Festool Owners Group

FESTOOL DISCUSSIONS => Festool Tool Reviews => Topic started by: Wood_Slice on December 02, 2020, 10:12 PM

Title: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Wood_Slice on December 02, 2020, 10:12 PM
Long time admirer of Festool products in particular the Domino. A few months ago came accross a deal on craigslist for a MFT3. Got it, disinfected it, cleaned with soap and water (not the top), put it back together, bought a parf guide mark 2 and made a new top. Well excitement kept flowing so bought the clamping elements.

I was not aware but once i placed them on the MFT top and secured a plywood piece it lifted the plywood from the clamp side about 1/8” to 1/4”. Wow was not a fan of that at all. Second i found that the clutch reallllly digs into the bar and leave marks which in turn destroy the plastic once it moves back and fort and will become super lose.

The Festool ratchet clamps was told that were made by Bessey. Well not sure who is producing the clamping element clamps but if Bessey made them from the same steel and hardness as their ratchet clamps and made the tolerances tighter where the bar passes tru this clamp would have been perfect. I recently saw a YT video on festool’s channel where they said you can sand the metal bar to smoothen the dings in the bar and make it run smooth. I thought to myself instead of giving us tips like this why not improve the product. The issues with that clamp have probably been know soon after release yet they still persist.

I do like Festool but my OCD will no let me own them at full price. Will be returning them shortly.

P.S.  just joined and made first post. Just wanted to vent and tyvm for listening.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Tom in SoCal on December 02, 2020, 11:57 PM
Sounds like you may be cranking the clamps too hard... 

I seldom need to put anything more than light pressure on the lever.  I've never had it raise the work more than a few thou, if that.

And I've never serrations on the shaft that are more than a minor bother.  Hit them with little sandpaper if they bug you;  then get on with it.

You did get real Festool elements, right?  Not cheap knockoffs?

Sorry they are not giving you the performance you hoped for;  mine have been stellar.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Wood_Slice on December 03, 2020, 12:01 AM
Sounds like you may be cranking the clamps too hard... 

I seldom need to put anything more than light pressure on the lever.  I've never had it raise the work more than a few thou, if that.

And I've never serrations on the shaft that are more than a minor bother.  Hit them with little sandpaper if they bug you;  then get on with it.

You did get real Festool elements, right?  Not cheap knockoffs?

Sorry they are not giving you the performance you hoped for;  mine have been stellar.

Yup real. Bought them from Rockler.

Cranking- butted the plywood piece against the flat dogs, pushed the clamp till it touched the plywood (not squeezing/pushing hard against it) and turned the handle away till it stopped (parallel with the metal bar),
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Peter_C on December 03, 2020, 12:10 AM
Long time admirer of Festool products in particular the Domino. A few months ago came accross a deal on craigslist for a MFT3. Got it, disinfected it, cleaned with soap and water (not the top), put it back together, bought a parf guide mark 2 and made a new top. Well excitement kept flowing so bought the clamping elements.
Did you get some dogs yet? I use my Kreg clamps a lot, but they must be screwed from underneath.

I was not aware but once i placed them on the MFT top and secured a plywood piece it lifted the plywood from the clamp side about 1/8” to 1/4”. Wow was not a fan of that at all.
Did you use the thumbscrews/bolts from underneath to keep the clamps firmly attached to the table? If not give them a try as it will mostly stop the lift you are describing. 

Second i found that the clutch reallllly digs into the bar and leave marks which in turn destroy the plastic once it moves back and fort and will become super lose.
Mine get nicks, but it has never bothered me, nor caused any problems yet. *shrugs*

P.S.  just joined and made first post. Just wanted to vent and tyvm for listening.
Welcome to the board :)
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: jobsworth on December 08, 2020, 08:45 AM
Thats your problem with the TSO dogs you made your own top and prolly went out of tolerance with the hole size.

Sounds to me like you are just starting using the tools and doing everything on the cheap.

Festool is a system, products are made for that system. You buy second hand (in most cases is ok but you have to know the tools and seller), or cheaper after market accessories and then wonder why your having problems and blaming the tool.

I suggest that you first ask questions on how to use the tools/accessories properly before coming on line an complaining about the tool.

First understand that the  FESTOOL MFT top is made by a CNC machine to tight tolerances.

 You make your own to save a few bucks yes it will work but it wont have the tight tolerances.

 Yet TSO who is a well respected manufacturer here makes its product to a high tolerance that you cant or is very hard to maintain when making your own MFT.  You made your own MFT and blame the dog manufacturer because the dogs dont fit as tight as they should..

You complain about the elements lifting yet dont use the knobs that tighten it to the table.

You complain about the plastic being dinged a bit, well they are tools, wait til ya run a router over one or sand one. Its what they are made of plastic for.

So they dont damage your other tools, router bits etc.

I suggest you start axing questions rather than complaining.

In all honesty I had issues with festools when I first started using them also.

I axed alot of questions got alot of answers some good others not so good.

I had to learn by trial and error which was the best suggestion

Now on line you have festool TV you tube, instagram has festool sedge giving out cool quick tips on using things like the clamping elements etc.  Sedge on instagram has covered the dings on the elements

Festool is a different approach to woodworking and they do have a learning curve.

Need to go through the learning curve before you complain best to ax questions and review available resources. You can call Festool service and they will put you in contact with a application specialist who can (the best he can) answer your questions.

As I said in the other thread "Cheap cost you more."
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: SRSemenza on December 08, 2020, 10:07 AM
Lets make sure this topic stays in discussion mode rather than argument mode. It is hard to really know what is going on behind the words typed on a screen.

 Please avoid insinuation and assumption as much as possible.



Seth
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Packard on December 08, 2020, 03:49 PM
I might be tempted to buy these, but it seems that my old Black & Decker Workmate does all the same things.

A new Workmate is just $100.00 and is portable.

Maybe I am missing something.

(https://www.blackanddecker.com/NA/product/images/500x500x72/WM125/WM125_A4.jpg)
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Michael Kellough on December 08, 2020, 04:35 PM
I don’t think the clamping elements are meant for serious clamping. I think should be thought of more as positioning aids. As in pushing the workpiece against the fence so you can concentrate on guiding the saw, especially useful when cutting a bevel and you really need both hands on the saw.

You can use the regular clamps for this but if you are producing multiple parts the clamping elements allow you to work more quickly.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: edwarmr on December 08, 2020, 04:41 PM
I was not aware but once i placed them on the MFT top and secured a plywood piece it lifted the plywood from the clamp side about 1/8” to 1/4”. Wow was not a fan of that at all.

@Wood_Slice

@Cheese solved this problem a while back by placing two washers on the clamping element knob that screws into the clamping element through the bottom of the MFT/3. It basically completely stopped the workpiece from lifting. Here is the link to the thread:

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/festool-tool-problems/festool-clamping-element-clamping-problem/msg617846/#msg617846

I hope this helps!
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Cheese on December 08, 2020, 10:31 PM
I was not aware but once i placed them on the MFT top and secured a plywood piece it lifted the plywood from the clamp side about 1/8” to 1/4”. Wow was not a fan of that at all.

@Wood_Slice

@Cheese solved this problem a while back by placing two washers on the clamping element knob that screws into the clamping element through the bottom of the MFT/3. It basically completely stopped the workpiece from lifting. Here is the link to the thread:

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/festool-tool-problems/festool-clamping-element-clamping-problem/msg617846/#msg617846

I hope this helps!

Ya and that’s exactly what I found. Without the washers the whole assembly gets sucked up into the hole. A few large fender washers under the knob make all the difference.




Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Svar on December 08, 2020, 11:40 PM
I don’t think the clamping elements are meant for serious clamping.
Exactly. Securing a piece for sanding, sawing, assembly. That's about it. Vertical holding power is marginal due to the design. Securing with knobs from underneath helps some, but not much.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Svar on December 08, 2020, 11:47 PM
@Cheese solved this problem a while back by placing two washers on the clamping element knob that screws into the clamping element through the bottom of the MFT/3. It basically completely stopped the workpiece from lifting.
Why would you need washers? The knob flange is wider than the hole. Works without washers just fine.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: WastedP on December 09, 2020, 12:00 AM
I could not bring myself to pay the price for a set of clamping elements and came up with a homebrew solution that worked well enough for about a year, until Kreg released their dial clamps.  I bought a couple of those to test out a few years ago.  Now I have about a dozen of them, at a price under $20 per clamp.  I'm using them, daily, in tables that have 3/4" CNC-machined holes through 3/4" thick material.  I don't know how the 20mm Festool hole size would be too different to work with, as long as your dogs fit your holes snugly (I use the cheap Kreg dogs for low-profile work, and 3/4" machine screws as taller dogs).
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: edwarmr on December 09, 2020, 12:54 AM
@Cheese solved this problem a while back by placing two washers on the clamping element knob that screws into the clamping element through the bottom of the MFT/3. It basically completely stopped the workpiece from lifting.
Why would you need washers? The knob flange is wider than the hole. Works without washers just fine.

I can’t explain why. I just know that @Cheese did a demonstration with washers and it completely took away the problem.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: woodferret on December 09, 2020, 08:30 AM
Moment arms.  Think of it as a seesaw.  The standard knob shoulder is like asking one of the kids to sit near the center.  A large washer allows us to multiply the force the knob exerts on the underside of the table.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: DeformedTree on December 09, 2020, 11:18 AM
Math time!

The problem is one of loading and compressive strength of the MFT.

I did some measurements, the OD of the bearing surface the knob is ~24mm (probably generous).  With the 20mm hole, this gives just ~138mm^2 of bearing surface area.  Finding MDF material properties is hard, but I found a reference to a compressive strength of 10MPa.  This would result in a limit of 1380N of clamp load before it embeds.   

For a M8 screw, a basic online calculator says this clamp load takes just 2.2Nm of torque (the knob).  I found some old military study online, it showed for a 2" knob (~50mm), a mean torque of 148 in-oz of torque by a person. This is about 1Nm. 

So in theory, it would work.  In practice, people can grunt a knob tighter, and the overlap of the knob and hole is so small, that "falling in" to the hole is very easy to happen.

Cheese's washer looks to be about 40mm OD.  This give it all the bearing area it could ever need.  The axial load capability goes up almost 7X.  At that point, you won't crush it, and it's so big it can't fall in the hole.

The Festool knob is just a dumb design. The base should have been much bigger.  Even ~30mm diameter and things probably would have been fine. Someone just designed it way to close.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Cheese on December 09, 2020, 11:42 AM
Good eyeballs... [big grin]...just went downstairs and took a couple of measurements.

The bottom of the knob flat surface runs 21.0-21.5 mm. Throw in the radius and you're up to 24 mm.

The washers measure 38-39 mm.

The largest issue is as you've noted, the inability to prevent the knob from falling into the hole because there is only a .50-.75 mm margin per side between the knob OD and the hole ID.  Now complicate the issue by screwing the knob on from underneath the table while you can only see the top of the table.  [eek]

Close Festool but no cigar.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: TinyShop on December 09, 2020, 07:03 PM
Aren't the clamping elements supplied by Walko?
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Bert Vanderveen on December 10, 2020, 05:04 AM
Nope, it is the other way around. Walko uses the Festools.
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: TinyShop on December 10, 2020, 08:43 AM
Ahh, thanks @Bert Vanderveen! :)
Title: Re: Festool Clamping Elements Product Review
Post by: Northwoodsman on January 28, 2021, 05:02 PM
These are the only Festool clamps that I have had any luck with.  They have a learning curve.  Before I snug them down I pull them back 1-2mm short of the piece that I am securing.  Even then I only pull the handle back until the piece is snug, I don't pull it as far as it will rotate.  If I pull the lever too far it wants to pull the base away from my FMT and it cuts into the steel bar leaving a "notch/burr".  I seldom use the lock down knob from underneath because I move them around a lot.  I really like these.  It was nice that they made them short enough so a sander or plane will clear them when using 3/4" stock.