The Tornado F4 Filter Cleaner is a unique product. No job in our shop brings greater procrastination than emptying filters from dust extractor vacuums. It has to be chock blocks full to warrant any initiative whatsoever. While disposing of the debris in the drum is straightforward, it’s cleaning the filter that makes you feel like it is your turn to walk the plank. Getting the filter out of the vacuum is unpleasant, but shaking all of the dust out of its pleats is onerous. Apprentices often try to skip the filter cleaning but are quickly busted by poor vacuum performance.
The simplest scheme is banging the filter against the inside of a dumpster, but a snoot full of dust and a dirty shirt is in the offing. Another strategy is to use compressed air, which gets the filter cleaner, but you get a bigger snoot full of dust and now your pants are dirty too. The least contamination to oneself is to gently toss the filter downwind onto the lawn, and enjoy the dirt bomb effect. Several tosses get it reasonably clean. The biggest problem with all of these methods is that mild to heavy degradation of the filter is assured.
It was a happy day that I stumbled upon the Tornado F4 Filter Cleaner, a brilliantly simple contraption. It consists of a drywall pail—the lid of which has a shaft in the center and a compliant gasket at the perimeter. The shaft has a plastic cone on its underside, and there is an opposing spring-loaded cone at the bottom of the bucket. Use starts by attaching an electric drill to the shaft on the lid. Since it is a three-sided shaft you can tighten the chuck with your finger. Next, gently center the offending filter on the cone in the bucket. The cone under the lid is now likewise centered on the filter, and the lid is snugged down. Once all is in place, simply bring the drill to full speed.
Proper Use of the Tornado F4 Filter Cleaner
I found the Tornado F4 to be fairly reliable during use, however, as a professional turner, my skills for finding center are likely more advanced than most. As a result, one word of caution would be to do a good job at centering your filter before placing the lid and spinning up the drill. Aside from that, you just want to make sure you apply plenty of pressure to the lid during use. Overall, I had a lot of success with a Porter-Cable 2621 3/8-inch 4-1/2 amp variable speed drill, a tool which is now permanently attached to the Tornado F4 in my shop. It spins at up to 1200 rpm, and I pretty much operate it at full speed.
The next step is critical—wait at least thirty seconds. Actually, one to five minutes is even better for all the dust to settle to the bottom of the pail. I go empty the drum while this is happening. The result is a nice clean filter with all of the dust thrown from the pleats. However, the dust is not all over you or the shop. Equally serendipitous is that the filter is unharmed. At $49.95 The Tornado F4 Filter Cleaner is a deal that will pay for itself in longer filter life.