The Pellow Island Cabin Restoration

Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Reader Comments | How-To | Reviews | Sanders

Frank Pellow is a retired software developer living in Toronto, Ontario. After retiring five years ago, he built a woodworking shop in his backyard in support of his new "job" as a carpenter, cabinetmaker, toy maker, repairman and gardener. He works about half the time in his shop and half the time outside or offsite at the homes of his daughters, friends, and most importantly, at his island on Lake Pivabiska near Hearst Ontario and about 1,000 kilometres north-west of Toronto. Don't we all wish we had our own island?

Special thanks to Frank Pellow for taking the time to share his cabin restoration project and how Festool sanders helped Frank work Faster, Easier, Smarter on his restoration project of his cabin on Pellow Island.

The Pellow Island Cabin Restoration

Periodically I have sanded down and then re-stained different sides of my cabin. In the past, I used many different electric sanders, hand sanding blocks, and scrapers. Because the logs are somewhat rounded, I could not use a sanding frame to control a belt sander. I also used a ¼ sheet palm sander and a 5” random orbital sander, at times. These were much easier to control and could get into spots that I could not reach with the belt sanders, but they were not nearly aggressive enough. Finally, to get right into the corners, I tried two different detail sanders. Neither of these was aggressive enough and I found I could do a better job (not good, but better) with a scraper.

This time, I was better equipped with my three Festool sanders: a Rotex 150 dual mode sander, a Deltex detail sander, and a LS 130 duplex linear sander - all of which are a perfect match for the job at hand. Each has a role and together they do the whole job. They do the job in about half the time and the finished product is much better.

Before getting into the project details, here is bit more background: In the average year, I get to camp about four times and spend a total of about two months there. It is about a 12 hour drive from Toronto to the lake. About half of my waking hours at camp are spent on various carpentry, maintenance, and woodworking projects. I do have a small shop there and most of the time I can work outdoors. But I can’t afford two complete sets of tools, so transportation and organization has always been a problem. On one or two of the annual trips I tow our trailer so I can bring sufficient tools, but on the others I am a passenger and have limited space. Festool and, in particular, the organization facilitated by systainers, has made this less of problem. I can now transport more in less space and I always know where my tools are.

Frank's Photo Diary

First, I used the Rotex 150 dual mode sander in aggressive mode to remove the majority of old stain and decayed wood (with Saphir P50 paper). This was followed by a fast pass in fine mode with Rubin P80 paper.  I also used this sander with Saphir P24, then P50 and P80 paper on the log ends. The Rotex sander is so much easier to control than a belt sander and, with the soft sanding pad, it can handle the somewhat curved profile of the logs.  In aggressive mode and coupled with the dust extractor, I also find that it removes material much more quickly than a belt sander.

Next, the Deltex DX 93 E extended triangular pad sander (with Saphir P60 paper) was employed to remove gunk from corners and groves.  Again, I followed this up with a quick pass with Rubin P80 paper. The difference between this sander and the other detail sanders that I tried is night and day.  The Deltex can really get into tight areas and remove material.

Finally, the Duplex LS 130 EQ linear sander (with Rubin P80 paper) was used to smooth wood before re-staining.  This sander is almost effortless to use, it can get into most places, and it’s linear motion produces a smooth finish.

Although my Festool sanders made the whole job faster, easier, and better, it still took quite a bit of time (19 hours to be precise) to prepare the wall for staining. Here are photos of the cabin after the sanding was completed.

Frank's Photo Diary


Nice job, Frank! Thanks for taking the time to share your project with us. If you have a project, tip or story you would like to share about Festool power tools, please contact us at

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