A Central Vac for the Garage (Kinda)

As we continue to plan for Project Baker (I promise it’ll be kicking off soon, once all of the contractors are out of the way), we were looking for the best way to incorporate a central vacuum-like system in the garage, since I do a lot of detailing and whatnot.

The house itself is already plumbed for a central vacuum system, with the head-unit mounting in the garage (which the previous homeowner never installed), so I could kill two birds with one stone and tie into that system if/when I get one. The issues there are that (a) they take up valuable space and (b) if I ever need to use the garage vac to suck up anything nasty, I’d obviously rather not use the home’s central vacuum system for that.

Either way, I need to be able to keep a long vacuum hose nice and tidy when not in use, and easily accessible when I need to use the vac. So, when Rockler sent us information on one of their latest products, we considered our research for that part of the setup complete.????????Rockler is best-known for its woodworking tools and equipment but quite a few of their products are also useful for the non-woodworking crowd, too. The Rockler Dust Right Shop Vacuum Hose Reel ($150) is one such product. The reel isn’t cheap but does seem like a solid solution to get a central garage shop vac system up-and-running very quickly.

Now, I realize that a “central” vacuum system usually means there are strategically placed connectors that you move a shorter hose around to. But since we’re talking about a simple 2-car garage here, the term central for us means not having to move the actual shop vac, instead, using a retractable hose.

Rockler’s reel is made from steel (that could totally be a country song!????), with pre-drilled holes on the top and bottom of the base plate so it can mounted onto two wall studs with the crank handle on either sides—the holes are 16″ on-center.

Fully wound, the reel can hold up to 40′ of 1½” vacuum hose, which should be plenty to span most two-car garages, even when having to temporarily route the hose around vehicles and other obstacles while in-use. An adjustable tension knob keeps that long hose from unreeling too quickly as it’s being maneuvered around the garage. Rockler does suggest that—if you are actually using 40′ of hose—you use a shop vac with at least 4HP so as not to lose too much suction.

A port on the outside of the Rockler reel allows for connection to a shop vacuum or dust separator with a 2½” hose. A port on the interior of the reel connects to a 1½” extension hose, which you can get from Rockler separately in 20′ 40′ lengths. Finally, a retainer strap in the reel prevents the hose from disconnecting once it’s fully unwound.

As an aside, Rockler also sells an accessory organizer for about $30, pictured below.

Again, it’s pricey, but the Rockler Dust Right Shop Vacuum Hose Reel is a solid solution to make your garage suck.

Forty-something years later, Chad still doesn't' know what he wants to do if he grows up. Raised around cars and trained in diesel mechanics, Chad has owned a successful detail shop, developed and sold software, led a K-9 SAR team, ridden the dot-com wave as a marketing & PR executive, led digital strategy teams at both large and small agencies, and now this. He digs Jeeps, off-road racing, football, photography, writing, making EDM, cranking metal, PC gaming, and a plethora of other contradictory things.