Author Topic: RO 125 and ETS 150/3  (Read 12489 times)

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Offline dugums

  • Posts: 7
RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« on: May 21, 2014, 05:29 PM »
I recently had to replace an old sander and wanted to share my experience in case anybody else is stuck deciding between 5in/6in or RO/ETS models.

I already owned a Festool CT26, TS55, OF1400, MFT, and a bunch of other accessories, so I was excited to see if the dust extraction really worked as well as everyone said it did on the sanders.  My shop is in the back of a retail store which is only separated by a partial wall, so up to this point I had to take all of my sanding jobs outside. The constant shuffling of tables, dressers, etc. in and out of the shop (and dealing with Chicago weather at the same time), wasn’t working for me. Although I was hopeful the Festool sanders would allow me to work in the shop, I was skeptical. My retail store is full of upholstered furniture and small gifts, so introducing dust into the air isn’t an option.

After doing a ton of research, I decided to purchase the RO 125. My decision was mostly based on the shorter stroke of the RO 125 vs the RO 150 and because I believed I’d be able to use the multimode feature to sand all the way to final finish. I read a mixture of reviews of the sanders and it seemed like some people thought you could achieve an acceptable final finish with the RO line and some did not (many people seem to think having both is the best option). I wasn't ready to invest in two sanders to cover the types of scenarios I use a 5-6 inch round sander for, especially since I had been getting great results from a single DeWalt unit for years.  The research I did made me think that there might be a bit more of a learning curve to achieve a great finish with RO, but that it was doable and that the ETS was only a finish sander and would be very slow for dealing heavy material removal. I decided to move forward with the RO 125 and was pretty excited as sanding has always been my favorite part of projects.

The RO 125 was just like my other Festools – it had a solid build and all of the features were well thought out. Upon my first couple of tests, I could see the dust extraction was working better than I could have hoped for and that the RO in either mode was a beast at removing material FAST. All in all, I was happy with the sander, but was noticing that I didn’t really feel the experience it was giving me was as impressive as my other Festools. Namely, I thought the sander was a little hard to handle/not as balanced as it should be and extremely aggressive in both modes (I also wonder if the larger RO 150 has better balance due to the 6” diameter). Because of these issues, I was finding myself not enjoying the sanding process as much. 

I decided I wanted to be as happy with my sander as I was with my other Festools, so I ordered the other model I had been considering, the ETS 150/3, to give it a try. The ETS is a different experience altogether. It is perfectly balanced to me, easy to handle, and a joy to use.  One concern I had was that it would be significantly slower to use for heavy material removal (I do a good amount of refinishing and work quite a bit with stubborn woods/finishes). While it is true that the Rotex is faster, it did things too fast for me. The ETS works exactly at my pace. I do things quickly but carefully and the ETS is more than capable of doing everything I ask from it. In comparing final finishes, as expected, the ETS was a cut above the RO for me.

I think both sanders have their virtues, but I am in love with my ETS 150. I think the Rotex models are extremely impressive in how fast they remove material, but ultimately I would have ended up buying an ETS for finish sanding.  My concern about the ETS only being a finish sander was unwarranted – with the proper abrasives it is the best general purpose sander I’ve ever used.

If you’re between the Rotex and ETS, I strongly recommend trying the ETS first. I don't think there is any argument that it is quieter and more balanced. Try the ETS on one of your more demanding jobs - if it can keep up and do what you want it to, you may not need the power of the Rotex. If you get the Rotex, you may like it and it may work just fine for you, but the ETS might be an even better fit for you and you'd never know.

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Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 3837
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 05:38 PM »
Be sure that you're balancing the RO 125 when you use it.  Think if it as a small version of a 18-24" floor buffer.  You know, the kind that if you grab them wrong, will throw you across the room until you learn how to use them.  Once you learn this, it will be much smoother.  Also, grip the RO 125 by the Plug-It connector and DE hose connection rather than by the "normal" handle.  This will be a huge assist in balancing the tool.  Very important: turn down the suction on the DE to no more than 1/3 power to avoid the suction pulling the abrasive into the material being sanded and leaving swirl marks.  Let the tool do the work.  I define the "tool" as the combination of the RO 125 and the abrasive.  You don't need to force the abrasive into the workpiece.  Gentle pressure is all that is required. 

- Willy -

 "Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up." - Brigham Young

Offline jacko9

  • Posts: 2381
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 06:04 PM »
Degums,

I totally agree with you on the ease of use of the ETS 150/3 and on it's overall effectiveness as a great sander.  I also appreciate the 6" diameter of the sanding disc and the dust extraction is exceptional.

Jack

Offline dugums

  • Posts: 7
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2014, 06:05 PM »
Yes, I was able to get along with the RO 125 after a little time (and insight from this site) and got good results from it. In the end though, I felt the ETS was just a more comfortable set up for me, offering a more natural balance. I returned the RO. And I'm not knocking the RO at all, I thought it was a top notch sander - I was surprised that I ended up with ETS after reading the strengths/weaknesses and knowing the projects I work on. Thanks for the reply!

Offline RobBob

  • Posts: 1378
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2014, 07:50 PM »
Thanks for sharing your experiences.  That is the kind of information I like to read when deciding between tools.

Offline Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2745
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2014, 08:21 PM »
Yes, I was able to get along with the RO 125 after a little time (and insight from this site) and got good results from it. In the end though, I felt the ETS was just a more comfortable set up for me, offering a more natural balance. I returned the RO. And I'm not knocking the RO at all, I thought it was a top notch sander - I was surprised that I ended up with ETS after reading the strengths/weaknesses and knowing the projects I work on. Thanks for the reply!



Welcome to the  FOG Dugums.

As you have discovered the ROTEX and ETS sanders are different, although the ROTEX range can overlap. Yes the ETS 150/3 is a delight. I am surprised though that you did not keep the ROTEX for oil and wax polishing/buffing?

I am intrigued to know more about your business, is it antique furniture, shabby chic or  . .?

« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 08:24 PM by Untidy Shop »
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Offline wow

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Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2014, 08:28 PM »
First,  [welcome] to the FOG.

I have been going through this in my mind for a while, unable to decide. I now have an RO150 on the way (I should have it Friday) but I think I'll be adding an ETS 150/3 to the herd fairly quickly. I can see myself using both of them quite a bit, and appreciate your comments.

Trying to be one of the most helpful members on the FOG.

Offline Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2745
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 08:38 PM »
First,  [welcome] to the FOG.

I have been going through this in my mind for a while, unable to decide. I now have an RO150 on the way (I should have it Friday) but I think I'll be adding an ETS 150/3 to the herd fairly quickly. I can see myself using both of them quite a bit, and appreciate your comments.



As the ETS compliments the ROTEX, I think you will. [smile]

As an example, project yesterday, sanders in order.

RO150.  Grits 80 and 100
Makita 1/2 sheet 100 to 240
ETS 150/3 240 to 400
RO 150 burnishing 2  X oil finish with green and (white felt today).

Will be posting this project in near future.
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Offline wow

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  • Posts: 3579
  • Official WalMart greeter to the FOG
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2014, 09:10 PM »
<snip>...I now have an RO150 on the way (I should have it Friday) but I think I'll be adding an ETS 150/3 to the herd fairly quickly. I can see myself using both of them quite a bit...

As the ETS compliments the ROTEX, I think you will. [smile]

As an example, project yesterday, sanders in order.

RO150.  Grits 80 and 100
Makita 1/2 sheet 100 to 240
ETS 150/3 240 to 400
RO 150 burnishing 2  X oil finish with green and (white felt today).

Will be posting this project in near future.

***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***      ***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***     ***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***


Item 2 on the list above violates your Green Card! Please correct this error ASAP or risk losing 'Green Card' privileges permanently.

  [wink][poke]

Seriously, that's quite the sanding progression. I hope you took lots of pictures?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 09:13 PM by wow »
Trying to be one of the most helpful members on the FOG.

Offline Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2745
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 03:31 AM »
<snip>...I now have an RO150 on the way (I should have it Friday) but I think I'll be adding an ETS 150/3 to the herd fairly quickly. I can see myself using both of them quite a bit...

As the ETS compliments the ROTEX, I think you will. [smile]

As an example, project yesterday, sanders in order.

RO150.  Grits 80 and 100
Makita 1/2 sheet 100 to 240
ETS 150/3 240 to 400
RO 150 burnishing 2  X oil finish with green and (white felt today).

Will be posting this project in near future.

***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***      ***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***     ***GREEN CARD VIOLATION***


Item 2 on the list above violates your Green Card! Please correct this error ASAP or risk losing 'Green Card' privileges permanently.

  [wink][poke]

Seriously, that's quite the sanding progression. I hope you took lots of pictures?


Thanks for the laugh.   [big grin]

Mm mm Green Card, do you mean the one that enables me to work in the US?    [wink]

I am too old to consider that, but the real reason might be that old paradigm - NAINA!  [smile] [big grin].

Re the Makita, I considered an R200 (R2 in NA) but was and am saving for a Kapex. And I got staff discount at my weekend sales job - wish we were a Festool Dealer!

There was a second hand R200 on EBay Australia for under $300Aus  last week, but I am generally happy with the Makita given amount of use in six months.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 03:39 AM by Untidy Shop »
If you don't like Signatures, just go to Look and Layout and tick No Signatures.

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Offline kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 849
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 07:25 AM »
I got converted to Festool sanders in 2007 and started with the RO125 and ETS150. Like you also found the ETS a great sander and RO125 somewhat lacking. I kept the RO125 for a couple of years and it was used when needed. I had the opportunity to meet Brian Sedgewick at WMS in Toronto and discussion eventually got around to the RO 125. Brian had the RO150 at the show and thought I might like the way it worked so he suggested I try it on a couple of pieces of wood. I was so impressed with the difference that I got one after the show. This sander worked the way it should. IMHO the only similarities between the 2 RO's sanders is they have 2 modes, as far as control the RO150 has it hands down.

John

Offline dugums

  • Posts: 7
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2014, 10:38 AM »
Yes, I was able to get along with the RO 125 after a little time (and insight from this site) and got good results from it. In the end though, I felt the ETS was just a more comfortable set up for me, offering a more natural balance. I returned the RO. And I'm not knocking the RO at all, I thought it was a top notch sander - I was surprised that I ended up with ETS after reading the strengths/weaknesses and knowing the projects I work on. Thanks for the reply!



Welcome to the  FOG Dugums.

As you have discovered the ROTEX and ETS sanders are different, although the ROTEX range can overlap. Yes the ETS 150/3 is a delight. I am surprised though that you did not keep the ROTEX for oil and wax polishing/buffing?

I am intrigued to know more about your business, is it antique furniture, shabby chic or  . .?



I had considered keeping the Rotex, but I had two pretty heavy duty projects I used the ETS on during the the 30-day trial window and it didn't leave me wanting. Since my projects are so varied and not normally time-sensitive, I'll wait until I run into something the ETS can't handle.  I probably won't be getting an RO 125 again. If I ever needed a big sander that powerful, I'll try out the 150 hoping for better balance. Overall, the Rotex left a positive impression, it just wasn't what I needed right now. I'm also interested in demoing the 90 at some point, to see if it can add some versatility.

My business is focused on locally made, eco-friendly products. We have a mix of vintage and new furniture pieces, home decor, and smaller gift items (cutting boards, bookends, candles, etc.). In general, we try to restore our vintage pieces to their original state, but sometimes we get creative if that's not possible. I'm not a big fan of shabby chic, but have done that a number of times at a customer's request. For our new pieces, we lean towards modern and industrial pieces and work with only reclaimed/diseased/naturally fallen wood.

Offline Kev

  • Posts: 7652
Re: RO 125 and ETS 150/3
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2014, 11:18 AM »
I don't have a RO 125, I do have the RO150, ETS150 /5 and /3. You can be gentle with the RO150 with practice, but it's still so much more pleasant to use the ETS's.

I can notice the difference between the ETS150 /3 and /5 ... if anyone wants a bit more material removal and doesn't typically chase an ultra fine finish, the /5 is a really good all rounder.