Whenever Festool is mentioned, there are always two totally different responses. One is–I absolutely love it and can’t wait until I can buy more of their products, and two–it is way overpriced and there is no way I’ll ever spend that much on a power tool! My answer to either is the same as my blog on tool value. Maybe, just maybe, both answers are actually very valid, depending on your needs. I do ask though, have you actually used the tool? Being a professional woodworker for most of my life, I tend to look for the best tools I can find, unless it is truly a one time special job, and then I will rethink that. Often cheap tools have cost me much more in the long run.
Now, back to the Rotex 125. This is certainly not a cheap sander, but having used it, I would highly recommend it if you need a versatile, hardworking tool. While I use other Festool sanders, the RO 125 could be the only sander you own, and not be a sacrifice at all. Since getting the sander, I have basically retired my Porter Cable belt sander. I don’t miss the noise or the dust at all. Even using dust collection, I could sand for 5 minutes and come away covered inside and out with dust. As with any Festool sander, when using with one of their dust collectors, there is virtually no dust, even after a prolonged sanding session. The tool is smooth (when in the fine sand mode) and feels great in your hands. It can be used one-handed, but I recommend using both. The balance is better.
I have been working on quite a few boxes lately, and have been thrilled with the results using my Rotex. I can do a complete box without ever-changing sanders. I am starting with 60 grit paper to get the joints, splines and mill marks cleaned up, and working my way up to 220 grit. With the hook and loop pads, the paper changes are quick, and the paper can be reused until worn out. Using the aggressive mode with the flick of a switch, I quickly cut the surface down flat with out the frequent dips from my belt sander. The size of the 5″ pad is perfect for what I do. Having also used the 6″ RO 150, this sander is better for me.
Then we are back to the original question–Is it worth it? In my opinion–yes!!!
Over the years I have gone through multiple sanders, and without a doubt, Festool beats them all. And when you look at buying an expensive belt sander and a random orbit sander too, then maybe the price is not necessarily so high after all. With the added value of unmatchable dust collection, I ask my self why I waited so long. I love their stackable Systainers too! It makes transport and storage so much better. Come to think of it, I have yet to find anything I don’t like about my RO 125.