Author Topic: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails  (Read 1096 times)

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How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« on: January 17, 2021, 08:17 AM »
I've been using the festool guide rail connectors for a little over a year now. I connect my 1900mm and 1080mm guide rails together when I need to rip sheet goods or, well anything over 1900mm. At first, I would get really great and consistent results, but eventually the results became less accurate. I wanted to see if this was a universal problem with the design of Festool's guide rails and connectors, and to my surprise not a lot of people had this issue. So, knowing that my issues were likely user error, I went back to the workbench and thought about the mechanics of the track saw and guide rails. Using straight edges from other festool equipment (really love the ecosystem), I came up with a method to ensure perfect alignment every time you join two guide rails. Hope you find it helpful!!


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Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 474
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2021, 03:43 PM »
I went out and got the betterley connector. I haven’t used it yet. I sold off the previous tracks to try to get a better match. Also not sure if you covered it but I like the TSO rail connectors more than the Festool. They won’t damage the track from inadvertent tightening.

Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2021, 04:37 PM »
I went out and got the betterley connector. I haven’t used it yet. I sold off the previous tracks to try to get a better match. Also not sure if you covered it but I like the TSO rail connectors more than the Festool. They won’t damage the track from inadvertent tightening.

I've heard great things about the Betterley and TSO connectors, however at only $20 per connector, Festool has the cheaper option  ;D I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Betterley connectors when you put them to use.

Offline mino

  • Posts: 189
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2021, 06:14 PM »
I've been using the festool guide rail connectors for a little over a year now. I connect my 1900mm and 1080mm guide rails together when I need to rip sheet goods or, well anything over 1900mm. At first, I would get really great and consistent results, but eventually the results became less accurate. I wanted to see if this was a universal problem with the design of Festool's guide rails and connectors, and to my surprise not a lot of people had this issue. So, knowing that my issues were likely user error, I went back to the workbench and thought about the mechanics of the track saw and guide rails. Using straight edges from other festool equipment (really love the ecosystem), I came up with a method to ensure perfect alignment every time you join two guide rails. Hope you find it helpful!!


This is an excellent video.

I was actually about to write a post about this as came across the same aspect lately when thinking about getting the TSO self-aligning connectors. Eventually decided against them and will got for additional Makita ones.

The problem with both the Betterley and the TSO seolf-aligning tools is they rely on the rails to be straight at the ends AND both the connected rails to be the exact same width /lets ignore bends and think of new rails/.

But that is NOT the case, it is not even something Festool guarantees /or can technologically guarantee if wanted to.

I have 3 rails, and all of them have a slightly different width - from the reference edge to the outer edge.
The difference is only in the 0.05-0.15 mm (0.0002 to 0.0007 inch) but this gets applied over a 20cm (8") length I use for alignment!

That video you made is the ONLY way how to accurately align any rails in fact - put a straight edge against the reference surface, put pressure/clamp it, secure the rail connectors. Anything else will be less accurate, which may be good-enough though.
AGC 18(@AGC 125 flange), BHC 18, C 12, CTM 36, DRC 18/4, PSC 420, RS 200, TSC 55
Narex: EDH 82, EFH 36(fixed@LR32), EVP 13 H-2CA
My Precious FS/2: 376, 376, 376 holy, 632, 1016 holy, 2520

Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 474
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2021, 07:04 PM »
I went out and got the betterley connector. I haven’t used it yet. I sold off the previous tracks to try to get a better match. Also not sure if you covered it but I like the TSO rail connectors more than the Festool. They won’t damage the track from inadvertent tightening.

I've heard great things about the Betterley and TSO connectors, however at only $20 per connector, Festool has the cheaper option  ;D I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Betterley connectors when you put them to use.
over time the FT guide rail connectors will put divots or embossing on the top side of the  FT track. The issue is always flipping it over and tightening without a back and forth effort. The straightness really is dependent on the consistency of the track guide straightness.  No amount of brute force will align two mismatched tracks. The betterley has a 24” length and it’s better than what I can do with a 600mm woodpecker straight edge.

Offline mino

  • Posts: 189
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2021, 07:08 PM »
over time the FT guide rail connectors will put divots or embossing on the top side of the  FT track.
Yes, but we have the Makita rail connectors for that. They are $20 for a set of two, so half the price of Festool and 1/3 of TSO and they are superior to Festool and more accurate than TSO if aligning the rails as per the video.
AGC 18(@AGC 125 flange), BHC 18, C 12, CTM 36, DRC 18/4, PSC 420, RS 200, TSC 55
Narex: EDH 82, EFH 36(fixed@LR32), EVP 13 H-2CA
My Precious FS/2: 376, 376, 376 holy, 632, 1016 holy, 2520

Offline Roachmill

  • Posts: 275
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2021, 07:34 PM »
FWIW, I have 7 Festool rails and plumped for the TSO connectors after trying the Festool and Makita ones. The Festool dent the rails and require working with a straight edge to align. The Makita ones only required a straight edge to align. The TSO ones required a straight edge only to satisfy me that they were aligning the rails due to my past experience with the other connectors. After a while of checking (repeatedly) I have surrendered to the TSO ones aligning perfectly every time and no longer bother to check as there's little point... despite repeat and carefully checking.

I would imagine any minor variance in rail / slot width (I have to confess to being unaware of this) would be mitigated by the TSO connectors and the way they work.

Offline Vondawg

  • Posts: 381
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2021, 08:52 PM »
Agree here, makita @nd Festool cant compare with the TSO Connectors...when is cheaper better?



 
There are no mistakes....just new designs.

Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2021, 09:14 PM »
This is an excellent video.

I was actually about to write a post about this as came across the same aspect lately when thinking about getting the TSO self-aligning connectors. Eventually decided against them and will got for additional Makita ones.

The problem with both the Betterley and the TSO seolf-aligning tools is they rely on the rails to be straight at the ends AND both the connected rails to be the exact same width /lets ignore bends and think of new rails/.

But that is NOT the case, it is not even something Festool guarantees /or can technologically guarantee if wanted to.

I have 3 rails, and all of them have a slightly different width - from the reference edge to the outer edge.
The difference is only in the 0.05-0.15 mm (0.0002 to 0.0007 inch) but this gets applied over a 20cm (8") length I use for alignment!

That video you made is the ONLY way how to accurately align any rails in fact - put a straight edge against the reference surface, put pressure/clamp it, secure the rail connectors. Anything else will be less accurate, which may be good-enough though.
[/quote]

Thanks! Glad you found it helpful! It's a shame that festool hasn't come out with a more streamlined solution. I really don't like having to bring/buy additional tools just to make the ones that I have now work properly. That sucks about have your rails different widths. I've got another video coming out this week (not that it will help you in this regard), but buying the longest rail possible, then trimming it to manageable lengths would likely solve your issue, no? Dunno if you're that dedicated to getting identical rails  :o

Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 474
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2021, 09:34 PM »
Try the betterley straight line connector. I just did an informal test and it seemed pretty nice. It’s a little pricey, but not fiddling with the track and a straight edge is worth it. Yah I discussed with Festool application support about cutting a longer rail... to get matching rails? They weren’t impressed with my logic. I think if they are close the betterley will force the tracks in submission, done deal. Short of voodoo magic and stars aligning the Bosch (mafell) has tracks that align better. But there’s no sense in throwing the baby out with the bath water. So I’m on the hunt for matching rails using the betterley straight line connector to get me 99% there. Festool does recommend getting a longer rail if long perfect rips are required. The tracks are extruded so there’s a tolerance as the aluminum gets shoved through the sausage maker.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 09:41 PM by mkasdin »

Offline Bert Vanderveen

  • Posts: 764
Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2021, 03:11 AM »
Yes, excellent advice. I learned something new, so that is great. Just one point of critique: the video could have been a bit more concise. I know there is some kind of 'ideal length' for YT that speaks to the algorithm — you should try to keep them at slightly over five minutes. Which would have been absolutely doable with this one. (Just my 2 cts, I hope you don’t mind.)


Here is something I have done: I keep the Makita connectors installed on the longest rail I own (a 'holey'), so that saves some time when adding another…  [cool]
Cheers, Bert Vanderveen

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Re: How to Connect and Align Festool's Guide Rails
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2021, 06:21 AM »
Yes, excellent advice. I learned something new, so that is great. Just one point of critique: the video could have been a bit more concise. I know there is some kind of 'ideal length' for YT that speaks to the algorithm — you should try to keep them at slightly over five minutes. Which would have been absolutely doable with this one. (Just my 2 cts, I hope you don’t mind.)


Here is something I have done: I keep the Makita connectors installed on the longest rail I own (a 'holey'), so that saves some time when adding another…  [cool]

I appreciate you taking the time to watch.