Festool - RAS 115.04 E Rotary Sander (Rating: 4)

I haven't seen any LJ reviews of the RAS. I don't have a lot of experience with it yet but I'll share my initial thoughts and update the review later.

I bought this sander to hog out rocking chair seats, legs … I used standard 4.5" grinders with abrasive disks or donuts before I got the RAS115. The units without dust collection ports make a big mess very fast. I was looking for an aggressive sander with good dust collection.

The RAS is comfortable to hold, well balanced, has low vibration and variable speed (1500 - 4000 rpm). It's not like other sanders because there isn't any randomness to the sander. It simply spins fast. When armored with 36 or 50 grit paper it removes wood, paint, skin, anything very fast. I'm impressed with how long the paper last too. Some people use this sander to cope the backs of their molding which you can see on youtube. Another common usage is paint removal on things like windows, doors, cars…

The handle rotates the dust shroud via a bevel gear to the desired location around the perimeter of the disk. The shroud is fitted with a bristle brush that guides an impressive amount of dust into the vac port. I'd say it catches 80% of the dust.

I tried using the RAS to hog out the seat bottom but I found I preferred a donut to a flat disk. The round edge of the donut is easier to form the curved interior parts of the seat. I haven't looked for a donut for the RAS but I don't think they make one. The RAS worked very well on rounding the edges of the seat. I'm planning on using it to form other parts of the chair but I haven't tried it yet. I think it will work well based on my experience with the seat.

The sander and dust collection are easy to use and effective when one can maintain a reasonable consistent relationship between the touch point of the sander and the orientation of the shroud. For example, use the sanding area from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock with the shroud positioned on the right side of the sander. I had some difficulty moving the sander in a circular motion because the bristles would lift the sander up on one side when they changed directions. I would imagine a more skilled user wouldn't have any problem. And maybe the bristles relax more with time too.

A couple of minor issue are 1) the sander has a dedicated power cord which can't be removed. I thought all new festool equipment had removable cords. 2) The shroud is slightly bigger than the pad which makes it more difficult to see the pad touching the surface.

At $310 it's not cheap. It excels at a very specific type of sanding so it's not something that everyone needs. But if you're doing a lot of paint removal or sculpting it might be worth looking into.

Update: LIve4ever suggested using a 14MM to 5/8 adapter so a donut could be fitted to the 115.04. I bought it off of Amazon for about $15 including shipping. The nut sits proud of the donut but it wasn't enough to get in the way of grinding. I liked grinding at 4K RPM vs a normal grinder speed (12K RPM). It was less aggressive but aggressive enough. Here is what the setup looks like.

Household hardware Cylinder Automotive tire Composite material Auto part

Camera accessory Cameras & optics Automotive tire Gas Camera lens

Camera lens Automotive tire Camera accessory Lens Cameras & optics

Wood Flooring Floor Table Hardwood

As for the efficiency of the dust collector I believe it picked up 60%-70% of the dust. The pictures below are an attempt to show how much wood was removed and how much dust is on the floor/bench. Certainly not up to festools normal standards but I'm not using their equipment as designed. I'm sure I could improve the dust collection if I could find an adapter that was shorter.

Wood Picture frame Gas Hardwood Machine

Wood Electrical wiring Gas Saw Flooring