Author Topic: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?  (Read 2778 times)

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Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« on: January 19, 2021, 12:05 PM »
Looking back at my current set up, I wish I would have just gotten a single, longer rail to help rip longer stock and sheet goods. In this short video, I share my experience with guide rail selection and give the one recommendation I wish I would have known before purchasing. Hope this helps those that are currently or will be in the market for a guide rail.


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Offline shed9

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2021, 01:36 PM »
To be fair, the TSO GRC-12 connectors are flawless to use, require no real thought process and enable better combinations of options. The cost of Festool rails start to get quite high when you go over the 1400 sizes. I can see the advantage of longer rails in some instances but that only really comes into play in a production environment or site usage.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 01:39 PM by shed9 »

Offline Sometimewoodworker

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2021, 02:30 AM »
Looking back at my current set up, I wish I would have just gotten a single, longer rail to help rip longer stock and sheet goods. In this short video, I share my experience with guide rail selection and give the one recommendation I wish I would have known before purchasing. Hope this helps those that are currently or will be in the market for a guide rail.



There is a jig, the Betterly” that I’ve been using for years, that guarantees a perfect aligned connection between rails. The festool connectors can always be misaligned the amount of tightness of the screws has never made any difference in my usage. I’ve always had to join 3 rails for full sheet rips, before I got the betterly jig I had your problem, now I never do.

FWIW the festool main importer here will not guarantee that they will get a straight rail to you once it leaves them, so unless I’m willing to make an 1,100km drive the risk of buying a long rail is not worth the slight benefit.
If I were ripping many sheets per year my answer could be different.
Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
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Online mino

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2021, 06:34 PM »
I will update this post later, as I like the title ... and was planning some schemes to visualize.

A texty version of my "rail strategy" so we keep this one alive:

------------------------------------------------
Buy rule #1: buy holy rails
Buy rule #2: buy holy rails, there is never 'nough holes around!
Buy rule #3: do not think of rails as "fixed length" but more like "raw material" ****)

Because of #1 avoid:
 - anything non-holy (till you got enough holes)
Because of #3 avoid:
 - anything shorter than 1400
 - Festool rail connectors like a plague, you will be connecting a LOT up to "stage 3" set and you do NOT want the connectors to damage your rails. Good options are the Makita connectors (get these regardless as a baseline if budget is tight) or the TSO self-aligning connectors (minimally less accurate but MUCH more convenient than the Makitas which need a straight edge)


LEGEND for below:
 - [smile] indicates a new/improved capability at the given stage compared to previous one
 - useful lengths are highlighted in bold

From scratch strategy:
Stage1 purchase: 1x 1400 LR32 + 1x Makita connector set + LR32 basic set (not the one in systainer)/
  total: 1400 LR32 + Makita connector set + LR32 basic set
  cut into:
      1400 LR32 >> 1016 + 376 *)
  available lengths for use:
                 376 > small things work here and there, fits in a Systainer  [smile]
                1016 > common cross-cuts up to ca 700 mm for cabinet sides etc.   **)[smile]
       1016+376=1392 > max length (1400 for LR32-aligned connection)


Stage2 purchase: + 1x 1400 LR32 + 1x Makita connector set + 1x TSO GRS
  total: 2x 1400 LR32 + 2x Makita connector set + LR32 basic set + TSO GRS
  cut into:
      1400 LR32 #1 >> 1016 + 376
      1400 LR32 #2 >> not-cut
  available lengths for use:
                 376> small things here and there, now also great as straight edge for connecting rails
                1016 > common cross-cuts up to ca 700 mm for cabinet sides etc. **)
                1400 > not sure, see below ...
       1400+376=1776 > full-sheet cross-cut [smile]
      1400+1016=2416 > common cuts up to ca 2100mm - high cabinets or doors [smile]
  1400+1016+376=2792 > full-sheet rip cuts  [smile]


Stage3 purchase: 1400 + SYS-MFT
  total: 1400 + 2x 1400 LR32 + 2x Makita connector set + LR32 basic set + TSO GRS + SYS-MFT
  cut into:
      1400 >> 632 + 376 + 376
      1400 LR32 #1 >> 1016 + 376
      1400 LR32 #2 >> not-cut
  available lengths for use:
                 376 > off-cut work here and there, fits in a Systainer
                 632 > small & handy for cross-cuts up to ca 300 mm for cabinet sides etc. **)  [smile]
                1016 > common cross-cuts up to ca 700 mm for cabinet sides etc. **)
                1400 > not sure, this is a weird length, see below ...
       1016+632=1632 > full-sheet cross-cut, shorter, so a better fit than in Stage 2 [smile]
      1400+1016=2416 > common cuts up to ca 2100mm - high cabinets or doors, cross-cuts of big sheets [smile]
  1400+1016+376=2792 > full-sheet rip cuts

   376+376+376=1128 > special set, fully-enclosed in a SYS-MFT along your GRS and a couple clamps for those small site jobs ... [cool]


Stage4 purchase: + 2424 LR32 (optional, adds comfort + big sheet handling)***)
  total: 1400 + 2x 1400 LR32 + 2424 LR32 + 2x Makita connector set + LR32 basic set + TSO GRS + SYS-MFT
  cut into:
      1400 >> 632 + 376 + 376
      1400 LR32 #1 >> 1016 + 376
      1400 LR32 #2 >> not-cut
      2424 LR32 >> not-cut
  available lengths for use:
                same as Stage3 but additionally:
                2424 > single-piece, common cuts up to 2100mm, cross-cuts of big chipboard sheets [smile]
       2424+376=2800 > full-sheet rip cuts, one less connector  [smile]
      2424+1016=3440 > full-sheet rip cuts for big chipboard or 3000x1500 plywood sheets [smile]
 2424+1400+1016=4840 > your 5m LR32 rails if want to go bonkers with two-story cabinets [big grin]



------------------------------------------------
*) do not worry it not makes "1400" when combined, 1016, 632 and 376 lengths when cut correctly give the exact same overhang-from-last-hole distance" as 1400 and 2424 LR32 rails have, this is intentional. All the holy rails can then be connected exact same way as pristine holy rails can for a longer LR32-aligned guide

**) you will find yourself using these two "shorties" the most, either separate or connected for rips

***) Alternative is a non-holy 3000 but 2424 is easier to store and provides a <2100 cut-length single-rail option that is easier to handle than a full 3000 is. Avoid 2700, too short for proper rips and too long for handling in a flat/van etc.

****) get an aluminum cutting blade the first thing so you can cut your rails neatly (any brand will do, just needs 20mm arbor and be less than 165mm dia, even 4" blades are fine)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2021, 06:49 PM by mino »
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 Bertotti

  • Posts: 122
Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2021, 10:48 PM »
Mft3 came with the 1080 and there it stays, Bought a 1400 with holes and one without, the 1400 is my most used, then a 3000 which has been used a lot but is a pain to store in my basement. A few months ago I bought the 800 and use it quite a bit for smaller stuff. I enjoy having all of them at hand. I did notice when I joined the 800 and 1 1400 with the TSO connectors there was a slight variance in the rail part the ts rides on so when I got to the 800 it was a it more snug noticeably so. I have no regrets with the ones I have and wouldn't change a thing about those purchases. Well I would change one thing both 1400 would have holes but in my defense I didn't know there were rails with holes when i got my track saw and the first 1400 rail. Until that point I didn't know who Festool was. Now I have a small fortune in Festool in my home.
I want to populate SD with trees becasue I miss the forests of the river bottoms.

Offline Sometimewoodworker

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2021, 06:29 AM »
I will update this post later, as I like the title ... and was planning some schemes to visualize.

A texty version of my "rail strategy" so we keep this one

Your post was rather difficult, to say the least, to understand.

However getting every rail to be a holy one is a good point. When I bought there was only a 1010 & possibly a long one. But I can’t see any point in cutting any rails down, that may work for you but I doubt there will be many/any others that agree with cutting a rail, it’s also very difficult to make accurate cuts.

I don’t know how good the TSO connectors are, they were not available when I was buying so I got the Betterly Straight Line Connector and it’s perfect with the festool bars, I have no idea where the “damage to rails” with the Festool connectors comes from, I’ve been using them for about 15 years and haven’t seen any problems, so I suspect the damage, if it happens, may have been caused by being a gorilla when tightening the screws
Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nui-jerome/

Online mino

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2021, 07:48 AM »
...  I can’t see any point in cutting any rails down, that may work for you but I doubt there will be many/any others that agree with cutting a rail, it’s also very difficult to make accurate cuts.
Actually, making an accurate cut is dead easy with a tracksaw - you just need any reasonable square, another rail or other guide and a fine-tooth blade (ideally an aluminum dedicated one but any will do for one or two cuts).

The end of rails is not a reference surface, so even a 0,5 mm off-square is fine.

The reason I advocate cutting instead of buying shorter ones has several reasons which complement:
 - Festool has a wide but still limited selection of rails offered and so does not make some "natural" lengths like 600-ish (small rips like for bookshelves) or 1600-ish (full-sheet cross cuts)
 - the 1400 is only marginally more expensive than 1080 and you actually want 1000-ish not 1100-ish for casual 600mm/2' cabinets, Festool chose the 1080 instead of 1000 (e.g. Makita) as the MFT needs it a bit longer
 - 2400-ish + 400-ish with one connector is an excellent combo and even better than a 3000 as that small extension is too short to affect overall accuracy compare to a single rail, also
 - one wants 2424 for the long cabinets, so should get it anyway .. at which point a 3000 on top becomes a bit overkill
 - with 2400 + 400 one gets two more things "for free": ideal length for high-cabinet pieces, a small "mini-rail" one can have in systainer that is very handy when a mitter saw is not on hand
 - this is more of a side-effect > with three 376 off-cuts and two connector sets one actually gets up to a reasonable length useful for small site repair work, now I can get along with just a SYS4 (TSC) + SYS-MFT (rails, clamps, connectors) and have a complete package for trimming a shelf here and there

I actually bought (now know that in error) a 2700 and eventually cut it to 2400 as it was missing "those 10 centimeters" for a proper rip-cut length and adding 10cm was a no-go mechanically as there would be no way to slot-in a clamp on the "short" piece. 2700+400 was just both too short for 3000x1500 sheets and unnecessarily long for 2500mm/8' sheets.

Quote
I have no idea where the “damage to rails” with the Festool connectors comes from, I’ve been using them for about 15 years and haven’t seen any problems, so I suspect the damage, if it happens, may have been caused by being a gorilla when tightening the screws
IMO Betterley is excellent, TSO provides very much the same though. Not sure about "Gorilla", but if you do not use a torque wrench it is very easy to make dents. Too-soft connection and the rails will move, too tight and they will create marks which may complicate an exact alignment in future. There is the golden middle ground, but it is just too easy to diverge from it.

The Makita ones and TSO ones do not have this potential problem, so one less issue to worry about.

/Have a Festool connector set in a drawer since I bought it and realized that I like my rails too much to risk it. OCD maybe. If anyone in Europe has a use for it, happy to share for shipping.. :)/
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 08:07 AM by mino »
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 Sometimewoodworker

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2021, 09:59 PM »
Actually, making an accurate cut is dead easy with a tracksaw - you just need any reasonable square, another rail or other guide and a fine-tooth blade (ideally an aluminum dedicated one but any will do for one or two cuts).

The end of rails is not a reference surface, so even a 0,5 mm off-square is fine.

The reason I advocate cutting instead of buying shorter ones has several reasons which complement:
 - Festool has a wide but still limited selection of rails offered and so does not make some "natural" lengths like 600-ish (small rips like for bookshelves) or 1600-ish (full-sheet cross cuts)
Your reasoning strongly suggests that you are using the rails in a professional setting.
This makes it a totally different case as the cost of adding a rail or 5 can easily be amortised in your customer pricing and the exact lengths provide time savings that can also pay for the rails.

But many users here have very different priorities so your assumptions aren’t valid for all (quite possibly for most) users.

As to accurate cutting of rails, chopping a bit off is easy I agree but cutting a holy rail (the ends must be accurately square and holes perfectly spaced from the cut end unless it’s always going to be a standalone unit) is a different case and you will always have to chop out a longer section to achieve that.

You seem to be arguing that your situation is in any way universally true or applicable. It is true for you and probably other high production users who are making many similar sized pieces. I think that your use case is in a tiny minority. It’s a useful debate and interesting to see other view points, some of the points made here in the past have moved into production for Festool or others, many have not.

As for the Festool bars making any kind of problems, they never have for me in 15 years, I don’t have a torque screwdriver, I only found out about them a couple of months ago, and am perfectly capable of judging the correct tightening of most fixtures. The only time I will use a torque wrench is in a case like automotive engine fittings where it is needed.

Had the Mikita or TSO ones been available I would quite possibly have bought them, they weren’t and the case for them is rather exaggerated IMNSHO as is the Festool “damage”

Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
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Online mino

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2021, 07:17 AM »
Your reasoning strongly suggests that you are using the rails in a professional setting.
Actually a pure hobby use and not plans for commercial. That why bothered to put up the "stages" concept, as the rails are not cheap.
The selection above is done to allow the purchase of the least of rails while getting the most of value. If you look, already by "Stage 2", with just 2 1400 holy rails, one gets:
 - full rip capability
 - a handy 1016 rail for most post-rip work
 - optimal cross-cut length option (an issue with having pure 2 x 1400 as one is short and two are too long)
 - holy-rail single-joint option up to 2424 equivalent
Quote
As to accurate cutting of rails, chopping a bit off is easy I agree but cutting a holy rail (the ends must be accurately square and holes perfectly spaced from the cut end unless it’s always going to be a standalone unit) is a different case and you will always have to chop out a longer section to achieve that.
The thing is, I found the practical squareness (granted, I used the GRS rail square) of cutting a rail with a tracksaw is actually better  than how they come from factory. I think this is because the rail ends are not considered "reference edge" hence Festool does not bother with super-accuracy there. The only real need is to have the cut rail "upside down" below the rail on which saw goes and have it supported where it is thin.

The second thing (I did not know before did it) is that when you join holly rails, there is - by design - an 8 mm (3/16") gap between the rails and the 32m system holes are actually what you use as reference to join them exactly. Not the ends. I advise to make the ends same distance as the factory rails have just for simplicity, is not strictly required.
This "8mm design-gap" is a plenty for accurately cutting a holy rail via two precise cuts anywhere "in between the holes" and getting thus an arbitrary length split which is still fully compatible with the factory endings.

I chose the "376" (11.75 x 32mm) as the "shorty" size because it is the biggest that fits in a Systainer. Any length above 350 that is XX.75 x 32mm would be OK for the "shorties". You just need about 250mm/10" after the connector end for T-slot clamps to fit
Quote
You seem to be arguing that your situation is in any way universally true or applicable.
Thanks for this. Should reword the post as that was not the intended message.

It is a "hi guys, here is how I would do it based on my learning from past mistakes my acquired understanding of what is possible with the least of budget".

I have thought this approach as a reaction of how I have wasted a lot of money on rails (for a hobby user) while still missing key functionality - like buying the 2700 only to realize it is too short for rips and too long for full-cross-cut while 1400 is too short for the cross-cuts instead. [/quote]
Quote
As for the Festool bars making any kind of problems, they never have for me in 15 years, I don’t have a torque screwdriver, I only found out about them a couple of months ago, and am perfectly capable of judging the correct tightening of most fixtures. The only time I will use a torque wrench is in a case like automotive engine fittings where it is needed.

Had the Makita or TSO ones been available I would quite possibly have bought them, they weren’t and the case for them is rather exaggerated IMNSHO as is the Festool “damage”.
You are right the Festool ones "work", but I cannot recommend them to anyone while the Makita ones are at 1/2 cost *and* are just fool-proof unlike the Festool ones.

The TSO ones are an upgrade over both in speed and so is the Betterley. But come with a cost and their theoretical accuracy is no better than Festool/Makita ones + straight edge used correctly.

So I do not think they make economical sense for hobby use. A hobbyist is much better to use the saved money for an engineer's straight edge which is good for other uses too.

EDIT: A bit more clarity ref. the 8mm, "spacing" when holy rails are connected for LR32 work.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 08:48 AM by mino »
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

Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2021, 08:26 AM »
@mino don't worry about the haters - if your list works for you, then more power to ya!

Online mino

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2021, 08:33 AM »
@mino don't worry about the haters - if your list works for you, then more power to ya!
Do not see haters here. :)
Not a native speaker, so is "easy" to write something in a condescending tone without meaning so.
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 Jim_in_PA

  • Posts: 188
Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2021, 09:25 AM »
I like to have flexibility so there's enough rail for the job but not so much that it gets in my way which can cause "operator error" when you hip knocks the rail off the line. I have a short rail (M brand), a regular ~55" rail and the 8' rail. The shortie gets used the most in my shop and for crosscut work in home improvement.
----
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 Sometimewoodworker

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2021, 10:07 AM »

Actually a pure hobby use and not plans for commercial. That why bothered to put up the "stages" concept, as the rails are not cheap.

——snip ——-

I have thought this approach as a reaction of how I have wasted a lot of money on rails (for a hobby user) while still missing key functionality - like buying the 2700 only to realize it is too short for rips and too long for full-cross-cut while 1400 is too short for the cross-cuts instead.


I agree on the point that neither the 1400 or the 2700 are well sized for crosscutting or ripping full 2440 x 1220 sheets and that any rail available as a holy rail is a better purchase and that the short comings of those two should be made clear.

As I originally said you first post is not at all easily followed, specially on an iPhone SE (I have to confess I gave up & FWIW I have read academic psychology papers  [eek] I will have to try again  [unsure]), I think you may have tried too hard to reduce the post length

However specifically for non production use I’ve never found my rails to be too long since I got them. Certainly anything shorter than the 800 would be too short for me and I’ve never thought that something half the length would be better,

I can’t comment on the benefits or problems of the Makita or TSO joiners as I’ve never used them, they weren’t made when I got my Festool ones and the Betterly came a couple of years later but still before the alternative joiners.

Since rail use is in discussion how about clamps? I have 4 different makes.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 10:10 AM by Sometimewoodworker »
Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nui-jerome/

Online Imemiter

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Re: Which Guide Rail Length Should You Get?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2021, 12:14 PM »
Much as I love the idea of cutting down a rail to fit my 6' pickup bed, I think I'll get another holey 1400. A 1400 will fit in my Makita bag. And my 800mm with two 1400s (and TSO,) will be all the rail I'll ever need for sitework. One unsung attribute of the TSO connectors is that they're relatively lightweight, making them easy to store in the rails. I only need to stash the allen key in the rail bag's pocket.

CSX, TID 18, HKC 55, OSC 18, OF 1010, Domino XL, DTS 400, ETS 125, RAS 115, LR32, CTSys, CTMidi, CT-VA-20