If I had to choose just one Festool sander, the Rotex 150 FEQ would be it. This is my favorite Festool sander and the first one that I reach for when I start sanding my projects. It is very versatile with its ability to switch between coarse sanding in rotary mode to fine sanding in random orbit mode. With the proper accessories, you can even use this as a polisher for polishing finishes to a high gloss. In fact, Festool even offers sponge pads that you can use to polish your automobile.
Let’s take a look at what is included with the machine:
• RO 150 Sander with removable dust port
• Plug-it power cord
• StickFix sanding pad (soft) – this is the black one and it now comes with the Multi-Jetstream technology as standard for improved dust collection and prolonged abrasive life
• Abrasive sample pack
• Edge protector
• Auxiliary side handle
• Packaged nicely in a Systainer 3
Here are the general specifications of the machine:
• 720 watts/6 amps of power
• 6 inch (150 mm) pad diameter
• 3/16” sanding stroke
• 27 mm dust port
• Speed range of 3,300 – 6,800 orbits per minute in eccentric mode
• Speed range of 320 – 660 revolutions per minute in rotary mode
• Weighs in at 5 lbs
As with all Festool sanders (and all Festool power tools for that matter), dust collection is an integral part of the tool. It is very effective and there is minimal dust left on the surface when changing grits. One cool feature with this tool is that you can detach the dust port from the machine so that you can use it as a polisher. If you are using this machine with the Stickfix polishing pad (sold as an accessory under product number 496151) you can attach various sponge pads, felt pads or even sheepskin pads for different polishing applications. In some instances you would want to remove the vacuum port and Festool designed it to pop off in seconds.
Changing pads is a breeze and the RO 150 features a tool less pad changing system. There is a green button on the lower right of the machine that locks the pad and you give it a turn to remove it. Install the new pad with the button depressed and you can lock it on with a quick turn. There is no allen key to have to worry about and it is a nice feature. I prefer using the hard pad (product number 496149) for most of my sanding as it helps me ensure a flat surface and it minimizes the chance that I will round over the edges of my work. With the quick change system, it is fast to change between pads if I need to use the soft pad or switch the machine to a polisher.
I mentioned this in another review, but I really do like the Multi-Jetstream technology Festool has implemented in its pads and paper. It greatly aids in dust extraction and there is minimal dust when changing grits. The Festool sandpaper lasts a very long time, especially in the coarser grits. I find that I use the Rotex for the initial sanding of a work piece up until 150 or 180 grit and then I like to switch to a finishing sander such as the ETS 150/3 for the higher grits. I have used the Rotex with higher grits too and I got great results.
This machine has plenty of power and I have yet to be able to slow the pad down. It is rated at 720 watts which is more than enough to use it in the aggressive orbit mode for quick material removal. I often use my Rotex to scribe to a line. One recent example was when I needed to sand some inset drawer fronts flush with the front of a desk I am building. I did not get the drawer slides perfectly aligned on all the drawers and some of the fronts were a little proud of the desk. I needed to sand down 1/16th -1/32nd of an inch to get the faces perfectly flush to the desk front and the Rotex allowed me to accomplish this task in minimal time. Using 60 Grit Cristal paper, and I was able sand to my line in just a minute or two per drawer front. It turned out great and it was a lot faster and easier to use this tool than to try a hand plane or block plane and risk tear out on the Birdseye Maple drawer fronts.
Here is a picture of the drawer front proud of the desk front:
And here is a shot of how much material I needed to remove:
And here is a shot of the flush drawer front:
And here is a shot of a completed front with one that has not been sanded:
The RO 150 also features MMC electronics to deliver constant speed under load with thermal overload protection and it has different variable speed ranges depending on whether or not the machine is in rotary mode or eccentric mode. Similar to other sanders, the Rotex RO 150 also has a rubberized top grip that is comfortable to use over prolonged sanding and it includes a handle that can be used on either side of the machine. This is particularly helpful when you are using the machine in rotary mode since the machine is powerful and can try and get away from you if you are not holding on. Personally I find that holding the top grip and the back of the machine near the Plug-it cord is all I need to control the machine regardless of mode, but the handle has come in handy at times. While the machine did take a little bit of time to get used to (as it feels different than other random orbital sanders), it is very well balanced and I do not have problems controlling it where I want it to go.
The 3/16 inch sanding stroke provides rapid stock removal, especially with coarse grits of paper, but still allows for a fine finish with higher grits of paper. For most applications this is a great compromise for stock removal and a smooth finish. Personally I like the smaller stroke of the 150/3 for the last grits I use on a project, but I have completed several projects with just this machine as it does leave a nice finish. Since acquiring this machine, I have not even touched my belt sander and this is used on just about every project at some point and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an awesome all around sander. Coupled with an ETS 150/3 and a DTS 400 or Deltex (or new RO 90 DX when it is available) and you would be able to cover all of your sanding needs.