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Thread: Festool ETS EC Decision 5mm versus 3mm stroke

  1. #1
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    Festool ETS EC Decision 5mm versus 3mm stroke

    I realize this question is very much in the weeds, but i plan on selling my ETS 150/5 and going with the new ETS EC 150. I want the newer design mostly for the height difference, but being new and upgraded arent bad reasons either. Is there an appreciable finish surface difference between the 150/5 versus the 150/3? I know it technically should be a more refined scratch pattern, but can the human eye discern the difference between a surface sanded to 320 with the 150/5 versus the 150/3? Does the 150/5 sand that much faster than the 150/3? My knee jerk reaction is to just buy the 150/5, but i also have the older generation rotex 150 that i didnt have before getting the original ETS 150/5. Also, unless i am incorrect, the ETS EC is a much more powerful sander than the older ETS. Would love to hear from folks with either and if they regret not going with the other.

  2. #2
    Patrick,

    I recently went through a similar internal debate when a barely used ETS EC 150/3 and Rotex 125 came up for sale not too far away for a reasonable price. I bought them both with the thought that, if needed for efficiency, I can use the Rotex for the initial grits (sometimes 80, usually 120 and 150) with the larger oscillation stroke, then switch to the ETS 150
    for 220 grit and up with the smaller/finer stroke.

    I also have an ETS 125 (3mm stroke) that I bought back in 2015 or so and was my only “nice” orbital sander until recently. This basically meant that it pulled sanding duty for tasks that were a bit above it’s weight class and that became annoying and inefficient, hence the search for a deeper bench of sanders.

    I just tried this approach on a run of about 300 LF of 5” custom Ash baseboard that came off my planer and needed to go to 220 grit before finishing. I used the Rotex at 120 to start, then went straight to 220 with the finer sander and was really happy with the results and speed/efficiency, and feeling like I hadn’t wasted my money on 2 more slightly more specific sanders in addition to my trusty ETS 125.

    All that to say, I say go for the 3mm stroke if you already have the Rotex and like using it in the mix. I have not used a 5mm and 3mm version of the same exact sander back to back or side by side, so maybe someone else can chime in there, but I think your logic is sound with diversifying strokes a bit.
    Still waters run deep.

  3. #3
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    I dont know how true it is, but I was under the impression the smaller circles were less aggressive therefore better if you were going for high grit sanding. If you were sanding mostly in the 80-150 range you may be better with the 5 as it will more quickly move through the material.

    But I dont know. I have the Rotex and a mirka 5

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Yetka View Post
    I dont know how true it is, but I was under the impression the smaller circles were less aggressive therefore better if you were going for high grit sanding. If you were sanding mostly in the 80-150 range you may be better with the 5 as it will more quickly move through the material.

    But I dont know. I have the Rotex and a mirka 5
    I read a few threads and one guy made this comment. He said unless you are working with metals, plastics, or something else, then stick to 5mm stroke for wood. This kind of stuck with me, because i absolutely cannot complain about the ETS 150/5. The finish surface is really good from 220 or 320. However, you cant miss what you never had, and i might be ignorant of how much better the finish is from the 150/3. To Philip's point, i do have the sander lineup that i dont need an overly aggressive sander. It is logical for me to pick the 150/3 in that sense.

  5. #5
    Patrick, not sure if you're aware of this, but the ETS EC 125 and 150 appear to be identical except for the price and the default size pad that ships with it. You can take an EC125 and put the 150 pad on it and it works perfectly (but it DOESN'T work the other way around - you CAN'T put the 125 pad on a 150 sander). I recently went through the "do I want the 5mm or 3mm?" decision, myself, but ended up getting the 3mm simply because that's the size the EC125 is sold in.

  6. #6
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    While I'm using the older version, mine is a 150/3 as I also have the Rotex 150 which in ROS mode is the 5mm orbit. I've never regretted having the 105/3 as my primary tool (98% of my sanding) and if I were replacing it with the current like you are, I'd likely stick with the 3mm orbit.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    Patrick, not sure if you're aware of this, but the ETS EC 125 and 150 appear to be identical except for the price and the default size pad that ships with it. You can take an EC125 and put the 150 pad on it and it works perfectly (but it DOESN'T work the other way around - you CAN'T put the 125 pad on a 150 sander). I recently went through the "do I want the 5mm or 3mm?" decision, myself, but ended up getting the 3mm simply because that's the size the EC125 is sold in.
    Yes, good point, i can get the 125/3, buy the 150 pad, and save like $50 overall. They dont sell a 125/5, which is a little strange. I have a variety of hard and soft pads for the ETS 150 that will work with the ETS EC, but never a bad thing to have more pads or save a little money by going with the 125.

  8. #8
    I have no Festool sanders so far but I do almost all my sanding with my Bosch 1250 DEVS. It has a 5mm stoke, I believe, and also what Festool calls their Rotex mode. I sand to 220 grit and do not see scratches in finished projects. My goal in sanding is to do it as quickly as possible and that dictates 5mm stroke, not 3mm. On the other hand, if you like to sand and want more time doing it, 3mm would be best. Maybe somebody can see a difference in the results but I cannot.

    I'd like to have a sander with the motor over top of the pad (instead of the right angle grinder shape of my Bosch) and might have to buy a Festool to get the 5mm stroke I want. The non symetrical mass of my Bosch makes it sand more heavily on the side of the pad where the motor is. I often use it one handed which contributes to the effect if I am not careful.

  9. #9
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    Jim, I think you're understanding why I often say that Rotex (and by extension, your Bosch dual mode sander) are "two handed" tools. They excel at heavy work when you can get a good grip, but are not balanced well for general sanding, especially when one hand needs to be on the material and one hand needs to be totally controlling the tool.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    While I'm using the older version, mine is a 150/3 as I also have the Rotex 150 which in ROS mode is the 5mm orbit. I've never regretted having the 105/3 as my primary tool (98% of my sanding) and if I were replacing it with the current like you are, I'd likely stick with the 3mm orbit.
    i'm with jim on this. i have an older 150/3, a newer 150/5 ETS, and a 6" mirka deros with the smaller stroke. i use the 5mm ETC only for the heavier grits (which is rare), and the finer orbitals for everything else, bumping up in grits. i'd stick with the 150/3.

    -- dz

  11. #11
    I own the Rotex 150 and the ETS ec 150/5. From what I have been told from a festool trainer at one time a few years back was they recommended the 3 stroke if you were already sanding with the rotex series because they had a 5 stroke. However, my store was out of the ets ec 150/3, so I went ahead and got the 5 stroke. I have absolutely zero regrets and have sanded quite a few projects so far and just love the combination. I use the rotex from 60-100g and then from there the ets ec. Love both sanders.
    "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door!"

  12. #12
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    150/5. It works well on everything from 60g to 320g. I bought a pro5 for finish sanding and never use it because the ec150/5 works better everywhere.

  13. #13
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    I am as confused as I was when i started, ha! Thankfully, i dont think there is a bad choice. I think im going to go see if i can use both with 220-320 grit and see if i can discern a difference.


    While i have the rotex 150, it is an animal to use--as others have mentioned. Therefore, unless i really need to level a surface, i dont break out the rotex. Its partially why i started out leaning towards another 150/5.

  14. #14
    I use both. The 3mm definitely provides more refined finish at any given grit. It definitely is slower. We reserve them for the final grit and sanding in between coats of finish. If I could only have one it would be the 3mm. Sure it's slower, but the 5mm is less capable, finish wise.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny means View Post
    If I could only have one it would be the 3mm. Sure it's slower, but the 5mm is less capable, finish wise.
    My feeling is the same as Johnny here...the end result being more important than the speed to get there when only one tool is available.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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