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  1. #1
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    Jul 2009
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    Default Random Orbital Sanders

    I am looking for advice about the most efficient sander. I am familiar with Bosch and wonder if these are the best for stripping paint and finishing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    SE Queensland
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    35

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    I sanded back a very old neglected house with a Bosch GEX 150 Turbo Professional and couldn't fault it. It is a true dual action random orbital and with speed/torque control.
    Since then it has done many other sanding tasks, would highly recommend.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2004
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    Brisbane
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    There are so many choices. Bosch, Makita and on an on. They all make pretty good machines.

    The one criterion you should be asking about with this is dust collection. Onboard dust collection is really only any good for that one time when it is just too awkward or too small a job to bother with. Dust collection is super important for the quality of the result and your health.

    If you are just stripping paint for a particular project, you don't need to spend too much money. You are going to be using relatively coarse abrasives and the surface is more than likely to be covered again in paint.

    If you are preparing surfaces for clear finishes, you probably want to go up to the next tier of machines. I think it is worth spending the money on.

    Probably the easiest way to define your requirements is by how much money you are willing to spend, not forgetting dust collection.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    2,403

    Default Random Orbital Sanders

    The Festool RAS 115 is the best tool I’ve used to strip finishes/paint etc, then following up with the Festool rotex sander. They’re expensive but worth it in my opinion. Even if you use it on one big job then sell it you’ll get most of your money back as they have good resale value.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Sth. Island, Oz.
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    60
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    A Rotex type sander (pref. 150mm diameter) is really the only single sander available that will efficiently both strip & finish timber surfaces. There's been much cheaper alternatives/equivalents to the Rotex for the past 30 years or so from both Robert Bosch & Makita if budgetary considerations are relevant.

    I personally prefer a combination of Mirka's DEROS sanders in 8mm & 5mm orbital actions (there's also an ultra-fine 2.5mm action finisher that I've never actually used) for each respective task. Just so much more ergonomically sound & efficient than my Rotexes ever were.

    A quality dust extraction setup is really all but mandatory when using expensive dedicated sanders. Making the combined setup pretty expensive: $2000 min to maybe $4K max dependent on your particular tool choice.

    Finally, there's always the budget alternative of a variable speed mini-grinder with carborundum discs used in combination with a flexible rubber/plastic backing pad. An extremely messy but easily the fastest method of paint stripping out there. Using an abrasive cleaning block or a short length of scrap PVC water pipe will dramatically reduce the discs' tendency to clog.

    If you can still get a Triton Orbital Sanding grinder attachment (long since discontinued, but theoretically still available from yard sales, Gumtree etc.) then you've got the ideal - albeit messy - budget finishing sander available too for maybe some 1-25% or even less of the price of a fancier dedicated sander combo. Dust masks are pretty cheap too.
    Sycophant to nobody!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Shepparton
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    160

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    I'll second the festool mine is worth every penny spent on it and with mesh sanding pads you can't go wrong.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    One criteria no one seems to have mentioned is "vibe". I've used quite a few ROS sanders and the amount of vibe seems to follow price. My cheap and cheerful Ozito turns my hands to jello in about 15 minutes of use. At the other end of the scale I can use m Festool all day without any probs.

    I've never been fond of using ROS for stripping so 15 years ago bought a Makita 100 mm wide belt sander which strips paint about 10 time faster than and ROS.The big akita is heavy and some care is needed or you can end up with significant gouges in the work but once you have mastered using it it is very quick.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2004
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    Brisbane
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    The middle priced machines are just fine in the vibration department. You really don't need to buy a Festool sander to get a quality machine.

    I'm not doubting there is a world of difference between an Ozito and a Festool, in the same way there is no comparison between a Trabant and a Mercedes-Benz. They were both made in (greater) Germany, but that is where the similarity ends.

    There are other German automobile manufacturers that make a damn fine product at a more affordable price-point for most people than Mercedes-Benz and are not a piece of crap like a Trabant.

    Similarly with Random Orbit Sanders...

  9. #9
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    May 2004
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    Agreed. Festool sanders were, & still are, pretty good. But, at about $1000 ea., also shamefully expensive in Oz. You can do so much better with your hard earned readies.

    Whilst Festool has taken an evolutionary approach to their sanders' development, some alternative manufacturers have come ahead in leaps and bounds. In particular in design, development, performance, ergonomics & dust extraction. Prices are pretty competitive too.

    In Tasmania, since the company centralised their distribution and repair network, it's extremely difficult if not impossible to get timely or efficient repair and consumables service. My last "paper 'n pad" order took over 3 months to arrive, and even then the retailer neglected to inform me, instead placing my ordered items on the sales shelf! Needless to say, my personal Festool tool count went down from about 20 or so to a single belt sander & vac over the next few months!

    The advent of EC motored (brushless) AC powered tools have made sanders smaller, lighter and (with newer mesh abrasives) much better at collecting dust than ever before. The more compact dimensions and significantly lighter weight (from 20-70% reduction) of the latest tools, use of maintenance-free sealed-for-life EC motors & superior ergonomics eclipses older designs.

    Quite a few other manufacturers are also using Mirka's ground-breaking designs now too. Often at significantly reduced prices. The likes of Italy's Rupes, The Netherlands' Delmeq, Spain's Indasa, Germany's Carsystem & Metabo (& another east Asian manufacturer whose name I forget but I think it begins with an S) are all using Mirka's EC motors & chassis in their own particular livery, both with & without those slightly dodgy "Plug-It" type power cables. Apparently at least some (Mirka) & perhaps even most or even all of them now "talk" to one's pocket telephone via Bluetooth. Summat to do with OH&S vibration monitoring I'm informed. Neither of relevance nor interest to me personally, other than to inform you that the 4 Mirkas & one Delmeq that I have are easily the lightest, smoothest & cleanest running sanders I've ever used.

    I was able to import a Systainer-packed pair of DEROS & DEOS sanders together with 150 & 125 mm Random pads & counterweights, rectangular & Delta bases & assorted mesh abrasive sampler packs for about half the price of Festool's equivalents. Better sanders, better pricing! Now that Mirka has a national retail & repair (through among others, The Painter's Pot I think) setup in place I'm much more confident in their ability to supply the requisite backup service that I've found so lacking with the Teutonic equivalent.

    I still think a disc sander (i.e. grinder) is the fastest way to strip paint. It's what professional painters use where dust isn't so much of an issue but time is, such as exterior weatherboards.

    Another dual action sander that I'd failed to mention earlier is Metabo's venerable SXE 450 Turbotec sander that has switchable orbits (2.8 & 6.0 mm I think), which whilst not quite as effective as a Rotex at the coarser stripping role will be far superior in final finishing tasks. At about $350-ish it's about a third of the price of the equivalent Rotex with slightly inferior stripping & vastly superior finishing performance. It will also take a much greater variety of abrasives too, from hardware store cheapies to specialist mesh. With Festool sanders you're generally locked in (due to their "eccentric" extraction hole pattern) to Festool's proprietory excellent quality but hard-to-get & often unconscionably expensive abrasives. It's also significantly less heavy & powerful yet much better to handle than a Rotex, which at times can be rather evil-tempered, vibratory and unruly buggers.

    The local Tas. Uni's Schools of Arts, Architecture & Design just replaced all their Festool orbitals with SXE 450s apparently for (I'm told) similar reasoning. The new Metabos are apparently simply just "better".
    Sycophant to nobody!

  10. #10
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    Apr 2018
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    Nsw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratbag View Post
    Another dual action sander that I'd failed to mention earlier is Metabo's venerable SXE 450 Turbotec sander that has switchable orbits (2.8 & 6.0 mm I think), which whilst not quite as effective as a Rotex at the coarser stripping role will be far superior in final finishing tasks. At about $350-ish it's about a third of the price of the equivalent Rotex with slightly inferior stripping & vastly superior finishing performance. It will also take a much greater variety of abrasives too, from hardware store cheapies to specialist mesh. With Festool sanders you're generally locked in (due to their "eccentric" extraction hole pattern) to Festool's proprietory excellent quality but hard-to-get & often unconscionably expensive abrasives. It's also significantly less heavy & powerful yet much better to handle than a Rotex, which at times can be rather evil-tempered, vibratory and unruly buggers.

    The local Tas. Uni's Schools of Arts, Architecture & Design just replaced all their Festool orbitals with SXE 450s apparently for (I'm told) similar reasoning. The new Metabos are apparently simply just "better".
    Interesting you say that, I went in to my local tool shop to buy the Metabo but found all the sanding disks they sold did not fit the hole pattern including Norton
    I ended up coughing up the $$ and buying the Rotex

  11. #11
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    May 2004
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    Sth. Island, Oz.
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    Puzzling. Although I've never actually owned one, the pad's standard (631150000) "6+8+1" hole pattern covers the majority of commonly available abrasives: from hardware stores' 6-hole to Festo's 8+1.

    The Mirka family have multihole (28??) pads to cover just about any conceivable contingency, including the "hole free" or maybe "all-hole" mesh abrasives.

    Another "advantage" of the SXE 450 is that it doesn't necessarily require dedicated & expensive dust extraction, having an onboard dustbag. Just like most other sanely priced alternatives, results won't be as dust-free as with a vac attached: you can't get owt for nowt around here. So a dual action Metabo (or single action Bosch, Makita et. al.) can be had for about 1/6 or 1/7 the price of a 150mm EC Festool or the big Rotex & vac combo. Abrasives can be had for less than half the price of the (albeit better) Teutonic alternatives too.
    Sycophant to nobody!

  12. #12
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    Jul 2003
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    Near Bodgy, AlexS, Wongo & CraigB
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    2,638

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    doesnt matter which one you get, they all inevitably blow the motor or lose thier velcro stickiness (how's me punctuation?). just get the cheapest one. I've had many and the fate is the same. they are by a long shot the most replaced item in my w/s.
    Zed

  13. #13
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    Apr 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratbag View Post
    Puzzling. Although I've never actually owned one, the pad's standard (631150000) "6+8+1" hole pattern covers the majority of commonly available abrasives: from hardware stores' 6-hole to Festo's 8+1.

    The Mirka family have multihole (28??) pads to cover just about any conceivable contingency, including the "hole free" or maybe "all-hole" mesh abrasives.

    Another "advantage" of the SXE 450 is that it doesn't necessarily require dedicated & expensive dust extraction, having an onboard dustbag. Just like most other sanely priced alternatives, results won't be as dust-free as with a vac attached: you can't get owt for nowt around here. So a dual action Metabo (or single action Bosch, Makita et. al.) can be had for about 1/6 or 1/7 the price of a 150mm EC Festool or the big Rotex & vac combo. Abrasives can be had for less than half the price of the (albeit better) Teutonic alternatives too.
    Yes I took the Metabo out of the box to have a closer look at it and asked the salesman for some paper to check it and the hole pattern from the standard paper blocked a lot of the holes which turned me off it as the main issue I find with keeping the tool efficient is to keep the paper clean.
    The tool is quite high as well and the Rotex felt more comfortable to hold with its lower centre of gravity.

    The remnants of Scottish blood in my veins wanted me to buy the Metabo but I had 250 lineal metres of 240x45 Blackbutt to sand so I wanted a machine that would do it easily
    The Rotex did not disappoint in that regard, The Metabo may have done the job too but didn’t want to risk it.
    The other point I noted as well was a member here saying that they experienced fatigue using either the Bosch or Metabo unit, (can’t recall which it was ) but I can report that you can use the Rotex unit for 8 hours at a time comfortably

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Perth WA Australia
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    The amount of vibration one can tolerate is entirely dependent on how much exposure you've had to them in the past/previous injuries etc.

    The only way you'll know if you're affected is go use one for any extended period of time. Sadly once you do get carpel tunnel you're stuck with it for a while if not indefinitely. If you do have issues with carpel tunnel or similar i'd definitely recommend opting for a Festool sander. They not only will send out a rep to allow you to have a play on one of their sanders but offer one of the lowest vibration sanders on the market.

    I've got carpel tunnel, and when you factor in cost of a cortisone steroid injection (or surgery) going the Festool is a no brainer. But as said many people have no issues with vibrations so everyone's circumstances are different.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonzeyd View Post
    The amount of vibration one can tolerate is entirely dependent on how much exposure you've had to them in the past/previous injuries etc.

    The only way you'll know if you're affected is go use one for any extended period of time. Sadly once you do get carpel tunnel you're stuck with it for a while if not indefinitely. If you do have issues with carpel tunnel or similar i'd definitely recommend opting for a Festool sander. They not only will send out a rep to allow you to have a play on one of their sanders but offer one of the lowest vibration sanders on the market.

    I've got carpel tunnel, and when you factor in cost of a cortisone steroid injection (or surgery) going the Festool is a no brainer. But as said many people have no issues with vibrations so everyone's circumstances are different.

    I hear what you're saying, & I empathise. I'm also a chronic CTS sufferer, nowadays rather exacerbated by arthritic complications too. I'm particularly sensitive to coarse vibration, repetitive impact and motions: nailing, jackhammers, crowbars, pick & shovel work, chainsaws, repetitive hand motion etc. Buying the best available tools helps (wooden handled tools are a given for me).

    I must disagree with your evaluation of Festool's sander range, however. I've found some of their product to be intensely vibratory in comparison to the best of the rest. Even Festool's new EC sanders can't compare with the Mirka family & their clones. They vibrate more, are bigger & heavier than the Finnish machines.

    DEROS sanders will even include additional, exchangeable shaft counterweights to compensate for different pad diameters. They have onboard vibration measurement & recording functions that communicate with smart 'phones, presumably to reduce the incremental damage of long-term exposure.

    I've had to dispose of both my Rotex sanders due to the pain of CTS induced by their weight, compromised ergonomics & vibes. Interestingly, I've found that the worst offenders here are the smaller ones. I also suspect that in designing in more than one function to the tool that each particular function is performed sub-optimally. Certainly, my 8mm orbit Mirka is noticeably less of a handful than the RO150 was, if a tad slower than the Rotex in rotary mode (where it produces those damaging lower frequency/higher amplitude vibes). The 5mm DEROS is simply a delight: I can use it with impunity for extended sessions .

    My Festo Deltex was noticeably smoother running than the 'modern' RO90DX, irrespective of speed settings, and the difference between the 90mm Random pads on the small Rotex in comparison to my Metabo SXE400 Random is night and day (in the latter's favour).

    The absolute worst for me, however were my 2 Duplex (LS130??) linear Festool sanders. Despite touting themselves as vibration-suppressive, and having twin contra-rotating counterweights, I found the fore-&-aft linear motion too painful to maintain after mere minutes of operation.

    My own experience with Festool's sander range (8 tools) has been particularly disappointing. Especially as some simply haven't performed as per the company's publicity and retailer's recommendations (except for the biggest RO150 Rotex & the little DX 90 Deltex), nor crucially my expectations. The only Festo/ol sander that I haven't either sold or given away is the monster BS105E belt sander, mainly due to its amazing sanding frame that was developed by Holz-Her (the actual manufacturer) a good 30+ years ago. Even the old RS1C, one of my first Festos, whilst superb at basic flattening tasks, was over 3 times the weight & too uncomfortably "buzzier" than the (albeit smaller) DEOS or Delmeqs!

    Overall, I consider Festool's current range to be ludicrously expensive, rather crudely engineered, unsatisfactorily (& on occasion abysmally) performing & lacking in the overall ergonomic design principles and finesse of operation in comparison to the best of their competitors.
    Sycophant to nobody!

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