The Festool RTS 400 REQ is an orbital sander with a rectangular head and variable speed. You can use it on walls, or to sand down filler, but it’s best suited for use on woodwork and other trim.
The power comes from a normal plug and it’s made dust free by plugging it into the hose from an extraction unit. The extractor is basically a high-powered vacuum that sucks and traps the dust out of the sander.
The variable speed helps to tackle different types of surface sanding. You would use it on its fastest setting for most tasks, but turn it down when sanding over varnish, as this will stop the old varnish melting and clogging up the pads. You may also need to turn the speed down when sanding filler in cracks, as the sander is so powerful it will basically sand all the filler out again before you know it’s happened.
If you use one of the Festool or Mirka extraction units, the extractor will automatically start when you turn the sander on. This makes everything slick and easy to use. You will also have variable speeds on the unit to help if your machine starts to overheat, but it’s not generally needed. One tip is to use Velcro straps to hold the power lead and the hose together to stop them from tangling.
If you can’t afford to buy the sander and extractor in one go, don’t worry!! You can use a Henry Hoover with the Festool RTS 400 REQ to begin with. You will need an adapter which you can buy here. You should expect your Henry to last around a year before it yields to the very fine sanding dust attacking it’s motor. Using a Henry may make things cumbersome and difficult to control, however it will serve its purpose.
If you’re working at height and it isn’t practical to have an extraction unit attached to your sander, there is a waste bag that comes with the ETS 400 and attaches to the back of your sander. I’d say this makes it about 75% dust free. With the extractor you’re very close to 100% dust free.
I’ve been using the Festool RTS 400 REQ for about three years now. Yes, Festool equipment is expensive, but so are any other high-end sanders. The build quality and ease of use of Festool are second to none!! Your sander will come with a 3-year warranty as standard, so if anything does go wrong, the manufacturer will either repair or replace the unit for you.
It is worth buying the pad savers (available online here) and using them every time you use the sander. They’re inexpensive and dramatically cut down on wear and tear on the business end of your sander.
I am a decorator with my own business. If, like me, you’re in business and you have trade accounts at several different retailers, I’d suggest going directly to them for any big purchases like this. That way they’ll help you if you have any issues further down the line. That said, it is often cheaper to buy sanders online. After all, the warranty is with Festool themselves, not the retailer. Click here to see online prices.
If you’re looking for a dust free sander like this then you’ve only really got two options. You can either go for a the Festool RTS 400 REQ, or the Mirka Deos. I have used both and they are both great machines. However, I’d personally go with the Festool every time, simply because of the build quality and the expected lifespan of the machine. However, there are a few decorators who would disagree with that verdict.
So, how would I rate the RTS 400 REQ? Well it’s probably the best tools I’ve ever bought in my decorating career. I abused one for about 8 years and it was still going strong. Then replaced it with a brand new one anyway. I’d recommend this sander to anyone. 10/10 from me, I can’t fault it!!
I just wanted to reflect on the importance of dust-free sanding for a moment. I’ve been in the decorating industry for around 20 years. Dust free sanders like the Festool RTS 400 started to become popular about 12 years ago, and now almost every decorator uses them.
The benefits are obvious. No dust means a cleaner working environment, cleaner house, and much better health. You don’t even need to wear a mask when using Festool equipment.
Festool RTS 400 REQ Review – by Mike Gregory