If I could design the perfect drywall sander, it would work like an automatic pool cleaner. Connect the suction hose, then sit on a chair and watch the device crawl across the surface of the pool, or in the case of drywall, turn on the sander and watch it sand the walls and ceiling without dust. Festool’s Planex was the next best tool until someone developed the fully automatic drywall sander.
Planex is a drywall sanding system with power head, sanding disc, segmented handles and dust extraction. With multiple sander speed and suction controls, as well as grit size selection, you can fine-tune how aggressive (or non-aggressive) your Planex offensive compound should be. The only thing you need to do is guide the grinder.
I have several drywall sanders with dust extraction, both manual and orbital. Some homemade devices are made from 5 inches. Orbital sanders and other models are industrial models. Each has been upgraded in terms of ease of sanding and dust removal. But I think now they will all be at the construction site with Planex.
The most striking design element of the Planex is the location of the engine. Instead of mounting the motor on a flexible drive shaft at the side of the tool handle, Planex mounts the motor on the powerhead. This makes the tool head heavy until you hang a rag over the tool and press the tool head against the surface. Planex uses vacuum suction to attach the head to the drywall surface. It acts as an anti-gravity system, counteracting the mass of the power unit. You can fine-tune the suction from weak to strong to press the head against the ceiling or wall and control how hard the grinder cuts through the mix. The stronger the suction, the stronger the suction bond and the stronger the cutting capacity of the grinding wheel. Suction strength affects the freedom of movement of the head on the surface. The stronger the suction, the greater the friction and the more difficult it is to move your head. There is a learning curve to getting the adjustments to work the way you like. After adjusting the suction power a few times, I found myself preferring lower suction power when sanding ceilings and higher suction power when sanding walls.
Planex is virtually dust free. The powerhead brush guard contains sanding dust that is collected by a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum flow for collecting dust is separated from the suction vacuum flow. The dusty air passes through the fairing, while the suction binder and additional air pass through the 8-hole sanding disc. After sanding the first floor, I weighed the piping bag under vacuum: 14 pounds. It weighed less than 8 ounces after I vacuumed the floor (I sanded some by hand after mixing, re-sanding and thinning the inside edge of the drywall rear window).
There is a slide switch on the power head to control the amount of vacuum suction needed for the power head to attach it to a surface. Even with the sticky suction adjustment turned off, the vacuum suction will continue to work.
There is also a suction control on the side of the handle so you can adjust how tight the head is on the surface while you do it. Above the power switch is a handwheel that controls the speed of the disc from about 300 to 900 rpm. Once you dial in the setting, the motor will keep spinning even if the abrasive gets stuck in high places.
The grinder motor has a soft start, so the abrasive does not get stuck and does not cause the head to bounce. You can position the head, flip the switch, and sand easily without shaking.
The sanding disc is approximately 9″ in diameter, so you can cover a large area with every sanding. Velcro sanding discs stay in place even when sanding intensively. Festool abrasives are durable. I sanded the first floor walls and ceiling (over 900 sq. ft.) with a 220 Granat disc. It could have been longer, but I hit the edge of the steel case and broke the edge of the disc. The small swirl pattern left by the smaller (220) sanding disc disappears under standard drywall primer so there is no need for hand sanding to remove the ring. Don’t worry about shelling out big bucks for Festool burrs – a pack of 25 Granat burrs costs just $38. I think we just use 3 or 4 discs ($5-6) to sand all over 2700 square feet of drywall. house.
Access to corners is made easier by removing the brush section from the power head. When this part is removed, the edge of the sanding disc comes right up to the corner without finishing the other side. I reduced the sanding speed and although the brushes were removed, most of the dust still collected.
The three parts of the Planex kit come in two standard configurations. The sanding head mounts directly to the control handle section and has an overall length of approximately 43 inches, ideal for tight spaces or working close to walls. Including the standard extension and using all three pieces, the total length is approximately 64 inches. Additional 20 inches. Long extensions are available for higher ceilings (10 to 12 feet).
When working with high ceilings, you can use the accessory kit to mount the grinder. It has a sliding adjustment bar that attaches to the Planex handle and extension and fits into the waist pocket of the harness. I tried to use it on our 8ft. 3 inches. ceiling, but that doesn’t help since I’m 6 feet tall. If I am short or have a higher ceiling, the support system reduces the fatigue of holding and guiding Planex across the ceiling surface.
Okay – so what’s the cost? The Planex kit retails for $1,150, more than double the price of other 9-inch kits. Sanding machine for drywall. But Planex is worth it for my business. I do a lot of drywall and trim myself, as well as small to medium remodeling jobs where excellent dust control is critical. Now my brother and a few trusted friends will be borrowing Planex for their projects so it will be put to good use.
The grinder is only half of the system, the other half is the $850 CT 36 AutoClean dust collector. It can be used with other dust removal tools or as a vacuum cleaner so you don’t need another vacuum cleaner for the job.
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Post time: Jul-05-2023