More green

When I say I really like something, it isn’t something I say lightly. I really like my Porter Cable 390K. It’s a 5″ ROS with a low profile grip that I talked about when I got it and it was one of my favorite things. However, it is discontinued, and I was looking toward the future since I had recently ran out of 220 grit paper. Do I stock up on this paper and use the 390 for all grits, or do I try something different?

I chose something different. I had been interested in the Festool sanders for awhile, something I’ve heard people say are their best tools. That’s pretty good praise considering how much I like what I have thus far. I decided to try out the ETS 150/3, a fine finish sander. 150 is the paper size, 6″(5.9). 3 is the stroke, about 1/8″, considered very fine. I ordered the sander from a dealer, Bob Marino. Since he was out of the paper grit and quantity I wanted, I grabbed that from Amazon.

Bob Marino packs his shipments so that they can survive drops off of roofs. Or so it would seem. Tons of bubble wrap around the systainer, much better than my systainers from Woodcraft. The sander was cold, but fine. In the systainer comes the ETS, one sheet of sandpaper (come on, man), instructions and the cord. I ordered a ten-pack of Rubin 2 180 (the paper choices are supremely confusing) so that I could actually use the thing.

The ergonomics of this thing are wonderful. It has a long handle where the power button and lock reside, and the motor itself is comfortable as well. The power cord connects to the end of the handle, and the dust port is just above the pad, making it easy to hook up your combined hose/cord. This is one of the things I was looking forward to, having it setup to use for the track saw and Domino. On the 390, I have to hold the hose on and the cord is obviously not a plug-it either.

So, for sanding I can’t tell you if it is a really awesome sander or not, not with the one level of grit and sanding some cedar I had. Did it put a good surface on it? Yes. Was it breathtaking? No, but at 180 on cedar I guess I wasn’t expecting it to. Was it comfortable? Yes. Was it quieter than the PC? If so, only barely. Was it more convenient? Absolutely. I will be very happy with this for a long time, I can tell. The dust collection was great, as you would expect, but maybe not noticeably better than the PC.

The next thing to figure out is what will completely replace the PC. Wait, what? You see, the 150/3 is for finer grits, at least in the way I bought it. I purchased it now to take over for the higher grits that I ran out of in the 5″ size (except for 320, that stuff lasts forever). Eventually, I’ll run out of the lower grits as well. The /3 can work with a bit lower grits than I’m planning to use, but it won’t hog stock out at really low grits. Thus, I will need at least a second sander. I’ll get into that discussion some other time. I thought about going with just a 150/5, and probably that would have been a smarter choice cost-wise, but I wanted the super fine capability.

Another systainer goes on the stack.

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