Festool RO 90 DX Rotex Sander

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Review by mbs posted 12-15-2012 04:26 AM 10566 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Festool RO 90 DX Rotex Sander No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

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.

View mbs's profile


1668 posts in 3708 days

11 comments so far

View Xtreme90's profile


193 posts in 3961 days

#1 posted 12-15-2012 02:13 PM

Worth every penny! I just recently started investing in festool. Had no idea what I was missing! I know own the domino, track saw, and the dts 400 sander with 36 dust extractor and I just absolutely love these tools!! Leave it to German tooling. :)

-- "I don't cut wood. I machine it!" G.M. The wood machinest

View waho6o9's profile


8906 posts in 3345 days

#2 posted 12-15-2012 02:22 PM

That is one great sander. It was designed for the automobile industry and then
it made it’s way to wood working.

The Rotex 90 works so well, it really is unmatched.

Congrats on a great sander mbs!

View bigkev's profile


198 posts in 3396 days

#3 posted 12-15-2012 07:26 PM

I have the same one and bought it for the exact same purpose – my rocking chair. Can’t beat it for dust collection and getting in tight places.

-- Kevin, South Carolina

View LOWI's profile


10 posts in 2695 days

#4 posted 02-15-2013 04:59 AM

Two cents here. I have this sander and I absolutely love it. I was looking for the Festool cheapo price people to chime in here (I done can get me a sander at Lowes for $45 so why should’n I dern buy one from some socialistic German company…blah blah blah), but they seem quiet. Even so, you can’t argue the price of 3 great sanders in one.

View mbs's profile


1668 posts in 3708 days

#5 posted 03-18-2013 02:41 AM

Update – Just finished my second rocker and I’m very happy I bought this tool. It works extremely well getting into tight places. It’s light and easy to use. I really like the soft interface pad for curved surfaces.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Hartworks's profile


53 posts in 2366 days

#6 posted 02-05-2014 07:04 PM

Thanks for the review…I was looking for some info on this sander because I am debating on pulling the trigger on purchasing. I do not have any festool tools so I really don’t know what to expect different from other sanders, but all the positive feedback is worth giving it a whirl since there is a 30 day no risk period. I started looking at the festool line because of the domino. I have done a lot with pocket joinery and biscuit joinery but the domino looks like an awesome tool.

-- Gary, California

View mbs's profile


1668 posts in 3708 days

#7 posted 02-05-2014 08:47 PM

Be careful. Buying your first festool can be the beginning of a very slippery slope! I don’t have a festool product that I don’t like.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Hawkeye1434's profile


14 posts in 2217 days

#8 posted 06-08-2014 10:00 PM

I agree I suck down the festool Kool-aid everyday since I bought my first tool from them. I bought the 36 dust extractor, along with the domino, of course I could operate the domino without all three domino systainer kits, the senaca cutter attachment, extra sipo tenons for an outside job, after that I was in the market for a new jigsaw, after testing the new carvex I was hooked again. I have heard a ton of bad things about the kapex but I’m super excited to get the TS75, the mtf3 table and guide, along with an extra table for a workstation, I’m not sold on exactly everything but 90+ percent I love festool best stuffi ever laid my hands on and also want the Rolex 150 and 90 when I can don’t have a great sander

-- Do it Right the First Time

View UnclePolly's profile


12 posts in 2043 days

#9 posted 12-02-2014 08:53 PM

You Festool Kool-Aid drinkers need to gather up your fortitude and take a look at the Mirka Ceros ROS. It makes the Festool RO look like a childs toy. Comparing a Mirka to a Festool is like comparing a Festool to a Black & Decker.
You get what you pay for, folks and sometimes you just have to put on your big boy pants and play for real, if you’re really interested in quality!

-- Remember, since life is so short, we should hurry to do good!

View mbs's profile


1668 posts in 3708 days

#10 posted 12-03-2014 05:56 AM

Uncle – I’ve heard positive comments about Mirka on the Festool Owners Group. I don’t believe they make a model that competes with the RO90. It makes me wonder if you read the review.

If you like the Mirka why don’t you write a review about it and explain why it’s a great sander rather than comment on the size of clothes we wear.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View eebdoow's profile


53 posts in 3428 days

#11 posted 12-16-2015 09:00 PM

I have had the R90 for a few years now. Yes it leaves a really nice finish, however IMO it’s under powered. In other words it tends to grab the wood and cause the sander to skip around unless you really balance it and use no pressure. Even after that it still grabs. I’ll probable purchase the 6” sooner than later, but the R90 is really only good for small surfaces.

-- In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act -George Orwell

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