|Review by mbs||posted 12-15-2012 04:26 AM||5644 views||1 time favorited||10 comments|
Here’s my woodworking background which may bias your interpretation of the review:
I have 20+ years of hobbyist experience. I traveled a lot for work and typically made one big piece of furniture a year. I made a large portion of the furniture in both my houses which includes beds, cabinets, tables, chairs, entertainment centers, and dressers. I’m currently making a Hal Taylor inspired rocking chair. I like high quality tools and I’m willing to pay a premium over entry level tools to get quality. Fantastic customer service also influences my purchasing decisions. I don’t have any financial or personal relationship with anyone from Festool.
I have many random orbital sanders. I purchased this sander about 8 months ago. The RO 90 is unique because of it’s size (3.5” pad), weight and versatility. I don’t know of another sander that is comparable in size to this sander. I view this tool as a nice-to-have luxury tool for most woodworkers. Until I started making rocking chairs I didn’t have much of a use something this size because I would prefer a larger pad for big flat surfaces. But this sander shines when you need to sand a narrow piece, contoured pieces, or you don’t have much room to work. And it’s light weight compared to other Festool RO sanders. Before I bought it I would use the RO 150 to do most of the sanding and then hand sand the areas I couldn’t get to with the bigger sander. One of the disadvantages of getting this sander is you have to buy 3.5” sanding disks. UGH!
The dust collection works great on flat surfaces. It’s the same system that other festool sanders use. Air blows through the hole in the center of the paper and carries dust out to the holes in the perimeter of the paper. When sanding contours the dust collection system doesn’t capture all the dust.
It’s a variable speed unit and has a standard random orbital mode, and a rotax aggresive mode. It has the soft start feature and accepts a delta pad to reach into small areas like shutter louvers or corners. I haven’t tried the delta attachment yet. I recently purchased a interface pad which is a soft add-on pad which works well at smoothing out contoured surfaces.
I don’t have a meter to measure noise levels but its quieter than the festool RO 150. But, with a the vacuum running it’s noisier than a porter cable RO palm sander without a vacuum. The noise is mostly from the air cooling system rather than the motor. Speaking of cooling, the sander never heats up. It’s always cool to the touch.
This sander is a smooth operator! Very little vibration in the RO mode. There is vibration in the ROTAX mode but it’s the pad vibrating on the workpiece; not the motor vibrating.
Festool is proud of this sander just like they are all of their products. It weighs in at $385 on Amazon. Ouch! Festool controls pricing so anywhere you buy it you will pay the same price. There may be sites that give free shipping. Festool is one of the few products I will buy new because they hold their value so well. I will buy them used too if the price is considerably lower because they are high quality tools that I expect will last a long time. The first Festool sander I purchased had a funny sound to it but it worked just fine. I called the Festool rep and he didn’t even ask to discuss how I could remedy the problem. He said “I will send you a new one today”. No questions asked about anything I may have done like “well, did you drop it?” I believe they have a 30 day no questions asked return policy too but don’t quote me on it.
Here’s a link to the tool on amazon.
-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.