John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

A Hurricane In Your Boat Shop

I have had a few “hurricanes” in my boat shop and they generally end about midnight. The hurricane I am talking about now is the one that comes in a fairly large canister and provides wind that sucks up all of the dirt you can find. Not just dirt either, it will pick up water or spilled liquid (but nothing flammable). You all know where I’m going but the ride should be fun! I am about to tell you some of my favorite Shop-Vac stories and about some great products they make.

It was just before December and I had been feeling puny for weeks and man did it snow. I was watching the snowfall and hoping the six-foot drift in the front yard would go away by itself. It did, the snow turned to rain and most of the snow was gone after a couple of days. That is when I went outside and discovered the custom cover on my sister’s boat had about a ton of water trapped on top of it. I knew I was in big trouble but the weather was still cold. There was a layer of ice over the water to top it all off. UH-OH! I tried to get the water out with my little jackrabbit pump but soon I realized it was going to take longer than the amount of time I had sunlight left in the day. The light bulb finally went on in my head…Duh! I have a wet dry vacuum that runs.

I started pumping and I could see the individual string on the seams of the cover (it was stretched that far). Luckily, I had a water pump in the Shop-Vac! This Shop-Vac has a separate pump driven by the motor that hooks to a common ¾” garden hose and can deliver the water anywhere you might want it. I pumped for about one hour and I had the water out. I didn’t want to break the ice with all of the water still in the cover. I still had a three-inch thick ice block that might tear the cover anyway. It was way too heavy to lift, at least for my back. I decided to hit it once in the center with a shovel. It broke the first time I tried but I still had a ton of small pieces to get out of there. If I used the shovel, I could tear the cover but I found a better way. I just stuck the vacuum hose on each piece and it was strong enough to lift each one until I had enough out to just lift the cover and let them spill on the ground.

One emergency covered and the Shop-Vac pulled through like a champ. I also have a 6 1/4 horse power Ultra Pro with sixteen-gallon capacity Shop-Vac sent as a test unit.

I have it hooked to a Shop-Vac sawdust collection system that works like the big systems. I can’t use a big system now since I sold my house in town and moved out to my house on the lake. The shop I use is too small so I am building another shop this year but the Shop-Vac system still works better than most. I can even run my big planer perfectly but it is on the closest blast gate to the Shop-Vac.

Now putting together six-inch pipe for a long run you have to take the ceiling route because there are just too many curves for that pipe around the walls. Not so with the Shop-Vac 801-75 Workshop Dust Collection System.

It is perfect for the garage shop or even a big shop but you can run all of the tubing around the wall at eye level. The reason I say that is when a system clogs, finding it is much more easy at that height and with clear tubing. Previously, I have plugged four inch metal tubing but not the tubing in the Shop-Vac kit yet. I now have it running from under my Tool-Dock bench where the power unit is, up to the router bench, then on to the drill press and planer. I move the planer when I use it for more room. I then run the clear tubing up to the ceiling (I know I broke my own rule) then to my large jigsaw and then around the other side of the shop and down to the table saw and guard. It then runs down to the other router table on the table saw to the miter saw and finally to my band saw.

You just slide the fittings together by hand, no gluing is necessary. You have to purchase the rubber hose separately. I just find a big roll on sale and cut each hose I want to the correct length. If you buy every thing on sale, you can have your whole shop done for about $220.00. That is with the Shop-Vac power unit included!

I have provisions to run a hose to my JointAbility and many of the other machines I still have stored from my move. I feel bad because I just have plywood floors now but my wife will get this shop when my new shop is finished. I will lose my small band saw and jigsaw to my wife but that is just fine because I know where they are. I have many sawhorses, workbenches and just plain machine stands that I cannot fit. The Shop-Vac system will still be used in my bigger shop, you can bet on that!

I use the Shop-Vac for my wood pellet stove in the house and soon for the bathroom remodeling (after the shop is built, that is). I have to do that or die, according to my wife. You can put a bag in these new machines and dumping the contents is not a huge mess anymore. Drywall installers use them all the time now. I wish I had one of them on the first boat I built at home. I wish I had one on the first house I built. I got by using an old canister vacuum and emptying it every two minutes. These new Shop-Vac tools are mind blowing. On their website is a story of a couple taking their sailboat out and finding it taking on water too fast. They started the motor and the bilge pump wouldn’t work. Luckily, the wife started the Shop-Vac water pump unit and it worked better than the bilge that they eventually got started.

I think every boat owner should have one of these water pump models. Power inverters are getting less expensive and if you have a couple of batteries with a good alternator, you could pump a ton of water very fast. They will even pump water up to fifty-two feet high! So if your bilge was full you could pump the water up to the top of the mast and watch it cascade back into the water on the outside of the boat.

Now I try not to be negative but this was really misinformation. I had purchased a Craftsman Wet-Dry Vac and on the canister it stated that the air coming from it was blowing at over 200 miles per hour. I tested it with my Kestrel 2000 meter and it barley blew over 185 mph. It had a detachable blower motor unit they claimed was 6 1/2 horsepower.

When I tested the 6 horsepower Shop-Vac Water Pump Vacuum, it had a wind speed in the 220-mph range. These were unscientific tests but they proved to me that the Shop-Vac had more power. The other Shop-Vac Ultra Pro 6 1/4 horse power vacuum spun the meter in the 230-mph range. That is cooking and maybe I should replace the impeller unit on the Kestrel 2000 meter now. That ’s where I get the “hurricane” title.

A good friend of mine has one of the smaller units with a beater brush attachment on it.

He keeps his pickup cab factory-fresh with that baby. When he pulls in his garage, he vacuums it every time. That’s a little “anal retentive” for me but he is a great guy who loves his pickup. I am not rich and I cannot afford boat covers for all of my boats. I also have a large group of trees in my yard and next door. With that Shop-Vac pump model, I can clean all the fall leaves inside a boat in about seven minutes each. I just dump the leaves out on my burn pile and I’m done.

We have one of those airbeds for company to sleep on (we only have a one bedroom home now). That Shop-Vac can inflate the bed in 20 seconds. I have a king size waterbed and my wife bought a replacement mattress for the frame since it also has drawers under it. I took the water mattress out and to get the last little bit of water from it I blew it up with the airside of the Shop-Vac. You cannot believe how tall a mattress can get when it is full of air. I am 5’10” tall and it was way over my head. I moved it on the snow in the front yard and I received the strangest looks from passers by. After the water drained, I was able to vacuum every last bit of air from the mattress and it shrank small enough to fit in a small box.

When my wife does cobwebs, she uses the Shop-Vac because it gets the webs, the big spiders and any dust that might be anywhere. Sometimes I have to reclaim possession of the unit; otherwise, she would claim permanent ownership. These units are just too handy not to use everywhere you find dirt, water or debris. I think you should go to and see the wonderful lineup of Shop-Vacs they have. They have contractor models, super quiet models, super pump models and even Stainless Steel models for those of us who like shiny equipment. You can get Shop-Vacs that range from small hand-held models up to giant industrial units for factories. After doing my testing on other brands compared to the original Shop-Vacs I will spend my money on this brand name because they just perform better.

You can outfit your shop with a central Shop-Vac unit and then keep everything clean. Seeing some of the workshops of my friends, I wonder how they get a decent paint job with all the dust in their shops. I wish I had tried these systems before I bought the big units with six-inch metal pipe and 220 power. I am not saying that a Shop-Vac can be used in an industrial site without any other system but in our small boat shops and even on our boats these powerful units can sure clean things up nicely. I want everyone to know I am now set up with my Shop-Vac 801-75-62 Workshop Sawdust collection system plus a few other Shop-Vac items that keep my shop very clean. The perfect companion for that system is the 18 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Ultra Pro Shop-Vac Unit.

I also have (and really like) the 16 Gallon Six HP Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Pump Vac that has a pump built in with a standard garden hose fitting that can pump water up to 52 feet above it. That could get down to the bottom of any boat I own with no problem. It really works hard and can make big water messes disappear with no problem.

I now have a 1000-watt DC to AC converter that I can hook to my boat batteries or my truck batteries to run my Shop-Vacs. I have a huge tent that I use when I go camping and now I can vacuum the tent before I take it down right in the camp. The Shop-Vacs are very light for their power and between my truck and the boat on the trailer I can store it on any trip. Our tent is big enough for an inflatable couch and chairs to go along with our inflatable sleeping mattress. It takes only minutes now to inflate or deflate now with the Shop-Vac.

On the Shop-Vac site, there is a place to enter your best Shop-Vac story and win a new Shop-Vac if your story is picked for posting that month. It is always worth a try. I hope I haven’t bored you with my stories but as you have read my Shop-Vacs are very much a part of my boat building. Most new power tools have places to hook your Shop-Vacs to capture the sawdust and fiberglass dust before they become a problem. Right now Amazon has a good deal on the sawdust collection kit #Shop-Vac 801-75-62.

There is no excuse now to have a dusty shop!

From My Tool Crib To Yours