which festool sander to buy

If you've spent any time on the internet in the world of woodworking, cabinetry, or professional painting, you've undoubtedly seen a lot of Festool products.

Their sanders, dust extractors, domino joiners, and other hand tools are hard to miss with their distinctive green color and handy Systainer cases.

Owners of Festool products love to sing their praises.

Non-owners love to hate on them for being overpriced...

But as owners of Festool products ourselves, we're here to tell you their products are fantastic.

Whether they are worth the price to you is an individual decision, but there is no denying that they make high quality tools.

Their sanders are a popular entry point for a lot of people and for good reason. 

Once you use one, you'll quickly wonder how you ever got by with your old sander.

They're quiet, smooth, efficient, and overall a joy to use.

Yes, I said sanding can be a joy.

But which one should you get? 

Their website is full of different sanders that all look somewhat the same yet have VERY different prices ranging from low $200s to over $1,000.

So how do you pick? 

First we'll give you some rough categories for their sanders based on attributes and features they offer:


Sandpaper and Pad Size/Shape 

festool sandpaper sizes

Festool sanders come in a variety of sizes and shapes:

  • Round - any model with ETS, RO, or LHS in the name - 90mm (3.5"), 125mm (5"), 150mm (6") and 225mm (8.75")
  • Triangle/Delta - any model with DX or DTS in the name - 95mmx88mm, 100mm x 150mm
  • Rectangle - any model with RTS in the name - 80mmx133mm


Rotex Functionality

You'll notice that some Festool sanders have RO or Rotex in the name. This means they have a gear-driven rotary function you can turn on and off, making them dual-mode sanders. The Rotex mode aids in stock removal, making these sanders great if you plan to do heavy sanding work with large or very uneven surfaces and want maximum stock removal. The beauty of these is that you can also turn this off and do light sanding work as well. That said, the Rotex sanders come at a higher cost and higher weight, so they can be a bit more unwieldy to use.


Sander Stroke Lengths

The sander stroke refers to the range of the orbit on random orbital sanders. A smaller stroke is better for fine sanding while a larger stroke is better for heavy stock removal. Many Festool models have the stroke in the model name such as the ETS 150/3 (3mm stroke) vs the ETS 150/5 (5mm stroke) but not all of them do. For general woodworking, we recommend a sander with a 3mm stroke as a very versatile option.


Festool Cordless Sanders

Festool now offers a few different battery-powered cordless sanders. One unique feature of their cordless sanders is that they are "hybrid" tools - meaning they can run on batteries or an optional cord. The basic models come as the tool only (no battery or cord), the I-Plus models come with two 18 volt 3.0 Ah batteries, and the I-Set models come with the two batteries plus a power cord.


Festool ETS-EC Model Sanders

While most Festool sanders use brushed motors, the ETS-EC models feature brushless motors and are also lower profile. These are a great upgrade over the ETS model sanders for their lower weight, better portability, and of course brushless motors, but they come at a pretty hefty price increase over their brushed counterparts. Worth it? Only you can decide. 


Festool Planex Sanders

Festool's Planex series sanders are drywall-specific sanders that come on a long pole and feature 8.75" diameter sanding discs. So unless you're looking specifically for a drywall sander, don't get a Planex model!


All Festool Sanders Compared

With those out of the way, here's the full list of current Festool sanders with their sizes, features, and MSRP so you can compare and decide which is best for you. 

 Model Number Pad Size Pad Shape Pad Holes Gear Driven? Stroke Cord -less? Motor MSRP
ROTEX RO 90 DX FEQ-Plus 90mm (3.5") Round 7 Yes 3mm No Brushed $525
ETS 125 REQ-Plus 125mm (5") Round 9 No 2mm No Brushed $249
ETS EC 125/3 EQ-Plus
125mm (5")
9 No 3mm No Brushless $475
ETSC 125-Basic
125mm (5")
Round 9 No 2mm Yes, tool only Brushed $249
ETSC 125 3,1 I-Plus
125mm (5")
Round 9 No 2mm Yes, 2 included Brushed $539
ETSC 125 Li 3,1 I-Set
125mm (5")
Round 9 No 2mm Yes, 2 included + power cable Brushed $665
125mm (5")
Round 9 Yes 3.6mm No Brushed $579
ETS 150/3 EQ-Plus
150mm (6")
Round 49 No 3mm No Brushed $439
ETS 150/5 EQ-Plus
150mm (6")
Round 49 No 5mm No Brushed $439
ETS EC150/3 EQ-Plus
150mm (6")
Round 49 No 3mm No Brushless $575
ETS EC150/5 EQ-Plus
150mm (6")
Round 49 No 5mm No Brushless $575
150mm (6")
Round 49 Yes 5mm No Brushed $669
RTS 400 REQ-Plus 80mm x 133mm Rectangle 14 No 2mm No Brushed $299
RTSC 400-Basic 80mm x 133mm Rectangle 14 No 2mm Yes, tool only Brushed $299
RTSC 400 3,1 I-Plus
80mm x 133mm
14 No 2mm Yes, 2 included Brushed $569
RTSC 400 Li 3,1 I-Set
80mm x 133mm
14 No 2mm
Yes, 2 included + power cable
Brushed $695
DTS 400 REQ-Plus 100mm x 150mm Triangle 9 No 2mm No Brushed $299
DTSC 400-Basic
100mm x 150mm
9 No 2mm Yes, tool only Brushed $299
DTSC 400 3,0 I-Plus
100mm x 150mm
9 No 2mm
Yes, 2 included
DTSC 400 3,0 I-Set
100mm x 150mm
9 No
Yes, 2 included + power cable
PLANEX LHS-E 225 EQ 225mm Round 9 No N/A No Brushless $839
PLANEX LHS 2 225 EQI-Plus 225mm Round 9 No 4mm No Brushless $1395



Which Festool Sander is Best?

best festool sander for woodworking

Hopefully by now you know that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The best for you may be very different from the next person. That said, here are some general recommendations.

  • Best Festool sander if you're on a budget: ETS 125. These sanders are a perfect entry point into Festool. They'll be smoother and quieter than what you're used to and the dust collection will be fantastic.
  • Best Festool sander if money is no object: One of each! Kidding aside, each sander serves it's own purpose and different ones are better at different jobs. But if we had to pick one, the ROTEX RO 150 is tough to beat. Big enough to take on any job while still being controllable for smaller work.
  • Best Festool sander for small projects: The RO 90 is a great sander for smaller projects with it's 3.5" pad and triangular delta pad for getting into tight corners. But despite it's size, it can do heavy stock removal with the rotary mode.

We hope this helps break down some of the confusion with Festool's sanders and narrow down which would be a good one to use in your shop. And of course if you need abrasives for your new Festool sander, we've got you covered with 5" and 6" discs designed to fit Festool sanders.




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