This is a review of the Festool LS130 linear sander. It is one of the three specialized-use sanders in the Festool lineup. It is unique in that it sands in a straight-line forward-back motion, rather than orbital or rotary. The sander is designed, like (almost) all Festool tools with dust collection as a primary consideration, ergonomics at the forefront, and durability for professional use.
So, let's have a look at the standard kit for the LS130.
The LS130 comes packed in a Systainer 1. It comes standard with:
- The LS130 sander tool
- One flat, 80mm x 133mm sanding pad
- One 90 degree sanding pad, which also utilitizes the 80mm x 133mm sheets
- One 18g power cord. This cord will work on all Festool tools, with the exception of the OF1400, TS55, TS75 (which require 16g cords), and any tools which do not have the modular Plug-It cords (DX93, OF2200, Kapex, RS2E, RAS115 and both planers have integrated cords in the current tool line-up).
- A few sheets of 80mm x 133mm sandpaper.
The LS130 is relatively compact, with the following exterior measurements:
3 inches wide
8.5" long, including the dust port and handle
7" tall from pad to the highest point of the body.
The controls on the LS130 are relatively straightforward.
There is a trigger switch, a speed control, and a switch lock button. All are conveniently located, if you consider that in general use you will not be frequently changing speeds, but rather selecting and setting a speed, and keeping with that throughout much of your work. Speed changes are generally only necessitated by a change of sanding grit or a change of project. Both of which are done with the sander off. Therefore, I believe the speed control being not-exactly-easy to change whilst in use is a design feature, and a smart choice.
It could be opined that the sander is designed more for right-hand use, as the trigger lock is only on the left side of the body, ideal for thumb-activation by the right hand.
The sander is remarkably easy to use, but changing pads can require a lot of exertion, or a little finesse.
The pads are attached and held by a pair of clips on the front and rear of the sanding plate (top and bottom in the pictures).
Towards the rear of the sander, under the dust port, is a spring loaded point which provides tension on the clips, and holds the pad in place.
One can attach and remove the pad by pressing on this point, but the springs are very, very firm. The faster, easier, smarter way to remove/mount pads is to use a firm flat surface and push down on the machine.
Here I am resting the pad on my workbench and pushing down on the body of the sander. This moves the spring loaded mechanism enough to remove the "top" of the pad from the retaining clips.
Here I have attached the 90 degree pad to the "bottom" clips and am pushing down on the body and rotating the pad onto the "top" clips.
Using this procedure you can change pads with only a little effort and very quickly. To remove a sanding pad and change to another takes about 15 seconds with a little practice.
Alright, enough technical stuff, how does this sander work?
In two words: Great. Different.
Here I have a piece of hard maple that I wanted to clean up planer and other surfacing marks. The LS130 might not be the first sander that comes to mind for this task, but is suffices and does a very nice job.
Here I'm showing my preferred hand-hold. This sander, because of it's very linear motion has a tendency to want to "scoot" back and forth if the front or rear is in contact more than the other. With this hand hold I can keep my hand high, not exert a great deal of pressure, but easily control both side-to-side balance and front-to-rear balance.
I have large hands, so this might not be possible for everyone. A two hand hold is very easy to do and maintain for long periods of time.
Here's another shot of the maple after 5 minutes of sanding using 120 grit. The surface is very smooth, and since I sanded with the grain no cross-scratching is visible. I would not deem this finish-ready, but it is very, very close.
Here's a different project, where the LS130 really shines with its linear sanding motion.
I am going to gang-sand a set of Adirondack chair slats. Each was ripped to size and shape, but has some saw marks. Since these are going to be stained, any variations in the surface will be emphasized.
So, I've lined up the slats, clamped them together, and will sand them together, in line with the grain.
Sanding time: 3 minutes.
The two results are: All slats will be exactly the same thickness and machining marks will be removed. Smooth as butter and with no swirl marks or cross-scratches.
Overall, the LS130 is a versatile sander, which can pinch-hit for other sanders even thought it is marketed as a niche tool. While I did not demonstrate its capabilities for linear profile sanding (those profile pads are not included in the standard kit), that is where it truly becomes distinguished and shows its unique character.
As with all Festool sanders, the dust collection is exquisite. When the pad is fully engaged dust collection is almost total. This sander sounds like no other, with a definite 'ticky-ticky' sounds, but that is due to it's back-and-forth motion, versus the hum of rotary sander.
The only thing I think is a detriment to the LS130 package is the fact that it's packed
in a Systainer 1. There is very little storage space for extra profile pads or consummables. And, unless you position the power cord just right, the lid might not want to close.
Here's a picture showing some sandpaper stored in the case. Exactly as arranged I can close the lid without issue.