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The Festool slippery slope

Pete Brown - 04 April 2007

Last year, I started getting into Festool tools. Festool is a German tool company that manufactures the tools in Germany. Almost all other popular tools these days are made in asia by the lowest bidder. You pay a premium for the tools, but like nice German cars, you just can't quite match them for less. Festool is squarely targeted at professionals in Europe and abroad. In the US, the company is starting to attract a real following among both professionals and hobbiests alike.

Besides the quality and precision of the tools, Festool has almost everyone else beat when it comes to good dust extraction. Most other tools spew dust every which way. My miter saw is one of the worst offenders. Even with a good vac or cyclone hooked up to it, it still sends dust everywhere. Why? Because dust collection was not given any serious thought in that Delta tool. Festool, in constrast, designs their tools with dust collection in mind from day 1. In fact, some of their tools (such as the Domino) specifically say do not use without dust extraction as you will clog them up.

Like many, I started with their TS plunge cut saw with guide. That saw made ripping and crosscutting plywood for cabinet work much simpler and more accurate than what I used to do. Prior to that, I rough-cut the 4x8 sheet (which is too big to plop on my saw in my tiny workshop) and then would go through a somewhat tedious process of squaring it up and cutting to size on my table saw. It worked, but it was not efficient.

The first Festool tool I bought last year was the TS 55 EQ. This is an extremely well made saw. I also bought a set of rails and the right angle attachement with it. The feel, precision, safety and quality of cut in this saw has to be experienced to be believed. An even better version is the TS 75, but I felt it too big for my needs at the time.

After that, I returned to Cayce and bought the MFT 1080. This is a small workbench, but works beautifully with the saw for squaring up small panels and cutting boards to length. When combined with the TS55, it's like having an upside down tablesaw. It's about to see a lot of use with my latest purchase.

My latest purchase, just arrived last night, is the new Festool Domino. I also picked up the CT 33 E Dust extractor as a package deal, and the set of dominos  and cutters that go with the tool. I purchased all of these through Bob Marino. Bob's a great dealer, active at Sawmill Creek, and very responsive to email communication. The Domino makes loose tenon joinery quick, accurate and easy. Like the other Festool tools, the Domino is solid and just feels like a good quality tool. I'll try it out this weekend and see how well it works.

Next on the list? If the Kapex (link goes to UK Festool site) doesn't make it over here first (I'm in the market for a good sliding miter saw with good dust extraction), it will pProbably either their router and template kit, or the Rotex sander. Either one will not be for a bit, though :)

I've often been told that the Green and Black tools are a real slippery slope. Now I know what they were talking about... It's an exciting time to be in this hobby

posted by Pete Brown on Wednesday, April 4, 2007
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