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Festool Rotex Sanders – Modes & Operation


Festool’s Rotex sanders are capable of a wide range of tasks, from heavy stock or finish removal to fine sanding and polishing. Here’s a primer on how to get the most out of yours.


Sanding a butcher-block countertop using a Festool Rotex sander

Getting Started


Always use the Rotex sander with dust extraction for optimal performance and health protection. Here are general guidelines for setting the extractor’s suction and the sander’s speed.

If you have lots of material to remove or use the sander to polish in the Rotex mode, set both the suction power and sander’s speed to higher settings.

In the random-orbit mode for fine sanding, set the dust extractor’s suction and the sander’s speed to medium to avoid jitter in the movement of the sander as well as swirl marks on the work.

You can also use the following table as a loose guide to set your sanding speed based on the sandpaper used.


Grit Speed Dial
40-80 6
120-180 5
220-320 4
400-600 3
800-1000 2
1200 & over 1

Choosing the Pad & Sandpaper


In addition to selecting the proper suction and sanding speed, you need to choose the pad and sandpaper according to the sanding mode used and the sanding task required. The following recommendations will handle general woodworking needs.

Rotex Mode

- Use a hard pad and coarse-grit sandpaper (80x or under) with the Rotex mode when removing stock heavily.

Random-Orbit Mode

- When operating the sander in the random-orbit mode, switch to a soft pad and use 80x or higher sandpaper.

Remember that you need to set the sander to the Rotex mode before changing the pad (Photo 1).


Removing the sanding pad

Photo 1 – Unplug the sander, press the spindle stop and unscrew the sanding pad.

Operating the Sander


To begin, place your dominant arm under the hose, and hold the sander so the power code and hose wrap around your arm. You can hold the sander in one of two ways. Try both and see which works better for you.

1) One hand forward, cupping in front of or over the gear head to provide control, and the other hand holding the motor housing or body for balance (Photo 2).


Gripping the gear head and the motor housing

Photo 2 – Keep a light grip on the sander, applying little to no pressure on the tool.


2) Same as above except with the rear hand gripping the dust extraction port to provide better balance (Photo 3).


Gripping the gear head while supporting the end of the barrel with the other hand

Photo 3 – Hold the front of the sander with a light touch to steer so that the random-orbit motion can freewheel.


Practice the two methods to find the hand position that gives the best comfort, control and balance for the job.

Pencil Marks for Monitoring Progress


With the aggressive Rotex mode, over-sanding can happen if you are not careful. Make some pencil lines on the work surface, and use them to gauge the progress of your sanding, especially when working with a large surface like a table top (Photo 4).


Making pencil marks on the workpiece to monitor sanding progress

Photo 4 – Make new pencil marks for each grit used.


After sanding, check for swirl marks. You can remove them with more aggressive sandpaper, and with the dust extractor set to a lower suction.

In the next section, we’ll discuss some maintenance and safety tips.

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