Author Topic: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander  (Read 1967 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline oakhilltop

  • Posts: 32
Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« on: December 19, 2018, 09:05 AM »
I'm working on a project using white pine with knots. Hand planing is a challenge with the knots and grain variations around the knots. I have a ETS 125 sander and tried using that to flatten some boards (1" x 6") that are slightly cupped etc. But it takes awhile with 80 grit and don't have lower grits in the shop at the moment. I watched a few videos on using a belt sander and thought, hmmmm that could work well. It seems like the large flat surface of a belt sander could get the boards very close to the final surface. Once I get the panels glued up, I will have a fair amount of sanding to smooth them further.

I'm interested in thoughts about the pros and cons of a 4" x 24" belt sander (looking at the Makita) and the festool sanders. The belt sander would be easier on the wallet.

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4171
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 10:15 AM »
You do need a Festool sander, a Festool Belt Sander with sanding frame.

Or a belt sander and a lot of skill.

Without a proper sanding frame a belt sander can quickly create man made aberrations that surpass the natural ones you’re coping with now (no pin intended).

If you do have good skills the belt sander much more quickly knock down the high spots than anything except a right angle grinder, which also requires skill and always leaves an unfortunate scratch pattern. The belt sander just as quickly instantly adds valleys if you aren’t very careful.

Offline oakhilltop

  • Posts: 32
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 11:03 AM »
What got me thinking about the belt sander was a woodworkers guild video on them. He suggested setting it for low rpm, and using 120 grit.

But, I don't have any (at least recent) experience with a belt sander.

Which festool sander would be best for stock removal? I don't need the dual mode since I already have the ETS. The price of the dual mode is probably out of my range.

Offline TinyShop

  • Posts: 345
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2018, 11:24 AM »
If you can afford to wait, I would suggest this:

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F233056208961

....accompanied by a Swiss-made Bosch 1274DVS belt sander. Although there aren't any available at the moment, used and the occasional NOS model regularly come up for auction (on ebay.com). Checking recent sold items, twelve were sold over the last couple of months. If you have 240V available you could consider the more recent 220V version, known as the GBS75A. A couple of sellers from South Korea have them in stock (here's one):

Edit - I should have mentioned that this combination of sanding frame and sander will be MUCH more affordable compared to the Festool belt sander.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F263554555369

Or you could opt for the 220V GBS75AE version. Checking ebay.co.uk, I find several options available right now. Also, the sanding frame can be purchased there as well, or from Amazon UK. The model number is different but it's the same exact unit that was sold in the U. S. for the 1274DVS.

The 35mm/36mm tool-end fitting on Festool and Bosch-branded vac hoses fits nicely over the tapered dust port, though you may want to add a right angle elbow to improve the ergonomics. I haven't found the ideal right-angle solution for that yet though I'm betting that there's a rubber fitting out there that will work. Bosch did sell a nylon elbow at one time though it was faulty (numerous reports of the fitting splitting were reported) so the only option is cobblimg something together.

Good luck!

« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 11:32 AM by TinyShop »
ETS 150/5 EQ (DE) [po], TS 75 EQ (DE) [po], OF 1400 EQ-F (DE) [n], CXS (DE) [n], CMS-GE [DE] [po], CMS TS 75 (DE) [n], LA-CS 50/CMS (DE) [po], VB-CMS (DE) [n], MFT/3 (CZ) [n], DF 700 EQ w/Seneca Small Mortise Kit (DE) [po], FEIN Multimaster 350 QSL (DE) [n], Bosch 1274DVS w/dust collection, sanding frame,  stand & fence (CH) [n], BOSCH 1590EVS w/dust collection (CH) [n], CS Unitec CS 1445 HEPA extractor <re-branded Starmix ISP 1435 H> (DE) [n], CT SYS (DE) [po], Milwaukee 0302-20 (US) [n], Two (2) Porter Cable 862 (TW) [n], Porter Cable 447 (US) [n], Zyliss Vise (CH) [n], Hitachi C 8FB (JP) [h]

[po] pre-owned   [n] new   [h] heirloom   (XX) country of origin

Offline nvalinski

  • Posts: 97
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2018, 11:39 AM »
Belt sander would work, but sprays dust all over the place. I would highly recommend the Rotex, despite your concerns about high cost. It is perfect for these applications. I regularly level out end grain cutting boards with it in rapid amounts of time with a pretty half decent finish and no dust. I've heard the Bosch dual mode is probably a good comparable if you need to save a buck.

Offline oakhilltop

  • Posts: 32
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2018, 11:44 AM »
Maybe I should just try a coarser grit first? I see that 60, and 40 are available. Paying for a sander that can do fine and coarse removal when I already have the fine removal, is a little hard to swallow.

The reviews that I've read on the Makita belt sander, say the dust collection is very good. Even though it is a bag, which makes me skeptical.

Thanks for the feedback. It's great to hear what people with more experience think.

Offline TinyShop

  • Posts: 345
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2018, 11:45 AM »
I should have mentioned that this combination of sanding frame and sander is MUCH more affordable when compared to the two NAINA Festool belt sander options. Another option is to keep an eye out for the AEG-branded 120V (AEG HBSE 75S) version of the Holz Her machine thst the Festool offerings are slightly updated versions of. These are more rare and there are very few parts left for them so I wouldn't spend any real money on one. However, the Festool accessories (like the sanding frame and right angle dust port adapter, etc.) are compatible. A used AEG recently sold on eBay for less than US$50. At a price like that the pricing for the Festool accessories hurts less.
ETS 150/5 EQ (DE) [po], TS 75 EQ (DE) [po], OF 1400 EQ-F (DE) [n], CXS (DE) [n], CMS-GE [DE] [po], CMS TS 75 (DE) [n], LA-CS 50/CMS (DE) [po], VB-CMS (DE) [n], MFT/3 (CZ) [n], DF 700 EQ w/Seneca Small Mortise Kit (DE) [po], FEIN Multimaster 350 QSL (DE) [n], Bosch 1274DVS w/dust collection, sanding frame,  stand & fence (CH) [n], BOSCH 1590EVS w/dust collection (CH) [n], CS Unitec CS 1445 HEPA extractor <re-branded Starmix ISP 1435 H> (DE) [n], CT SYS (DE) [po], Milwaukee 0302-20 (US) [n], Two (2) Porter Cable 862 (TW) [n], Porter Cable 447 (US) [n], Zyliss Vise (CH) [n], Hitachi C 8FB (JP) [h]

[po] pre-owned   [n] new   [h] heirloom   (XX) country of origin

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 6082
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2018, 11:46 AM »
There is no Festool sander that comes close to a belt sander.

Besides of course the Festool belt sanders, which are not sold in North America, and they're very costly.

Closest thing Festool has to offer in NA is the Rotex 150, and though powerfull not nearly as powerful as a belt sander. If you realy want it flat, go for a good belt sander by a good brand.

But I'm no fan of flattening boards with a sander, takes too much time and is never really perfect because a sander is too small. A stationary power planer is better.

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 1805
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2018, 12:35 PM »
The reviews that I've read on the Makita belt sander, say the dust collection is very good. Even though it is a bag, which makes me skeptical.
I have Makita 9404 and the dust collection is good even with a bag. You can connect vacuum to it also. You'll have to cleanup, but it definitely does not spew dust all over. It's got built in blower that sucks up dust into the bag.
The difficulty of working with belt sander to flatten surfaces is exaggerated. Use 80 or 100 grit on lower speeds, light pressure, and constantly move the tool side to side and you'll be fine. It took me no time to get the hang of it.
P.S. Makita 9404 also has optional sanding frame (193072-3 Sanding Shoe).
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 01:40 PM by Svar »

Online RKA

  • Posts: 1719
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2018, 01:31 PM »
In my youth, I've been scarred by the use of a belt sander to flatten a coffee table top (and bottom).  The shop wasn't equipped with a powered planer large enough for the table top, they weren't teaching the use of hand tools, so my only option was the use of the belt sander.  It seemed like all I needed to do was look at it the wrong way and I would suddenly have a track in my table top.  I spent the better part of a week during my lunch period going over the top and bottom of the coffee table to get them flat, constantly removing the tracks I put in them.  Eventually I gave up on the idea that I could get them dead flat and settled for close enough without any sanding tracks...a goal that I was able to achieve with a lot of time and a little luck.  I probably sacrificed 1/8" of material during that process.  I'll NEVER do that again. 
-Raj

Offline lwoirhaye

  • Posts: 252
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2018, 05:09 PM »
I wouldn't be shy about using fillers in tear out around knots on pine.  Many can be tinted to match a stain.  There are times when pine must be perfect, but in those cases I would select pieces free of knots. 

A handled cabinet scraper can work wonders on reversed and knotty grain.  The basic Stanley style is fine.

I encourage perseverance with planes and scrapers.  They really do save time when you get them figured out. 

Offline aloysius

  • Posts: 341
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2018, 05:16 PM »
I'm working on a project using white pine with knots. Hand planing is a challenge with the knots and grain variations around the knots. I have a ETS 125 sander and tried using that to flatten some boards (1" x 6") that are slightly cupped etc. But it takes awhile with 80 grit and don't have lower grits in the shop at the moment. I watched a few videos on using a belt sander and thought, hmmmm that could work well. It seems like the large flat surface of a belt sander could get the boards very close to the final surface. Once I get the panels glued up, I will have a fair amount of sanding to smooth them further.

I'm interested in thoughts about the pros and cons of a 4" x 24" belt sander (looking at the Makita) and the festool sanders. The belt sander would be easier on the wallet.

I may very well be missing something here, but I simply don't see any reason whatsoever to be flattening individual planks prior to glue-up into panels.  Why?  Especially, why use sanders for this task?  This is more the province of the surface planer, or jointer in new-world parlance.  Flatten one face only:  the concave one.  Again, why would it be necessary?  It just seems a waste of time & effort.  Why not flatten the whole panel post-glue-up?

It's not at all unusual for planks to cup.  When making panels from these, it's traditional to alternate the concavities across the face of the glue-up, to provide an overall (roughly) flat planar panel surface.  This also compensates for the fact that board edges are no longer at exact right angles to the faces.

Traditional cabinet makers would've flattened the panel's diagonals @ 45 degrees with a Jack or even a scrub plane if it's in particularly bad shape before a final smoothing parallel to the grain.  Cranky grain & knots would've been carefully treated with scrapers.

I've had great results with using belt sanders for both roughing out the diagonals and final smoothing too.  I simply don't understand the hate , nor the tales of woe from their use.  A carefully, properly used belter won't produce ridges & valleys.  In my youth, I've sanded entire floors, even walls & ceilings, with belt sanders.  Both new & old.  A similar technique to hand planes is used.  First the diagonals with coarse grit (24-36-40G if hardwood, maybe 40-60 for softer woods), then progressively smoother grits once levelled along the grain (60-80-120-240G/80-240 hard/softwood).  Obviously, the rougher the surface, the coarser the grit required.  For renovating or removing deteriorated timber finishes, maybe start with 120G or so.

Belt sanders are simply THE tool for panel flattening.  It's what they were specifically designed for, & precisely what they're best at.  The only tool better, faster & more accurate is the dedicated stationary thicknessing sander.

For what it's worth, bigger, more powerful sanders are obviously much faster, but also tend to be a bit more of a handful.  But their weight & power works well to accomplish the task without undue effort.  However, for anything other than horizontal surfaces, esp vertical wall panelling or overhead, belters are terrible, & should be avoided at all costs.  My current fave is the lovely big 1400w Holz-Her/Festool sander with it's integrated frame.  Sufficient power to accomplish herculean tasks yet with a delicacy & finesse of touch to achieve the finest of nuanced surfacing too.

Sub-framed sanders from Germany & Switzerland can be surprisingly delicate with a sufficiently light, even & gentle touch to  smooth veneers in finer grits.  Not that I'd recommend you try this.  Yet for the actual act of flattening wide panels, floors, walls etc there's no other sander available (as far as I'm aware) that capable of flattening (depending on grit & sub-frame) either as rapidly or as accurately either.

For what it's worth, I've owned belt sanders from Bosch/Scintilla, Metabo/Holz-Her, Elu/Perles, Festool/Holz-Her & used others from Hitachi-Koki & Makita, principalliy in 75 x 533 & 100 x 610 sizes.  The smaller sizes are a great all-rounder, with the size & power ideal for most cabinet & panel work, paint-stripping etc. whereas the latter is a big, powerful & heavy beast of a tool, well-capable of tackling all but the very largest of tasks.

PS.  I wouldn't recommend using ANY hand-held belt sander for any but the smallest of floor refinishing tasks.  Just hire the proper tool for the weekend instead.

PPS.  A regularly applied offcut of stiff PVC water pipe to a running belt sander's front roller will keep the abrasive grit relatively clog-free and extend belt-life many times over!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 05:29 PM by aloysius »
FOG-wit since '95:  Some say since birth...

Offline oakhilltop

  • Posts: 32
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2018, 06:05 PM »
Interesting. I haven't done much panel glue up. I've been in the plywood box world. I am trying to make a panel from 5 pieces of 1x6 inch pine. I used a track saw to straighten one edge of each board, then ripped the other edges on a table saw. Obviously, I don't own a jointer or planer, but I do have a low angle, bevel up, No 62 jack plane. The edges have not been matching up well, and I have been thinking that it may be due to cupping, twisting etc. I tried planing both board edges at the same time to cancel out the angle error of planing. But am still having problems. I should say that I don't have a good bench .... yet, and am using a jawhorse to clamp boards that are approx 30" (900mm) long. I wonder if the boards are moving in the clamp as I move the plane along from one end to the other.

You successfully glue up boards that haven't been milled flat? I've been getting gaps (before clamping), that I can make go away by rocking one board. But, then the other side of that board may not mate well with the next board up. This led me down the path of trying to flatten the boards before gluing.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4171
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2018, 06:14 PM »
Thanks for the tip about belt cleaning with pvc.

Why flatten boards before glue up? You can’t even rip a board properly without flattening first. If the ripped edges aren’t square to the surface you can’t get a gap free joint at glue up.

On the other hand, if you’re careful and lucky and have a table saw you can rip the boards cupped face down then alternate the faces at glue up and get fairly close but you’l Still have a lot of work to do post glue up.

Offline aloysius

  • Posts: 341
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2018, 06:30 PM »
Cupping is relative.  If too bad, nothing will make a subsequent panel flat, unless you end up with a panel 1/4" thick!  If cupping is just too bad, then maybe the planks need ripping in half & re-gluing in thinner sections.  Avoid if possible, but it's one "in-extremis" solution.

Alternating concavities is the time-honoured solution that compensates for internal stresses & movement.  Unlike ply, with its overlaid differential drain directions, solid timber will always move, as internal stresses are relieved, moisture is absorbed & evaporated on a seasonal cycle & in variations to temp & humidity.  Unlike with ply, you must learn to work with this inevitable movement.  Ignore at your peril.  Rigidly affixed solid timber will inevitably create problems, whereas allowing for expansion & contraction (esp lateral) will always be preferable.

If your boards are cupping radically, then there's a couple of preventive measures.  Only use boards with a STABLE moisture content. 2-6 months racking in situ prior to use should help stabilise stresses.  If your wife will allow it, a small rack on bricks with sticks @ 18" centres discretely stowed behind the sofa will allow compensatory acclimatisation.  Well-weighted on top with bricks or fitness weights & accurate sticking will help reduce movement.  Unfortunately, if planks have already moved too much, there's little if anything to be done remedially.  Maybe a 24hrs.+ soak in a bathtub before racking carefully, accurately & under VERY heavy weights may perhaps work, or may not!

Pre-planing is only required if movement (cup, bow, twist, pull) is noticeably a problem.  Re-ripping if it's basically "terminal".
FOG-wit since '95:  Some say since birth...

Offline Jim Kirkpatrick

  • Posts: 1096
    • Jim Kirkpatrick Woodworking
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2018, 06:50 PM »
In the old days (pre-Festool for me),  whenever I glued up a panel for a table top, etc., I would take it down to a local cabinet shop who had a commercial duty thickness sander (Timesaver brand).  He'd only charge me ~ 20 bucks for a few passes to perfect uniform flatness.  Money well spent I always thought.  I dreamed of having my own Timesaver, or at least a hobbyist version like Performax.  But 10 years ago, I discovered Festool sanders and I've never looked back.  I do all my flattening with the RO150 with the optional hard pad for the first 2 grits.  Virtually dust free when used with a dust extractor.  Start at 120 grit in Rotex mode then move to 180 and on to 220 on RO mode.  Actually, when I move to 220 I move to my ETS150 sander with the stock soft pad.  It's a lot easier on the hands.  It works unbelievably well!  And I don't get any "holidays*" when I run my hand across the finished surface like when I use to use palm or belt sanders.  *Holidays are low spots in the finished surface where you tend to bear down on a high spot and over sand.  Get the RO150.  You won't regret it.

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 1296
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2018, 07:32 PM »
A Rotex 150 is a very nice sander which you can get away with as the one and only sander to have (though it dosn't hurt to have a smaller stroke one for finishing)... they'll have to pry mine from my cold, dead hands.

But to flatten stock... in case you don't have a jointer/planer but a router I would suggest you spend the time on building a sled jig for it, that will make short and precise work out of uneven surfaces (will need sanding afterwards, but no longer to get it straight). There are some designs to be found here on the forum, like this in case you need a big one.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 07:35 PM by Gregor »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6383
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2018, 10:12 PM »
The first thing I’d do is to put a straight edge across the cupped surface. If there’s a cup of 1/8” or greater, then there is also a protuberance of 1/8” or greater on the opposite side which means the surface thickness of the boards will have to be reduced by at least 1/4” in order to be flat.

So if you’re using nominal 3/4” material, you’re already down to a board thickness of 1/2” or less...probably less, is that an issue?   Decision 1.

On the original issue of using a belt sander...if that were my only option, heck ya, I’d give her.
I have an older 4” wide Milwaukee belt sander that was made by AEG...German...sweetheart...work at 45 degrees so that the sanding lines are not so pronounced. With a belt sander the usual impulse is to work at 90 degrees to the long edge because it’s easy and will flatten the surface quickly. Unfortunately, that however will severely muck up the grain pattern. Not a problem if you’re filling and painting, however a big issue if you’re staining and clearing.

Offline TinyShop

  • Posts: 345
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2019, 08:04 PM »
Resurrecting this thread for posterity in order to add a set of tear-down and restoration videos featuring the long obsolete 120V AEG version of the venerable Holz-her belt sander - in case anyone has one that needs some TLC:



ETS 150/5 EQ (DE) [po], TS 75 EQ (DE) [po], OF 1400 EQ-F (DE) [n], CXS (DE) [n], CMS-GE [DE] [po], CMS TS 75 (DE) [n], LA-CS 50/CMS (DE) [po], VB-CMS (DE) [n], MFT/3 (CZ) [n], DF 700 EQ w/Seneca Small Mortise Kit (DE) [po], FEIN Multimaster 350 QSL (DE) [n], Bosch 1274DVS w/dust collection, sanding frame,  stand & fence (CH) [n], BOSCH 1590EVS w/dust collection (CH) [n], CS Unitec CS 1445 HEPA extractor <re-branded Starmix ISP 1435 H> (DE) [n], CT SYS (DE) [po], Milwaukee 0302-20 (US) [n], Two (2) Porter Cable 862 (TW) [n], Porter Cable 447 (US) [n], Zyliss Vise (CH) [n], Hitachi C 8FB (JP) [h]

[po] pre-owned   [n] new   [h] heirloom   (XX) country of origin

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 5803
  • Festool Baby.....
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2019, 11:10 AM »
Belt sanders are very aggressive and take off a lot of material. If you are not carefull you can gouge out lot of material fast and have to start over.

I use the Rotex 150 with a hard pad. The hard pad is designed for flattening wood. I use it after glue up of flat panels for table tops etc.

However if this is a one time project, I would do as someone else suggested and go to a cabinet shop and use their wide belt sander. Its the best way to flatten boards that I know of. May cost you a few shekels to do it but it will be well worth it.


Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4171
Re: Festool Sander versus Belt Sander
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2019, 12:29 PM »
Thanks for that @TinyShop !

I have several HBSE75 sanders but have never needed to go deeper inside than to replace brushes. This video could be very useful sometime.

Early in 2003 I committed to switching to Festool (from Bosch mostly) during a visit from the regional sales rep when he told me Festool had bought the Holz-her factory. I’d been using the AEG version of that great belt sander with frame for twenty years and was getting worried about it’s longevity since there was nothing comparable to replace it. I was very relieved to think that Festool would bring it back to the North American market. Later, after learning that that would never happen I began buying them at eBay. Was very lucky to find one that was brand-new-still-in-the-box. In the fifteen years I’ve been on the lookout for the sanders I’ve only managed to buy one more frame and it’s really the frame that makes all the difference.