Don’t call it a shop-vacuum. Festool’s CT 22 E—officially called a dust extractor--is more. I call it one heck of a versatile vac.
I love fine tools, but really don’t care about finery when a jobsite is covered with demo debris. I care about getting the floor and horizontal surfaces clean. Gratefully, the CT 22 E shows no quarter in this regard. The CT 22E devours all the dust, plaster chunks, pieces of wire—whatever my push broom misses. You can feel and hear it sucked through the hose and smash the inside of the 5.7 gallon tank. Cool.
This is not a suck-the-paint-off-the-floor deal that looks like R2D2. While those tools might have bigger gobble power, they’re loud and seriously annoying to me. Festool’s machine operates much more quietly; my ears say thanks.
A must-have feature for me is the CT 22 E’s tool trigger. I can plug a tool into the vac’s on-board outlet then plug the vac into the wall. When I activate the tool, the vac springs to life, inhaling dust through a hose between the tool and vac port. When I deactivate the tool, the vac shuts off a few seconds later, ensuring that debris in the hose gets sucked into the vac. I don’t use this every day, but when I do, I love it. It’s as ideal a companion for sanding as you can imagine—and I put the extractor to the test using this feature.
I sanded floors, stairs, and thresholds and I was floored (pun intended!). The unit sublimely inhaled the dust you feel in your throat and nose if you forget your dust mask.
I tried the feature with my Brand X miter saw with less luck. It wasn’t the vacuum’s fault--the saw wasn’t optimized for great dust collection—but I raise the point in case you (like me) get fired up to contain all that sawdust.
Festool’s tools, on the other hand, are dialed in for dust collection. I’ve seen them in action and dust from those tools is enormously contained—what a great feature for working in occupied homes.
Festool is passionate about their systems approach to tool design—and good at it. The R2D2 vacs with a bazillion wheel hubs, inflexible hoses and attachments are (to put it mildly) infuriating to use, store and operate. They’re tough to move through a site. You can’t put anything on top of them. They don’t contain their hose and nozzles nicely. Result: disorganization. To me, disorganization costs time and cash.
The CT 22 E is efficiently designed. It’s a low-riding cube-shape with large wheels that roll smoothly. A flat top means you can put things on top. On my jobsites I can probably find everything from safety glasses and saw blades to my coffee. Its low center of gravity enables me to yank the unit over gun hoses, cords and a little rubble without tipping. The inset top-handle makes carrying and rolling it easier. Thank you, Festool.
The unit uses Festool’s Systainer storage boxes—I love these not only for vacs but for other tools. Instead of nozzles being stuffed and tangled around the body of a round tool, they go in a box with a lid that closes. Wow! How simple. How smart. That the box actually attaches to the vac is even better. Mine’s on permanently.
For me, the Systainer handle doubles as my cord wrap. It’s easier than using the tool’s cord wrap (which works, but I don’t love it.) This means I can carry the entire vac—stuff included—through the house. I can’t say that for any other vac I’ve used. What a time saver!
Festool’s accessories make using the vac furlongs better than other accessories I’ve used. It has awesome paper vacuum bags. For bulk containment, Festool has a reusable bag which works perfectly for 90% of the work I sick the CT 22 E on. Bags spare the HEPA filters all the mung that flies around inside the tank. I expected the paper to tear but with load after load of sharp plaster, framing nails, screws and whatever, I didn’t find a single hole. Emptying the bags is easier than dumping the tank, too.
The filters are great and stand up to the mung without a bag. I clean mine out periodically either by banging them out or with compressed air.
The crevice tool is handy but I didn’t use the brushes. I wish the vac head was bigger because the machine has the power to suck up bigger chunks than the head lets pass.
Festool’s CT 22 E has muscle a-plenty for big bore suck-it stuff and has the refinements to work with other tools. And it can do this while not driving you insane moving, storing, or listening to it howl. It’s easily at home in a well-organized truck, van, shop or jobsite (I have it on a site as I type this). Smart design with big power combines to create great tools.
I got an email from a reader about his Festool stuff. He said that the craftsman in him loved Festool but that his wallet feels the up-front investment. He’s right - it’s not cheap stuff. Nevertheless, this is an investment and in the final analysis, performance and price go hand in hand with the CT 22 E. You won’t be disappointed.
About The Author.
Mark Clement is a remodeler and author of The Carpenter’s Notebook and Kid’s Carpenter’s Workbook, Fun Family Projects!