Festool ES125e Random Orbit Sander Review


The Festool ES125eq is a compact, stepless variable speed, Random Orbit Sander (ROS). The speed can be varied between 6,000 - 13,000 orbits per minute, the orbit size is 2.5mm. The sander also incorporates a pad brake to prevent scratches when the tool is lifted or placed onto the work. This is one of the more economical sanders made by Festool.

The ES125eq comes in its own carrying case (called a Systainer) along with a dust bag and a single piece of sandpaper. The Systainer case can be latched together to transport several tools or other items in a group or even latched onto the Festool brand Dust Extractors. In the case of the ES125eq Systainer, there is enough room left in the unit to easily store several pads of sandpaper as well.
ES125 Bottom In Use
There are two obvious unique features to the ES125eq, the first is the hole in the center of the sandpaper. The ES125eq is designed to actually pump air OUT of this port. The dust is pulled out through the 8 holes at the perimeter of the paper. Festool calls this the "Jetstream" system. By forcing air into the center of the paper it actually keeps the paper cleaner and provides for better dust collection. According to their data, up to a 30% longer paper life is one of the benefits of this system. I can't verify this numerically but it does seem that the paper lasts longer that other sanders I've used. Using this dead spot to increase the performance of the tool is a typical example of the great engineering Festool designs into their products.
Like many other Festool products now, the ES125eq uses a "Plug-it" power cord. There are two benefits to the Plug-it concept. One is for parts replacement, power cords typically wear out near where they attach to the tool. The Plug-it type cord is easily replaced. The other reason is to make swapping tools attached to a dust extractor easier and faster. For instance, during the sanding process it would not be uncommon to use two or more types of sanders. With the Plug-it system one just swaps the power and vacuum ends to the desired tool thus eliminating trips all the way back to the power outlet. I don't know if Festool invented this concept but I do know folks have been shortening the cords on their power tools for years to try and achieve the same effect. Of course the length of the power cord also matches the length of the Festool brand vacuum hose which is quite a handy thing.

As I've come to expect with Festool, the features of the tool extend beyond what can be seen by the eye. The ergonomics of the tool including it's low vibration are all great; this is a sander you could use for hours without numbing your arm off. The ES125eq is a very smooth and fairly quiet machine and the contrast between it and other 5" machines is pretty noticeable in these areas.
As far as actual sanding, the tool does just exactly what you would expect, it sands. You can fit the machine with pads of different firmness levels, a "soft" pad comes with the machine. When used with the Festool dust extractors, the dust collection is excellent, there is absolutely no need for a downdraft sanding table with the ES125eq.

At 5", the sander is a standard size and uses hook and loop paper. I am frequently asked about the price of the Festool paper. Although you may be able to find other brands of paper that fits the machine, I recommend the Festool brand sand paper; it's good quality stock and can be found in a very wide array of grits and applications. The cost per box is about the same as other brands I've used therefore there isn't any reason to use anything else.
ES125 Kit
It is very easy to develop a preference for the Festool sanders and this one is certainly no exception. The quality and feel of the tools are clearly top-notch. I consider the RS150e models (there are two) to be the Cadillac of ROS sanders but the ES125eq model gets a user into the quality Festool brand at a lower price. Aside from cost, there could be reasons why a user might prefer the ES125 over the larger sanders. If working in overhead, or other non-flat conditions, the compactness and lighter weight of the ES125 would be more beneficial.

In the interest of full disclosure Festool provided this product to facilitate this review.