Hot New Tool Issue 70: Festool ETS EC Series

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This article is from Issue 70 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Compact but powerful brushless sanders

Festool ETS EC Series

Today, many tool manufacturers are taking advantage of brushless technology to make portable power tools lighter and more compact, without any appreciable power loss. A brushless electric motor has other advantages, too: low vibration and greater longevity. Not surprisingly, Festool has developed a trio of new random-orbit sanders that exploit the advantages of brushless technology and add a few other high-tech features as well.

There are three brushless sander models in the ETS EC series, and they share the same plastic bodies and variable speed controls. Let’s start with the two models with 6"-dia. sanding pads. The 150/3 has a 3mm sanding stroke and is designed for ultra-fine sanding. The 150/5 has a 5mm sanding stroke.



Although you can do fine sanding with the 150/5, the larger stroke is more effective for aggressive sanding with coarser grits. Both sanders take the same hook-and-loop sandpaper. The slightly smaller 125/3 has a 5"-dia. sanding pad and operates with a 3mm sanding stroke.

Like other “Festools,” each sander comes in its own Systainer case, along with a single sandpaper disc, owner’s manual, power cord, and Allen wrench (for detaching the sanding pad). According to Festool, the FusionTec pads on these sanders are designed not just for optimal dust collection, but also to maintain a cooler sanding surface.

Putting the three sanders to work revealed noticeable differences. The 150/5 is the workhorse of the bunch, able to power aggressively through wood with coarser grits but also sand well in finer grits. But the 3mm stroke is a better choice for smoothing between finish coats. What I missed on the 150/5 when working at high speed and with coarse sandpaper was the option of using a two-handed grip. These tools are deceptively powerful given their compact size and light weight, so it’s possible to get tired when you have to work one-handed.

I picked the smaller 125/3 as my favorite model. It’s at a disadvantage when sanding large flat surfaces, compared to the two larger models. But it’s excellent for sanding vertical surfaces, for reaching into tight spaces, and doing the finicky sanding that remodeling work often requires.

—Tim Snyder

  1. Festool ETS EC 150/5 Brushless Sander   #571892, $485
  2. Festool ETS EC 150/3 Brushless Sander   #571880, $485
  3. Festool ETS EC 125/3 Brushless Sander   #571897, $385

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