Tool review: Festool CT-VA-20 Cyclone/Pre-separator
Festool’s new CT-VA-20 Cyclone Dust Collection Pre-Separator, promises to cut down on the number of bags you have to buy
I’m a bit frugal, so I tend to overfill the dust bags for my Festool dust extractor until they are bursting at the seams. I’m sure the extractor’s performance isn’t improved when the bags get bogged down with dust and chips, and it may even compromise the lifespan of the unit. Hence the appeal of Festool’s new CT-VA-20 Cyclone Dust Collection Pre-Separator, which promises to cut down on the number of bags I have to buy and hopefully reduce the wear and tear on my extractor. The unit resembles a typical Festool Systainer and mounts directly to the top of the dust extractor. Assembly was straightforward and only took minutes.
The operating principle is simple: Dust and wood chips are pulled through the Cyclone, where large and small particles are separated. The larger bits fall into a reusable clear plastic bag, and the finer dust is sent on to your dust extractor. Since the larger bits take up a lot of volume, the idea is that your extractor’s expensive filter bags don’t fill up so fast.
To test the CT-VA-20, I started with a brand new filter bag in my extractor and sanded some cherry to produce fine dust particles. I then switched to my router and hogged out a bunch of sliding dovetails, which produced a large volume of big chips. The results were impressive. The plastic pre-filter bag was loaded with wood chips and large particle dust, while the filter bag contained only the finest particles of sanding dust and had lots of room to spare.
Festool’s product description states that the Cyclone is designed for use with its CT 26 E, 36 E, 48 E, and 36 AC extractors. I have a CT 22, and the Cyclone worked with it.
—Ray Finan, Vermont furniture maker
From Fine Woodworking #276