lower one could be emptied.  However, I couldn’t justify sacrificing two Systainers to the experiment, so thought I’d experiment with just the one (at least initially).  I decided to swap this lid with one on a larger Systainer (and if you notice that the lid that got marked out is different to the one that is cut, you’d be right – I initially marked the wrong lid!)

Holes cut, including bolt holes

Underneath there is some reinforcing ribbing, and some of that had to be cut away.  It doesn’t weaken the top, because I am replacing a few light ribs with a chunk of solid steel!

Cutting away underside ribbing

Next it was easy to bolt the cyclone on top of the lid.

Attaching the cyclone

The lid, ready to go – so far a very easy modification, and other than one damaged lid, easily reversed.  I got the Systainer cheaply (second hand), so the mod so far cost $10.

Systainer Lid with Dust Deputy Cyclone

Fitting the whole unit on top of the CT36 is also a no brainer, and the hose that comes with the cyclone is a perfect size for the Festool Cleantex.

CT36 with Cyclone Collector

Nothing left to do, but give it a test, so made a pile of dust…..

Test pile of sawdust

And sucked it up.

Progress

Now at this stage the system is working, but I need to make some immediate additions – the Systainer is not able to resist the strength of the vacuum, and that causes some significant leaks around the lid (and the rear wall of the Systainer gets pulled in).  These leaks mean the separator didn’t work well at all (yet) because the influx of air from the collection bin means the dust was able to progress from the inlet tube to the outlet rather than fall into the Systainer.

I can solve two problems with one solution – I will make a thin-walled box (MDF) to fit inside the Systainer.  This will fully support the walls of the Systainer, as well as collect the dust and it can be lifted out to empty, rather than removing the Systainer from the Cleantex.  Secondly, some of that rubber that goes around windows and doors as a draught stop should significantly help the sealing, resulting in effective use of the cyclone.

As a quick initial modification (30 minutes), I am very happy with how it is looking already, and with a few extra improvements should become a perfect addition to the new shop vac.

I Want to Break Free

I want to be dust-free
I want to be dust-free
I want to break free from the dust
This vacuum astounds even me….e
I’ve got to be dust-free
God knows God knows I want to break free

I’ve fallen in love
I’ve fallen in love for the first time
The Cleantex is the best I have se…en
I’ve fallen in love yeah
God knows God knows I’ve fallen for the Green

Its strange but it’s true
It is quieter than I even dreamed
But I have to be sure
When I vacuum the floor
Oh how I want to be dust-free baby
Oh how I want to be free
Oh how I want to break free

But life still goes on
I can’t get used to living without living without
Living without dust all around
The shop floor is clear
The workspace is clean
So baby can’t you see
I’ve got to be dust-free

I’ve got to break free
I want to break free yeah

I want I want I want I want to be dust-free….

Original lyrics and music (badly corrupted) by John Deacon (Queen)

Festool CT36

Yes, it rocks. Purchased from Ideal Tools, the CT36 Cleantex dust vac from Festool is quieter than my house vacuum, handles significant dust, connects to all my tools, has 36l of dust containment, fits Systainers on top, auto-starts with the tool, wheels easily, variable power, has a decent length of heavy-duty power cord, and a long anti-static hose. And that’s just a bit of a summary of features.  Add that it can handle liquids (I did not know that), has an electronic liquid depth sensor to cut out when it gets too full, HEPA filter, onboard hose storage, a nozzle designed specifically for shop floors and I could just go on.

I went to try it out last night for 5 minutes – ended up vacuuming the entire workshop (and felt like blaring out Queen while doing so!)

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