When i heard Festool was going to make a set for oil application i quickly jumped on it, that was about a year ago now. 

festool surfix

The set contains a metal can, containing the applicator, a bottle of each three types of oil; “heavy use”, “one step” and “outdoor”.

It also contains a set of abrasives, 5 “vlies green” pads and 5 “vlies white” pads.

surfix systainer

After a year of regular use i have learned a few things about it which i will share in this review.

First important step is the sanding, oil finishes do not forgive and the slightest mistake or scratch will jump out. On my worktops i begin sanding with the rotex 150 in rotex mode with Rubin P 80 to quickly get rid of milling marks and even out the joins. Then another pass in random orbit mode untill all rotex scratches are removed. I then switch to my ETS 150/5 random orbit sander with Rubin P 120, this is not the moment to be cheap on your abrasives.  Taking out a new abrasive pad will allow you to remove the scratches from the previous grit.

I find that on really hard woods like beech even a slightly used pad that still feels good will not do the trick and leave too many of the previous grit marks.

I Continue with Rubin 180 and end with Brilliant P230, there is little point in going much higher, you will only close the grain and not allow the oil to penetrate.

Then comes the time to apply the oil, the system is built around the applicator and the sponges and in my experience those are the weakest points. The sponges work well though they require a certain amount of oil just to get wet, after use you are supposed to store them in the metal container which keeps the oil from curing or catching fire. The box will keep the sponge good just long enough to be usable for the second application within 24 hours. After that the oil cures and the sponge becomes like solid rubber. I found that keeping the sponge in a plastic sealed bag with as little air as possible will extend the life of the sponge to a couple weeks but not more. This is not an ideal system in my eyes and i decided not to buy any more
sponges and not use the applicator anymore. 

festool oil

I now just use the handy bottles to spray the oil and a rag to spread it, this is cheaper and it works generally better IMO. The finer and cleaner your sanding job, the less oil you will need. About 15 minutes later, or when you cannot see any more wet
spots it is time to take out the Rotex with the “vlies green” pad, this is a course sponge type of abrasive designed to “work in” the oil. This does not require a DC connection, take care not to use it too quickly when the oil hasn’t penetrated enough. Otherwise the pad will rapidly go up and become ineffective.  Doing so can extend their life and you can use them on several projects. The first Vlies pads i had, had a strong stick fix net that would oftenly hold so well to the sander that you would tear off the pad from the net. Festool seems to have fixed this because on my latest pads the stickfix are allot milder and won’t hold on so agressively. 

surfix rotex vlies greensurfix ETS150

I let it dry overnight and then i sand the surface again with Brilliant P230, the pad should not goo up if the oil is properly cured. If it does then let it sita bit longer in the future.

Then it’s time for the second coat of oil, this will go faster and use a bit less oil.

festool vlies
Again  once the oil is no longer wet i take out the Rotex with the Vlies white pad, this pad has no abrasive effect, but rather a polishing effect. It is not neccesary to have a rotex, any rondom orbital sander will do, yet the rotex mode is ideal for this kind of work.

You can quickly see a nice satin sheen appear, it is important to whipe he surface after that, especially when you have corners where the rotex can’t get. Because if you leave oil on the surface and let it cure, it will leave a thick tacky and rough surface that will be very hard to mend!

festool surfix