I recently purchased a new DTS 400 EQ and wanted to share my experience with this sander with everyone. I had discussed a problem I had on some panels of a desk I am building. I had prefinished the flat panels before fitting them into the rail & stile frames. Once assembled, I realized that I had not done a good job sanding the panels flat prior to putting on the finish and I had a couple of low spots show up.
You can see the low spots in the following photo:
I also had some glue squeeze out on one of my rails that I needed to remove:
What to do? I obviously needed a sander that could sand right up to the edge of my rails and stiles as as get into each of the corners. While each panel is not that large, I wanted something that would leave a smooth finish with a uniform scratch pattern. When I look at any new tool, I consider a number of different factors and boil them down into three main areas -- price, performance and the ability to solve a problem that other tools cannot resolve. The DTS 400 EQ turned out to be just the tool I needed to refinish the panels quickly and effortlessly.
Let's take a look at what is included with the machine:
It comes nicely packaged in a Systainer 2 and it includes the sander, StickFix sanding pad, Turbo dust bag and holder, a Plug-it power cord and one piece of Brilliant 2 P120 sand paper. Of course the instructions and warranty information is also included and my package had two promo DVDs - one covering the TS75/Rotex 150 and one covering the Domino. In terms of abrasives that are available for this unit, you can purchase all grits from P40 - P400 in Brilliant 2; P50 - P180 in Rubin and Vlies A120, A280 and A800. I bought P120 - P400 Brilliant 2 with my sander and I got a very nice finish working my way through the grits.
The overall size of the pad is about 6 inches long by 4 inches wide which is small enough to get into tight spaces and making it easy to control yet large enough to handle some larger size sanding tasks. I would not want to use this to flatten a table top, but for rails and stiles, and small panels like the ones on this desk, it works well.
Do not let the small size of this sander fool you -- I started my refinishing with 120 grit Brilliant and I was able to completely sand the finish off of a panel in just 3 1/2 minutes. Needless to say, I was impressed. This sander was extremely easy to maneuver around the work piece and the concave sides of the sanding pad did help keep the sander from catching on the edge and sending it bouncing across the surface. It had very low vibration which helped make it easier to control and it was relatively quiet (at least compared to my Rotex).
Below are the specifications of this machine:
Power - 1.67 amps
Pad size - approximately 4" x 6"
Speed - 6,000 - 14,000 opm
Sanding stroke - 5/64"
Dust extraction port - 27 mm (just like all of the other Festool sanders)
Weight - 2.4 lbs
As with other sanders, you do need to turn the suction on the vacuum down to keep the pad from sticking to the work piece. Below is a picture of the sander standing upright with CT22 turned almost all the way up:
I found that if I turned the vacuum down to reduce the suction to the point where it could no longer old itself upright that it was about right -- this was close to being all the way turned down. Dust extraction was truly impressive and there was very little dust left on the work after sanding. The abrasives live up to their reputation for holding up too. I used a single sheet of each grit to refinish all the panels. I had small scratches from assembly and decided to refinish all 6 panels to match and the abrasives held up for the entire refinishing. The Brilliant 2 also did not clog when sanding the old finish. I used some Rubin with my Rotex to fair the panels. The finish that I did not get entirely in the first pass with Brilliant 2 did clog the Rubin paper.
As you can see from the below photos, this sander allows you to work right up to an edge and into corners. The first few pictures of the rail with the glue removed (I used another board to help steady the sander on the small edge):
Here are a couple of shots showing the edge and corner abilities of the DTS 400 EQ:
Overall this sander exceeded my expectations and is a real gem to use. It compliments my other sanders nicely and fits into the entire system. My only negative comment is that you cannot reverse the paper on the pad if you where out one side faster than the other since it has the triangle shape. The tip of the triangle seems to wear faster than the rest of the sandpaper -- this makes sense with less surface area at the tip than the rest of the pad. This is very minor and really the only thing I could find wrong with the machine.
So how do I rate this machine based on my three main criteria of price, performance and problem solving? On a scale of 1 - 10 (with 10 being the highest) I would give this sander a 10 on price. It is one of the least cost sanders Festool offers and is built to last. For performance, I would give this sander a 9 -- the only reason for the knock is that the sand-paper seems to wear quicker at the tip. In regards to problem solving, I would rate this sander a 10 -- it compliments my other tools nicely and is able to do things that other sanders have difficulty duplicating - that of sanding to a line and into a corner.
After my initial use of this sander to fix some my mistakes, I have also used this sander to finish sand some picture frames I made with success. It is light and easy to maneuver around the frame and I is nice being able to get into the inside corners of the frame right along the edge. I found that you have to keep it moving fairly quickly across the piece to minimize cross-grain scratch patterns. While I would not rely on this sander to be my only sander, I would highly recommend it for a secondary sander that compliments my Rotex nicely.
I hope you found this review helpful.