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Offline Matthew Schenker

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    • Schenker Studio
RAS 115
« on: March 16, 2007, 06:05 PM »
Using the Festool RAS 115 Rotary Sander To Strip Two Window Sills
By Matthew Schenker

Introduction
In 1999, my wife and I bought a circa-1920 house.  Even now, seven years later, there are still lots of projects to do, some extensive and some rather simple.  Of course, anyone who owns an old house knows that even simple projects have a way of becoming tedious and messy.  For example, in my house there are a number of wood surfaces that need to be stripped of old paint and other finishes, a  job that usually results in foul chemical odors, or at the very least, lots of dust, debris, and backaches.

The Challenge.  In the kitchen, two window sills were looking pretty bad.  Previous owners of the house apparently just added new layers of paint right over the old ones, and now, seven or eight layers later, the sills were dirty and worn, and they had uneven paint cover.  The photos below show you what the two sills looked like:




The window sills each measure about 3" deep by 4" long.  They needed to be stripped down to raw wood, then repainted.  There are two main ways I know of to accomplish this job: use a chemical stripper, or sand the finish off.  I have previously used both methods when stripping old doors and floors.  As anyone who has done this kind of work can attest, chemical strippers are hazardous to your health and their odors linger for days in your home.  If you try to avoid chemicals and sand off the old finish, it is a backbreaking job that creates an incredibly dusty mess.

Choosing a Stripping Method.  I decided a couple of years ago that I would avoid chemical strippers  whenever possible.  That means sanding became my method of choice.  But I could not quite find a sander that truly excelled at stripping.  Even powerful sanders, like belt sanders, seemed to take a long time to remove the finish, and they are a challenge to keep level so you don't gouge the wood.  For this project, I wanted something better I have used before.  If possible, I wanted to plow right through all the old layers of paint, and, at the same time, I wanted good control of the sander during the process.  Because the window sills are in the kitchen, another goal was to limit the amount of dust and debris.

I recently received the Festool RAS 115 rotary sander from the company for review purposes.  Below is an image of this sander, as seen on Festool's Web site:



Festool describes the RAS 115 as a tool designed specifically for stripping, citing its power, torque, control, low weight, and efficient dust collection.  It seemed to have just the right combination of attributes.  My window sill project would be a test of the RAS 115's effectiveness.

Getting Acquainted with the RAS 115
I was eager to begin sanding.  But when the RAS 115 arrived, I realized right away that it has some unusual traits, and I wanted to take some time to become familiar with it before diving in.

Below is a shot of the everything that Festool delivers with the RAS 115.  It comes packaged in one of Festool's "Systainer" containers (Systainer 2):



RAS 115 Sanding Discs.  This sander comes with a set of sanding discs.  One of the discs is more like a scouring pad.  The discs are the hook-and-loop style most woodworkers have become accustomed to (Festool's proprietary term is "StickFix").  The RAS 115 uses 4" sanding discs.  Festool offers three varieties of sanding discs with grits ranging from 24 to 180.

The RAS 115 sanding discs do not have holes.  This is quite different from sanding discs used in most sanders today.  That is because dust collection on the RAS 115 is unusual.  In just a moment, I will explain all about the RAS 115's dust-collection method.


The photos below show two sanding discs for the RAS 115.  On the left is a 36-grit sanding disc (from Festool's "Rubin" line).  On the right is the "scouring pad"-type disc.  Both of these were included in the delivery of the RAS 115:

   

The Sanding Pad.  The RAS 115 sander is delivered with a soft sanding pad.  Festool offers both hard and soft replacement pads as accessories.

The "Vacuum Zone" Dust-Collection Method.  There is a good reason the RAS 115 sanding discs do not have holes.  The sander churns up coarse debris (chips of paint and old finish, and even small chunks of wood), as well as fine dust.  Therefore, the RAS 115 needs a different dust-collection method.  You could say that the RAS 115 does "debris collection" rather than "dust collection," and this requires more than just a set of holes.

The RAS 115 has what I call a "vacuum zone" along the edge of the sanding pad, an open suction area about 3/16" wide.  To direct the debris into the vacuum zone, the RAS 115 has a brush on the sanding head that forms a kind of "debris-catching wall."  By aligning the brush correctly, the operator causes the debris to get caught in the vacuum zone, where it is then sucked up into the dust collector.  (For this project, I had the RAS 115 hooked up to a Festool CT 22 dust extractor.)  If the brush gets worn out, it can be replaced (Festool sells standard brushes for the RAS 115, as well as metal brushes).  Later in this review, I describe how the brush and vacuum zone work during actual sanding.

The photo below shows the sanding pad of the RAS 115, the brush, and the vacuum zone.



Here is a close-up of the vacuum zone:



During sanding, the operator can change the location of the brush and the vacuum zone by rotating the hand grip.  This allows you to find the best position for the brush and vacuum zone, which will change  depending on the job you are doing.  The handle also serves as a grip during sanding.

The photos below illustrate how the brush and vacuum zone get adjusted for different positions.  With a quick turn of the hand grip, I made an adjustment from the 12:00 position to the 3:00 position:



The photos above show just three of the possible positions.  By continuing to turn the handle, the brush and vacuum zone can be positioned anywhere along the perimeter of the sanding pad.

A gear-like mechanism meshes the hand grip with the sanding head to rotate the brush and vacuum zone.  The teeth of the gears are made of sturdy plastic.  They stay out of the way during sanding and remain unclogged, maintaining smooth adjustments.  This kind of detail shows me that the engineers at Festool were thinking about how the tool will actually be used. 

Below is a close-up of the gear mechanism (the sander is upside down in the photo):



During sanding, with the brush and vacuum zone aimed in the correct position, debris gets sent to the dust collector.  The RAS 115 has an oval dust chute in the rear that hooks up easily to a hose.  It accepts Festool's 1" (27 mm) hose, which stays comfortably out of the way during sanding.



Removing the Sanding Pad and Sanding Head.  Both the sanding pad and the entire sanding head can be removed from the RAS 115.  The sanding head is removed by flipping a lever from left to right.  Below left, the lever is in the "loose" position so the sanding head can be removed.  Below right, the lever is in the "tight" position to lock the sanding head:



To remove the sanding pad, press and hold a button on the top of the sander and turn the pad until it spins loose.  The pad comes out and goes back in very smoothly, held tight on a threaded shaft.  The photos below show the sanding pad being removed:



Extra hand grip.  The RAS 115 comes with an extra hand grip, which can be attached to the right of the sander.  The extra hand grip is attached by removing a cap on the side of the sander and threading the handle into place.

The photos below show the cap being removed to install the extra hand grip:



With the extra hand grip installed, you gain more control of the sander.  Here is a shot of the RAS 115 with the standard hand grip (left) and extra hand grip (right):



For my window-sill project, I ran the sander without the extra hand grip, and I had excellent control.  But for other, more difficult operations, the extra hand grip might be welcomed.

Speed Control.  The RAS 115 has variable speeds (from 1,500 to 4,000 RPM), selected with a dial from 1 to 6.  The RAS 115 speed control is located in the rear of the machine, above the power cord.  Below is a photo showing the speed setting I used to strip paint from the window sills:



Power Switch.  The power switch on the RAS 115 is a large slider type that is easy to see and grasp.  Slide it forward to turn the sander on; just press it in and the power cuts out quickly.  Here's a shot of the RAS 115 power switch:



Using the RAS 115
After getting acquainted with the RAS 115, I was ready to tackle my window sills.  I installed a 36-grit sanding pad and hooked the RAS 115 to my CT 22 dust extractor.  For this project, I used Festool's "Rubin" sanding discs.

Brush and Vacuum Zone.  I set the speed to about 3 (see photo on previous page).  Then I placed the sander down on the window still and flipped the power switch on.  The sander went to work.  At first, I had to learn how to adjust the brush and vacuum zone to catch all the debris flying off the window sill.  But after a couple of minutes, I got the hang of it.  In a short time, I developed a fairly natural method of sanding while occasionally moving the brush and vacuum zone.

Dust Collection.  I have used a number of Festool sanders, and all of them have incredible dust collection – near 100% in some cases.  The RAS 115 does not collect dust as efficiently as other Festool sanders.  My unscientific estimate is that it grabs perhaps 90% of the light dust and about 75% of the coarse debris.  It is difficult to compare this sander's dust collection with other sanders, however, because it collects both dust and debris.  The Rotex, for example, is not usually called upon to handle such coarse material.

Here's what I found: when I was done sanding with the RAS 115, I did not see any light dust in the air, or on other surfaces in the kitchen.  I did not see any light dust in my hair or in my nostrils (a crude but effective test of how well a sander collects fine dust).  There was a fair amount of coarse debris on the floor, but the RAS 115 far surpasses the belt sander I have previously used to remove old finishes.

Material Removal.  Being familiar with Festool's Rotex sanders (both the RO 125 and RO 150 models), I expected good power from the RAS 115.  But I did not know it would be quite this powerful!  The RAS 115 is very aggressive.  Festool describes the RAS 115 as having a high torque, and you can feel it biting away at the surface material.  In a short time, it took off numerous layers of paint.  I could see various colors appearing and disappearing, 85 years of old finish vanishing right before my eyes!  In less than 20 minutes, I had both window sills sanded down completely to raw wood.  This is beyond what I was expecting, and a pleasant discovery.  The RAS 115's power made up for the lower rate of dust collection.  But this kind of power does suggest that the operator must take it easy with the RAS 115.  The sander should be operated at the lowest effective speed setting.  As I mentioned earlier, I ran it at speed 3, about the half-way mark.  The operator should apply little or no downward pressure while sanding

Festool's Rubin sanding discs were terrific for this kind of work, and I was able to remove all paint from both window sills with two 36-grit discs.  One disc got worn down; the second disc still has good grit left on it and can be used again.

Rotary Motion.  As the name implies, the RAS 115 is a "rotary" sander, not a "random-obit" sander.  The sanding pad simply spins in a circular (rotary) motion.  By contrast, the sanding pad on a random-orbit sander spins, while simultaneously doing smaller circles (think of planets circling around the sun while also rotating in their smaller orbits).  Rotary motion is more aggressive.  Combined with its higher torque, the rotary motion of the RAS 115 removes material very quickly.  In my test, it definitely hogged off old paint much faster than I have ever seen with my random-orbit sanders, or even from another sander running in rotary mode.

Control.  The high torque means that it takes a fair bit of concentration to control the RAS 115, as it  occasionally tries to pull in one direction or another.  But I found that by holding onto the handle and not pushing too hard, the sander went where I wanted it to go.  It is really worth emphasizing that the operator should not push this sander.  I had the greatest success by just allowing the weight of the machine give me all the pressure I needed to strip away all the old paint.  I even used the RAS 115 on the rounded edges of the window sills.


The RAS 115 is very well balanced, remaining level against the surface throughout the operation.  Although this was my first time using the RAS 115, I saw no gouges in the wood.  It only took a couple of minutes for me to feel very confident using this sander.  It has a comfortable weight (about 5 lbs.), and I did not sense any fatigue lifting it or moving the sander across the surface.

Sanding Near an Edge, and Using the Smaller Sanding Discs.  The RAS 115 sander gets closer to an edge than other round-pad sanders I have used.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that I could get right up to where the vertical portion of the window meets the sill. 

Because it uses smaller, 4" sanding discs (as compared with 5" or even 6" discs available on other sanders), I could gain better control on the relatively narrow surfaces of the window sills.  I did not feel I was sacrificing anything with the smaller discs, since the RAS 115 works so aggressively.  This logic would hold up even on surfaces much wider than a window sill.  In fact, with a sander this powerful, it is probably better to cover a slightly smaller area at one time.

Ear and Eye Safety.  As with most powerful sanders, the Festool RAS 115 is quite loud.  It is definitely a good idea to wear ear protection while running it.  Because there is a chance of an occasional piece of flying or ricocheting debris hitting you at high velocity, I strongly suggest wearing eye protection while running this sander.

The Results
When I was done sanding, I stood back and looked at the window sills.  For such a powerful sander, grinding away at 36-grit, the first thing that surprised me was what it did not do. The sander left no  swirl marks in the wood, and it left no gouges.  Even at a low grit, with its pure rotary motion, the RAS 115 left the wood quite level and smooth.  It made me smile to see clean wood and to run my fingers over the newly stripped surfaces.

The two photos below show what the sills looked like immediately after all the paint was stripped away at 36-grit:




Check back to page 1 to do a before-and-after, and you will see why I was so happy with the results I could achieve in under 20 minutes!

With all the paint stripped off, turned to two other Festool sanders in my tool arsenal.  I used my DX 93 Delta sander to get into the corners.  Then I switched to my ES 150/5 random-orbit sander, briefly going over the sills with 50-, 80-, and 150-grit paper.  All told, including set-up, actual sanding, clean-up, and returning the tools to the shop, the entire stripping job for both sills took under 45 minutes.  I filled some of the grain, then I was ready to prime and paint.

Conclusions
At first, I was a bit unsure about the unusual nature of the RAS 115 rotary sander: the size of the sanding discs, the handling, and most of all the unusual nature of its dust collection system.  But it only took a few minutes for me to become adept at using the brush and the vacuum zone system of the RAS 115, and in very little time I had complete confidence in the sander.  I have to admit that I even began to enjoy removing the old paint off those window sills.  This has to be about the first time I ever used the words "enjoy" and "removing old paint" in the same sentence!

To put it concisely, the RAS 115 takes down material extremely fast.  It is far more powerful than any random-orbit sander I have used, and more powerful than other sanders with a rotary mode.  In power, it is like a belt sander.  But it offers more visibility and control, and somewhat better dust collection, than  a belt sander.

I learned when using the RAS 115 that the operator should trust the machine to do the work.  It is counterproductive to push down while running this sander.  To take down material quickly and evenly, and to avoid gouging, I relied just on the weight and balance of the machine.  In addition, it is better to run the sander at a slower speed (I stripped all the paint from the window sills using a setting of about 3 on a scale of 1 to 6).  This not only helps with control, it also prevents the paint or other finish from gumming up the sanding disc due to excessive heat from the sanding motion.

There are a number of stripping jobs that still need to be done in my old house -- lots of doors and trim with 85-year-old stain, floors and stairs with worn paint, and more.  I now feel confident that I have a tool that will allow me to do stripping relatively easily and quickly, and without using chemicals.  Instead of dreading these jobs, I'm actually looking forward to them.

* * * *

For Further Information
Below are links to Festool's USA Web site describing the tools mentioned in this review:
RAS 115 Rotary Sander
CT22 Dust Extractor
DX 93 Delta Sander
Rotex RO 125
ETS 150/5 Random-Orbit Sander

Note: This review was originally written in June 2006.
FOG Designer and Creator
http://www.schenkerstudio.com

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline Steven in Iowa

  • Posts: 121
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2007, 06:43 PM »
Matt,
   Excellent review, the kind that a worker-bee can appreciate.  I've gone through the same tasks and related to everything you said which made me realize that "Poop I need another Festool"  :)
Rookie to be sure!

Offline Jason White

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2007, 06:17 AM »
Thanks for the review, Matt.  You've got me wondering whether I could strip my entire house down to bare wood.  I have cedar clapboards and wood trim with several coats of old paint -- likely quite a bit of lead paint in there.

Are there issues where you live with regards to removing lead paint?  Do you need a special permit?  Would the RAS 115 also work on siding?

TP

Matt,
   Excellent review, the kind that a worker-bee can appreciate.  I've gone through the same tasks and related to everything you said which made me realize that "Poop I need another Festool"  :)
- Jason White

Offline Matthew Schenker

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    • Schenker Studio
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2007, 03:34 PM »
Thanks for the review, Matt.  You've got me wondering whether I could strip my entire house down to bare wood.  I have cedar clapboards and wood trim with several coats of old paint -- likely quite a bit of lead paint in there.

Are there issues where you live with regards to removing lead paint?  Do you need a special permit?  Would the RAS 115 also work on siding?

You could strip your entire house, although that would be a long job!  After writing the review, I used the RAS 115 to sand down a set of stairs heading into my loft, removing layer and layers of old paint.  I got it right down to clean, raw wood.  I'll be posting photos in this topic, as a sort of addendum to the above review (one of the great benefits of online reviews).

Regarding the cedar clapboards, I'm not sure.  Everything I did was interior, horizontal surfaces.  The RAS 115 is not that heavy, so my guess is it would be all right.  If you do the sanding outside, that might be better as far as debris is concerned.

I would suggest wearing a mask when using the RAS 115 for lead paint.  Unlike the Rotex and other Festool sanders, the RAS 115 leaves behind a fair amount of debris and some dust.

I'm glad the review was helpful to you.  Please let me know if you have other questions.

Matthew
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http://www.schenkerstudio.com

Offline ken257

  • Posts: 65
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2008, 10:03 AM »
I just bought a RAS 115 as well as 24, 36, 50, and 80 grit paper in a mixture of saphir and rubin. I should get to try it out later in the week. I to live in an old house and have many stripping and refinishing projects to do. Doors, jams, moldings, windows just to name a few. I do not like chemical strippers either, especially in the house. Most sanders also seem painfully slow at the task. For example when I refinished (not really refinish but a restoration which was the result of at least 50 years of neglect as well as migrant workers) my kitchen floor I rented a drum sander for the job. The wood floor is over 100 years old and sands like iron. It took about 12 hours with the drum sander and 36 grit to make the floor useable again and it is only about 130 square feet of space! I tried sanding the edges with a belt sander but soon gave up as it was a total waste of time. I ended up using my angle grinder set up with a 36 grit sanding disk. At 12,000 rpm it literally ate up the wood and made quick work of the job, cleanup was another story! I am hoping for a very fast rate of removal from the RAS although I don't expect it to quite match that of the grinder. The floors finish was completely worn off so the fast speed of the grinder was ok, but if there was a finish or paint I would expect a gummed up disk in no time flat. Also the dust collection was key to my decision. Every room in the house needs some stripping and reshaping of worn beaten up wood. With a baby and a 2 year old as well as the possibility of some lead paint dust is a major concern. I will make a few posts with my results and impressions over the next couple of weeks.

Ken

Offline greg mann

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2008, 12:24 PM »
Ken,

I have used a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder with one of those carbide toothed sculpting wheels (whose name I cannot recall at the moment). This wheel has literally hundreds of carbide particles that do the cutting. The application was to de-bark a small walnut log. For comparison, I tried the RAS 115 with 36 grit paper and found it to be virtually as fast but far easier to control. Dust extraction on a small radiused log left something to be desired but was still FAR better than the angle grinder (none). I suspect 24 grit Saphir might have actually removed material faster than the angle grinder! This tool is not for fine furniture but is easily overlooked. I think this is because most of us concentrate on "woodworking" rather than the type of applications this tool is designed for. In addition to paint removal I think it would be a great tool for, say, sculpting out a chair seat.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 12:26 PM by greg mann »
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Timothy K.

  • Posts: 20
  • Painting & Restoration Contracter
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2008, 11:45 PM »
 I recently bought am RAS 115 and tried it out on my garage. The house & garage are cedar shake and heavily painted trim. My house was built in 1912 and I can guarantee that  there is some lead paint on it somewhere.

Anyway, the RAS 115 worked great at removing the paint/stain with out gouging out the shake, on the thick alligator you have to back off occasionally to let the pad cool down and then go back to sanding. The RAS 115 does not pick up debris as well as the other Festool sanders, you need to drop off the work area and wear a lead dust respirator. It is easy to handle, but I think you will need a Deltex for all the corner spots as well. I only used the 24 grit paper and it worked great.

Offline Matthew Schenker

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    • Schenker Studio
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2008, 05:21 PM »
...Anyway, the RAS 115 worked great at removing the paint/stain with out gouging out the shake, on the thick alligator you have to back off occasionally to let the pad cool down and then go back to sanding. The RAS 115 does not pick up debris as well as the other Festool sanders, you need to drop off the work area and wear a lead dust respirator. It is easy to handle, but I think you will need a Deltex for all the corner spots as well. I only used the 24 grit paper and it worked great.

Interesting to hear another person's report on the RAS 115.

Since writing this review, I've used the RAS 115 on lots of other nasty projects in my old house -- stripping paint off a set of stairs going into my loft, taking all the paint off several more window sills and trimwork.

Regarding the need to let the pad cool down: I have learned to find just the right speed so that the paint gets stripped away, but so the pad heats up less.  That also helps the sanding disks last longer.

I've also learned to catch more of the debris, but as I wrote in my review -- and as you mention in your post -- the RAS is not like the other Festool sanders when it comes to dust collection.

Using the RAS 115 takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll find yourself reaching for it every time you have heavy-duty material removal.

Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator
http://www.schenkerstudio.com

Offline Justin F.

  • Posts: 311
  • Louisiana, USA
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2008, 06:11 PM »
I own the RAS 115 also and it is a nice little tool --- easy to handle and does a good job.  But getting the right RPM is indeed important and a little patience doesn't hurt either.  Does anyone know why they do not make Cristal sanding disks for this sander?  It seems like it would be a good addition considering Cristal is directed towards finish removal --- but maybe Saphir covers this just as well.

Justin
" The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. "

Offline Timothy K.

  • Posts: 20
  • Painting & Restoration Contracter
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 07:33 PM »
I second that request!
The 60 grit works great
More options for the RAS 115!

Online JD2720

  • Posts: 682
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2009, 07:23 PM »
Showing my ignorance the ras is basically a 4 1/2" dustless cup grinder with a sanding pad on it?  


Is the pad a 5/8" 11 tpi thread size?  If it is you could probably add a diamond cup wheel option  this would expand the RAS to a whole new group of trades....

I use my Hilti and diamond wheel all the time for RAS type work  I was shocked at how quickly it would strip off stuff and leave smooth  think 60 grit wood.   of course the wood i am thinking is subfloors that have had underlayment striped off leaving a residue of Glue, mortar, Staples, nails and Screws [scared]  needless to say daimonds are my best friends those days too [thumbs up].   


You are somewhat correct. It is similar to a cup grinder. The big difference between the Festool RAS & a standard cup grinder is the design of the dust collection. The dust collection on the RAS is designed into the tool & works very well. It is not a clunky add on.  I have used cup grinders with add on dust collection. They never worked very well & always seemed to be in the way.

The thread size on the pads is a metric size M 14.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2009, 07:24 PM by Chris Rosenberger »

Offline Charimon

  • Posts: 651
  • Tool and Tile Junkie
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2009, 07:33 PM »
I am refering to my Hilti or Flex which have integrated  and awesome dust collection   I actually would like to know if the Ras is up to their standards?
"The existence of the flame thrower proves that at one time, somewhere, somebody said, " You Know, There's a group of people over there that I'd like to set on fire right now but they're too far away."

Online JD2720

  • Posts: 682
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2009, 07:44 PM »
I think I misunderstood your original post. The RAS is designed to be a sander/grinder, using sander disks.
The Hilti & Flex are designed to be grinders using grinding wheels.   

Offline Tom Bellemare

  • Festool Dealer
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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2009, 07:45 PM »
Craig, Chris:

This may be drifting off-topic, but if you're making chunks of stuff that are hard and sharp while using a CT to pick those chunks up, I'd consider using the Spark Trap to protect the bag.

Hard or sharp stuff can go through the back of the bags. The Spark Trap can knock it down on the way in. It will either go into the bag more gently or you can later retrieve it from the bottom of the Spark Trap.

It's designed to knock down hot metal and such but it works with sharp or hard chunks as well.


Tom
Tom Bellemare
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Offline Peter Halle

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2009, 07:54 PM »
Possibly drifting further off topic - sorry Tom,

Something that we learned in class that the Festool engineers even take into account the velocity of incoming debris when they designed the bags.  If you look there is reinforcement on the outside of the bags to help guard against normal debris punctures.  Not the type of stuff that Tom posted though.

Peter
Any day using a Festool is a special day.  Enjoy!

Peter

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2009, 08:13 PM »
Whereas there is a renewed interest in the RAS 115, I thought that I would try to link to a previous post.  Yes it is a post that I did.  That is not why I'm trying to link it.  It is buried in the archives and there might be those out there trying to make a decision between two tools like I once was.

Hopefully this will work.
Ras 115 real life

Peter
Any day using a Festool is a special day.  Enjoy!

Peter

Offline Charimon

  • Posts: 651
  • Tool and Tile Junkie
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 09:22 PM »
Chris
I was just trying to wrap my mind around the tool.  I likened it to a grinder, abet a specialized one..... the next thing i did was unintentionally posted it here rather than in the unsung heros thread...  I didn't ever understand that it was a grinder using sanding stock.....mainly because i never payed it attention.  now that I get it,  There are tons of aplications where it could be put to good use with what i do.


Thanks Craig
"The existence of the flame thrower proves that at one time, somewhere, somebody said, " You Know, There's a group of people over there that I'd like to set on fire right now but they're too far away."

Offline WarnerConstCo.

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    • WarnerRemodeling
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2009, 09:31 PM »
It's a right angle sander, errr...grinder? 

Online JD2720

  • Posts: 682
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2009, 09:46 PM »
Chris
I was just trying to wrap my mind around the tool.  I likened it to a grinder, abet a specialized one..... the next thing i did was unintentionally posted it here rather than in the unsung heros thread...  I didn't ever understand that it was a grinder using sanding stock.....mainly because i never payed it attention.  now that I get it,  There are tons of aplications where it could be put to good use with what i do.


Thanks Craig


You are welcome Craig.


Thank you for the link Peter.
I am even more impressed by the RAS.

Offline Frank Pellow

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  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2009, 10:38 PM »
Thanks Matthew and Peter!  After reading your reviews, this tool has gone right up to the top of my 'Next Festool to Purchase' list.
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Forrest Anderson

  • Posts: 1072
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2009, 05:47 AM »
It is interesting to note that Festool sells wire brushes for the RAS115, advertising them "for the removal of rust and slag" - but they are NAINA (not available in North America).

For those who are new here, I have taken the liberty of reproducing a post I made in July 2007 about the RAS:



The RAS 115 looks an awful lot like an angle grinder; I also see in the current catalog that there is a "FiberFix sanding pad with arbor for grinding disks" listed in the catalog.

But I see no grinding disks themselves.

Does anyone know what grinding disks it accepts, and has anyone used this for metalwork? I need something that will clean up steel after being cut/worked with a torch...


Good question!  The entry in the US catalogue for RAS115 accessories looks like this:



Note how there are hard and soft StickFix hook and loop pads (484172 and 484173) and a FibreFix pad "with arbor for grinding discs" (485298).

Festool have tried to explain the difference in their FAQ database:

----------------
Question :
What is the difference between the FiberFix and the StickFix sanding pad for the RAS 115?
 
Answer :
The StickFix pad accepts hook and loop sanding discs. The FiberFix pad has an arbor to attach grinding discs.
----------------

At first sight it appears that we can attach grinding disks to the RAS115, but there's a catch! If we look at the US version of the RAS 115 official manual, we get this list of list of speeds for different materials and a warning:




This warning, in no uncertain terms, rules out the attachment of metal grinding disks, and the speed chart makes no mention of using the sander on metal. It therefore appears that the US catalogue supplies a grinding attachment, but the US manual prohibits its use on metal.

Exploring a bit further, the UK catalogue has lots more accessories for the RAS115, and UK customers can also get the RAS180, which is larger:



And look - two types of cup brushes and a circular brush - "for removal of rust and slag" and "for paint and rust removal".

There are also two more items of interest:

  • Clamping nut SM-M14/D115, For RAS 115, for securing Fiberfix sanding discs, 439581
  • Spark trap for dust extractor D 50 FL, For use when sanding materials that generate sparks, 484733

So there are quite a few metal grinding accessories available for customers in the UK! Let's see what the UK manual says:



Notice how it says "Designed for sanding wood, plastics, metal..." and how the speed chart includes "sanding painted metal to remove rust".

In summary, it seems that UK customers are allowed to sand/grind metal, whilst US customers are not. Presumably this was one of the conditions for UL approval for introducing the machine to the US market. I therefore suspect that the inclusion of the "FiberFix sanding pad with arbor for grinding disks" in the US catalogue is only there for users who want to use disks designed for grinding stone and concrete, which is allowed.

Forrest



Note that the references to catalogues and manuals were for the versions available in 2007, and changes may have been made since then.

You'll see from the above that Festool also sells the RAS180, which is the RAS115's bigger brother. However this is also a NAINA item. Here is a comparison between the two siblings - note the difference in weight and power, and also that they are 1/3 to 1/2 slower than typical angle grinders :



Forrest

Compiler of the Consolidated List of Festool Links - the place to go for Festool reviews, manuals, brochures and videos!

Online Alex

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2009, 07:02 AM »
That's a very nice and informative post Forrest.

But at one point I think you draw the wrong conclusion about grinding metal.

Notice how it says "Designed for sanding wood, plastics, metal..." and how the speed chart includes "sanding painted metal to remove rust".

In summary, it seems that UK customers are allowed to sand/grind metal, whilst US customers are not. Presumably this was one of the conditions for UL approval for introducing the machine to the US market. I therefore suspect that the inclusion of the "FiberFix sanding pad with arbor for grinding disks" in the US catalogue is only there for users who want to use disks designed for grinding stone and concrete, which is allowed.


Now perhaps I don't know the complete spectre of what "grinding" exactly means in the English language, but those fiber disks don't cut the metal, they only sand it.

When I google around for "metal grinding discs" all I get is these discs:



Whereas the FiberFix sanding pad with arbor is probably meant for these:



The first disc type really cuts the metal itself, but the second disc type, the Fiber discs, only treat the surface, any stuff that's ON the metal, and not the metal itself. The same goes for the various wire brushes the UK website has. They only treat the surface, since rust or paint is ON the surface of metal.

And nowhere in the UK references you provided above does it mention you can attach discs that really CUT the metal. So when it comes to that US and UK (or European) users have the same limitations. Only difference why this might be expressed more distinctively in the US manual is that they have such a sue happy society if anything goes wrong, whereas Europeans simply say "Don't be stupid" and expect people to have some responsablity of themselves.
 



Offline Mac

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  • A Scotsman living abroad
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2009, 07:04 AM »
Great post Forrest, thanks.

Rick

Offline Charimon

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  • Tool and Tile Junkie
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2009, 10:04 AM »
By refering to the RAS as a "Grinder" (clearing up the mode of operation in my own mind) I think i have caused the very confusion that Festool was trying to avoid  when they consistantly refer to it as a "rotary sander".   However Festool having a (by comparison) very Famous product called the  "Rotex sander"  has given a "misimpression"  of the RAS.  The standard metrics of comparison  point to the Rotex as being larger and more powerful, and the intentional lack of comparison to grinders, the fact that there are not Similar offerings by other companies,  The term "rotary",  for tool users, is a descriptive for Micro tools, Drywall routers, and large electro-pneumatic concrete drills, all contribute to the ras having a lack of idenity in the minds of tool users 
"The existence of the flame thrower proves that at one time, somewhere, somebody said, " You Know, There's a group of people over there that I'd like to set on fire right now but they're too far away."

Offline WarnerConstCo.

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    • WarnerRemodeling
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2009, 10:19 AM »
Alex, your second disk in the picture reminds me of what we used to call soft disks.  We would put those ona big grinder and use them to clean steel before it was painted.

I want it's big brother and some of those wire wheels.

Ok, I sanded down a cast iron flange then.

Offline Matthew Schenker

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    • Schenker Studio
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2009, 06:17 AM »
Hey Everyone,
Glad to see my review of the RAS is still helpful.  I've been using it more than a lot of other tools lately, since I have a lot of paint-removal jobs these days.

I agree with those who say the RAS is more of a grinder than a sander, and its dust-collection is certainly quite different from all other Festool sanders.  It's more like debris removal, but it works fairly well.

Thanks,
Matt
FOG Designer and Creator
http://www.schenkerstudio.com

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2645
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2009, 07:39 AM »
Hi Matthew, it's nice the hear from you.  Yes, your review has stood the test of time.  I read it when you first wrote it but didn't do anyhting about getting the sander at the time.  After a recent re-read, the sander has moved right to the top of my 'tools to get' list.
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline monstrol

  • Posts: 56
Re: RAS 115
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2009, 10:24 PM »
Hi, I have both the Rotex 150 and the RAS 115.  The Rotex is great for sanding and prepping bare wood or previously stripped wood.  And the switch between course and fine is great when sanding a project where all of a sudden you notice a gouge or something that needs a little extra something as you are moving on.  The RAS is perfect if your wanting to remove paint from a surface.  I tried to remove paint from the edge of some doors I am refinishing and the Rotex with 80 grit Brilliant on the course mode and got nowhere.  When I used the RAS and 80 grit Rubin, since I haven't ordered any Saphir and such, it took the paint off fast and still left the
Rubin fairly clean.  Go figure.
Matthew Jones

Online Alex

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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2009, 04:55 AM »
I tried to remove paint from the edge of some doors I am refinishing and the Rotex with 80 grit Brilliant on the course mode and got nowhere. 

Really? I'm seriously wondering what kind of super paint that was. Because in my reality, 80 grit brilliant on a door edge will get me to bare wood in seconds.

Offline Brice Burrell

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  • Remodeling Contractor
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Re: RAS 115
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2009, 08:36 AM »
I tried to remove paint from the edge of some doors I am refinishing and the Rotex with 80 grit Brilliant on the course mode and got nowhere. 

Really? I'm seriously wondering what kind of super paint that was. Because in my reality, 80 grit brilliant on a door edge will get me to bare wood in seconds.


Well, that would depend on how many coats of paint there were on the door. A 100+ year door could have a dozen or more coats, I wouldn't think 80 grit Brilliant would do the job quickly.
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