Author Topic: Quick Thoughts on Overall System  (Read 1772 times)

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Offline rjboch

  • Posts: 10
Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« on: November 23, 2019, 07:17 PM »
Hi! I wanted to get some quick thoughts out there on the various Festool tools that I have been fortunate to purchase over the past 6 months. As a disclosure, I am a hobby woodworker and was looking at getting back into the craft to make home improvements (e.g., cabinets, built-in’s, etc.) and as a diversion from the stress of my day job and kids (I call it my therapy!). I eventually want to get into fine woodworking, but I figured the Festool System would be a good re-entry into the hobby. I am currently building out 2 bays of my 3-car garage into my workshop and I am having a blast building my cabinets and workbench. Overall, the Festool power tools I have are nice...actually very nice. Great build quality, solid, and operate very smoothly. With first use of the power tools (not including some of the accessories), you know you are using something of high quality and superior engineering. Reminds me of the first time driving a BMW, it is a different quality of driving and you knew it was going to be hard driving a lesser vehicle afterwards. However, I would say that my overall Festool experience has not been 'mind blowing' and I kind of feel like I bought too much into the hype which ultimately led to disappointment…especially with the dust collection and system accessories. 

Anyway, here are my thoughts:

General Comments:

- As stated, high quality tools, but the instructions are useless and the Festool guy on the USA videos is a bit of a tool. However, there are many other GREAT quality videos that helped with set-up, provided tips, etc. Not really sure why Festool is so lacking in this area.
- I do feel that the hype is somewhat overrated and will lead to disappointment once you start using the tools/system and you discover that some things were over promised and other things are not intuitive.
- I never realized I would love using metric so much.
- Would I do it again? Not sure, part of me wishes I would have just bought a SawStop table saw and a planer-jointer combo.
- For those not transporting tools, not really sure of the practicality of the Systainer. At first the concept was cool, but now it’s a pain and they take up too much space. Just an expensive plastic box.

TS55 Track Saw

- Amazing and cuts through sheet goods like butter. This tool is easy to use and revolutionary. Draw line, lay down guiderail, and cut…you end up with a straight, smooth, perfect cut. Does not get better than this and worth every penny.
- However, disappointed with the level of dust collection. For some reason I assumed that with a MIDI Dust Extractor there would be much less dust. Bit of a bummer here.

MIDI Dust Extractor

- As mentioned, disappointed with this $600+ unit. In regards to simple vacuuming up your mess, a bit of a wimp compared to my $99 garage shop-vac.
- Seriously, for price, could managing the cord and hose be any worse? A simple cord wrap would have been nice.

Assortment of Guiderails and Parallel Guides

- So happy I bought the 10-foot rail (much thanks to guidance/recommendations from the users on this site) …so easy and I could not imagine needing to connect and disconnect two separate rails all the time.
- Once calibrated, the parallel guides are awesome. However, a bit bummed that I cannot also use a pair of clamps to secure my work piece down to a table (channel blocked by parallel guides).
- Instructions for parallel guides and LR32 hole drilling set are poor to useless.

OF1400 Router

- It’s solid, easy to adjust, and ability to ride along a guide rail is helpful.
- For what I have been using it for, it’s a beast, solid, and accurate, but looking back I could have saved a lot of money and should have bought a lesser brand palm router and a plunge router…which would provide me with much more functionality at a cheaper price.
- Same issues with dust management. A bit disappointed again.

Domino 500 Joiner

- Nothing to be disappointed with…expect for the instructions, price, and cost of dominos. Once I figured it out, I pretty much want to place a domino in just about everything.
- No remorse with this purchase.

MFT/3 Multifunction Table

- While a bit wobbly, I think the table is useful.
- Very disappointed with the fence. First the instructions are useless and once you figure out how to put it all together, it takes forever and its janky. It’s a huge pain to calibrate and it never stays in alignment. I have had much better success just using a set of parf dogs on the table (much faster and simpler).
- If I were to do it over, I would build my own table, drill dog holes, and team it up with parf dogs and one of those guide rail squares (I guess something to add to my Xmas list).

Summary

- I would definitely buy the TS55, Domino Joiner, 10-foot guiderail, and parallel guides in a heartbeat.
- I would not buy the OF1400 router, MFT/3 table, LR32 hole drilling set, and some of the other Festool accessories again.
- I also purchased a Bosch jigsaw and a bunch of Woodpecker stuff, all of which I have been extremely happy with and would buy again.
- I guess for what I do, a few of the Festool tools are amazing and I am happy with the capabilities they have added to my workshop. However, I need to be cautious of drinking too much of the kool-aid and recognize that a balance of other tool brands, accessories, and eventually a table saw will give me the best opportunity to pursue and grow in a hobby that I find rewarding and enjoyable. 

Thanks for reading my rant and happy holidays!

 

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Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 447
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2019, 09:02 PM »
I think that you have arrived at a place that many of us have also found our way to. No one tool brand has the best of everything for everyone! Festool is great and they make great tools and some terrific accessories. You might even say that they have the best “system” out there but that certainly does not mean that it’s all there is or all you need. I believe that they also have the best dust collection for small hand power tools out there but it’s still not perfect or 100%. My wife says that woodworking is the cover story for the real addiction that is tool collecting. Also, I have never met a woodworker that has been at it for a while that has never changed their mind on a tool choice. Sometimes you bite the bullet and just get used to what you have, other times you sell a piece, buy a different tool, etc. Think of them as mid course corrections. Just don’t make those choices/changes too quickly. No matter how much research you do to pick the right tool for you it’s the work that determines if you made the right choice. So just keep working and enjoy the journey.

Offline Peter Halle

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  • Magnum - My new little boy
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2019, 09:47 PM »
I think that you have arrived at a place that many of us have also found our way to. No one tool brand has the best of everything for everyone! Festool is great and they make great tools and some terrific accessories. You might even say that they have the best “system” out there but that certainly does not mean that it’s all there is or all you need. I believe that they also have the best dust collection for small hand power tools out there but it’s still not perfect or 100%. My wife says that woodworking is the cover story for the real addiction that is tool collecting. Also, I have never met a woodworker that has been at it for a while that has never changed their mind on a tool choice. Sometimes you bite the bullet and just get used to what you have, other times you sell a piece, buy a different tool, etc. Think of them as mid course corrections. Just don’t make those choices/changes too quickly. No matter how much research you do to pick the right tool for you it’s the work that determines if you made the right choice. So just keep working and enjoy the journey.

Very well said!

Offline jeffinsgf

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Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2019, 11:17 PM »
I completely agree that the track saw and the Domino are amazing, revolutionary tools. But, I'll suggest you keep an open mind on your router for a few more projects. I've owned and used dozens of routers over the years, and I've never found a brand that ran as smooth and quiet as Festool, had the accessory depth of Festool, or had the ergonomics of Festool.

Now, for dust collection, I'm going to say that there are equal or better options than Festool at much better prices. Take a look at FLEX dust extractors at ACME tools. They're private labeled by Nilfisk for FLEX. I don't know if they're dumping inventory after a failed attempt to come into the U.S. market or trying to buy their way into relevance...either way, they are selling amazingly full featured vacs at really attractive prices. I have an old Nilfisk and an old Festool...I reach for the Nilfisk first, unless I want to use the top of the vac as a tool rest.

It's easy for owners of older generations of equipment to criticize newer versions, but I recently had my 19 year old MFT in a shop side-by-side with a newer MFT/3. I would never trade my old 1080 for a /3. I like my fence system better, I like my leg system better and I like my frame extrusions better. I feel your pain on the MFT/3, and I realize there's no satisfaction for you in the fact that they had it right...once long ago.

I guess the reason I jumped into this thread is that I had a very similar experience years ago. I bought a Festool driver/drill that had a battery system that couldn't stand not being used daily. I bought a jig saw that was a lesser tool than the Bosch I gave away when I was drinking the green Kool-Aid. But, happily, I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I didn't purge the whole Festool collection because of a couple of tools I didn't like. Nor did I quit looking at Festool when I needed something new. Each purchase has to be evaluated as to how it fits into my workflow and how it compares with other top brands. I don't work offsite (or at least not very often), so Systainers don't hold a great deal of appeal to me, and I don't need everything in my shop to "match".

Offline infer

  • Posts: 70
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2019, 02:41 AM »
The 491750 accessory makes the TS55 dust collection from a 60% to a 90%. If you use some blocks of wood to cover the entrance and exit of the cut you get almost perfect dust extraction.
Festool, Mafell and Lamello all have some aces in their products. You just have to choose the right ones for you.

Online Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2750
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2019, 06:14 AM »
I am a bit surprised by two comments.

One, about the TS55 having poor dust collection. I get a puff of dust at the very end of a cut. I use anything at hand to block the puff. Otherwise, no dust.

Two, about the MFT frequently moving out of square. I’ve only had this happen once when a nut on the pivot hinge fell off. I never have used the protractor. I only use bench dogs to align rail and wood. A really big and totally true square is very useful in checking the MFT. Mine is the Woodpecker “framing square”.
Birdhunter

Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 6132
  • Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2019, 09:46 AM »
Suggestion on the dust collection issue---make sure the outboard splinter gaurd is in contact with the work piece.

There are only 2 times I find the dust collection lacking;

Worst is edge trimming, blade is not captured, not the fault of the equipment, just the nature of the cut.

Second is when the outboard splinter gaurd is not contacting the piece being cut.

Tom

Offline Jim_in_PA

  • Posts: 89
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2019, 11:34 AM »
I love the system, but yes, not every single tool has given the same level of satisfaction.

I did switch my work to using metric all the time other than when a specific client job requires Imperial. After about a year of focusing on that change, my mind pretty much hates fractions and even when I do dip into Imperial, it's decimal most of the time. (I do a lot of CNC work so that's required anyway) All of my work surfaces have been adopting the MFT 96mm grid of 20mm holes with the additional provision of some .75" holes so I can use my beloved hold-fasts which require the slightly smaller holes. The MFT might wobble a bit for hard-cord hand-tool work, but for the things it's designed for, it's pretty steady...even with the legs extended on my older model that was originally lower than the current 900mm standard height for MFT.

On the Midi extractor...use it with the tools for dust extraction. Use a regular shop vac for cleanup. That's kinda the normal for many of us for practical reasons. And yes, each tool is a little different in collection efficiency due to the nature of the tool and sometimes the specific operation. Nature of the beast.
----
ETS 150/3, Rotex 150, OF1010, OF1400, Trion PS 300, TDK-12, CT-22, MFT 1080, TS55, Domino XL DF 700, 8' track, (2) 55" tracks

SCM MiniMax S315WS, FS350, MM16, Camaster Stinger II SR-44 CNC

Offline FestitaMakool

  • Posts: 29
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2019, 07:57 PM »
I really like the OP. Good thoughts, and constructive opinions.

Since I’m also new to Festool, I would like to share some of my recent purchases as well.
I’m too a diy’r, been so for at least 25 years. My work is renovating, from fine interior woodworking to framing and building.

I started with DeWalt, sold it and bought me in on Makita and Bosch instead. Now all Bosch has gone, Makita will stay with me. What Makita didn’t have, I started looking to Festool.

First was the 2019 CT Mini, along with CT SYS. Expensive, yes, but so was Makita’s...
Likes most: Compact, fits under my custom table saw table I built for my late Bosch GTS10XC. (Kärcher vent out) Hose garage, Bluetooth autostart, hose quality, fits easily Makita tools as well.
Love Systainer on top, soon a WCR1000 to be adapted (got it cheap) to it. Really like the square shape, all other brands are bulky..which makes it easy to fit in car, or whatever. CT SYS is less used, but easy to grab’n go, good vac.

Second, the Precisio CS50 SET, a joy to use (and carry, if needed...) compared to Bosch. Easy to do precise work, once set up though. Don’t miss cut capacity from Bosch. Needed a more accurate saw. Ripping timber is easier with circular saw, when rarely needed. Now sits on my rolling saw table.

HKC55 Li... Why didn’t I know of and owned this before! I had this advised to me, even before the TSC55, which I still not own (no plunge saw at all, CS50 instead) Absolutely love it, bought all 3 FSK rails...(420 came free with the saw) It is used a lot, also for pre cut outside (weather challenges here...) before the overly expensive Kapex 120 inside chews to precise cuts.

MFT/3 and MW1000 with side table. Not used for sheet goods (although I bought it with the rail)
I have found it extremely useful for various jobs, planing, jig mounting, general work table. (Most tools are now in a room inside converted to a temporary workshop during restoration) The MFT/3 got the braces as an afterthought.. cause it is not sturdy enough without. I found that if I mounted it loosely to a wall, it is now perfectly sturdy, with the MW1000 side table mounted as an extension. The MW1000 serves as a Systainer cabinet, and the worktop as a spare work table when the bigger one is occupied. Love the mobility, and drawers (bought one extra + the one that fits in the bottom, SYS AZ. As a part of a system, with same height as table saws, CMS, accessories, I find these very useful (If you use them as a system)

C18 drill, very good, bought with depth stop chuck. Love the electronics, but I still use my Makita CXT and LXT more.. I plan to buy offset and angle attachments when eventually needed.

Carvex 420 PSBC, with accessory kit. Not sure I’m impressed, I like D handle jig saws, but the ergonomics on this Festool is strange (tough I will not part it for the barrel grip, as this model easily are the same to hold upside down, if needed (I rarely do), and you can also hold barrel style right way also. I did also buy a Makita CXT BL D-handle (VJ06Z), and I tend to reach for this, handling and ergonomics are miles ahead of Festool. Thing is, the lock button on Festool is the to prevent accidental start, not as on others, to lock the trigger at speed.. and the trigger is very awkward to reach, and pivots at rear, so pointy finger must be stretched to operate the trigger, you can’t use other fingers without getting a faulty grip on the handle (which have no rubber either. Again, trigger and handle on the Makita is like a soft leather glove.. and the Makita is short bodied, I bought as a supplement (light, short, powerful enough for most) but get used more. Hmmm.. Still, the Carvex, especially with that angle base will be used for more precise work, but not yet tested thoroughly.
Edit: Forgot to mention that it shuts off it’s LED light when turned upside down.. ended up with using my two Makita’s when doing a cutout for an attic hatch in the roof, working overhead in dim light, as they at least let me decide when to use the light. I understand if you hold the saw upside down, you won’t need the light, but overhead it is very useful..
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 05:40 PM by FestitaMakool »

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 549
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2019, 02:39 PM »
I've learned far far more about the features and usage of Festool tools from owners putting Youtube vids up than Festools advertising blurb which is flashy and without much decent information.

The catalogues are much the same and I've got better info out of an Axminster powertools catalogue than Festools. Nice paper, great photography, no doubt cost a fortune to produce but junk information.

For my money, Festool produces excellent circular saws with the HKC being standout brilliant, the drills I've seen so far weren't anything special, the Jigsaw is nice but sheesh, its just a jigsaw.

I've never used a Domino but they look great for a workshop joiner, only briefly used one of their routers (2200?) And found it ok if a little top heavy.
Systainers?  I'm fully on board with that idea at the moment with the Systainer2 T-loc boxes, they fit perfectly into my toolsafe and as a subcontractor carpenter mobility is a massive part of my work.
The Systainer3 boxes not conforming to the same heights is a big issue for me so I'll likely avoid those.


Offline FestitaMakool

  • Posts: 29
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2019, 06:16 PM »
Didn’t have the time to write more in my first post; I did also make the deep plunge buying a Kapex 120 REB UG Set. The most attractive feature being for me is the special capacity of cutting 60x120mm, otherwise I might have kept my Bosch GCM 8 SDE.
The thing I like the most is smooth bevel adjustment, laser is surprisingly good (more fascinated with Kapex 60’s LED though), clamps! - I bought an extra, to have one on each side, as other have mentioned; they are so easy to use, that you actually use them!
Beware: I have two friends who nearly lost their thumbs on these kind of saws.. both kept their thumbs by good surgery, but both lost feel and movement in their thumbs. So, use the clamps!
Other; it is fairly compact and light weight with such capacity, compared to the competitors, who are large and heavy in comparison. Fence is easy to adjust. But, it does not cut any finer than other quality saws; it’s a saw, the blade and technique makes the difference. It also flexes side to side as other saws with light force by the hand. The UG set is ok, the side wings are a hassle to get right. Must be on an almost level surface; not too practical and flexible. Cart is nice, as is also the crown stop with ruler. I did by accident buy a second hand MFT Kapex table with KA-KS wings, but the wings will probably be used with the CS50, and the MFT/3. The Kapex table is planned to house a router table with lift soon. I’ll probably make a new top and make this table as an alternative to the CMS GE, and make a dolly with wheels to lift it to Festool std. height. It also doubles as a more compact MFT/3 for moving around.
If anyone have ideas to do this I’ll be happy to see your opinions, and maybe you have done similar already?

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 620
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2019, 11:20 PM »
Yup, you hit the reality of tools.  Festool and similar brands make nice stuff, not all of it is perfect. Almost always the fancy expensive tool underwhelms, and the cheap random tool is the one that really impresses.

Of course there will be the tools you don't get much use out of. You mention the parallel guides, I was just finally getting them out to start using after owning them for a year. Hadn't had a real use for them till now.  Sometimes that's how it is.

Far as metric, yes, why people do so much to avoid it I will never understand.  Get metric tape measures and use it.  Biggest issues is finding true metric tapes, and even then only one sold in the US is mm (true32), the rest are cm.  Festool is/was good with mm consistency, a competitor thinks cm are a thing and that gives me fits and has lead to more than one messed up cut.  At one time I did things that were more traditional "rough construction" still in inches, but even that I do in mm now as it's just so much easier on the brain.

No dust collection will ever be as good as we want it to be, and it's a variable.  If you are working in a garage/shop it will be great as what escapes doesn't much matter. If you are going it in your living room, it will be not so good as any that escapes is an issue.

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 5929
  • Festool Baby.....
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2019, 01:28 AM »
I’m guessing yer pretty new using festools. They are a different approach to woodworking . What I suggest is take the essentials end user class. The only one I know of having classes now is Greg  Paolini. He’ll start offering them after the 1st of the year.

I do feel your pain. I felt the same way at one time.i was ready to get rid of every Festool I owned out of frustration.
 I signed up for a end user class with Steve in Las Vegas and I found out where I was messing up.
Once you understand the tools  I think you might have a different opinion

Offline ChiknNutz

  • Posts: 84
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2019, 11:52 AM »
What hooked me about Festool was (and still is) the RO150 and CT36 as a system.  I used one at a friend's shop that makes slab tables for a living.  I actually worked for him for a few weeks and used the heck out of the rotex.  I was so impressed I bought one as I also do slab tables and other such items.  I grew tired of the sanding flour all over my shop even though I had a cyclone DC and overhead air filter.  For sanding, this is a fantastic setup with few rivals and I still am impressed by how dust free sanding now is.  I started with those two items and now have what you see in my signature.
-Chris
Rotex 150/5 FEQ, CT 36 E, ETS EC125/3, TS75, Domino XL

Offline ben_r_

  • Posts: 1232
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2019, 02:04 PM »
Yep, I think you nailed it OP, especially with the MFT/3 and Systainers. One GREAT thing that I found as I was learning the same lessons, since Festools annual price increases continually drive their prices higher and higher the resale value increases as well! So, if youre like me and take extremely good care of your tools and youre good at finding/making deals/discounts on Festool products (there are ways), I have found that if I wait a few years I can sell a Festool tool for exactly what I paid for it new! lol
If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

Offline Stan Tillinghast

  • Posts: 24
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2019, 03:26 AM »
This is a really helpful thread for me. I bought into Festool with the TS55 (but have not felt the need for a 10 foot guide rail) and CT 22. Next the Rotex 125 which was quickly replaced with an ETS 125. The rest gradually dribbled in whether or not I needed that tool.
For the past 5 years I haven’t had a shop due to moving around; but trying to get garage in new house emptied of junk so I can use it—bought the house largely because of 3-car garage.

Regarding dust collection: this is what sells me on Festool. I can saw or sand in my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, but more important don’t have to breathe in saw dust or wear a mask. I probably wouldn’t be able to do woodworking without that level of dust collection.

I would definitely agree with the original poster’s specific high marks for the TS 55, Domino, and the CT (now 36). Two other big favorites are the Vecturo and the R0-90, a fabulously useful and versatile sander. The HL 850 planer was great in flattening a redwood slab.

Lately I have bought into the Makita XLT 18-volt system with the drill, impact driver, and router. I like the small size combined with good power, and find them to be well-made tools; so I’m not going to invest in Festool cordless stuff for now.

I don’t yet have a router table and am still exploring whether I want to go with the Festool system or something like the Incra table. I realize one can combine those using the Incra positioner.

If I have a disappointment, it is the difficulty in getting access to the Festool Las Vegas training classes. I hope they are able to improve their access to meet customer demand.

Offline JimB1

  • Posts: 167
Re: Quick Thoughts on Overall System
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2019, 04:04 PM »
I agree with most of what you said and have most of the same tools. With a few exceptions.

I do like the 1010 router better than other routers I have tried. It’s a friendly size for most stuff I do by hand and does dust extraction better then most other hand held routers in its power class.

I do like the whole systainer concept though. I am generally no horribly organized  [tongue] so anything that helps me keep myself in order is useful.

So far I am not specifically disappointed in any Festool item I have bought though the MFT/3 is closest to a disappointment in that the table is decent, if wobbly, but the fence and angle adjustments are not too intuitive or easy to get locked in accurately. I usually try to get dogs in the holes behind the fence and the track to make sure they are at the right angle too each other. I don’t really trust the unit itself to be straight. It also sucks that you can’t put it up against a wall easily because the fence unit sticks out so far off the back.

My single favorite festool has to be my CT Midi. It’s light enough to grab and go, Hepa filtered, powerful enough for most things around my little shop, works with all the tools, reasonably quiet and the bags last me for months of sanding and sawing. Very happy with the CT Midi. Same for the sanders RO 150, ETX150 and RTS400. No problems or complaints about any of my sanders. Even the little stickfix hand sanders work great. [smile]

-Jim
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 04:09 PM by JimB1 »
TS55 REQ, MFT/3, Domino DF500, CXS, OF 1010, RO 150, ETS 150/3, RTS-400, rectangle sanding block, Pocket StickFix Sanding Block and a CT Midi...