Review: ETS 125 EQ Random Orbital Finish Sander

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Review by pashley posted 08-10-2014 02:54 AM 10360 views 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Review: ETS 125 EQ Random Orbital Finish Sander No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

REASON I BOUGHT A NEW SANDER: Sanding is not my favorite part of woodworking. I want the best result as quick as possible. I even considered getting a drum sander, but at $800+ and a chunk of floor space, I was reluctant. My DeWalt ROS would leave a lot of swirl marks, costing me time – in finding the swirls marks, and finding them after I started finishing! Also, the DeWalt would not do dust collection well. So, in an effort to finder better sanding down quicker with better dust collection, I went for the $195 ETS 125 EQ Random Orbital Finish Sander, plus $60 for 80 and 220 sanding pads.

EVALUATION: The unit is much lower in vibration and noise then my previous ROS sanders. You notice that the sander will “chatter” when it hits an uneven spot, because the platen the sanding disk attaches to is very flat and hard. This is actually a benefit because you know there is an issue in this area of the wood. It takes a bit of getting used to. The fit is comfortable, and it has a variable speed dial, which when turned all the way up is not that fast, but it doesn’t need to be, because of the results it gets.

DUST COLLECTION / POWER DOWN: The unit has an onboard cardboard bag, meant to be replaced – but can be emptied out, so you can reuse it many times. It collects dust vey well with this option, but is almost dustless with a vac. I can just attach my VacMaster (review of that is here), because they have a proprietary size port meant for their expensive shop vacs. I couldn’t find an adaptor.

When you turn off the unit, it powers down very quickly – about ½ second. This is wonderful because I no longer have to wait for the sander to stop spinning so i could set it down, which usually took about 5 seconds. Not an issue now!

SANDING / SANDING PADS: The sanding leaves no swirl marks. None. The reason for this is because of the very small rotational distance. And that is with 80 grit as well. The sanding is fast and very smooth. Impressive. The sanding pads, while expensive (the cheapest is about 34 cents each for a 1000 disks) DON’T clog, and last along time. Definitely a better value then what you’d buy at a big-box store. And they have a huge range of grits – from 24 to 1500 grit!

BOTTOM LINE: I am very impressed with this Festool sander. I love that it saves me time, gives me a better finish with no swirl marks, collects dust much better and the quick power down. I really see no down side to this sander, and will consider buying another Festool product when the time comes – I’ve been eyeballing their Jigsaws.

See the ETS 125 EQ Random Orbital Finish Sander here.

-- Have a blessed day!

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4563 days

21 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


8939 posts in 3422 days

#1 posted 08-10-2014 03:06 AM

Now’s the time to get in on the recon sale.

Great review and it’s one of the best finish sanders on the market
no doubt.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3654 days

#2 posted 08-10-2014 03:14 AM

You will enjoy the ets 125 paired up with their extracteor it is nice. You will also like their jigsaw I only use the Bosch for coarse work now!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3137 days

#3 posted 08-10-2014 03:49 AM

Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step to what can become an addiction. I started with this same ROS several years ago and have succumbed to being a green/black tool aficionado. If I might, I’d strongly suggest you check out their dust extractors. And, yes the sand paper is not inexpensive, but it lasts and does a great job. Best wishes and enjoy.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4421 days

#4 posted 08-10-2014 02:03 PM

Good review.
I do a lot of sanding, and may need to look into one of these when it’s time to replace my current sander.
Thank you.

View michelletwo's profile


2785 posts in 3861 days

#5 posted 08-10-2014 09:12 PM

i have one too, and it is all this review says.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14186 posts in 4828 days

#6 posted 08-10-2014 11:17 PM

Good review and I also enjoyed the link to the shop vac.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

580 posts in 3223 days

#7 posted 08-11-2014 01:42 PM

I have the 150/3 version which has a 6” pad and I also bought the hard pad (it comes with the soft if I’m not mistaken). I too have a CT36 and you can sand without a respirator the dust collection is that good. I love this sander.

-- Matt, Arizona

View JohnChung's profile


421 posts in 2919 days

#8 posted 08-11-2014 02:15 PM

How is this compared to Bosch ROS? Any opinions?

View JohnChung's profile


421 posts in 2919 days

#9 posted 08-11-2014 02:15 PM

How is this compared to Bosch ROS? Any opinions?

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4945 days

#10 posted 08-11-2014 02:57 PM

JohnChung – I own the Bosch 6” sander (I have 2 of them) and I have a few hundred hours on the Festool doing work for Andy Chidwick building dining chairs (professionally, not as a student.)

Both are great machines. For flatwork or casework, I would put the Bosch up against the Festool any day of the week. But when it comes to sculpted work, Festool is the only good answer.

The sanding pattern is a bit different on the Festool than most other R.O. sanders. It seems to be more rotational and so it handles a bit different but it does an amazing job.

I think the Festool sander’s design is a bit more ergonomic when it comes to doing sculptural work than the Bosch design.

The Bosch R.O. sander is more conventional in it’s pattern but they seemed to have pinned it down pretty good because their machine has the right amount of aggressiveness and finesse combined. It leaves a perfect finish and I rarely ever sand past 180 grit.

I like the fact that with both the Festool and Bosch I can choose to use a hard or soft sanding pad. I prefer the hard sanding pad to keep edges crisp on flat work or case work projects, and the soft pad works better if curves are involved.

I think the quality of both machines is fitting for the professional. My Bosch sanders have a million miles on them after years of use as a professional. The only thing I have had to do is replace worn sanding pads, cords, and motor brushes.

Both have great dust collection when hooked up to a shop vac and I think that is the only way to go. The dust canisters on any R.O. sander fill quickly and then the dust becomes an issue.

I hope this information helps in deciding between the two.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4563 days

#11 posted 08-11-2014 03:06 PM

JohnChung – the Bosch was pretty good, even the dust collection, but left swirl marks, and died after 2 years.

-- Have a blessed day!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4945 days

#12 posted 08-11-2014 03:24 PM

After the pinch on the front-end, I never regretted spending money on any of my Festool machines.

I have a track saw, the Domino, and a planer by Festool. All fine machines.

Sorry your sander died after 2 years, I have been using mine for 15 yrs. My Bosch tools have held up to the pro contractor and custom wood shop standards and have never let me down. However, I don’t believe any company makes the best of everything.

Milwaukee tools have not been good to me. I will not buy any more of them.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View SteveMI's profile


1163 posts in 4139 days

#13 posted 08-11-2014 03:30 PM

I have a Bosch ROS and it has been great for everything the past several years with the exception of veneer parquetry. Like most all ROS the Bosch and 150 have some weight associated with them. They didn’t seem to run as flat, maybe due to the offset handle weight. More than a few projects became non-commercial after a slight tip (maybe operator error) with the Bosch that created a divot type mark.

So, couple months ago I borrowed a friends 125 and a Rotex and it opened a whole new potential. First the 1250 weight is seriously less which gives you more control on veneer. No lost work since using it. The Festool Garnat paper gives great results on veneer. Only took a couple days of use to go buy a 125.

This is a “finishing” sander so the power isn’t the same as most all other ROS I have tried. The sales person sold me a wool buffing H&L pad for it and the 125 will not spin it with any kind of wax. Pad works fantastic on the Bosch. The ETS 125 is not a Rotex model and only has random orbital, no eccentric motion option.

Full disclosure: this is only Festool I own.


View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4945 days

#14 posted 08-11-2014 03:35 PM

Steve – Oh good point, I used the Rotex model. I actually have not used this one. Crap I need to pay closer attention.

I have sanded a lot of different types of veneer with my 6” Bosch and have had no problems.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4945 days

#15 posted 08-11-2014 03:39 PM

Festool does sell itself. I also have the Kapex. I thought it was just an over-priced luxury miter saw until I used one extensively on a job site that someone else owned.

After using it day in and day out, I came to appreciate it’s accuracy, speed of settings, and that unbelievable dust collection.

All of a sudden, $1400 for a miter saw was justifiable as a business.

I think the Festool sanders are the same.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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