Back in early October of 2016 Festool offered a special edition of their new Sander for an amazing $99 which also included a $50 off coupon towards another tool. It seemed too good to be true given how expensive all my other Festools are. Within hours of the announcement I placed my order. I would think I must have been one of their earliest orders. A couple days later there were notes that the demand was so overwhelming that Festool told its network of dealers to stop taking orders. Then the waiting started….and dates kept getting pushed out.
I waited and waited and waited and in very late March of 2017 I *finally* received my new sander — 6 months is a LONG wait. I’m not sure what Festool’s reasoning was for the special package — some said it was supposed to be a thank you to loyal Festool customers, others said it was a good way to get folks hooked on their tools. Either way the demand was overwhelming I am glad that they eventually honored the order.
Here’s what came in the special color Systainer 2:
I was happy to see that Festool included some extras in there — an adapter for non Festool vacuums and a sampler pack of their Granat Abrasives (Which I think was added by the tool dealer ToolNut.com) rather than the 1 piece of sandpaper that would otherwise come with the unit.
The Systainer 2 is a nice dark Festool blue and has space for some optional accessories and some limited abrasive storage.
The new sander is lighter and better balanced than my trusty old Porter Cable 5″ Random Orbit Sander that I’ve had over 10 years now. The power switch is nice and big and the 13′ cord is nice. When paired with my Festool CT36 Dust Extractor the dust collection with the PRO 5 LTD is exceptionally good. Also the pad break is neat as the unit stops spinning fast. I normally use my trusty old ‘sander sitter‘ as a safe place to let a sander spin down and clean off an abrasive pad that has loaded up. The suction is so strong that the PRO 5 LTD will lift the rubber pad right out of the sitter — something I never saw with any of my other sanders (5″ or 6″ ROS with same CT36 attached)
The machine is well balanced with a tight stroke, powerful motor (Which I believe is brushless) and has noticeably less vibration compared to other sanders I’ve had over the years. The ergonomic handle is nice and rubberized texture provides good grip. Sometimes with 2 hands on the unit I find my second hand wants to cover the motor exhaust port a bit but the heat will quickly remind you to move that hand.
Too good to be true?
Like most things that seem too good to be true there is usually a catch. If you look at the image above you’ll see this Festool Sander and Festool abrasives have a VERY different pattern for dust extraction holes. That means you are locked into their abrasives. I haven’t seen any 3rd party companies sell pads with the same pattern yet. Like most things Festool they are expensive, but also very good quality. The abrasives have been long lasting and consistent and slow to load up. I
already have a few hundred dollars invested in Mirka Gold 5″ and 6″ and Abranet abrasives (which I keep in old style Systainers with 4 latches designed to hold sanding pads. I got those Systainers on clearance when the new style Systainer came out a couple of years ago). I don’t look forward to having to buy and stock another assortment of Abrasives but probably will as I am otherwise very happy with this new sander. I wish the advertising was a bit more straightforward in noting the above hole difference.
I hope that Festool, or a 3rd party compatible manufacturer will make a replacement sanding pad that also has the old style dust extraction hole pattern.
If you can look beyond the sanding pad hole location issue it is otherwise a great random orbit sander and I am very happy with it. I wish I ordered more than one unit.
OK time to get back out into the workshop.