Author Topic: What Ultimate setup to break down 8x4 mdf in smallest footprint? (TSO kit?)  (Read 1834 times)

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Offline kifi

  • Posts: 13
Hey all

I have a small shop with a small table saw but I need the best space saving setup possible for breakdown of 8x4 mdf sheets before processing the smaller parts on the table saw.

I am thinking the latest version of the TS55 and maybe battery power for convenience.
Also the longest single rail to rip the 8 foot length, along with TSO parallel guides ?

Also maybe the collapsible table from Festool (STM something ?)

What’s the recommendation?


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Offline MikeGE

  • Posts: 343
How often do you break down full sheets and what level of precision do you need on the cut before you move the operations to the table saw?  I consider "breaking down" as the first process to turn a 4x8 (1250x2500mm) sheet into something that is manageable and can be moved down the stairs to my basement shop.  I can move a full sheet down the stairs, but not by myself. 

I break down full sheets of MDF and 19mm plywood in my garage using four folding metal stands, two half sheets of 15mm tongue and groove OSB, the TS55, and two joined FS 1400/2 guide rails.  The two sheets of OSB are the same size as a full sheet when joined together.  Before this, I used a Bosch circular saw and a chalk snap line.  Before that, I used the chalk snap line and a hand saw.  I adopted the TS55 method because the chip and dust extraction made the garage cleanup easier.  The metal stands and OSB fit along the garage wall when not being used and don't interfere with the truck and car.

I have plenty of TSO items, but have not used any of them when breaking down full sheets of material for follow-on work in my shop.

Offline kifi

  • Posts: 13
Hi Mike

Breaking down sheet goods will be done very frequently, at least a few sheets per week. I do need accuracy as I may build larger items and need accurate cuts at this point.

Online woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 308
Welcome to the FOG.

Platform - Since most of my work is site-based, I’ve always personally tried to keep everything as simple, robust and collapsible as possible. So for me - it’s a pair of Toughbuilt trestles/sawhorses with two sacrificial 8-foot 2” x 6” battens laid on top to support the sheet. The trestles fold flat and take up almost no space, and the battens can be laid or stood up wherever there’s room.. Simple, low-cost and effective. Although the STM has its fans on here, it’s a crazy-expensive way of having something to rest a sheet on compared to the above. Just my opinion obviously, but in the UK you can buy a TS55 and a CT26 for less money.

Saw - the TS55 is really a game-changer when it comes to sheet goods, and it will deliver very accurate cuts. Once you get into it, you may well find yourself using your table saw much less. Pretty much the only task mine ever gets used for these days is for repetitive cuts of multiple items which have to be exactly the same size. The corded version of the saw will cost substantially less, and would be my suggestion if you don’t plan to take it out in the field too much. I hear great things about the cordless version though - so go for it if you have the budget.

Rails - these come in a whole variety of lengths as you’ll be aware. The longer ones are initially attractive for longer cuts, but my personal reality is that they’re a pain to store and can be cumbersome unless you have plenty of space. I use 2 x 1400mm rails joined together for 8’ board cuts, plus I also have a smaller 800mm one for 4’ cuts. The three rails give me the ideal combination of length, flexibility, convenience and capacity. Here in the UK the TS55 is available as a kit including the 2 x 1400’s plus a pair of rail clamps at a price which is less than the cost of the individual items. Maybe it’s the same in NA, I don’t know.

Other stuff - you’ll need a pair of rail joiners if you decide to go down the above route. I actually have two pairs,  so all three rails can be connected together for a 3-meter cut. An almost mandatory accessory is a TSO guide rail square - this device clamps to the rail and ensures square cuts whilst breaking down your sheets.

You’re maybe also going to need some dust extraction. Many, many useful threads on here. The search box is your friend. Hope you get fixed up.

Edit - it’s a good idea to include your location on your profile. The FOG is a global community, and not all Festool products are available everywhere. It’s way easier for members to give advice if they know which country you’re in.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 11:16 AM by woodbutcherbower »

Offline Jeff Zanin

  • Posts: 299
I break down sheet goods using a TSC-55 (cordless) and the Festool parallel guides with the FS-3000 rail for the rip cuts.

I use the (very small) dust bag instead of a dust extractor, since it is usually only a few cuts, and the saw is easier to manipulate without the vacuum hose.

This work is done on my front porch which is close to where I unload the sheets from my truck.  The sheets are placed on a 4'x8' piece of rigid foam insulation.

Depending on the project I may also have the home centre make one or two rip cuts, these make the pieces easier to handle and are adequate for some work, and if necessary the pieces can be ripped to a final accurate size using the TSC-55 or a small table saw.

Online cpw

  • Posts: 358
I've used centipedes and a foam board, but the Festool STM is much nicer to setup and folds up really small.  I have a TS75, but a TS55 or TSC55 would be fine for sheet goods.  If you don't have a dust extractor and ever need to do this indoors, you should consider one.  The bag on the HKC is better than most other saws, but is not as good as an extractor.

The TSO rail square is a must have.   I usually do final dimensioning for furniture on my table saw.  For rougher work like shop cabinets or construction one mark the square square or two marks on each end of the cut is plenty accurate enough.  I can't give you great advice on the parallel guide aspect of it.  I've used the Woodpecker version, but still go back to the table saw.

Offline kifi

  • Posts: 13
That’s where location comes in. Aside from the tool options marketed by Festool, I am in Ireland and it pours rain most of the time.

Online twistsol1

  • Posts: 14
    • Sawdustzone
Here is what I use and it works really well.

Festool TS75 which is far more than I need 99% of the time and indespensible when I need that last little bit of cut depth.
CT33 dust collector. If you are going to use it with a dust collector anyway, I don't get the battery powered saw thing
2700 and 1400 rails. If I were to do it today, I would buy 2 of the 1400s and a connector kit and a 3000 just for the shop.
I have both the Festool and Woodpeckers Parallel guides. The Woodpeckers are easier to use and calibrate
TSO rail square.
Finally, I added an STM1800 last fall and can't say enough good stuff about it.
  • It collapses really small and slides under the outfeed for my table saw when not using it.
  • It fully supports 4x8 sheets
  • The ability to effortlessly lift a 4x8 sheet of anything onto the table is awesome especially if you work alone and/or are getting up there in years.

With the MFT/3 added to this mix, my table saw is really relegated to only cutting face frame parts for cabinets and rarely do sheet goods ever make
A shop full of tools and no talent

Offline Joebuck

  • Posts: 42
I break down sheets outside mostly because my shop is very small. For me it’s as follows:

TSC55K w/ dust bag
TSO Rail Square
FS 3000 & 1900
STM 1800

I wouldn’t want to be without the STM 1800 ever again. It’s highly underrated in my opinion. Expensive, yes! But after more than a year of use, I’ve long forgotten the sting of paying so much, and now consider it an essential “tool”, as I use it for much more than breaking down sheets.

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 229
A bit out there but a vertical panel saw takes up little floor space and are relatively easy to build, there are a few home built versions on YouTube that don't look too hard to build.

Offline krudawg

  • Posts: 154
Festool STM 1800
MFT/3, DF 500, Hammer K3 Winner, TS55,  Sjoberg Elite 1500 Workbench, Fuji MiniMite4 Platinum, OF1400, CT MIdi, CT26, RO90, ETC-150, CT26, Midi,
Former Marine, Vietnam Vet

Offline guybo

  • Posts: 359
A bit out there but a vertical panel saw
Using what you requested this might work the L brackets are from the borg. Yes i know the pgs are not accurate [big grin]

Offline jamanjeval

  • Posts: 88
If you’re not doing more than a few pieces, just get 2” foam to put on the floor and use a track saw. The foam can be stored such that it practically takes up no space and working on the floor makes material handle long super easy.

If you’re doing a significant amount, then get a vertical panel saw. The cuts won’t be as clean, but it’s super convenient for quick rough cutting.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 721
I don’t have a safe. Dry place to store an STM so I use a much less expensive solution. I bought two plastic sawhorses that each have notches molded in them that accomodate a pair of 2x4’s that bridge the gap between the sawhorses. I then utilized the Lee Valley / Veritas kit that makes those two 2x4’s (plus six 1x4’s)  into a capable cutting table. Here is the kit I used:

It is super easy to store and only takes two minutes to set it up.

I have a TS55, Both TSO rail squares, TSO’s parallel guides, 2-55” Festool rails with TSO connectors. I have considered buying the 3,000 mm rail but the two 55” rails have served me well so far.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2022, 12:01 PM by Alanbach »

Offline Axis39

  • Posts: 29
I am also. break it down outside kinda guy...

I use folding sawhorses, 2x4's, some scrap plywood and ridgid foam insulation.  I break it down as it come out of the back of my pickup truck.

I use a Dewalt track saw, two Festool fs-1400 tracks (with TSO connectors), TSO square and Parallel Guides...  I run an extension cord out of the shop...

The Track Saw really has changed the way we work.  It means I can cut sheet goods once, instead of sneaking up on the final measurements!  A lot of pieces never even see the table saw these days!

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5515
I am also. break it down outside kinda guy...

I use folding sawhorses, 2x4's, some scrap plywood and ridgid foam insulation.  I break it down as it come out of the back of my pickup truck.

I use a Dewalt track saw, two Festool fs-1400 tracks (with TSO connectors), TSO square and Parallel Guides...  I run an extension cord out of the shop...

The Track Saw really has changed the way we work.  It means I can cut sheet goods once, instead of sneaking up on the final measurements!  A lot of pieces never even see the table saw these days!

Since the tracksaw came along my tablesaw is almost always just a table. Only need to keep a foot wide patch available for ripping boards. Occasionally clear off more to use a miter gauge.

Offline waho6o9

  • Posts: 1678
    • Garage Door

Off the truck on to the table then cut to desired dimensions. 
Everything folds away, Stanley horses Walko IV and on to the next task. 

Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 882
I have all the TSO goodies but if you are looking for the smallest footprint I think the Eurekazone Universal Edge Guide (UEG) is best. I was big on Eurekazone until several years back when the company started to go south. I still use the UEG with a dedicated cordless 6-1/4" circular saw. Great for making your rip cuts. I even bring this to the big-box store when necessary to break down sheet goods so they fit in vehicle.

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 747
Couple of sawstools, high enough that my CTM26 fits under them, two bits of 3x2 about 8 foot long across the stools then maybe four bits of 3x2 going across them.

I generally use my HKC 55 on site which has a 420mm crosscut rail and then as and when I need aI just join two 1400 rails.

Small footprint, and just not that complicated.

I do have a 110 volt TS55 and a TS75 but realistically on most sites I'm on neither hardly ever come out of my van.

Offline cdconey

  • Posts: 98
You may want to look at Track Tubes.  I got a pair last year and made multiple MFT style tops to go on the tubes which are very versatile and can be configured for multiple work surface sizes.  You can customize your tops to use the TSO products.   This set up is much easier to store than my previous two solutions .

I've also used Gary Katz's Table, which I still have but seldom use now since the TT/MFT Tops.   

Prior to this I used a sheet of light weight MDF on a pair of box beams on saw horses which served me for years.  Before this I used 2" foam on the ground and the Festool track saw.

The dangers of cut & paste.....