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Author Topic: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut  (Read 1361 times)

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Offline eljefe

  • Posts: 3
TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« on: September 17, 2020, 08:44 AM »
After ripping the long factory edge of some plywood, getting a square crosscut from the referenced rip cut is proving to be difficult.

I've had this issue pretty much since I've had this saw and 1400 rails for about 2 years now but have always just worked through it. Using several different precision squares (Woodpeckers) to set the rail 90 degrees from the original rip cut always produces a cut that is out of square. It is about 1/8" over the span of 48".

This week I have really tried to solve the issue because I would love to get a TSO or Woodpeckers guide rail square one day. I watched Peter's video and read the supplemental manual. The saw was pretty much calibrated based on these methods (front saw blade tooth touching and back saw tooth a paper width out).

If I make a mark with a T-Square and just put the splinter guard on that mark, it seems to produce a cut that I can live with. This leads me to believe it is the rails. This occurs on both rails but what are the odds that I received two bad rails?

I called Festool yesterday and was surprised at what I was told. The guy I spoke with said that the TS 55 and rails are not precise enough to get square cuts without the use of their parallel guides and MFT table. He said third-party squares such as TSO and Woodpeckers are not precise either. In other words, and this is what I repeated back and he agreed, you plop down ~$600 for a saw, another ~$300 for some rails and you're still expected to pay another ~$900 to get some parallel guides and an MFT table just to get an accurate crosscut.

So at this stage, I'm not sure what to do. I definitely don't want to spend that kind of money. I'm contemplating selling it and getting a Makita, DeWALT or Triton and use the extra money to get some other tools for the shop. Not bashing Festool, it's just been a frustrating battle trying to get square cuts and was hoping to get some answers with Festool. That's why I am posting here instead to see if anyone else has experienced the same issue. Love my Domino by the way. Game changer for my work.

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Offline Peter Halle

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Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2020, 10:09 AM »
I hope that I am reading this correctly:

You create a clean edge by making a cut and then you wish to cut accurately 90 degrees to that cut.  You use a t-square and make lines and line up your rail to those lines and the cut is acceptable.  But if you set your rail using your Woodpeckers square you don't get an acceptable cut.

I hope I read this correct.

First, Festool isn't going to recommend another manufacturer's product. Corporately they can't.

Second, making a crosscut with an indexing head referencing the freshly cut edge will always have the possibility of introducing error.  For instance, have you tested your square for accuracy?  How long are the legs?  Many people have never tested their squares for squareness.

I offer all this as an attempt to get more information so that we can try to help.  None is this should be considered a criticism.

Peter

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5228
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2020, 10:17 AM »
“ This week I have really tried to solve the issue because I would love to get a TSO or Woodpeckers guide rail square one day.”

The way to solve the non-square crosscut problem is to go ahead and buy the TSO guide square today.
If you manage to solve the problem without the square then...

I have the TSO squares but for a wide crosscut like 48” I don’t trust the square alone. For it to maintain a high degree of accuracy (less than .02*) over that distance everything needs to be perfect. No dust on the wooden edge the square references and no scratches or dents on the guide rail where the square fits. And you need to be very careful to make sure the friction strips don’t negatively influence how the rail sits on the surface.

For a crosscut more than 2 or 3 feet I layout marks using the 3-4-5 rule. A triangle with those proportions will be dead-on square. If my skill at laying out those marks is insufficient then I won’t be able to tell is the cut is square anyway. Cheap and effective.

Offline ultane

  • Posts: 82
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 10:46 AM »
^^^^^this^^^^^

3-4-5 is always accurate if the tape is repeatably accurate.
I might be wrong… Just ask my X...

Offline eljefe

  • Posts: 3
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2020, 10:57 AM »
I hope that I am reading this correctly:

You create a clean edge by making a cut and then you wish to cut accurately 90 degrees to that cut.  You use a t-square and make lines and line up your rail to those lines and the cut is acceptable.  But if you set your rail using your Woodpeckers square you don't get an acceptable cut.

I hope I read this correct.

First, Festool isn't going to recommend another manufacturer's product. Corporately they can't.

Second, making a crosscut with an indexing head referencing the freshly cut edge will always have the possibility of introducing error.  For instance, have you tested your square for accuracy?  How long are the legs?  Many people have never tested their squares for squareness.

I offer all this as an attempt to get more information so that we can try to help.  None is this should be considered a criticism.

Peter

Thanks for the replies Peter and Michael!

No criticism taken. That's exactly what I am trying to do. I've used a Woodpeckers speed square and regular Woodpeckers squares as well as a couple other speed squares. The longest one is 12". The squares are square and match up exactly with a line drawn using the long T-Square.

I also should add this occurs even on cross cuts that are shorter than 48".

When a crosscut line is placed using the T-Square, the splinter guard is visibly off when I square the rail using the same reference edge. This leads me to believe the rails are off, or at least off at the part of the rail I use to square it with.

Having said that, I'll will do a few 3,4,5 tests to see if I can narrow this issue down more.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5228
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 11:48 AM »
If you use a square to square the guide rail you should register the aluminum part of the rail against the square. However, it is possible for that open channel on the left side of the rail to become distorted and that would throw off the cutting side of the rail.

Also, the splinter guard gets chewed up before long and is no longer a reliable reference. If I’m too lazy to reset the splinter guard I might stick a couple of Post-It note on the underside of the rail and make a cutting pass to use them as substitutes for the missing rubber.

Sometimes I butt a sharp square ended steel rule (from a good combination square) against some convenient part of the guide rail and measure to my mark (using whichever kind of increments best match the actual distance of the kerf to that part of the guide which I’ve already noted on the rail).

Offline MaineShop

  • Posts: 95
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2020, 01:01 PM »
I can say that this problem will follow you from brand to brand, so don't bother going that route, we own a makita, dewalt and festool in our shop and each with at least one of their brand of rail and squaring the cross cut can be a task with all of them.

Couple thoughts and steps we take in our shop to address this issue and not of them involved extra accessories although they can make your life easier.

First the speed squares tend to be short, with as you mention, 12 in being the longest. We have a nice heavy 30in speed square we use for just this purpose in our shop with a ledger on one side that can but up against the reference edge. It is a jig we made using the mathematical approach mentioned above and it is made out of 3/4 MDO. It works great, and if the cross cut is over 24 inches it is out go to. Cut us nothing but an hour to make and some spare ply. When it gets beat up we make a new one. Time well spent, and speeds up cross cuts immensely.

Stay away from common t-squares like drywall squares, they are often over a half inch out over 48" and they can flex very easily, do not trust them for this type of work.

Also if we are measuring from a far edge that is square to the reference edge will make a mark on both ends for the rail to hit. We know the rail is straight so as long as we are reading the tape right we are all set.

I would recommend making yourself a big square, save your money for the nicer products from festool and TSO and woodpeckers for sure but we are regularly able to make consistent cross cuts with less then a millimetre of play over 4 ft of cut, and we can make hundreds in a day with that set up.

The mft3 can be used to do this very good, however it is not as handy in its standard set up once you want a crosscut that wide.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2020, 01:21 PM »
Hi @eljefe

Warning: I have a commercial interest in what I am recommending !

Please forgive me pushing my own kit but I have absolutely no problem getting perfectly square cuts with the TS55.

First I created a cutting station with the Parf Guide System:



Then, to prove it was accurate, I did a test in one take to show that it was genuine:



I hope that this helps.

Peter

Offline afish

  • Posts: 489
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 01:30 PM »
I use the Makita and had similar issues in the beginning. The TSO GRS square didnt help and frustrated me since a 55" rail is already tight on a 48" crosscut.  The rail square uses up to much rail so the far end is short of keeping the saw fully engaged on the track.  I only used it for smaller less critical jobs like trimming off the bottom of doors where if it wasnt perfectly square it didnt matter. I sold it and bought the TSO MTR and prefer it over the guide rail square and it can be used to bump up the rail to for crosscuts and gives a bigger reference along the material and rail.  I will also say that my best results on wide crosscuts comes from a 4x8 MFT style bench with a festool style rail hinge that I made out of scrap Russian birch ply since the dogs can cause some error too. Combined with a 8' 80/20 with a couple angle brackets screwed down to parf anchor dogs.  That way the fence can pop on and off in seconds and the 80/20 allows setting up stops for accurate repeatable crosscuts.  Its harder than you think to get or find square items.  I checked all my larger squares and not one was square.  The TSO MTR is perfectly square as close as I can test.  Before I bought it I tried to cheap out and buy a 24" drafting square since someone (I think on FOG) said they where remarkably square.  So I dropped 50 bucks on one and it was 1/8" out in 24".  So I dont recommend that.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3482
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2020, 12:16 AM »
I have a bunch of the Woodpeckers squares and they are all true.

I use the Woodpeckers framing square to line up my Festool rails for all sorts of cuts and they come out perfect. I agree carpentry framing squares are often inaccurate. I also use the Woodpeckers framing square to check my SawStop Industrial saw fence. I recheck with a sliding micrometer gage and it’s square down to within a thousandth.

If I am cutting a really long piece (8’) of plywood I use the TS55 on a rail and make the rough cut 1/4” proud then make the finish cut on the SawStop. I make the cross cuts on the MFT using the flip down rail. Perfect every time.
Birdhunter

Offline eljefe

  • Posts: 3
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2020, 11:57 AM »
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. Here is a quick update.

I tested my Woodpeckers Framing and T-Square using the 3,4,5 method and they are dead on.

If I strike a line using the T-Square and then set the splinter guard on that line, I get square cut. It is only when I use the framing square and absolutely make sure that the rail is flush against the framing square that I get a consistent out of square cut.

This leads me to believe both of my rails are not straight at the back edge where I am using a framing square to align it with my reference cut.

Having said that, any guide rail square I buy would have an issue. I'll just move forward with striking a line with my T-Square or 3,4,5 method and line up the splinter guard to that (and occasionally check the splinter guard to make sure it is not chewed up then replace when it is).

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Offline AstroKeith

  • Posts: 195
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2020, 12:35 PM »
I think this is going to be down to the relatively short length that the guide rail square bears on, both the workpiece and the rail. Its fundamentally too short, especially on the rail. I havent got one myself, partly down to their price and worries about performance.

What I've been doing recently for repetitive cuts is use my Combination Angle FS-KS. I set it to 90 degrees using a known good square  (I have a large stainless layout square thats spot on). Lock it up tight and I have found it to stay good all day. I was cutting 600mm wide flooring sheets recently and I would judge everyone was good to a millimetre. The FS-KS does have a reasonable length on both sides which I think is the benefit.

The guide rails squares have a lever action clamp to fasten against the guide rail - is the spring in this clamp 'giving'.
Retired engineer/scientist

Offline Ebuwan

  • Posts: 20
Re: TS 55 REQ or Rails: Can't get a Square Crosscut
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2021, 04:48 PM »
I have the 75, and was bashing head on the wall with the same issue; up against a square it stinks (starret, cheap carpenters triangle, etc)

Once I started just making a pencil line and putting the zero clearance strip on it, boom, square cut.

I was looking to order the woodpecker track square, not back in until friggin July...