Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX Preview

One more product off the wish-list

Many products on my wish-list do not exist today. A 3-inch orbital sander was one of them until a few months ago when Festool Rotex RO 90 DX was released. It comes in close to perfect at 3.5-inches, no complaints there. For years I’ve asked every woodworker I crossed paths with if they’ve seen a 3-inch orbital sander. Oddly enough, the last woodworker I asked–was about the time the RO 90 was hitting store shelves.

It was not until I posted the following on Twitter to Sarah from TDS Trade Decorating Supplies, that the RO 90 DX would arrive days later.

Festool RO 90 DX at a glance

Festool power tools are engineered for maximum efficiency.  This means the tools provide unmatched logistics. For this upcoming review, Sarah and I discussed the requirements for how MAXIMUM PAINTING will be using the sander, keeping in mind the requirements of the extractor (shop-vac) when used separately from the sander. We discussed the CT MINI, MIDI and the CT 26 E HEPA extractor. While I love the physical size of the MINI and the MIDI, we settled on the auto cleaning CT 26 not to limit ourselves as to what we can throw at it, build on it or put in it. Even though the MINI is the perfect size, it does not meet our requirements. The CT MIDI and the CT 26 are rated at 62 dB (on the low setting), 72 dB/71 dB respectfully on max setting but the CT MIDI has 99 CFM where the CT 26 is at 137 CFM. The 3.96 gal MIDI uses a standard micron filter element and the 6.9 gal CT 26 uses Festool’s highest standard, HEPA filter.

Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX

The RO 90 DX is loaded with some very nice features for such a small sander. For example, Jetstream Technology—where you can dial-in the sander using the Speed Control Knob on the extractor creating the ultimate sanding experience by reducing the amount of suction to allow the sander to float over the wood like a puck on an air hockey table. Otherwise, with the extractor on full speed, the RO 90 has enough suction at the pad to lift a board off the table. Another nice feature is the step-less variable speed control.

Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX

For painters, Make fast work of sanding near caulk lines and other obstructions with the protector set. Each of the 3 protectors varies the distance between the sanding pad and adjoining surface. Only one protector included, set of 3 sold separately.

Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX

The photo above shows how close the 3.5″ pad can get into corners leaving little for the Deltex mode shown below.

Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX

We are using the RO 90 and the Deltex to strip these stringers. We scraped at it a bit. Here is the before.

Festool ROTEX RO 90 DX

We’re excited to finally review our wished-for mini orbital sander paired with the CT 26 extractor. We already have a list going with some modifications, and accessories we would like to see. We will be doing something different for subscribers during the review. What you won’t find in the review are things a $50 sander and a $50 shop vac can do. Details to follow.

Additional Info

How do you move seamlessly between rough sanding and final sanding without switching sanders? It is easy when you own a Rotex multi-mode sander. The design of this multipurpose sander is nothing short of an engineering marvel. Use the aggressive action to quickly and efficiently remove wood, paint, or varnish. Switch to the fine setting for final finishing. Equip your Rotex with polishing pads, sponges, felts or sheepskin and get astonishing finishes that gleam with brillance. With the new RO 90 DX, add the ability to swap the round pad for a delta-shaped pad to reach deep into corners and crevices.


*This product is under review along with the FESTOOL CTL 26 E AC HEPA Extractor (CT 26)

Drooling Specs RO 90 DX Sander

POWER 400 watts
Pad Diameter 3.5″ (90 mm)
Stroke 1/8″ (3mm)
Weight 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
Product Number 571 823
Speed Rotary Motion (RPM) 260-520
Speed Eccentric Motion (RPM) 3,500-7000
Dust Extraction Port 27 mm
Power Cord Length 13 feet
Multi-mode sanding capabilities

Festool Fact

Festool invented the dual-mode Rotex sander in 1982 but didn’t stop there. Today’s Rotex sander is the 4th generation in the evolution of this revolutionary tool. The new generation is so advanced that no two parts are the same from any previous version.

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4 Responses
  • Terry365painter Reply

    Jack I bought the same , I looks so good in the
    Van I haven’t really got to use mine yet, but I see I nice cabinet job and stain doors in my future . I will let you know the results thanks
    Terry Beutler painting and drywall repair

  • Flashman Reply

    When looking for a 3″ sander did you try the Metabo SXE400? Festool RO90 on a budget?

  • Bruddah Mike Reply

    I just got one. My only complaint so far is with the Delta Pad. Don’t use it on high speed!
    It melts the hook and loop, and like all things Festool, it’s not cheap. BTW Brian, the Mini and the Midi all come with HEPA filters now. In fact, I believe that if you bought an earlier one, the company will send you a HEPA Filter for free. Get it while you can. Festool rarely has anything cheap, let alone free!

  • Sairene Reply

    When both of these were announced, I weatid and watched for anyone to come out with a definitive which one to buy’ review. A few years later and there still really isn’t one. I’ve bought several of each and here’s what I think can add to your comments in the article.Neither is really as good at storing misc hardware as the clear-sided Stanley or similar boxes. Fasteners bigger than those can hold sure, but if you just need a box for nuts & bolts, screws, etc I have found the TS & LB both to be overkill.None of the LB sizes are really great for a normal sized’ sawzall. The 12v ones fit just fine in an LB 1, along with other tools etc (I have all of my M12 in two LBoxx 1 s & a 2) but the smallest TS box is perfect for it, blades, accessories, everything you need except the charger if it’s cordless.I’m sure some dividers might help with this, but the TS boxes aren’t great for circ saws either. While they fit great in the LB3, there’s too much room in both for it to move around neither is perfect but the LB3 is better. On the other hand, routers (I have two with multiple bases, guides, etc) fit best in the TS L or XL but with them banging into each other, again neither system is exactly perfect.Jigsaws are the oddball. There is a Systainer size that fits one jigsaw & a case for blades PERFECTLY. The next biggest one fits two jigsaws with a case for blades PERFECTLY. Haven’t got them the way I want them in either TS or LB yet.Because of the weight issue you described, I have found the best way is to organize the tools through more smaller LB’s than smaller TS or larger boxes in general. Costs more in the long term to do it this way but it is much better organized. I’ve been putting safety equipment and misc items in the bigger TS boxes just because when it’s full of tools, it’s easily over a hundred pounds.The LB is perfectly sized for a smaller furniture dolly ($8 HF special) and the TS fits on them pretty well also. Even though it’s not perfect, it’s an inexpensive solution that so far hasn’t made anything harder. The foam that comes with the smaller LB’s (or if you’ve bought one recently from Amazon, maybe doesn’t come with them anymore) is more suited to electronics, measuring equipment, and generally lighter items. Eventually something even as light as a 12v impact driver will tear out more squares being carried and bumped around.

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