TESTED: Festool CT-VA-20 Cyclone System

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Words and photos: Raf Nathan 

What is the most used power tool in my and maybe your workshop? Actually it’s the portable dust extractor – used whenever I am on any other power tool like the drop saw, sander or router. So this makes it a real workhorse and a critical tool – and it is worth getting a good one.

Most major power tool makers have at least one extractor model to suit woodworkers’ needs. There are three class ratings for extraction and filtering – L is low risk suitable for pine and similar, M is medium risk for hardwoods, and H is high risk being for silica, asbestos and lead. For general woodwork an M rating is usually a good pick to shield you from woods which are possibly irritants.

Most extractors have an internal bin with a removable inner bag. When full, the bag is sealed and disposed of, or you can just empty the bag and re-use it. The bags can however be costly over time if you run a busy shop. Many of these power extractors you can also run without an internal bag and just let the bin collect the waste.


There is a way to make these portable extractors work better by adding on a small cyclone to increase its efficiency immensely. A cyclone has a cone inside to create air force that makes the larger wood shavings and dust fall down into the bin, whilst the very fine particles pass on into the original internal bag. The bulk of the waste collects in the large bin which is emptied as needed. A plastic liner makes it easier to empty. If you can, dump your organic ‘shavings’ in the earth. Because this is so efficient you will only occasionally need to empty the original bag. In fact, once every six months is often enough.

For many years I have used an Oneida Dust Deputy mini cyclone on my extractor. It has been a great workshop addition as it has a large bin to collect shavings and works well. It was not quite the right model for my extractor, but I made a few small mods and it has been a workhorse for all these years despite sometimes falling off. Oneida do however make a a new design mini cyclone that attaches to the side of an extractor.

However Festool now have their own cyclone designed to fit their extractors. Despite being stated to only fit the larger Festool extractors the CT-VA-20 slotted straight onto my smaller CT midi machine. I just needed to feed the main inlet under the handle back into the lower extraction point, whilst the hose from my power tools fixes to the top front inlet.

The design is an elegant solution with the cyclone fully enclosed and the clear plastic middle section showing how much waste has been collected. A plastic liner is fitted into the large collection bin which holds 20 litres. The unit is securely fastened to your extractor with the systainer hooks and is a small compact size weighing 7kg.

It is easy to access for emptying waste, although I paused to note that the whole design and build of the unit is all high tech, and yet the hold-down straps that keep it all together are two simple velcro straps...

I like the unit a lot with its seamless fit, practical operation and improved performance for my most used power tool. I highly recommend you consider an upgrade like this for your extractor.

Review tool supplied by Euro Tool Technic, available from Festool retailers nationwide.

Raf Nathan @treeman777 is a Brisbane based wood designer and maker.

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