Best Shop Vac for Woodworking

Top 7 Best Shop Vac for Woodworking

Woodworking can be a messy affair, from sawdust, large wood particles, and other kinds of debris. And not every vacuum cleaner is able to handle such a challenge. For this kind of cleaning task, you need the best shop vac for woodworking 

Shop vacs are powerful and large with some being powered by 4 HP engines and offering a 14-gallon tank capacity. With this kind of power and capacity, they are able to suck up all kinds of debris left behind after a woodworking project. 

Like any other power tool, there are a ton of shop vacs out there, and finding the right one is not always easy. So what is the best shop vac for woodworking? In this article, we have compiled a list of the seven best shop vacs.

In addition, we have put together a buying guide to help you make an informed decision next time you go shopping for a shop vac. 

For our top pick, we choose the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595. The latter is the most powerful on the list and can handle more demanding tasks. At the number two position, we have the DeWALT DXV09P, which came close to matching the Craftsman.

The other entrants on our list are worth a look at, though.

Our Top 7 Shop Vac Picks

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac

Giving the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 shop vac the number one spot on our list was a no brainer. It is a heavy-duty vac capable of cleaning all manner of messes from leaves, dust, to tree twigs.

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac

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Its motor’s peak power is 6.5 HP is one of the most impressive. It is the main reason this vac is able to handle cleaning all kinds of messes. The 7 ft hose is sufficiently long and is a dual-flex giving you 180 degrees flexibility.

This gives you more maneuverability especially when you need to clean hard to reach or tight spaces. We cannot also forget the tank capacity, which stands at 16 gallons. This is quite generous compared to what you get from other models.

There is also the inclusion of an oversized drain. This drain makes it easy to drain out liquids after cleaning up a wet mess. Ooh, and did we also mention it can handle both wet and dry messes. 

What we liked

  • Comes with onboard storage for the hose
  • It is a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner with a 6.5 horsepower motor
  • Is a versatile cleaner with dry and wet cleanup capabilities and a blower port
  • There is a drain for emptying the liquids
  • Comes with several accessories included

What we did not like

  • It tends to heat up when in use creating a bad smell
  • The dust bag that lines the canister is not all that useful


  • 6.5 horsepower
  • 2.5-inch diameter hose
  • Two extension wands
  • Quick-lock filter
  • Blower port built-in


This is a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner capable of handling a wide array of cleaning tasks. It has a powerful motor, and it’s the kind of cleaner you get for more demanding work. 

DeWALT DXV09P 9 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

If you are looking for something a bit more mid-sized then you may want to check out the Dewalt DXV09P. The latter is smaller than most shop vacs and thus will not take up a lot of floor space. But what else do you get from this diminutive shop vac?

DeWALT DXV09P 9 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

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With its 9 gallon canister, it is a mid-size cleaner. As such, it offers sufficient capacity without being too large as to take up too much space. It is, therefore, an ideal choice for most shops and garages.

The five hp motor on this model is a bit smaller compared to that of other cleaners. However, it does manage to suck up a respectable 90 CFM. Also, it is capable of up to 70 inches of water lift.

As such, it can handle both dry and wet suction. At the base, it has 360 degrees rotating caster wheels. This makes it easy to move around, especially in tight spaces.

What we liked

  • Does not take up too much space
  • Has good cord and hose management with the cord wrapping nicely around the handle
  • The unit has a great build quality
  • Its 360 degrees rotating canister wheels make it easy to move
  • Is a versatile tool capable of both wet and dry vacuuming

What we did not like

  • The electric cord is a bit short
  • There is nowhere to wrap around the big hose


  • 5 Hp motor
  • 9-gallon canister
  • 360 degrees rotating wheels
  • 90 CFM max
  • 7-inch long hose
  • 70-inch water lift


This is perfect for someone looking for a vacuum with good suction power, but that is not too big. This model will not take up too much of your space. Also, it is easy to move around and use.

Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Stanley has quite a selection of shop vacuum cleaners. The one that picked our interest though, was the SL18115 5 Gallon wet dry vacuum cleaner. There is a lot you can do with this cleaner, which was one of the things we loved.

Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum, 4 Peak HP Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction

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In its description, it is described as a three-in-one. This is because you get three cleaning tools. You can use it to suction wet and dry debris as well as for blowing away dirt and debris. 

In terms of capacity, you get a capacity of 18.5 liters. This means you do not need to empty the bucket frequently, which is excellent. 

A powerful 4 Horsepower motor gives the machine enough suction power for a wide array of cleaning tasks. You can use it in your car, garage, workshop, and even home. This makes it a versatile piece of equipment to have.

What we liked

  • Has a powerful motor capable of different kinds of cleaning tasks
  • Comes with a large tank capacity that does not need frequent emptying
  • Features wheels at the base making it easy to move around
  • It is a versatile tool that can be used on both wet and dry cleanup
  • Has an impressive 15 ft of cleaning reach

What we did not like

  • You have to replace the bag for wet and dry clean up which can be a hassle
  • Is a bit louder than other models


  • 18.5 l capacity
  • 4 Horsepower motor
  • 10-foot power cord
  • 120 volts plug
  • Reusable dry filter


Like with any other tool, this one is not without its cons. However, it performs well and can be used in a wide array of settings. 

Bosch 9 Gallon Dust Extractor with Auto Filter Clean and HEPA Filter

The Bosch 9 Gallon dust extractor is one of those that combine performance with portability. With its 9 gallon tank, it is well within the small and medium canister range. However, it delivers excellent performance.

Bosch 9 Gallon Dust Extractor with Auto Filter Clean and HEPA Filter VAC090AH

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The first thing we liked about this tool was the automatic filter cleaning system. This is a system that uses reverse airflow to clean the filter. And the best part is that you can turn it off if you feel you don’t need it.

But the extractor’s best selling feature is the HEPA filter itself. This is capable of capturing about 99.9% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. 

Compared to other portable tools, this one has a decent 150 cubic feet of air per minute. You also get 97 in a static water lift. For easy storage of the cord, there is a cord wrap that keeps things organized.

What we liked

  • It comes with a HEPA approved filter
  • Comes with a cord wrap that helps keep things organized
  • There is an automatic filter cleaning system to ensure the filter is working optimally
  • This is a lightweight and portable extractor
  • Delivers excellent performance compared to other similar-sized units

What we did not like

  • It does not do well for concrete floor prep works
  • It is loud


  • 9-gallon canister
  • Automatic filter cleaning
  • HEPA filter
  • 150 CFM
  • Hose and cord wraps
  • Attachments onboard storage


For dealing with sawdust in your workshop produce by various types of saw, this is a great option. It performs better than most of its similarly sized counterparts.

Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

The Shop-Vac 5989300 vacuum cleaner falls under the small and medium-sized category of shop vacs. This means it offers portability and decent performance.

Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

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With its 5 gallon canister, this can handle most clean up tasks in garages and small shops. The canister is made from stainless steel, which guarantees its years of serving you.

For power, it is equipped with a 4.5 hp motor. Not the most powerful, but considering its size, it’s more than sufficient. It can handle both wet and dry cleanup, which makes it a versatile option.

Like most other vacuum cleaners on this list, you get several accessories included in the package. These include a 7-foot hose, three extension wands, a crevice tool, and a gulper nozzle.

What we liked

  • It is easy to move around and carry
  • Has a maximum airflow of 175 CFM which is impressive
  • Is a versatile cleaner capable of being used as a blower and for dry and wet cleanup
  • The stainless steel canister is durable
  • Comes with a selection of accessories included

What we did not like

  • The power cord is a bit too short
  • The user manual is confusing


  • 4.5 HP motor
  • 5-gallon stainless steel canister
  • 7-foot hose included
  • 120 volts plug
  • 175 CFM max airflow
  • 6 feet cord


As a portable unit, this vacuum cleaner is ideal for small shops and home use. It has decent power output and comes with a three-year warranty.

Vacmaster VBV1210, 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

The Vacmaster VBV1210 has one of the biggest tanks on the list at 12 gallons. But it’s big tank is not the only reason we chose to include it on our list.

Vacmaster VBV1210, 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum with Detachable Blower, Blue

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A 5 HP motor powers this vacuum cleaner. We found it to be sufficient for most ordinary house clean up tasks. It can handle cleaning hardwood flooring as well as thick carpet and furniture.

Another thing we loved about this unit is the auto shut off valve that lets you know when the tank needs emptying. Also, compared to other similar-sized products, this vacuum cleaner had a pretty powerful suction capability.

At the base, it comes with a set of wheels. These wheels are well designed and make it easy to maneuver whether in a garage or your workshop. Furthermore, you can use it as a detachable leaf blower.

What we liked

  • The motor is sufficient for most tasks
  • Has an auto-shutoff feature that lets you know when the tank is full
  • The wheelbase at the bottom give it balance and ease of maneuverability
  • Comes with extra accessories such as blower nozzles
  • It is a versatile unit that can be used for blowing leaves

What we did not like

  • The power cord could be longer
  • Swapping between wet and dry filter is not easy


  • 210 MPH detachable handheld blower
  • 5 HP motor
  • Large drain port
  • Crevice tool included
  • 12-gallon tank size


Overall, this is a great vacuum cleaner to have. It is priced at a reasonable price and comes with all the accessories you need for vacuum cleaning. 

Armor All, AA255, 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum 

Not all shop vacs are large and bulky. Some are built to be lightweight and portable. And the Armor All AA255 shop vac is one such model. It is considerably smaller and lighter than other shop vacs.

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Weighing 7 pounds, it is one of the most lightweight shop vacs on the market. Also, it has a tall and narrow build, making it great for squeezing into tight spaces. Thus, while it is a shop vac, you can also use it to clean your car.

Its small and lightweight build hides a surprisingly powerful 2 Horsepower motor. This is powerful enough for most applications.

But what made it stand out is the attachments it comes with. You get a six-foot cord, as well as three nozzles. It also comes with a crevice tool and a detail brush. 

What we liked

  • Compared to other shop vacs it is priced at a reasonably affordable price
  • Weighs less than other shop vacs
  • Is great for cleaning out thigh spaces thanks to its tall and narrow design
  • Comes with a decent selection of attachments
  • Thanks to its weight it is easy to carry

What we did not like

  • Compared to other models it is somewhat underpowered
  • Does not come with wheels


  • 2.5-gallon tank
  • 2 Horsepower motor
  • Wet and dry pick up
  • 7 pounds of weight
  • 10-foot power cord


It may not be as powerful as other shop vacs, but it is a great all-round tool. Also, it is hard to beat its price and portability. This is the perfect vac for anyone looking for a portable shop vac.

How To Select a Best Shop Vac for woodworking: A Detailed Buying guide

So what features did we use to select our top 7 best shop vacs? There are several features we considered, but the main ones were;

Hose length

The length of the hose dictates how much space you can clean. A short hose means you are only able to clean a small area at a time. For most home use and workshops, we recommend a hose length of at least 7 ft.

Motor power

Motors power shop vacs. These motors vary in power output, which is measured in horsepower. The more powerful a motor is, the more demanding cleaning tasks a vacuum cleaner can handle.

For most around the house, cleaning a 4 HP motor is sufficient. However, for heavy-duty work such as in a busy woodwork shop, more power is needed. A 6.5 horsepower is recommended for such an environment.

The tank capacity

How often do you empty the tank of a vacuum cleaner? This is a crucial point to consider. You do not want the disruption of having to empty the tank every other time when cleaning. The size of the container you opt will depend on your needs.

For most tasks, we recommend a tank capacity of 8 to 14 gallons. There are larger units that offer 14 to 18 gallons. Smaller models provide 6 to 8 gallons.

Suction performance

How well a vacuum cleaner can suck in dirt or debris is essential. The suction power you go with will also depend on your needs. This is usually measured in CFM or cubic feet per minute.

A higher CFM of 75 and above is recommended for dealing with debris generated in a workshop.

Noise level

This is a matter of comfort. Some units tend to be overly loud, which can be annoying. If you do not like the sound of vacuum cleaners, consider one with quiet operation. You can check the noise level of a model from reviews.

Included Accessories

The best shop vacs will often come with additional accessories. These accessories include a blower feature, and a built-in liquid pump can be useful. The types of accessories offered with a vacuum cleaner is another essential factor to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which shop vac is right for you?

This depends mainly on your needs. If you are working in a busy woodworking shop, a powerful unit with a 5HP motor or more will be ideal. However, for general home use, a more portable unit may be more appealing.

How to Use Shop Vac For Wet Collection?

To vacuum water, you need first to remove the filter in some models. Other models can perform wet Collection with the filter still on. Next, you will need to attach the water removal accessory to the hose and turn on the machine.

How to Use Shop Vac For dry Collection?

For dry Collection, there is no adjustment needed. The only thing you need to do is check whether the tank is empty. Attach the suction to the hose to suck up debris.


Shop vacs are handy tools to have. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of environments. They are usually more powerful than conventional home use vacuum cleaners. With the many options available, finding the right one will require some research.

We hope this article helps you find your next or first shop vacuum cleaner.

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