Author Topic: Which CTM 36 E model should I get and which bags and filters? New user.  (Read 1067 times)

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Offline oakpigeon

  • Posts: 2
Hi there, Festool! 



I do mainly fine detail woodworking (70% of usage) and to a lesser extent fine detail stoneworking - both of which produce tons of fine dust. After watching some youtube videos and reading online, I decided to get one of the Festool dust extractors. However I'd like some advice on which one would suit me the best.

The selection is making my head spin :) This is like a whole new world to me.

In addition to the pre-separator which I'm going to get CT-VA-20, some people I've talked to suggest getting the CTM 36 E because it's supposedly better for woodworking, others suggest CTM 36 E AC which is supposedly as good for woodworking and better in other areas. I'm ok with paying 100 € more for the AC version if it would benefit me overall (my old vacuum broke, so this would be my only vacuum).

1. Can CTM 36 E AC be used for dust collection in woodworking well?

2. Should I pick CTM 36 E AC or CTM 36 E or something else? Please explain why suggest that model briefly - I'd like to understand the reasoning.

3. What other accessories should I get (like what kind of bags for fine wood dust), any other bags I should get, which filters? Again, mainly woodworking and some stonework, fine dust mostly and general dust.




All the best to you :)

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Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 1089
I have both CT36 models. If doing stone work that produces dust buy the AC model. Then purchase the Hepa filter and bags for the regular CT36. I'd also recommend the wet filter too. This gives you the best of both worlds. The AC function can be turned off for regular use as the Hepa filter can't handle the thumper.

Of note the AC may come with the Planex hose? I would recommend owning a 27mm hose and a 36mm hose. For the 36mm hose a 5 meter length minimum is good to have.

Of note it is also good to put your country of origin in so folks can better assist you :)

Online Chainring

  • Posts: 58
All of the Festool dust extractors are good for woodworking. It comes down to capacity and the type of dust you're creating. And, I think you folks across the pond need to have the right certifications if you're using the equipment in a professional capacity. Think: onsite inspectors kind of thing.

It's basically the following.
L
M
H
AC: forced reverse flow through the vac filter to clean it when working with fine dust like drywall, silica, etc...

Here's some some links that can explain way better than I.
https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/festool-tools-accessories/dust-extraction-l-class-vs-m-class/
https://www.spv.nz/dust-classes/

A cyclone will greatly reduce how much capacity you need in the vac and how many bags you go through. Expensive on the initial purchase. Probably a big cost savings in the long run, depending how much use it gets.

Online Chainring

  • Posts: 58
@Peter_C
The AC can now work with HEPA filters, but I believe it has to be filters that were designed for the AC models/function. I have the 48 AC and it's HEPA certified.

However, I believe oakpigeon is not in the US, so HEPA filters won't be a term used over there.

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 1089
Yeah I have read they are now Hepa certified, but I haven't researched it. I swap filters on my older AC model depending on whether I am cutting/grinding concrete, doing drywall work, or if wood working I change to the Hepa filter, while turning the thumper function off. My AC filter is pretty porous, and not one I like to use indoors for health reasons, unless doing drywall of course.

Offline Cypren

  • Posts: 139
Oakpigeon, a couple of things to be aware of before you buy the CT-VA 20: first, if you use it with the 36mm hose to connect to larger tools (the kind that generate the most chips, where you're most likely to want the separator), you take a very sizable hit to the suction/airflow of the vacuum: around 25-30% according to my measurements with an anemometer. The 27mm hose isn't affected nearly as badly and only takes about a 12% hit to efficiency.

This is actually noticeable in practice, not merely a nerd nitpick; there are other cyclone separators out there that don't impose such a big hit on efficiency you could choose instead. However, what Festool got by sacrificing efficiency was a compact unit with an enormous storage capacity for its size, and which doesn't impede your ability to rack more systainers on top of your vacuum and use it as a rolling cart. Different buyers will weigh that tradeoff more or less heavily; for me, it wasn't enough to either return the VA 20 or buy a different cyclone. I just connect the hose directly to the vacuum and bypass the cyclone when I need better collection than it can give me.

The other thing to note is that if most of what you do involves fine dust (such as sanding), as you mentioned earlier, the cyclone won't help you very much. Its purpose is to collect larger chips and particles, the ones that will fall to the bottom of the container, not the ones that will get blown around in the airstream. Most of the finer dust will get sucked through into the vacuum bag regardless. That may or may not influence your purchasing decision.

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 7473
The other thing to note is that if most of what you do involves fine dust (such as sanding), as you mentioned earlier, the cyclone won't help you very much. Its purpose is to collect larger chips and particles, the ones that will fall to the bottom of the container, not the ones that will get blown around in the airstream. Most of the finer dust will get sucked through into the vacuum bag regardless. That may or may not influence your purchasing decision.

I can't speak for the Festool cyclone, but my own cyclone takes fine dust just fine. Some dust does go through to the bag, but the cyclone still catches a very large part.

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 689
I have the CTM26 AC which I bought a few years ago, the 36 version is just the same unit with a bigger container.
Personally for site use I wouldnt want it to be any bigger because it's a bit of a lump to be carting up a d down stairs.
If I'm working somewhere I can set up a bit of a base and do all my cuts in there its great but if I'm doing quick jobs then moving onto another area, up and down stairs and so on its a bit of a faff.

Class M is now pretty much a requirement on any decent (UK ) building site, yeah I know the bags are the same blah blah blah and that additional low flow alarm beeper costs a lot more  but it would seema shame to buy a CTL then a year down the line not be able to use it on site cos its not M class.
Currently there seem to be a few people getting away with some right shonky extractors on site and I expect that to be stomped on from a great height over the next few years as the safety inspectors get their eye in better and know a bit about whats good and whats just a bit of a joke.

As for my AC function? I only really got that as a just in case function and doing site carpentry I never use it so can't really comment

Offline oakpigeon

  • Posts: 2
Of note it is also good to put your country of origin in so folks can better assist you :)
Hi there. Thank you for the replies everyone.

I live in Estonia. This seems to be the Estonian site https://www.festool.ee/accessory?mainChapter=ce431f61-d722-1b55-09a7-d645aff1d9e5&excludeInactiveProducts=False

It's very encouraging to hear such firsthand experiences and insight about this product line. If you have any ideas about the questions I posted in the first post, I'd very very thankful

1. Can CTM 36 E AC be used for dust collection in woodworking well?

2. Should I pick CTM 36 E AC or CTM 36 E or something else? Please explain why suggest that model briefly - I'd like to understand the reasoning.

3. What other accessories should I get (like what kind of bags for fine wood dust), any other bags I should get, which filters? Again, mainly woodworking and some stonework, fine dust mostly and general dust.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 12:07 PM by oakpigeon »

Offline Vondawg

  • Posts: 417
The FOGs search is very good, if you type in ctm 36 vac, nearly 20 posts come up.
YT videos will help too…like said the 36 holds the most but if you’re getting the ct va-20 seems a smaller one would work…they all have the same suction. You say “mostly fine dust” …no problem…planer, jointer, tablesaw are better suited to a dust collection system…again the search is your friend
There are no mistakes....just new designs.

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 7473
Since you're getting the cyclone, forget about the 36 but get the 26, you'll have plenty of storage room like that.

And as you mostly want to do woodworking, the AC model is not needed, just get the standard E which is good enough.

The only other accessory you need is a good cleaning set with a 36 mm hose, the 27 mm hose that comes standard with the vacs is not that good for cleaning, suction is lower, and it clogs all the time at the nozzle.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 04:02 PM by Alex »

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 43
1. Can CTM 36 E AC be used for dust collection in woodworking well?

2. Should I pick CTM 36 E AC or CTM 36 E or something else? Please explain why suggest that model briefly - I'd like to understand the reasoning.

3. What other accessories should I get (like what kind of bags for fine wood dust), any other bags I should get, which filters? Again, mainly woodworking and some stonework, fine dust mostly and general dust.


Greetings from the UK. Let me give you some explanation regarding the different models - these points should also help you understand the machines better, and will answer your questions above;

CTL36 - the standard L-Class extractor. It's excellent in every way. I'm a professional carpenter/joiner working mostly on ancient buildings. Some times I'm cutting/routing/planing/sanding for 30+ hours in one week - and also, just like you, I sometimes work with mineral materials such as alabaster, quartz and granite. I have used one for many, many years. It's been 100% reliable and I've never had any problems with it. Festool extractors are expensive - but they are top-quality machines giving top-quality performance.

CTM36 - the M-Class version. This also has a sensor built into the machine which monitors the airflow, and in the event of a full bag or a clogged filter, it will sound an alarm. Apart from that - it's identical to the L-Class machine. The bags and filters are exactly the same.

CTM36AC - the M-Class version as above, but also with the addition of the Auto-Clean function. This version adds an automatic filter cleaning system - the filter is periodically 'banged' or shaken mechanically to remove dust. It operates automatically during normal use, but you can also activate it manually to clean the filter at the end of a working day, for example.

Any of the above machines can be used for any type of extraction, including wood and mineral dust. The standard filters and vacuum bags supplied with each new machine are perfectly adequate for all the applications you describe. There is no need to use anything else.

You have said that you also plan to buy the CT-VA-20 cyclone pre-separator. This totally changes the game. It did it for me, and it also has done for many other users who generate very large volumes of dust on a daily basis. It's a mechanical cyclone separator fitted into a Systainer which spins the dust-laden air at high speed, forcing the heavier dust particles to separate out into a plastic bin. The CT-VA-20 sits on top of the extractor and effectively becomes part of it. So with the cyclone being used - between 80-95% of the material you are sucking up will never reach the extractor's vacuum bag or the filter. To give you an example of how effective it is - my decision to buy a CT-VA-20 was made when I completed my annual accounts, and realised that I'd spent £280 on Festool vacuum bags in just one year. I installed the separator three months ago, I've done a heck of a lot of work in that time ........... and the extractor's vacuum bag is still only one-quarter full. Also - my dust filter is almost completely clean.

My advice would therefore be;

1 With the pre-separator, I don't think you need anything as big as a CTL/CTM36. I think a CTL/CTM26 would easily be big enough for you. It's 100% the same machine with identical performance, but with a 26-litre capacity instead of a 36-litre one. It's easier to move around, it costs less - so you'll have more money left to spend on Saku, A. Le Coq, and girls. This is based on my experience described above - the CT-VA-20 is so good at its job, there's very little dust reaching the actual extractor. So why buy a big machine with a huge bag?

2 CTL or CTM ?? I would advise you to get the M-Class CTM26. The main reason for this is that M-Class extractors are now mandatory on UK construction sites, and I think it's only a matter of time before Europe/Eastern Europe moves in the same direction. I therefore think that an M-Class machine would be a good future-proof choice.

3 AC or not? I personally don't think the AC function is that important, but it's your budget and therefore totally your decision. I have managed to survive without it for almost 40 years as a professional woodworker. To me - it's just something else to break down and give me a big repair bill in the future. Keep it simple.

4 The only accessories I would recommend are the metal handle (Festool item number 495802). This is a great addition, and means you can push your extractor around like a shopping cart. It makes life much easier. Also - one of the cleaning sets (vacuum pipes, floor nozzle etc.) make cleaning up after your day's work very easy.

Whilst I was writing this - I just saw that Alex (he posted right post above) is recommending exactly the same as me. I'm pretty new here - but that guy has made almost 7,400 posts. He knows his Festool stuff.

I hope the above helps you to make your choice. Enjoy your new machine  [smile]

Best wishes.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 07:05 PM by woodbutcherbower »

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 43
The other thing to note is that if most of what you do involves fine dust (such as sanding), as you mentioned earlier, the cyclone won't help you very much. Its purpose is to collect larger chips and particles, the ones that will fall to the bottom of the container, not the ones that will get blown around in the airstream. Most of the finer dust will get sucked through into the vacuum bag regardless. That may or may not influence your purchasing decision.

I can't speak for the Festool cyclone, but my own cyclone takes fine dust just fine. Some dust does go through to the bag, but the cyclone still catches a very large part.

I totally agree with this. Having half-filled my (then-new) CT-VA bin a few months ago when I first bought it, and having experimentally poured out the contents onto the floor to see exactly what was in there and what the cyclone was actually pulling out of the airstream, I was hugely impressed at how fine most of the particulate was. Routing/planing chips are a given, but I knew a s**tload of sanding dust was in there as well - because I'd been sanding kiln-dried sapele, rosewood and walnut for three days. Dust doesn't get much redder or browner than that - and there was piles of the stuff in there. A bit more experimentation showed that dropping the extractor's speed control to minimum (as Festool intended) increased the size of this sanding pile even further - something to do with the lower airflow speed helping the material to drop out more easily, I guess ? Using a freshly cleaned-out CT-VA bin and my Mirka Deros wielding 120-grit Abranet, I generated enough oak dust in a few minutes to make up a decent batch of superbly fine dust-and-resin filler. Brilliant.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 06:18 PM by woodbutcherbower »

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 1089
I do mainly fine detail woodworking (70% of usage) and to a lesser extent fine detail stoneworking - both of which produce tons of fine dust.
Re-reading your line quoted above get the AC unit for the 30% of stone dust. The AC does everything the regular CT36 does, but the regular CT36 doesn't offer the thumper on the filter. I am about the same at 70% wood dust to 30% stone/concrete, it seems like lately.

I used my CT36 AC for grinding my garage floor over a couple of days earlier this year and was ecstatic to have it available. About to start cutting out stucco next week for replacement windows with a diamond blade which makes a dust storm. The CT36 AC would be my only choice if I could only have one dust collector. My first was the regular CT36 though, and the AC followed. I do use both though.