Shop Talk

The Featured Tool of April 2012

  • Festool PLANEX Modular Drywall Sander (571579)

    A New Sanding Solution for Today’s Evolved Craftsman


    Well, Festool has done it again and despite their current catalog of superior power tools and equipment, Festool is astonishing the industry once more with the release of their modular and totally evolved drywall sander. With an articulating head, a body that can be extended or reduced to accommodate your work area, and innovations that span the entire length of the tool’s 43-1/2” to 83-1/2” body, the PLANEX absolutely revolutionizes drywall and plaster sanding.

    Fabricated in Germany with intense attention to detail and with advanced, high-endurance materials, the PLANEX is built to encompass durability, ergonomics and ultra high-performance. Because drywall sanding is demanding of both the operator and of the tool itself, Festool has designed this sander to be lightweight and comfortable to use while also durable and resistant to the rigors of rough jobsite environments. For enhanced performance and durability, the tool also features sealed switches and gear housings; this prevents even the minutest dust particles from infiltrating these integral components. Additionally, the tool’s large dials and switches are immediately at your fingertips for easy access and operation, and with non-slip rubber grips on the handle, users always remain in complete control of the tool.

    The body of the PLANEX is essentially designed around segments or length extensions that can be installed or removed to determine the functional length of the tool. In fact, the thing can be entirely collapsed to easily snug into a hand-carry Festool systainer rendering storage, transportation, organization and the preservation of the tool itself a literal “snap,” but, I (kind of) digress. This collapsing design, though, ensures optimal reach and working space when sanding anywhere from narrow hallways to vaulted ceilings. Requiring only seconds to install, these extensions are simple to assemble (and disassemble) and remain securely locked while engaged.

    Without extensions, the PLANEX measures 43-1/2”. This length allows operators to use the tool comfortably in smaller spaces; at this length, the sander weighs 8.4-lbs. The first extension elongates the tool an additional 20” to 63-1/2” in length. With this extension, the tool weighs 10.1-lbs and is ideal for general purpose sanding. With the second extension (sold separately), the tool gains another 20” growing the total length of the sander to 83-1/2”; the weight of the tool with the second extension is 11.9-lbs. To jump
    ahead of myself for another moment, though, although the weight of the tool (between approximately 8 and 11-lbs) may not sound as “light as a feather” as Festool claims the tool to be, with the suction power of Festool’s AutoClean dust extractor, the suction literally supports the weight of the tool. In fact, the suction from the AutoClean is so powerfully focused it can hold itself, like a suction cup, to a ceiling – hands free. This, in effect, renders the tool very nearly as “light as a feather.” One can also purchase a Festool support harness (specifically designed for this tool) that will essentially carry any additional weight for you. This harness is particularly valuable during extended work periods.

    The Festool PLANEX is also designed with a pivoting head that offers a huge range of motion. This flexibility allows users to sand from any angle from corner to corner with surprising ease and comfort. The sander also provides two different suction methods with convenient controls that allow users to quickly switch from either extracting dust from the outside or from the inside of the pad. This ensures the most optimal dust control with each application performed. Surrounding the pad there is also a brush that, like a sweep, aids in the capturing of excess dust and cleans residual dust from the sanding surface. To ensure users also have access into corners, a section of this brush can also be removed enabling sanding action against adjacent surfaces.

    In addition to varying suction methods, the the sander pad is also spring-loaded. This creates optimal contact with the sanding surface and reduces the risk of uneven pressures that can cause unsightly swirl marks. The pad’s action is also gear-dirven ensuring the most efficient and durable method of power transfer; this promises an altogether better performance and a longer lasting, more resilient tool. The sander spins between 310 and 920 RPM ensuring users have the right amount of sanding power for each application and with an 8-1/2” sanding pad, the thing achieves full-bodied sanding with even pressure and variable speeds.

    In the end, not nearly enough can be said about how cool this tool is nor about how much safer (for your lungs, muscles and customers) and more comfortable (in all aspects) it is to operate. When used with Festool’s AutoClean dust extractor the tool delivers virtually dust-free sanding and, thanks to the intense suction of the AutoClean, when coupled with the sander, the PLANEX essentially supports its own weight. Because the sander additionally offers incredible time and energy savings and because the tool and its abrasives (available in multipurpose, general-purpose, high-performance and heavy-duty grits) deliver unparallelled durability, the PLANEX offers an incredibly fast return on your investment. In fact, between your happier muscles, happier customers, cleaner environments and the PLANEX’s faster, better quality results, the sander essentially pays for itself within the first few uses.

    Ultimately, the PLANEX is like nothing else in the industry. Designed to sand drywall and plaster with incredible high-performance and designed to do that with significantly less trauma to you and your body, Festool’s PLANEX modular drywall sander is an exceptional product with the style, grace and superior quality to utterly satisfy users and to leave any competition shaking in their boots.