I need a shop vac- what do you recommend?

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 06-12-2020 04:05 PM 808 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1523 posts in 2882 days

06-12-2020 04:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop vac shop vacuum durable reliable parts maintenance recommendation question

I’m needing a shop vacuum for general cleanup in my shop, but I’ll mostly use it in the house after remodeling, or on the cars when I want to vacuum them out.

1) I want durable – Can it suck up drywall dust without damaging it? Will it break if moved around a lot?
2) I want it to be reliable. I don’t want to buy another one is six months.
3) I want it to actually suck, not just make noise.
4) I’d like to be able to buy parts and filters for it after a few years.

What do you recommend?

Thanks for the consideration.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

33 replies so far

View Henri Monnier's profile

Henri Monnier

51 posts in 2713 days

#1 posted 06-12-2020 04:13 PM

I use a ridgid 16 gal, 6.5 hp, all metal base. had it for a while, filters widely available. Works great..

-- |~ Henrii~|- - We'll be friends till we're old and senile... Then we'll be new friends!!

View BlasterStumps's profile


1786 posts in 1286 days

#2 posted 06-12-2020 04:18 PM

I have a Ridgid 14 gal. I think it says 6 hp on it not that that means much. Anyway, I have used the heck out of it and it still works fine. I have had it for over three years now. You will get lots of recommendations but one thing I can say that is good about this vac is that I do not get the static charge like I used to with my Craftsman. I don’t know if it is the hose or the combo of hose and vac but no static buildup. I also built a cart and added a cyclone to it. That was a really good investment in my opinion. I also put a good filter in it. I would not recommend sucking up drywall dust unless you are prepared to clean it really well afterwards. I even had to replace my filter after doing that.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

View sansoo22's profile


1125 posts in 501 days

#3 posted 06-12-2020 04:38 PM

Im in the Ridgid club as well. I have a 14 gal, 10 gal steel container, and a small 4.5 gal. I gave away an old 16 gal that could also be a leaf blower that I had for 9 yrs and it was still running strong. You can’t go wrong with a Ridgid in my opinion. The 14 and 16 gal sizes come on sale quite frequently. I think i paid $89 bucks for the 14 gal we use for general clean up around the yard and on home improvement projects.

View Walker's profile


397 posts in 1318 days

#4 posted 06-12-2020 04:38 PM

Another vote for Ridgid vacs. They’ve been around a long time and don’t appear to be going anywhere. Lot’s of accessories available including upgraded filters, exhaust silencer, and car attachments. After I built a Thien baffle for mine, I put one of the high grade filters in it. Haven’t had a drop of sawdust in it since.

-- ~Walker

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6413 posts in 3340 days

#5 posted 06-12-2020 04:44 PM

Given your description, I’d suggest the Rigid…with a caution. You should use drywall bags when doing drywall. Most vacs use the air they suck for cooling the motor as well (Fein is one exception, and there may be others…but not many). You can get a filter that will capture drywall dust, but ti will clog PDQ. So use the bags.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View MrUnix's profile


8211 posts in 3045 days

#6 posted 06-12-2020 04:44 PM

Unfortunately, all of the current machines out there will not have had enough time to really prove themselves – so what you are generally left with is a bunch of recommendations based on older models. As we all know, quality hasn’t exactly been increasing over the last few years! A few decades ago, I had a Craftsman that start shooting sparks out the top when turned on – that was interesting. Anyway, I bought a Shop-Vac (the brand) shop-vac something like 10 or more years ago. Figured that they were the original and had a reputation to keep, and i haven’t been disappointed yet. Mine is a 14gal plastic (not metal) model, which I got because I do use it as a wet-vac every now and then and did not want to worry about rusting out the bucket. I also wanted to be able to pick it up and transport, and the 14gal seemed just about the right size before getting to big to handle. YMMV


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View LesB's profile


2598 posts in 4289 days

#7 posted 06-12-2020 05:01 PM

For the money it is hard to beat the Rigid. One negative is the price of filters. They range from a basic filter to the hepa type. Good news is you can clean them with an air compressor or in necessary washing and let dry.

-- Les B, Oregon

View JAAune's profile


1885 posts in 3163 days

#8 posted 06-12-2020 06:11 PM

We used to run two WD1851 Rigid vacs for CNC dust collection and they held up well. It took a couple years to burn them up and that included many 8 hour sessions. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got 1000 hours of use on each one.

The average woodworker should get decades of use out of a WD1851. They are quieter than the older Shop Vacs and pull as much air as any other vacuum I’ve used (Fein, Craftsman, Shop Vac, Festool).

-- See my work at

View Woodknack's profile


13470 posts in 3226 days

#9 posted 06-12-2020 06:12 PM

Ridgid here too. I’ve owned a couple Shop-Vac brand and they didn’t last long so I switched to Ridgid and so far so good after a couple years. I have a neighbor who owns a dozen or so Craftsman shop vacs, the $100 ones, and he swears by them but I have no personal experience with them.

-- Rick M,

View therealSteveN's profile


6228 posts in 1420 days

#10 posted 06-12-2020 06:30 PM

I’ve got a Fein TurboII that I use in the shop, but they are spendy.

More recently I needed a vac for just the miter saw, and wanted to leave it in place. On the suggestion made by an LJ I bought one of these, and have been pleasantly surprised with power/suction, the attachments were sparse, so I had to make something up, but with a Small dust cyclone it’s kicking butt, and taking names. Because of the dust cyclone the filter is clean as it was new, and nothing of mention makes it to the bucket. So far it’s had a steady diet of miter saw dust, and sanding dust, with a few times behind my DeWalt track saw. Lovin it. I got it at Sams club, so it was some cheaper than the Home Depot price. IIRC under 75 bux.

Also a mention. If you have a WoodCraft STORE you can get to, they are 15% off right now, not sure of how long that will be. I don’t think the 15% flies online. But online they are 89 bux, which is about as low as I see them.

No matter what vac you end up getting, add the DD to it, it will extend the life, and over a few years time, you would spend 89 bux on filters.

-- Think safe, be safe

View EarlS's profile


3934 posts in 3194 days

#11 posted 06-12-2020 06:47 PM

Rigid, stay away for the Shop -Vac brand. I had a Rigid that finally died after I had it for untold years. There was a sale on Shop Vac at the local Menards. It has been a disappointment in every way, to say the least.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View jonah's profile


2124 posts in 4145 days

#12 posted 06-12-2020 06:50 PM

I had a Ridgid that lasted me about ten years, which is good.

I replaced it a couple years ago with a similar-sized (I think 16 gallon?) Craftsman that’s essentially a Ridgid (they take the same filters). I replaced the filter with the Cleanstream one, which I like a lot. I attached a dust deputy to that vac, and I love it.

I also have a Shop Vac brand one with a 1.25” hose that I absolutely loathe. I leave it near my workbench and use it for sanding only.

The motor attaches to the top of the bucket in the dumbest possible way, such that you carry the thing and only the little plastic clips keep the bucket attached. The handle is on the goddammed top, so the slightest bump can mean the bucket drops off and you have a mess everywhere. If that thing hadn’t been a steal (maybe $40 I think) I’d throw it in the trash.

Don’t get anything with a small hose.

View bondogaposis's profile


5837 posts in 3197 days

#13 posted 06-12-2020 06:53 PM

I had a Shop Vac, when the switch went out after a few years I switched to a Rigid and it has work well so far.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View tyvekboy's profile


2045 posts in 3859 days

#14 posted 06-13-2020 01:05 AM

I also second Rigid vacuums. I usually wait till christmas when the ones with 2.5” hoses go on sale.

For the sheetrock dust, might might want to use (or make) a vacuum wet scrubber (aka WATER FILTER). Search for DIY WET SCRUBBER and you’ll get the idea of how to make one.

Hope this helps.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View crowie's profile


3897 posts in 2797 days

#15 posted 06-13-2020 01:05 AM

Dust collection is about air volume along with air speed, so while I can’t help on specific brands and models in the USA may I encourage you to buy a unit with a big electric motor and a large diameter suction hose. Also as was suggested above put a prefilter like a Dust Deputy in the front of the machine, well worth it saving the internal filter.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

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