Festool: My Healthy Obsession

By Scott Sidler July 24, 2017

festoolYes, it’s true I love Festool! Just like any DIYer or contractor I love good tools. The old adage of “use the right tool for the right job” is so true. Using the wrong tool for a job can truly make the project as awful as trying to sleep in a room of 2-year-olds pumped full of sugar.

But finding the right tool? Oh, it is amazing! It makes you feel like the gods are smiling down upon you. I’m not trying to say that a good tool will make a bad carpenter an all-star, but if you are using the wrong or cheap tools then you are definitely not reaching your potential.

My Festool Obsession

In one of my Facebook groups (where only the geekiest of window restorers hang out) there was a huge conversation about why people are so obsessed with Festool. The initial comment was that you don’t need a Festool to restore windows. While I agree with that sentiment, the real question is why wouldn’t you use Festool if you could?

Here’s the deal: I’m not paid by Festool. I don’t know any of their German scientists or their trade secrets, but I know they make absolutely amazing tools! And when I catch wind of things whether they are tools or techniques that can make your life easier I’m eager to share it with you my readers.

In my honest opinion, Festool makes the finest tools on the market today. They are not cheap, but great things never are. That being said not every tool I own is a Festool. That’s just not feasible, but there are a few places where I have decided that there is no room for compromise and for those tools it’s Festool or bust.

If you haven’t used these tools before that’s likely because they aren’t available at most hardware or big box stores. They can usually be found in specialty and woodworking stores or online. Don’t bother looking for sales either because they never happen. The price is the price.

Below are two of the tools that I think no matter who you are you can’t afford to go without. For a variety of reasons that I outline below each of these premium tools have no substitute in quality or safety.

Festool CT Dust Extractor

Festool dust extractor
Image Credit: Festool

Most folks call these shop vacs, but there is a big difference between a standard shop vac and a Festool Dust Extractor. Regular shop vacs do a good enough job picking up debris from the average job site, but when it comes to my job site and things like lead paint I don’t want average. I want extraordinary and Festool delivers!

Each Dust Extractor (they have a variety of sizes) is a sealed HEPA vacuum. If you are working on a house built before 1978 there is no other option than HEPA. These vacuums have some of the most incredible suction available not matter which size you get. They can suck the hair off a cat without blinking. They operate perfectly every time and contain all that lead (or asbestos) dust safely inside.

Unlike ordinary vacuums these also have minimal clogging, require the filter to be changed less often, and even have an “auto-on” function that turns the vacuum on when a connected tool is switched on. If you truly want to feel safe working around lead paint and want premium dust collection there really isn’t another solution in my opinion. There is now a smaller, super portable, and less expensive model available too which is pictured above.

Festool RO 90 DX Rotex Sander

Festool Rotex 90 DX
Image Credit: Festool

You may think I’m absolutely insane when I tell you that you should buy a $400+ sander when there are other sanders available at the hardware store for 1/10 the price, but hear me out.

Why would you need such a pricey sander? Because not only do Festool sanders collect dust (when paired with a dust extractor) beyond anything I have ever seen, but this model in particular is the most versatile sander you can find. Check out some of these features.

  • Easily switch from sanding with a round pad to a triangle shaped pad (no tools required)
  • Aggressive sanding mode is gear-driven and allows quick stripping of old paint and coatings
  • Random orbital mode provides astonishing finish sanding results with ease
  • Polishing mode and accessories offer the ability to product a brilliant, gleaming shine on nearly any surface

It’s several very powerful tools in one so it’s not really just buying an expensive sander. It’s a paint stripper, stock shaper, sander, polisher, and detail sander all in one amazing tool.

Final Thoughts

I know this post may have sounded a little “salesy” as I re-read what I have written, but it really is the truth. I have no financial skin in the game of whether you buy or don’t buy a Festool. I just wish someone had told me about them earlier when I started. Now that I know I would be remiss to not share with you.

For me working safely with lead paint is too important to take a chance on standard sanders and vacuums that leave the room covered in a fine layer of dust. My family’s health is not really something I can put a price tag on.

6 thoughts on “Festool: My Healthy Obsession”

  1. I 100% agree with you. They are insanely expensive, but so worth it. Nothing else comes close. You can sand millwork and not have to deal with any real dust. If you pair the sander with the panel saw now you are talking about cutting the amount of stuff you need in your garage. I justified the cost with the fact that I would spend more money if I had paid a contracter instead of trying to do it myself. Now I have the tools that I can use on every project after that initial one. Just started working on my 4th gut bathroom renovation in 2 years. I thank the DIY Gods I got the festool on the first bathroom.

  2. Do you use a “cyclone” dust/debris catcher with your vacs? Maybe I am just cheap, I hate having to use new bags frequently to maintain maximum suction once a bag starts to clog up?

    Is the “Delta” feature oscillating? A piece inside my old porter-cable profile sander broke and I can’t seem to find replacement parts. If it is oscillating, can it make use of saw blades, or is it not designed for that kind of punishment?

    A highly effective sander would be very useful. I am sure for a professional the cost is made up in increased productivity. As one working on my own house, increased productivity would always be welcome, but increased cost, not so much.

  3. Wow! That sander sounds spectacular! Loved meeting you this past weekend and am looking forward to following your adventures.

  4. Thanks Scott! I really do miss your old web page that had a list of tools that you use around your shop (because of it, I too bought the festool vacuum and sander with no regrets) It’s helped me tremendously to work efficiently, cofindently and safely with my windows. Keep up the great work and articles!

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