Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review of the Festool RAS-115 Rotary-Action Sander

If you saw my Sculpted Mahogany Vanity series, I used the RAS-115 a lot for shaping the surfaces into very tactile undulating waves.  That's not a normal thing to do, but shows how the RAS combines rapid stock removal, excellent control, and (most important!) dust collection!

As the name suggests, the RAS is a rotary-action sander with no eccentricity (other than any caffeine-induced shakes from the operator trying to finish the vanity late at night).

What makes this Festool different than the others is this is the only one I own that is a go-to tool when you don't expect it; if you have it around, you'll find it in your hands an awful lot.

In this review, I talk about the parts and an optional FiberFix pad used for fiber wheels and polishing heads (for stone, not your car). We'll take it apart so you see the components because not all of them are needed when you use the RAS: you can remove the dust shroud for polishing (this time, your car).

At the end, I'll do a demo of dust collection and shaping similar to what I did to the vanity surfaces; while you won't be doing projects like that, it demonstrates much of the dust collection concepts explained earlier.  Some close-up slo-mo clearly shows how even with the dust shroud in the wrong position, the RAS collects a lot of dust.

In the video, I list some uses; here they are listed in case you didn't have a pencil handy:

  • Paint and varnish stripping; use Cristal papers for durability, no loading, and speed
  • Shaping wood; use Rubin or Cristal papers.
  • Coping; to me this is shaping, but in case you skipped that item
  • Honing natural stone tile edges nearly dust free; needs FiberFix pad
  • Scuffing or leveling concrete/thin-set; use Saphir paper.
  • Cleaning metal including for priming; use Vlies pads (an abrasive pad).
  • Coarse sanding of metal; use Saphir
  • Smoothing cut metal edges; use fiber disc with FiberFix pad and optional metal dust collection brushes and a spark trap on your dust extractor.
  • Polishing using Shinex pads.
There are no polishing heads specifically made for the RAS-115, but the now available Shinex has a number of larger 150mm (6") pads.  They also have an M14 arbor like the RAS pads.  Now the RAS runs from 1,400-4,000 rpm whereas the Shinex runs from 400-2,100 rpm; that means the RAS speeds 1-3 will somewhat match the Shinex speeds 3-6.  Is it as good as having a separate Shinex?  Likely not.  But if you have a RAS-115, you have the option of popping a Shinex pad on it for some polishing situations.  Note that this isn't outlined in the RAS manual as it predates the Shinex and Festool would likely only recommend polishing with the Shinex, not the RAS.  So, your mileage will vary.

Just as a reminder, the RAS-115 comes with a normal power cable (very long one at that!) and not a Plug-It tail like I have; I got that from one of my moles in the UK :) (thanks, mole!)  

Okay, popcorn is ready by now... cue up techno music...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And now for something completely different... - part 2

Following up on part one, Jarek and Lidka just posted the second and last part of Jarek's interview with me.  I talked longer on this one; I know, I gotta work on that!  Gave Lidka a bit more work for the Polish captions.

Once again, if you haven't watched something with captions on YouTube yet, there's a 'CC' box in the lower-right area of the video's status bar. Click that and you can select English or Polish captions; if you want to get them in Japanese, you can do that, too, as the English will be translated to Japanese as you watch (uhm, word-order makes the English->Japanese a bit funky).

I have to pick up some PhotoShop tips from Jarek; that was a cool collage!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

And now for something completely different... - part 1

Awhile ago, I got a bunch of referrals from a site in Poland called (you can read it in English thanks to the magic of Google Translate!).  Turns out it is a carpentry/woodworking site by Jarek Ostaszewski.  Jarek watches my podcast and later contacted me about doing a video interview for his site.  I was surprised and flattered so we worked through the logistics of recording video snippets in two different countries, creating captions separately for English and Polish, and the whole time-zone thing.

He has since posted part 1 of the interview here.  If you haven't watched something with captions on YouTube yet, there's a 'CC' box in the lower-right area of the video's status bar.  Click that and you can select English or Polish captions; if you want to get them in French, you can do that, too, as the English will be translated (very well, btw) to French as you watch.

The interview was split in two and Lidka will have that part ready in a day or two.  Lidka is Jarek's lovely wife who does the videos on wood species.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making the After-Earthquake Detector with the Jointmaker Pro and HP6v2

At last year's WIA'11, I was invited to do demos of the Jointmaker Pro (JMP) from Bridge City along with three other Jointmaker customers.  The event itself was a whole lotta fun.  While all of us use the Jointmaker in different ways in our woodworking, we did a simple-ish demo piece at the show to highlight some of the whacky cuts you can do easily on the Jointmaker that are very difficult otherwise.  The demo piece was the After-Earthquake Detector.

It's a fun demo and a funny project so I've wanted to make a podcast of it ever since and this is it.

After the introduction, there's a section on dimensioning the stock by hand.  Now if you don't have a Jointmaker or any interest in it, there's a good deal on dimensioning small stock with hand planes that may be useful to you; this is that "thickness planing" technique you may have seen in "No Comment #1" for dimensioning small splines.  I'll go over how it works and some caveats... this time with comments! :)

Next up is preparing the profiled base using the HP6v2 Mini Multi-Plane.  That plane is a lot of fun when a clean profile starts coming off of stock and you'll get a good time-lapse in high-speed of a stepped ogee on a board.

Lastly, the work on the Jointmaker.  I had some fun using a close-up camera for side-views to make seeing the work more interesting.  I'm planning on using this camera more for future videos so let me know if it works for you.

The video is longer than usual clocking in a little over a half hour.  Normally it would be shorter by putting tool work in high-speed, but the only way to "get" the Jointmaker is to see it in action.  So... maybe make a bigger bucket of popcorn.

Lastly, here's the link to Chris Wong's videos for making your own Br'all.

It has been slow on the blog since the start of the year since I've been doing a 'house purge' of excess 'stuff' in my house.  Not really podcast material; not really woodworking.  With that out of the way, it's back to the shop time so we'll be starting a new project soon and a couple tool reviews.  Thanks for watching!