Author Topic: ETS EC 125/3  (Read 6585 times)

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Offline Nick Y.

  • Posts: 20
ETS EC 125/3
« on: July 21, 2016, 08:52 AM »
The ETS EC 125/3 along with a CT 36 was my first Festool purchase. I dove in as my woodworking hobby started getting more serious and from my perspective the time and energy saved from using quality tools would quickly pay for itself. I was not mistaken.

I am coming from a $65ish Makita sheet sander so the jump in performance has been pretty mind blowing. I've never used a random orbit sander and there was definitely a bit of a learning curve getting the correct settings on the sander and CT36. At first I was getting ungodly pigtail swirl marks on my work-piece and was beginning to think I made a huge mistake spending so much on the sander/vac combo. Nevertheless I figured there was no way that so many people could speak so highly of Festool products and be getting the same performance I was. I realized it was definitely user error and not the tool itself.

After some additional research and some adjustments to my technique I hit the jackpot. My current settings is to keep the vac suction turned all the way down and the sander set to 5-6 speed. I've been working with pine and this has been the best combination I tested. I've been starting with 80 Grit Rubin and working through to 120-150-180 and finally 220 for final sanding before I stain. I skipped the 100 grit because I didn't really feel like ordering more paper and I don't think it has been too detrimental to the finished surface quality.

I also invested in the Hard sander pad. I work from 80 through 180 sanding all my boards on both faces first before I cut anything out. The hard pad is the way go sanding flat boards and I've seen much better results over the standard pad that comes with the sander. Definitely sanding additional area that will become scrap but it's far easier to sand entire boards than smaller narrow pieces that I've been cutting. Once everything is cut out and edges routed and I switch to the 220 grit to remove any of the minor imperfections that remain.

A lot of the pieces I've been cutting with a jigsaw since they are curved. I thought I would be regulated to sanding those edges by hand and/or with a combination of wood file to remove the blade marks on the edges. (Using a makita jigsaw with festool blades. The festool blades leave few marks by comparison to previous blades). Just yesterday I decided to give the super soft sanding pad a chance and Amazon one-click buy took a few more dollars from me. It arrived the same day and I quickly tested it out to remove the saw marks on the edges of curved pieces. The result the ETS EC 125/3 with the super soft pad on curved edges is mind blowing. The time saving alone is unbelievable, but the finish of the surface is also amazing after working through the grits as I did on the faces of the boards. I realize a smaller sander such as the RO90 or DTS400 might be better suited for sanding edges (5/4" thick pine so 1" actual thickness), but for right now I don't see a reason to invest in more with the ETS EC 125/3 doing such a great job.

Now for the CT 36. I asked for advice here on FOG before purchasing and a lot of people said that the CT 36 was probably a waste considering the CT 26 has the same suction just a slightly smaller size. I bought it while it was on sale and don't regret it one bit. For the marginal price difference the added bag capacity was worth it in my eyes as it would mean less bag changes. It sits in my shop so I wasn't worried about the extra bulk. Using it with the ETS EC 125/3 is a match made in heaven. The dust extraction is unlike anything I could've hoped for. I used to be covered head to toe in dust previously when sanding and now I can sand for hours and have almost no dust on me. The power this thing has as well is impressive and it makes cleaning up sawdust in the shop a breeze. I didn't think several hundred dollars on a shopvac would be worth it, but I am a believer now. The CT 36 as a stand alone shopvac to use for general purposes I think is overkill. Combining it with a sander though is an investment you won't regret.

In summary if you are debating the ETS EC 125/3 I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is serious about getting a great finish on their projects. I am a hobbyist and occasionally sell some work and I wish I had invested in the Festool line a long time ago now. The time saving alone will quickly have the tools paying for themselves in my opinion. Granted my experience is limited as the ETS EC 125/3 and CT 36 are my first Festool purchases but I can't imagine going back to anything else now.  [big grin]

With how blown away I've been with the ETC EC 125/3 and CT 36 I recently purchased a T18+3 drill set to replace my relic of a drill that really should just be a paperweight at best. I purchased from Festoolproducts (toolnut) yesterday and was told it would still arrive this Friday. I am hoping for the best since I will need it this weekend and am hoping it exceeds my expectations as the ETS EC 125/3 and CT 36 have.


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Offline bobfog

  • Posts: 838
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2016, 09:46 AM »
The 150 pad (although no officially acknowledged by Festool) also fits the ETS EC 125 so you can also use it as a 150mm sander.

Offline Kev

  • Posts: 7652
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2016, 12:02 AM »
I love what you can do with a RO90 and one or two interface pads when it comes to curves!!

Offline mungk

  • Posts: 18
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2016, 03:10 PM »
To the OP, are you finding that the wood is taking stain well after 220? The salesman at woodcraft mentioned to stain after 150 as you start to close off pores when you get into the higher polishing grits. He also said not to skip grits when using the ETS, as it actually becomes less efficient and more time consuming with each skip that you do cause you are depending on the next step up in grit to work harder and deeper to cover the grit that you skipped. I'm still a relative noob when it comes to the art of woodworking, so i'm not sure how much merit there are to his words but it did make sense.

Offline rst

  • Posts: 2277
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2016, 05:18 PM »
Mungk, the salesman at Woodcraft is correct about closing the grain pores.  My first job in the dark ages...1971, was a stainer at a custom kitchen factory, Wood Mode.  We sprayed water on wood sanded to 150 to raise the grain and to allow the stain to pentrate the pores.  The only wood we did not wet was pine because of the blotching.  The pieces were sprayed with sanding sealer, sanded with 220, sprayed with laquer, sanded again with 320 and sprayed again.  After the ovens, the dryed pieces were wet sanded - oil with 400 and then again with 600.  Johnson's paste wax buffed in with fine non-woven pads, shined with sheepskin pads.  Gave a practically indistructable finish.  I still use this process today only with water based using water in place of oil.

Offline Scott Burt

  • Magazine/Blog Author
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  • Posts: 1998
  • painter/writer/educator
    • Prep to Finish
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2016, 08:09 PM »
Finish sanding grit prior to stain will vary with different wood species...

Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 123
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2016, 02:54 AM »
Softer woods you can try a stain conditioner prior to staining. It opens the grain up and gives an even result with little to no streaking and blotches.  I see the idea behind the sanding before cutting. For pine wood and small pieces have you tried to hand sand them as the finish grits? So in other words sand all the boards to 120 grit. Cut everything out and the smaller pieces hand sand to 180/220 and the larger pieces hit with the RO. If it was oak hickory I would forget the hand sanding idea all together.

I feel one with the wood when I hand sand. I guess I'm old school.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6595
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2016, 09:38 AM »
Mungk, the salesman at Woodcraft is correct about closing the grain pores. 

FWIW...I needed to purchase some fresh General Finishes gel stain for a project and I noticed they changed the prep advice on the label from a number of years back. They now advise sanding at 120/150 grit. Previously it was 180/220 grit.

Offline Nick Y.

  • Posts: 20
Re: ETS EC 125/3
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2016, 08:01 PM »
To the OP, are you finding that the wood is taking stain well after 220? The salesman at woodcraft mentioned to stain after 150 as you start to close off pores when you get into the higher polishing grits. He also said not to skip grits when using the ETS, as it actually becomes less efficient and more time consuming with each skip that you do cause you are depending on the next step up in grit to work harder and deeper to cover the grit that you skipped. I'm still a relative noob when it comes to the art of woodworking, so i'm not sure how much merit there are to his words but it did make sense.

I didn't have any issues with the wood absorbing the stain after using 220. In all honesty going to 220 was probably excessive and I could've easily stopped at 150 and achieved a finish that was just as nice. I more or less wanted to test the sander out and see just how smooth it could get the surface down to.