RTS 400 REQ Orbital Sander review

13th April, 2017

Author: Kenny Koehler - Protool Reviews


A new motor, dust collection port, protective bumper and more


When we visited Festool in Germany last year, we got to see the Festool RTS 400 REQ Orbital Finish Sander in action months before its North American launch.

It’s a rolling change from the previous model – the Festool RTS 400 EQ – which was a phenomenal sander in its own right. Clint DeBoer and I hooked up with Jon Bucklew to take a look at the differences in the two models and performance you can expect.

While we are focused on the rectangular RTS model, there’s also a Delta pad version available as the Festool DTS 400 REQ with identical specifications and features.

Upgrades

The Motor
The motor in the Festool RTS 400 REQ Finish Sander is now 250 watts. The previous model was 200 watts, so you get a 25% increase in power. With the original model not feeling underpowered, is will be interesting to see how much a difference this upgrade makes.
Dust Collection Port
Festool recently gave their dust collection port a redesign to interlock with those so that is more secure. Similar to their Plug-It cord system, the Cleantec connection just keeps the hose from coming off if you happen to pull on it a little too hard.
Ergonomics
The handle is a little longer and now features some overmold. This gives the sander a slightly better ergonomic feel. Festool also brings the variable speed dial around to the left side instead of the back. This makes it a little easier to shift speeds on the fly, but bringing it to the front left side will make it even easier.

Realistically, you’ll be switching your grip as you move across the workpiece so there’s going to be a trade-off no matter where you place that dial.
Protective Bumper
One of the new features we’re most excited about is the new bumper. This simple removable plastic protector allows you to stand close to other parts of your workpiece without marring the surface with the edge of your sander. Unfortunately, this is not an accessory you can purchase to add to your older model – it’s specific to the new model.
Other Changes
The power switch is now a little more robust. This is an upgrade that should result in a longer lifespan for it. MMC electronics are in the new sanders as well, providing a soft start, smooth speed changes, constant speed under load, along with thermal and overload protection.
Performance
We did some initial testing in our shop, but the real test came about when we put this in the hands of Jon Bucklew for a load of finish sanding on some furniture pieces he was getting ready to wrap up for his clients.

Using the Festool RTS 400 REQ the shows off the increase in power. The previous model certainly didn’t feel underpowered, but the new one feels more authoritative. When you’re working in any kind of production woodworking, that extra power is going to translate into some time savings.

Validating our initial thoughts, the bumper is a favorite feature of Jon’s as well. Although the thickness of the bumper and the distance away from the pad it sits makes it look like you are going to lose a quarter inch, the oscillating motion brings it closer to half that. The fact that it’s removable only adds to the appeal – use it when you need to protect other services and take it off when you don’t.

One thing we didn’t notice is a change in his the suction power for dust collection. The previous model can support its own weight hanging upside down and already has outstanding dust collection, so I’m not disappointed that there’s no noticeable change here. I didn’t have any issues with my EQ model sanders losing the dust port connection, but the extra security of the Cleantec connector is an upgrade I’ll take.
The Bottom Line
The Festool RTS 400 REQ really takes a finish sander that was already outstanding in its own right and makes it better without losing any of the attributes we love about its predecessor. Keep in mind that this is a finish sander and part of a line of sanders that will take you from the beginning stages of rough sanding through the finished product. You should rely on this model to get that high grit finish on your workpiece. If you’re still in the rough sanding stage of the project, you’ll want to look at something more like the Festool ETS EC Brushless Sanders.

Pros that are new to Festool usually have a little sticker shock when they start shopping around. But carpenters and woodworkers who know the value of how Festool products work together as a system realize that the premium price also comes with premium performance. That said, the Festool RTS 400 REQ and DTS 400 REQ are rolling changes that comes with no increase in price.
Festool RTS 400 REQ Finish Sander Key Features
  •     More powerful motor – now with MMC Electronics and 250 watts – a 25% increase
  •     Improved ergonomics – rubberized grip textured surfaces
  •     Robust power switch – longer lifecycle with greater ease-of-use
  •     Interlocking dust port – works with the latest generation of CT Connector for improved retention
  •     Dust Extraction – capture the dust as it is made
  •     Ideal for vertical surfaces or overhead work
  •     One-handed sander for small surfaces, edges, and tight corners
  •     Sand off paint and varnishes on window frames
  •     Sand natural wood and veneer prior to varnishing
  •     Sanding close to edges on different materials
Festool RTS 400 REQ Finish Sander Specifications
  •     Model: Festool RTS 400 REQ
  •     Power source: 110V AC
  •     Idle engine speed: 6 000 – 12 000 RPM
  •     Weight: 2.65 lbs (1.2 kg)
  •     Sanding stroke: 1/16″ (2 mm)
  •     Dust extraction connection: 1-1/16″ (27 mm)
  •     Power consumption: 250 watt
  •     Interchangeable sanding pad: 3-5/32” x 5-1/4” (80 x 133 mm)

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