Poor Man's Festool

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Review by PurpLev posted 05-11-2010 04:05 AM 14414 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Poor Man's Festool Poor Man's Festool Poor Man's Festool Click the pictures to enlarge them


For the longest time I wanted to get the Festool CT-33 (I would also be satisfied with the 22 version) as I believe that to be the flagship unit of the company – sure they make exceptional tools, but this one is by far their best contender in my opinion. Problem is – for my hobby use, it’s just beyond what I can justify to spend on a small dust extractor.

A month ago, someone posted the PC 7810 vacuum on craigslist, but it was in a very used condition, and I felt it was over priced. however, it made me realize that there is a PC dust extractor which seemed similar to the Festool in many ways, but at half the cost. I was intrigued, and obsessed after that as I felt I may have found my poor man’s festool vac. The market price on amazon for this is about $250, but even that was a bit beyond what I can spend at the moment. I found one on eBay at less than that, and put an offer. apparently nobody put a counter offer, and I ended up winning.

So far for the prologue.

As forseen, this would be my poor man’s Festool, so I expected it to do the following in order of importance(on which I’m basing this review):
  1. Be quieter than my 16 Gal Shop Vac since the Festool is hardly heard
  2. Hose to fit my portable tools, preferable with no adaptors at all (jigsaw/router/sander)
  3. Be tool operated – like the festool, have the powertool trigger the vac on and off
  4. Suck well (this is 4th on the list- since I assume most comparable vacs suck about the same)
  5. Convenient to use and quality of construction

I will address these expectations and experiences in reverse order:

Convenience and Quality
The PC 7812 is made of high quality thick materials – feels very sturdy and heavy duty. I liked that. I also like the flat top which can be used to rest the powertools and accessories as you can see in the photos. the vac is small in size, and moves easily. the hose locks in place by a twist, and does not come off like my shop vac if pulled on.

So Far So Good!

Suck Well
The hose on this one is narrow at 1 1/4” which makes suction stronger than a comparable motor with a 2 1/2” hose. however this also means reduction in CFM. in plain english – suction is very good, but it can only handle small amounts at a time which really points out to the fact that the 7812 is a Dust Extractor, meaning that it’s design is aimed to be connected to a small power tool and pull the dust as it gets created as opposed to a Shop Vac which is aimed at cleaning the shop after the dust has settled and can handle larger amounts (higher CFM). In reality my main purpose would be to use this for what it’s designed to do – dust extraction for my circular saw, router, jigsaw, and ROS. I will probably also use it to clean the floor – which would take a little more time than with my shop vac but I’m ok with that.

Tool Operated
Well, very simple, just like other dust extractors, this one has a plug to which you can connect your small power tools, and when you start your powertool, the vac starts as well, and when the powertool gets turned off, the vac stops after several seconds letting the vac suck the remaining dust in the hose. not much to it – on the PC this is fairly simple, not many options, no speed control, no extra features. just on off trigger. for my needs, this is good enough. works as advertised.

Hose Fit
As can be seen in the pictures. the hose is small, light, flexible, and fits my Jigsaw, Router, and Sander with out the need for adapters – this is really a huge improvement than having to wrestle with a 2 1/2” hose with a reducer around the power tools while you’re trying to stay focus on intricate work. ironically enough – the only tool that I will need to conjure some adapter for a tighter fit is my PC circular saw… go figure.

Noise Levels
This is where I was somewhat disappointed. I expected this one to be much quieter than my shop vac to the point that I wouldn’t mind it’s noise. First time I turned this on I had a little frown “really? it’s THAT loud?...” yes – it is.

It’s definitely not as loud as my 16 Gal ShopVac Quiet Deluxe, but if I had to put it on a scale between my ShopVac and a Festool – it would be closer to the ShopVac than to the Festool on the noise levels. Yes it’s not as loud as a ShopVac, and not as screaming tone to it, but still louder than I wished it would be. kinda hard to assess this one when it’s only available online. but trust me – it’s loud. thing is – it’s probably not as loud as the router, so this may not be a deal breaker.

the 7812 comes with a pleat flat filter like the other dust extractors have (Festool/Bosch) although only has 1 where the others use 2. the only thing about this filter as good as it is, is the fact that PC does not offer a HEPA version of this filter which is a shame. I will try to adapt one of the other brands filter and see if I can get HEPA filtration to this unit as I think this is very beneficial.

On top of the filter, there are also optional filter bags. which I plan on religiously use just like I did with my shop vac. not only do they provide extra filtration. they also protect the pleat filter from filling up too soon, and more important – it makes clearing out the vac a piece of cake without releasing all the dust back in the air.

This is definitely a dust extractor aimed at being connected to power tools and working with them simultaneously and It seems to be good at that. it has good suction, is power tool triggered, flexible and adaptable hose (at least for my tools), and convenient size and flat top to act as a shelf.

Edit: I just noticed that the price on Amazon for this has gone up to ~$350! When I bought mine Amazon had it reasonably priced at under $300 (~$270ish if I recall correctly), which seemed to be a good value. if you can get it for less than that – even better (I got mine under $200). but at ~$350 or higher – I think it’s worth to save the difference and just get the Festool.

If only it was also quiet, this would be a Gem, but for now – it’ll remain just a good value.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View PurpLev's profile


8588 posts in 4504 days

20 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118136 posts in 4433 days

#1 posted 05-11-2010 04:07 AM

View CharlieM1958's profile


16286 posts in 5074 days

#2 posted 05-11-2010 04:32 AM

Excellent review.

Now you’ve got me wondering about the science of the noise level aspect. (Being a liberal arts major, such things are frequently mysteries to me). Here’s the question: If the vacuum puts out a noise level of 70 dB, and the power tool you are using with it puts out 80 dB, is the noise level in the room greater than 80 dB because of the combined noise of the two tools, or is it just the 80 dB of the louder tool?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6872 posts in 4835 days

#3 posted 05-11-2010 04:35 AM

Hey Sharon;

I have a Fein vacuum that used to be excellent, and was nice and quiet. That is until a tile contractor borrowed it at a job site. They used it for 8 hours, sucking the dust they generated grinding concrete.

It has never been the same. Of course they made no offer to replace it, or understood why it would bother me that they did it in the first place. I rarely used it now, due to the noise it makes. Sounds like it needs bearings or something.

I am using a Rigid unit now, called a smart cart, which is quite powerful, and surprisingly quiet. It has drawers in it to hold accessories, making it pretty handy.

I would rate this vacuum a four star out of five. Five if it had the same outlets on it to plug the tool into, and would start when the tool is turned on.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4833 days

#4 posted 05-11-2010 05:22 AM


Sound in dB is a logarithmic scale so you don’t just add the numbers. 3dB is a doubling of the sound level – but is barely noticable by most individuals – so a 70dB tool is twice as loud as a 67dB tool. 10dB is perceived as twice as loud. Given the size of the numbers in your example, the total noise would be about 80.4db. Adding the numbers as integers would yield 150dB which is a little less than 4x the sound level of a jet engine at 100’ or a gun blast and up into the you-shouldn’t-listen-to-that-noise-without-hearing-protection-or-you’ll-lose-your-hearing levels.

In case you’re interested, check out


-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View CharlieM1958's profile


16286 posts in 5074 days

#5 posted 05-11-2010 05:29 AM

Thanks for the explanation, Whit. I knew adding the numbers together could not be right, but I wasn’t sure what the right number would be.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View japanesewoodworker's profile


75 posts in 3908 days

#6 posted 05-11-2010 06:59 AM

One more note on the noise level readings….
Most “sound level meters” sold to the general public are NOT calibrated to a 1,000 Hz frequency. Also noise drops off as the inverse square of the distance…. if you are 3 feet away from the vacumm at 90 dBA….then in therory 9 feet away you should receive only 87 dBA. 90-3=87 ….Distance 1=3 feet …Distance 2=9 feet….

What does all of this mean ?

Get away from the noise source by “increasing” the distance. That is why you will see most dust collection system in a separate room because of the high NOISE level.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3468 posts in 4293 days

#7 posted 05-11-2010 09:01 AM

I have a delta dust collection vac in the shop. It’s loud but you know, most of the tools I use if for are louder, especially the table saw and planer. Particularly the planer. So, I have a couple of ear protector headsets around the shop. Even if the vac is quite the tool often isn’t So ear protection is needed anyway.

Now some may think. “Hmmm…. use hearing protection that religiously. Probably won’t happen”. Well, I lost hearing in one ear years ago thanks to an ear disease. Protecting my one good ear is very important to me right now as I get older. So, Put your muffs on guys. You don’t know how important it is till you lose it!

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4288 days

#8 posted 05-11-2010 12:38 PM

Great review, Sharon.
Talked with an ear, nose and throat doc about hearing protection last week… says once your hearing is gone – that’s it!
I agree with Dan… lets all wear hearing protection with any power tool.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View CampD's profile


1818 posts in 4342 days

#9 posted 05-11-2010 01:22 PM

Great review! I to have been continplating getting a smaller dust collector to hook-up to my portable tools that I bring to job sites. Hepa-filters seams to be the way to go, but as you mentioned maybe adapting one could work.
On hearing protectors, I always wear ear muffs in the shop and sometimes double up with ear plugs (usually do when using the chainsaw).

-- Doug...

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3930 days

#10 posted 05-11-2010 02:48 PM

Great review. I did not even know this tool existed. I have the festool midi and I might have bought this instead if I had known it existed.

One question – Can you vary the strength of the suction? On the festool you need to dial the suction down some when using it with an ROS. Otherwise, the suction will pull the sandpaper too strongly into the wood. On the CT 22 & 32 the proper suction is determined automatically. On the Mini and Midi you have to dial it down manually.

By the way – the festool really is quiet. I cannot hear it over the sound of the tool I am using. You actually wonder if it is on – but it is.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View PurpLev's profile


8588 posts in 4504 days

#11 posted 05-11-2010 03:28 PM

Yes. when working with power tools – it’s important to use hearing protection. I was referring to the sound levels when using this as an all around vacuum. in which case- with the Festool you could really use it without the need for ear protection – it IS that quiet. but with this one – maybe not.

Rich- As for the suction dial – as I mentioned in the review, this one doesn’t have variable suction control, it always suck as as hard as it can. I’d trade your midi with this one ;) (I actually like the fact that this one has a large 10 Gal tank)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4064 days

#12 posted 05-11-2010 04:23 PM

Excellent review! Thorough and well organized with all the info we could need.
Maybe not a Festool, but certainly a step up from the boxy little Rigid vac I am currently using for this purpose.
Thank you!

View Todd Clare's profile

Todd Clare

67 posts in 3841 days

#13 posted 05-11-2010 05:27 PM

This discussion reminded me of a FWW article (you might have to be a member… not sure, but it originally ran in Fine Woodworking #195), and companion video that discussed housing a shop vacuum inside a cabinet lined with noise baffling material, but with enough ventilation to allow the vac to operate. I haven’t built one of these (yet) but the video seems to show a considerable difference in the resulting noise.

Thought maybe that would help or present some new options for tackling the sound?

-- Todd (Denver, CO -- Highlands)

View PurpLev's profile


8588 posts in 4504 days

#14 posted 05-11-2010 05:31 PM

Thanks Todd. the whole purpose for a small mobile dust extractor for me though is that it’s mobile, small, and I don’t have to put effort into building things to house it in. the noise on this one isn’t THAT bad that I really want to consider hiding it in a closet. but it IS something to keep in mind when you compare it to the mother of all dust extractors – as there is a significant difference here.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Todd Clare's profile

Todd Clare

67 posts in 3841 days

#15 posted 05-11-2010 05:35 PM

Oh I forgot to add, for those of you who can’t see the article, the author claims the sound went from 83db with the vac alone, to 58db with the vac in the cabinet, where 60db is referenced as “normal conversation”

-- Todd (Denver, CO -- Highlands)

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