The Introduction:Festool Rotex Ro 125 FEQ-PlusSadly the local retailer that I went to only had the P80 grit sandpaper in stock.
And some specs:Power consumption:
500 Watts / 4.2 amps 120 v AC Pad diameter:
125 mmSpeed rotary motion:
300 - 600 rpm Speed eccentric motion:
3000 - 6000 rpm Sanding stroke:
3.6 mmDust extractor connection:
Opening the Systainer we find this:The Ro 125, Plug-it cable, Brilliant P120 grit sandpaper and a soft shoe sanding pad.Inside on the top of the Systainer we see the various accessories for the 125.
Now lets take a look at the sander its self:The side. You can see the indentation designed for your fingers and hands to help with easy holding.Here we see two switches; One for Rotary and Random orbit modes and the other for the power switch.The bottom cleverly shows you how to remove and add the sanding pad onto the rotex so you never forget.And finally the back shows us where the 27mm vacuum hose and power cable connect to along with the button to hold and release the sanding pad for easy removal.
Connecting the pad to the Rotex can be a little difficult at first but like all tools once you get the technique and know how hard to turn it, it becomes easy. You have to make sure it is in Rotary mode, press the fastfix button at the back and screw the pad on.When pushing the fast fix button in it pushes out a plastic rod that holds the rotary module from turning.The challenge:
I am planning on pitting my old sander, a tried and true Metabo orbital sander, against the Festool RO 125 on a piece of pine 35mm X 15mm large.
They will both have 8 minutes on a side of that pine. It will be broken down into 2 sessions for the Metabo. Four minutes on the 80 grit and four minutes on the 150 grit. The Festool will have 4 sessions of 2 minutes each. Two minutes of the 80 grit in rotary mode, two minutes of the 80 grit in random orbit. Then 2 minutes of the 120 grit in rotary and 2 minutes of 120 grit in random orbit thus making 4 minutes of 80 grit and 4 minutes of 120.Here you can see the sanders next to their sandpaper. The top ones being 80 grit and the bottom ones being 150 grit on the left, the Metabo sandpaper, and 120 grit on the right, the Festool sandpaper.
Now I realise that the Metabo has a 150 grit while the Festool only has a 120. After searching high and low I found out I had run out of 120 grit so I was forced to go with the 150.
Applying the Metabo sandpaper has always been annoying. You have to lift two spring clamps one at a time and insert the sandpaper. Attaching the sandpaper to the Ro 125 however is rather easy, just align the holes and press down.The two contenders were ready.
I got the piece of pine, strapped it down and got out my stop watch.
One issue I have always had with the Metabo is that after medium to long use the vibration starts to mess with your hand. I've found that the vibration has been to intenses to make for nice easy use. Also having no dust extraction what so ever it fills my workshop with sawdust very very quickly.You can see how much dust was left.
This is what it looked like after the first 4 minutes. Not bad considering how it looked before hand. obviously it was still a little rough. I then cleaned the table and started again with the 150.More dust really?
Now after the second batch of sanding it looked half decent. This was the wood I was used to dealing with. To me it felt smooth.
Again I cleaned the table and prepared the other side for the rotex. I attached the hose and the power cable, turned it to 4 and put it on rotary.
Turning it on for the first time you can hear a wine from the motor as it turns that pad. Holding it is easy and comfortable as your hands fit nicely into the grooves that Festool has designed it with. Putting it down on the wood you can feel just how powerful and aggressive it really is. It wants to move by its self and is hard to control. You learn very quickly to press very lightly and turning the vac down to about halfway helps a lot to. You end up just guiding it around and making sure the hose doesn?t pull it down backwards, it does the actual sanding for you! Compared to my Metabo this was very aggresive.
Turning it to random orbit mode makes things very much easier. Again you end up just guiding it around the wood and making sure it?s well balanced otherwise it leaves small semi-circular grooves in the wood. Lifting it off the wood you can feel the suction of the vacuum; my guess is that suction is what causes it to sand by its self in addition to its weight.I know you aren't meant to hold it with one hand but in random orbit mode it is easy to control and it was the only way to take the picture.The first four minutes went by.
Man already I could tell there was a difference. First of all the actual act of sanding was easy, second to the touch the wood was a little softer, only a little, and the edges a little sharper. A sign of a good sander and there was no dust, no suffocation and sneezing! I removed the 80 grit and added the 120.After the second four minutes.
This is where Festool shon. I couldn't believe the finish. I honestly had never felt non-varnished pine that smooth in my life. The wood took on a shine. Having never owned a Festool sander this was all new and amazing to me. Even though my Metabo was running a higher grit the Festool blew it out of the water. There really was no comparison between the finish of the two.
Then I looked underneath:The suction works so well the Rotex's paper looks unused but when you look at the Metabo you can really see the difference.The conclusion:
The Ro 125 takes the win easily. In initial/rough sanding it removed faster than the Metabo and in finishing it was like they were in different leagues. The only place where the Metabo would beat the Rotex is in noise. The Metabo makes a lower hum where as the Rotex wines, this is slightly more annoying but with the ease of use and combined with a vacuum it out weighs that one gripe. I can honestly recommend this sander to anyone, I know it's going to be my new most used sander.
The only question now is where to put it?
Post Script: I apologise for the poor image quality. The photos were taken with my cell phone.