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Thread: Sanding Swirls with festool ETS 150

  1. #1
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    Question Sanding Swirls with festool ETS 150

    Hi, I have a Festool 6 inch orbital that I usually keep 120 girt on it. I have sanded a lot with this sander. I cant stop from getting sanding swirls, doesnt matter if its brand new paper or old. Brand new is a for sure for them though. I have it sped up to full speed, I have dialed it down as well. The slightest pressure causes them. The harder I push the worse they are ( which is expected). If theres and uneven joint and I want it to sand it down by pressure its hard to get the swirls out afterwards. I am using Rubin 2 paper sanding birch or western maple or walnut for the most part lately.
    Is the festool paper too thick? The holes too thick of edges that cause the swirls? The pad maybe too stiff ( I think its a medium)? 5mm orbit too big? Suggestions?

    A friend of mine has a Makita that doesnt make the swirls, his holes on his sandpaper are much smaller than the Festools.

  2. #2
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    The local Festool rep here draws lines on the white part of the pad with a Sharpie so that you can see if you are putting enough pressure on the pad to stop from orbiting. He says the results are enlightening.


  3. #3
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    I would hazard a guess that you are bearing down on the sander too hard. Let the sander do the work...not you. Also, try dialing down the suction of the vacuum although that mostly helps if the sander is sticking to the work with finer grits but it is something to play with.
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Padilla View Post
    I would hazard a guess that you are bearing down on the sander too hard. Let the sander do the work...not you. Also, try dialing down the suction of the vacuum although that mostly helps if the sander is sticking to the work with finer grits but it is something to play with.
    Chris probably has the solution exactly right. "More pressure" ?, you shouldn't need any. Is the vacuum dialed up too high?

  5. #5
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    I always turn my vac down all the way, doesn't seem to float well enough if I turn up the suction at all. (and don't get me started on my DTS-400, that thing gets glued down to the surface with the slightest pressure)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg R Bradley View Post
    Chris probably has the solution exactly right. "More pressure" ?, you shouldn't need any. Is the vacuum dialed up too high?
    Its is dialed all the way up.

  7. #7
    I use Granat and sand to 180 or 220 grit. My vac is dialed to about 1/2 power. I've never seen swirl patterns but never apply any real pressure, just enough to control the sander.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Meiser View Post
    The local Festool rep here draws lines on the white part of the pad with a Sharpie so that you can see if you are putting enough pressure on the pad to stop from orbiting. He says the results are enlightening.
    That's a good tip, I'm guilty of putting too much pressure on the sander, especially as Craig stated "when trying to level out joints". Let the sander do the work.
    A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig D Peltier View Post
    Its is dialed all the way up.
    I generally use my Fein Vacs with my ETS150 so I'm not 100% sure how that translates to Festool vacs. I can't recall ever using anything above half power. I think the vac is stopping the RO action, causing your swirl marks. Isn't the sander trying to hop around at that much suction? As a test, how about using no vacuum and see if the swirl marks go away?

    As Chirs Merriam said, my DTS400 is used with the suction at minimum.

  10. #10
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    I have a Rotex and the 150/3 although I almost always use the 150/3. I only sand up to 180 grit with the Festool Rubin sandpaper. I also have the CT/11 vacuum (yes, no longer made by Festool and smaller than the /22 and /33...got a really good deal on it) so I don't know if the suction is different but the suction knob is at max 99% of the time. At the same time, I'm not sure I've ever lowered the rotational speed of my sanders below max, either. Occasionally, I will use the Brilliant sandpapers, which can get very fine although not specifically meant for wood. Anyway, I have never encountered swirl marks. It is possible your sander might be bad...not rotating properly? It is that or your technique as I mentioned earlier.
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig D Peltier View Post
    Its is dialed all the way up.
    I had swirl marks when I tried to use a vacuum dialed all the way up as well. All that suction pulls the sander very hard into the wood; well, hard enough to leave swirl marks.

  12. #12
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    I don't have any fancy Festoolmuchmoney sanders, but I don't get swirl marks in my finished projects either. However, I don't even use 120 grit on wood unless I am trying to shape something. I start with 150 if it is really rough and do see swirls if if tried to finish it at that point. Unless your sander is always moving back and forth directly with the grain of the wood, it is going to make swirls. The point is to make sure they are small enough so that the naked eye can't see them. I usually finish my projects off with a light run of 220. If I screw up and get some big grit or trash under the pad, I will see some swirls, but otherwise, I've seen nothing but smooooth.

    If you think your sander doesn't leave any swirls, wipe some dark stain on maple and look at it with a magnifying glass.

    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Hahr; 04-30-2013 at 10:41 PM. Reason: typo

  13. #13
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    I don't get swirl marks with my 150/3, thought I often forget to turn down the vacuum on my Festool Vac. FWIW

    I have Rubin or Rubin 2 up to 180 grit, Brilliant from 220 to 400 grit, and Granat or Titan 2 from 400 to 1200 grit. Man, that's a lot of sandpaper. I never go past 220 or the first Brilliant pad on bare wood. The rest are used between coats, or for starting to rub out finishes.

    I've never paid attention - are the Festools forced rotation (like a Flex polisher), or can bearing down on them stop rotation (like a PC polisher)?
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  14. #14
    Craig, I also have the ETS 150 and have experienced the same problem. Tried everything that you did to no avail. I even sent it back to Festool but no joy. I pulled out my old PC 333 and no swirl marks. This was my first Festool purchase and needless to say I was quite disappointed. The problem is not consistent and many years later I still have probelms occasionally.

  15. #15
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    I've been using Klingspor on my 150 for the past 3-4 years. And since my schedule is 120 -180, I never noticed until I read this thread. Yesterday I played with some scrap cherry using 120 grit and found that if I pushed down I could see swirls under BLO, but not if I let the sander do the work. Which is the way I usually finish sand.

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