Rotex Sander: Festool RO150

Rotex Comfort Zones

In working with different types of tools, I have a constant interest in exploring comfort zones. Mine, and the tool’s. A 6″ RO150 Rotex sander with a 5mm (3/16″) stroke is a bit of a step up in size and potential aggressive tendencies compared to the standard 5″ orbitals that we have all used forever. Where a large sander often gets uncomfortable is on smaller tasks.

Control Issues

Rotex sander

Get to know your Rotex on benchtop before going on a real project piece.

So, one of the first things I look at with Rotex sanders  is control issues.

Can we even use this tool as a finish sander on stain grade finishes?

One of the many ways we shake down a question like this on a tool like this is to hit a yard sale or two and pick up some guinea pig antique furniture.

Click here for a video of two rickety tables in the process of getting stripped and finish sanded with the RO150 walking up through Granat grits from 80 to 150 in preparation for dye stain and oil modified finish. As has been the case in much of our Festool testing, there is a profound lack of surface dust on the test pieces, due to the cohesion of the sander and dust extractor. Sanding is getting to be quite a bit more interesting.

[Read about the 3.5″ Festool Rotex RO90 Sander]

Rotex Siblings

We are also working with the two little Rotex brothers of the 150. Putting them through both straightforward and counterintuitive paces on everything from exterior wood restoration to cabinet grade work. I hope to continue hearing from Rotex users. Many online colleagues have contacted me via email and forum messages to clarify their questions on what are the newest Festool technologies as they contemplate tool upgrades. It is helpful to understand each of these sanding tools in the context of the rest of the line. Stay tuned for continued coverage of the newest incarnations and features in the full range of projects that we do.

As always, we thank FestoolUSA for supporting the concept of better prep resources for painters, and for submitting their gear for our assessment in paint applications.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine ( since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Festool RO 90 Rotex Sander Review by Painters | Topcoat Review | January 6, 2013
  2. Festool Surfix Review | Topcoat Review | June 5, 2012
  3. Festool RO150 | Topcoat Review | May 24, 2012
  4. Festool Dual Mode Sander | August 30, 2011
  5. Abrasive Selection: Experience to Extremes | topcoatreview | August 28, 2011
  1. Mike says:

    I’ve used a random orbit sander for fixing window sills but they burn out pretty quickly and are really slow. I’ve contemplated buying a Rotex for a while now, but as you know, nothing that says Festool on it is cheap. I’ve found that an economical way to burn through a lot of material fast is by using a grinder. Not just any grinder, as the normal ones are way too fast. I found that by buying one with a variable speed wheel, you can dial it down to 1,000 RPM’s and maintain a fair amount of control. The abrasive discs are very durable and inexpensive. My hesitation in getting a Rotex is that I would still need a good detail sander for getting around all the corners of the uprights etc. What do you recommend for the detail work? Needs to remove paint from those inside corners well.

  2. Paul Willems says:

    Not sure the last time I’ve been so impressed with a tool (product). Just logged 11 hours in two days on a wall of a exterior re-paint of a 100 year old house with my new RO125. Removing old paint is unglamorous and brutal work….but this sander as you say is a paint eater. The ergonomics are excellent.

    I appreciate the Festool gives a full assortment of abrasives with the sander so you can experiment.

    Looking forward to some more finesse work with it.

    • Paul, glad to hear it! You will find that any of the Festool sanders are really two sanders in one (and the RO90 is three). The range of work that you can do with the RO series compared to other straight orbitals from other manufacturers is striking.

      I agree with you completely, paint removal is not fun. The RO125 is like hauling out a secret weapon. First thing we noticed in putting Festool on this type of work was the utter lack of dust on the surface during stripping. Whole new experience…please keep us posted on how this tool works for you!

  3. rcpainting says:

    Great video Scott, that sander looks like a wood snob’s dream machine! And the lack of dust must be a great improvement!

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