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Festool's Revolutionary New Multi-Mode Sander RO90DX

comments (0) August 14th, 2011 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

This 3-in-1 sander grinds, finish sands, and gets into tight spaces

Today, we have Festool’s new multimode sander, the RO90DX. It has two different sanding attachments, three different sanding modes, variable speed, vacuum attachment, and a couple of other issues to talk about. Let’s take a closer look.

Let me tell you what I like about this tool. This is pretty revolutionary in the fact that it has three different sanders in one spot. You get a rough sander, a fine sander, and a detail sander. We’re going to start with the fine sanding mode. This is going to be your every-day, most-often-used mode. It’s going to be the one you’re most familiar with, because it’s similar to your existing random-orbit sander. This is what you’d use if you’ve glued two boards together and you need to smooth out that glue joint or when you’re erasing pencil marks. This is going to be your everyday multipurpose mode that ranges from really fine, gentle, kitten sanding all the way up to a little faster. Another interesting thing about this is that it’s smaller; it’s only 3.5 in. compared to the normal 5-in. and 6-in. pads. This will allow me to get into smaller, tighter spaces.

The round pad will operate in two modes. They have a random-orbit mode and what Festool calls “rotex.” What this does is it combines a circular motion with an eccentric, random-orbit kind of motion. You team this up with a really coarse sanding disk, and this gives you just a coarse, aggressive, rip-your-teeth-into-the-wood kind of cutting. It will take paint off of rough wood, and it’ll take rough wood and bring it down to smooth. It’s almost as aggressive as an angle grinder, but with a little more finesse. What you’re not going to use it for is anything where the final surface needs to look really nice and smooth. This is the intermediate stage to get down to the more finished work.

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A cool bonus with this tool is this little edge protector. You’ll notice what happens when you run a sander up against an adjacent surface: You tend to tear into the foam pad. Festool gives you this little snap-on accessory that will space the sanding pad out from the edge just enough to protect it and still allow you to get into the corner and clean it up.

The third mode is the detail-sanding mode with a delta pad. What that does is it allows you to take off the round pad and put on this. This is great for being able to get into tight spots. It just adds a whole other dimension to the single tool. Where normally I would have to pull out my oscillating multitool or my special-purpose detail sander, now I have this, so I have three tools in one spot. This is really great for getting into tight spots—cleaning up a windowsill, for instance, or working in and around stair parts. This is really going to be the ace up your sleeve.

Everybody has come to expect that Festool has excellent dust collection in all their tools, and I can tell you that this one is no exception. It really does an excellent job, better than other sanders I’ve used, at picking up the dust. It keeps the surface clear; it keeps the dust out of the air. It’s really amazing.

But if you ask me, even a tool this nice has a little bit of room for improvement. My biggest complaint with this is just that over the course of the last month, I’ve been using this a lot, and I can never seem to get comfortable on it. I don’t quite know how to hold it. A typical random-orbit sander you grab above the motor. Sometimes they have a trigger grip back here, so you grab it like a pistol, with one hand on top. But this feels a little too compact. This is small, and your hands are too close together with this wide handle. A lot of times, I end up grabbing the power cord or the hose connection, and I can’t seem to get comfortable with it. I grab it a different way every time I pick it up.

This is a minor complaint, but I still think it’s worth noting. This thing locks when you’re in different modes, so once the tool is on, I can’t switch. That’s fine. I understand why, but even when it’s turned off, it sometimes is sticky. It gets a little hung up between the modes, and you have to push it down. Not a big deal, probably something you’ll get used to but on a tool this expensive, I feel like I should be able to get this right.

So what’s the bottom line here? It’s a really great tool. I use it like crazy. I wouldn’t give it up, but I also can’t give it any more than a B+. It’s got some room for improvement. So Festool RO90DX: solid B+.



posted in: Blogs, grinders and polishers, sanders

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