The Festool CT SYS is a portable dust extractor with full HEPA certification aimed at remodelers and painters. Unlike your typical R2D2- or BB-8–like roll-around dust extractor, the CT SYS is designed for ultimate portability. It features an integrated shoulder strap, built-in carrying handle, as well as the cord and hose “garage” that is on all of Festool’s dust extractors. I tested it out on various jobs including interior trim prep, built-in construction, window restoration, and some drywall work, as well. I found the dust extractor to be way more powerful than you’d expect given its compact design.
The first time that I used the CT SYS was when cutting sheets of birch plywood with my DeWalt track saw. I’d previously used a 4 gal portable Ridgid model with this saw, and it worked sufficiently. I upgraded the hose on the Ridgid and found that it performed well. But the hose is still bulky and hard to manage, and having to switch the vac on and then run the saw is a bit of a hassle. With a CFM rating of 110, I thought it would outperform the Festool, which has a CFM rating of 106, but it didn’t. The Festool kept up with the dust as I cut, even when gang cutting two sheets of plywood. I liked the weight and flexibility of the hose a lot. And at nearly 10-ft. I found it easy to manage as I cut. It didn’t do an amazing job capturing MDF dust in this setup. I don’t cut MDF that often, so it’s not a huge detraction for me, but it could be a real detriment if you do a lot of site-made casework with MDF.
Next I hooked the dust extractor up to my Bosch random orbit sander to strip some old windows and it kept up nicely. I can’t quantify the amount of dust-in vs. dust left behind, but I can say that there wasn’t any noticeable dust in the air as I sanded. This gave me enough confidence to use the vac and sander to prep interior trim that needed repainting. I really appreciated being able to carry the vac over my shoulder as I worked around the room here. That said, I was disappointed that the shoulder strap clips gave way when mounted to the side of the unit and the extractor slammed to the floor when I hopped off of a stool. There are mounts within the hose / cord “garage”, but I preferred working in this setup without that attached to the unit because of its added weight. The strap and unit interface on the side of the extractor could use some attention – some way to make a stronger connection. The unit might sustain the blow of a 3-ft. drop, but not necessarily from higher up a ladder. Then there’s the surface it lands on to consider. I was fortunate that neither the extractor nor the floor had any issues from the fall.
Just for grins, Myron Ferguson and I hooked the dust extractor up to his Radius 360 sander and we were both impressed with how the CT SYS performed. The Radius 360 isn’t a power sander, and we had to add an extension to the unit so it really put the CT SYS to the test. It captured a majority of the dust, though left some in the hose. It’s not the best scenario for the unit given the size of the dust well and bag, but in a pinch and for small areas it works fine.
I like the compact design and power that the unit provides. It does a good job catching fine dust when sanding and sawing with a jig saw or track saw. When connected to Festool's HKC-55 the unit did an incredible job extracting dust from Versatex - a product that creates ample amounts of super fine dust. I was disappointed by the shoulder-strap interface, and found the cord hookup a little awkward to maneuver; I wish the CT SYS featured Plug-it technology. The hose / cord “garage” is a nice built-in feature, and the Systainer integration capability is excellent if you are already invested in the Systainer system. My favorite feature of the dust extractor is the hose because of its weight, length, and flexibility. And, relatively speaking, it’s pretty quiet for a vacuum. All of that said, the $375 price tag is hard to swallow even if it is powerful and extremely portable. If you have a fair amount of Festool products, the Systainer functionality might be worth the price alone to you and it's engineered to work with other Festool tools, which it illustrated nicely on the HK-55 saw that I was using. However, I might be inclined to buy a similar type unit for a third the price and upgrade it with the Festool hose ($110) if budget were a concern.
Anti-static suction hose 1-1/16" x 9.8'
Depth x Width x Height 15-9/16” x 11-5/8” x 10-5/8”
Max. Suction Capacity 106 CFM
Maximum Vacuum 80” static water lift
Noise (Sound Level) 67 dBA
Power Consumption 1000 watts, 8.3 amps 120 V AC
Power Cord Length 16’
Product Weight 15.2 lbs
Country of Origin Germany
Cost $375 (includes Anti-static hose, (1) HEPA filter, (1) disposable filter bag)