My shopvac thanks me

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Review by live4ever posted 12-21-2011 10:53 PM 6244 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
My shopvac thanks me My shopvac thanks me My shopvac thanks me Click the pictures to enlarge them

I recently bit on Rockler’s sale on the Dust Right Vortex. I figured it was time to add a separator to my little Fein shopvac, considering I use the vac for all my shop’s dust collection (TS, BS, router table, drum sander, planer, etc.). I have the small model (Turbo I), so you can imagine how quickly it fills up. Up to this point, I was using it with the stock 5 micron cloth bag filter.

The DR Vortex is simply a 10 gallon bucket that comes with a lid (the money part), 5 casters, a handful of black plastic fittings, and a 3 foot long flexiform hose. During Rockler’s promotion which I think is still ongoing, a Shopvac handle fitting is also included.

The accordion flex hose is for connecting the vac to the lid of the separator. The user must provide their own hookup to the tool. Standard 2.5” hose fits over the lid fittings (plus a hose clamp of course), and standard 2-1/4” shopvac hose/fitting (e.g. Ridgid vac hose) fits inside the fittings.

The casters work fine. A rubber mallet to pound them in helps.

In use, the unit has worked splendidly. I was skeptical that a separator wouldn’t hinder my shopvac’s suction. It doesn’t even in the slightest. I’m still able to use the lowest power setting on the Fein when I want to keep the noise down, and it seems to have the same amount of suction it did before.

An important aspect of a separator is to empty the tank once debris reaches the “full” line, which is about 2/3 capacity. Otherwise, a lot of debris that should be separated out will end up reaching the vac. The blue translucent plastic of the tank is fantastic here, as it’s easy to see the shadow of your debris inside.

The only gripe I have, and it’s a minor one, is that there isn’t a great seal between lid and bucket. This becomes particularly evident when collecting from my planer, which has a fairly strong “blow”. I get dust and debris collecting on the lip of the bucket and there is a little bit of fine dust leak from the lip of the lid. This can probably be remedied easily with silicone caulk.

At the same point I got the DR Vortex, I cleaned out my shopvac’s tank, and switched over to the paper bag + 1 micron filter. I figured, aside from being a wise filtering upgrade, this would allow me to assess the DR Vortex with a clean slate. I’m happy to report that the separator works as advertised, and collects probably 95% of dust and debris. I have filled the bucket completely once so far (using almost all of my tools – TS, BS, router table, drum sander, RO sander, shop cleanup). The third picture shows the inside of the vac and filter after collecting a full bucket-load. Nothing gets past the paper bag (more of a testament to the Fein setup than the DR Vortex), and there is literally nothing on the filter. The paper dust bag is probably 10-20% full (it looks much more full than it is because it is inflated).

The second photo is after a cleaning and washout of the DR Vortex. I then leveled an endgrain cutting board on my drum sander after glueup and you can see the resulting dust pile – the majority of the sanding dust ended up in the separator. The few walnut chips you see in there are from three short rips at the tablesaw.

Overall, I’d highly recommend the DR Vortex, especially if you hate emptying the shopvac and cleaning the filter, or if you have a pricier shopvac you’d like to protect. Unfortunately I can’t compare this to the Dust Deputy as I’ve never used that unit.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3922 days

6 comments so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3488 days

#1 posted 12-22-2011 12:18 AM

Congrats and thanks for the great review!
I bit on the sale too

I’m very impressed with the build quality. Nothing feels flimsy. I like that the black plastic fittings are screw on and don’t just snap into the top.

Once the bag in my shop vac fills up (not long since I use my vac for dust collection as well as cleanup) I’ll be setting the vortex up to start with a clean slate.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3922 days

#2 posted 12-22-2011 12:29 AM

Agree – the screw on fittings were nice…nothing is loosey goosey. I’d be curious to hear about your lid situation and whether you get any fine dust leak.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View PKFF's profile


48 posts in 3265 days

#3 posted 12-22-2011 01:52 AM

I purchased the DR Vortex about 5 months ago and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve emptied it, nearly 2 dozen times I’d say. It does a great job with tools such as the planer, router table, bandsaw, bisquit jointer, drill press, and any other tool that makes shavings or coarse sawdust. That being said, It doesn’t seperate fine dust such as 220grit sanding dust. I regularly sand with an orbital sander using both 120grit then 220grit with it connected to my dust collection. It does wonders to keep dust out of the air and off the project, but I need to clean the filter after because it becomes caked with fine dust particals.

It is a lot easier to empty than a shopVac. It is a simple time tested design that you can find on larger scales with a trash can and 4” hose. It really turns your shop vac into a dust collection system.

The only problem, which isn’t with the vortex, is that the shopVac system only can produce 210CFM and a standard Cabinet saw needs 400 CFM and other woodworking machines tend to demand more CFM than what a shopVac system can produce.

It does a great job doing what it is supposed to do, connecting to the shopVac and being a dust collector, though it does not seperate fine sanding dust as well as chips or shavings.

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 3332 days

#4 posted 12-22-2011 07:21 PM

I just got one for christmas and I must say it’s pretty awesome. For a beginning woodworker like myself whose had no dust collection other than a shopvac before, this does great job. No complaints so far. Does make a lot of static though. haha!

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View handystanley's profile


169 posts in 3825 days

#5 posted 12-22-2011 08:35 PM

When I built my mobile dust collection system earlier this year I incorporated the Vortex into it.

Every time I use it and see the wood particles spinning around inside I know that they are not reaching my Shop Vac.

-- "Projects beget projects and projects beget the need to buy new tools and that is what the cycle of life is all about." Stan Pearse, Novato, CA

View Woodwrestler's profile


56 posts in 3058 days

#6 posted 07-13-2012 01:11 PM

I bought the Rockler dust vortex and used if fairly heavily for about 4 months. The consistent problem with this type of vortex is that the fine dust still makes it through to your shop vac. In a short period of time your shop vac filter will clog and you will lose suction. So your constantly still cleaning your dust vac filter. Since going with the Oneida system I rarely and I mean rarely have to ever clean the shop vac filter. When taking into account the price difference I think the dust deputy is a much better way to go. I have bought several Rockler products in the past and all of them seem to be simplistic solutions to the problem they are trying to solve. When you really start trying to use them you run into their obvious design limitations. Consequently, I try to steer clear of their solutions anymore.

-- What man is a man who does not make the world a better place?

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