It’s not uncommon for a professional woodworker to shell out $400 or $500 for a top-quality shop vacuum. But for a weekend woodworker who’s still building a collection of machinery (that creates the need for a shop vacuum in the first place) spending that kind of money on a clean-up tool might not be in the picture. That’s why we were so happy to see the Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Vacuum. The new Turbo I is a smaller version of the highly-rated Fein Turbo II and Turbo III, but exhibits virtually no compromise in quality. And at around $230, it’s comparatively modest price brings the features and performance cherished by owners of really great shop vacuums in reach of more budget-conscious woodworking operations.
What sets vacuums in the Fein Turbo’s class apart from “economy” models? As with other woodworking tools - performance, durability and usefulness. Fein shop vacuums are consistently top-rated in independent testing in part because they are just better-built machines. They’re refreshingly free of the minor design and durability issues that plague many inexpensive vacuums. A Fein vacuum won’t come equipped with (or quickly develop) one or two errant casters that seems to be permanently pointed in the wrong direction.
The Fein Turbo I offers features you won’t find on a lesser vacuum, like an automatic switch designed to make dust extraction from a sander or other handheld power tool more convenient: You plug the tool into an outlet on the vacuum, and the vacuum turns on and off automatically along with the tool. The Fein Turbo I comes with a durable 5 micron cloth filter bag – as apposed to an inexpensive cartridge or a paper filter – and can be outfitted with an optional .3 micron HEPA filter, if you really want to get serious about fine dust. You also get 16′ of hose and 16′ of cord, which means that you can cover a lot of territory without having to change outlets or re-situate the vacuum.
These are all good reasons to treat yourself to a Fein vacuum, but we’re only just arriving at the most important points. When it comes to rating a shop vacuum, two considerations eclipse all others: debris collecting performance and noise output. On both counts, the Fein Turbo really shines.
The most telling indicator of the dust and debris collecting power of a shop vacuum is the amount static pressure that the motor and fan are capable of generating. Static pressure, as it is most often stated, is a measure of how far the vacuum will draw a vertical column of water upwards against the force of gravity. The Fein is rated to draw 90″ of water by the manufacturer. So, what does that mean? In Woodshop Dust Control, woodworking author Sandor Nagyszalanczy characterizes a “top-performing” vacuum as one that will draw in the neighborhood of 70″ of water or more. The Fein Turbo I is powerful enough to make general clean-up quick and efficient, and to give you virtually dust-free sanding.
For many people -especially those who’ve heard for themselves how quiet a shop vacuum can be – noise output ranks among the most important selection criteria. The Fein Turbo I proves that powerful vacuum performance doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with a powerful, howling noise. The Fein Turbo I is powered by a quiet and efficient two stage motor that actually makes significantly less noise than most vacuums. The Turbo I is rated by the manufacturer to produce a very agreeable 63dBA at a distance of 3-1/2 feet. For comparison, 60dBA is about the level of normal conversation. The 85-plus dBA measure not uncommon for many shop vacuums is roughly equivalent to standing on the median of a freeway during rush-hour.
Good design, useful features, durability, top of the scale power, and best of all, a quiet, efficient motor: When you add it all up, it’s easy to see why Fein Shop vacuums are worth every penny to so many woodworkers. And the Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Vacuum makes these professional-class qualities available in a home-shop sized package at a price geared toward the hobbyist’s a weekend woodworker’s budget.