In Tools

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Tool: Makita VC4710

Manufacturer: Makita

Price: $529

Dust collection is a higher priority than ever before for most woodworkers. It’s not just about keeping the shop clean, of course. It’s about our health. We’re looking for a machine that will minimize our exposure to the most hazardous dust particles—the finest ones.

Good filtration isn’t enough, however. A machine that’s awkward to use or maintain will get parked in a corner and ignored, so we’re also looking for convenience. We want something that’s easy to roll around and hook up to a router or sander or whatever. We also want it to turn on automatically whenever the tool is operated. “Tool-actuated vacs” like these are a growing field, and we’re pleased to see a new entry from Makita: The XTract Vac.

Like most vacs in its class, the XTract employs pleated filters to collect and remove small dust particles. Of course, any vac’s power is compromised when the filters clog up, so manufacturers have come up with various strategies to keep them clean. The XTract cleans its filters automatically. Every few minutes or so, the vac sends a reverse pulse of airflow through the filters. A rocker valve isolates the pulses to one filter at a time, so that suction isn’t interrupted. The sound of this pulsing takes a little getting used to, however. The first few times, it made me jump!

Other features of the XTract are also user-friendly. It has variable suction, so you can dial down the vac’s power when you need to. The XTract’s capacity is pretty large (12 gallons), but its footprint is small, so it conserves floor space. It’s relatively quiet (59 DbA), weighs only 27 lbs. and, oh yes, it will collect water, too. It has a 24-ft. cord and a 16-ft. 1-1/2″ dia. hose, so you can travel a long ways without unplugging. I recommend buying an additional 1″ hose for hooking up to a portable power tool, like a sander. It’s more flexible and less bulky than the larger hose.

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