Festools have changed the way I work my wood in a very significant manner. Each of my Festool's is a genuine game changer for me. I will be covering the following Festool machines:
Not so long ago I was browsing an Apple stock forum either before or just after the time that Apple entered the cell phone market. I will never forget a poster who commented how stupid it was for Apple to enter this volatile market because they would loose millions and on and on he went spewing his expertise(?) on the subject. I wonder what that tech wonder now thinks of Apple's decision to begin manufacturing iPhones?
I can easily equate that event to what Festool has done. We already had routers, mortisers, circular saws and so on and yet they ventured into these flooded markets with very innovative power tools with features that has made us really want to purchase each of these new woodworking tools. Stating it mildly, that decison or decisions has really changed the way we dimension, join and finish our projects. The copycat's are working 24/7 to catch up.
I am a very traditional woodworker in the sense that I prefer to use hand tools for most of my projects. This is not to say that I will not use my joiner and planer to flatten my stock to spec. I use my power tools just like most other woodworkers. But, I really do enjoy using hand tools to complete most of my projects. Hand tools are, of course, quieter and allow me to make careful, measured cuts as the case may be.
My wooden planes are always the last tool to touch the surfaces of my projects before they are delivered. Veneered projects being the exception.
The same is not true for larger projects. Years ago I created a mortising rig that has served me exceptionally well. It could plunge mortises horizontally or verically with aplomb. It is however, time consuming to set up and multiple passes were required to rout each mortise. Its major drawback is that it makes a bloody mess of my shop. It leaves a quarter-inch of sawdust on everything within ten feet of the router. Plus, respirator, hearing protection and safety glasses were manadatory.
The reason for the messiness is this: In order to set the router bit to start and stop where it should I had to be able to see through the base plate opening to set the bit to my scribe marks. The opening on my old Bosch 1613 is a whopping 2-inches in diameter. This, obviously, makes it very difficult to see my scribe marks. This is why the minimal vac shroud was removed which prevented any sawdust extraction whatsoever.
Now, because of Festool's Domino, I can safely kiss all of that goodbye. Of late I had two large door projects. The first I made with my trusty mortising rig. The second I made with the Domino 700. The 700 saved me about three days of work and the cleanup was practically nonexistant. Oh, yes, I did have to wear eye protection, but that is were the similarities ended. And further, I used the 700 to make 3-inch wide mortises. I have always preferred floating tenons and knew I had more mortises to make to complete the second door with, so they were already made and ready to go. Five plunges with the 700 and each 3-inch wide by 2-inch deep mortise was done. There is more on this method below.
The TS 75 was my first Festool. I was finishing up the first door and knew that after glue-up the door was going to have its upper and lower ends cut square and to spec. So how was I going to do that? Making these important cuts on my table saw was completely out of the question. The door weighed about 70 pounds and only a fool would try and run this through his TS. I could use my circular saw. Tear out would really impress my client. I could trim the ends with a hand saw. Or I could use a TS 75 running on a track. So I purchased the TS 75. Without a doubt the TS 75 was the way to go. Fast forwarding: Each cut took seconds to accomplish with zero tear out.
Back to the second door: The upper four panels are inlaid with salt cedar sticks as shown here. In order to inlay these salt cedar sticks rabbets need to be routed on the backside interior of each panel. The rabbet is 3/4-inch wide by 7/8-inch in depth. To do these I could take the door completely apart and run each section of each panel across my router bench. That would work and would also take forever. The best way to do this - and the fastest, is to rout each rabbett with the door completely assembled using a router. Sounds reasonable to me. To do this we would need some way of guiding the router to cut along its scribe mark. So lets see, with four panels that means that we would need sixteen guides to guide the router. In reality we could extend the guide across two panels and speed up the process. That would work. Now we need to choose a router: plunge or fixed. The obvious answer is the plunge router. But we have a new problem in that the router will need a wide base to safely make each rout. Yada, yada.
I do have a wide base for my Bosch but it is 12-inches in diameter. That is much too large for this project. Because of all these issues I just opted to use my fixed-base Porter-Cable trim router. This was a huge mistake (as I suspected) for two reasons: One, there is no way to collect the sawdust with this router and two, in about one minute I was not able to see what I was doing due to all the wood chips. I wore the usual eye, nose and ear protection but I had sawdust in my eyes in short order. That did it for me.
I went to my computer and ordered the OF 2200 router and grabbed the CT 36 vac which was offered with a package-deal discount. To that I added the OF 2200 Accessory Kit. All of these items should be here on 17 July 2015. The door is on hold until then.
(Note. In case the question has popped into your head - "Why didn't I use a rabbeting bit?", the answer would have been that I did not own one at that time. I do now.)
If you would have suggested to me a month or so ago that I should really look into using Festools for these larger projects I would have responded with, "Festools? What's that?" Well, now I know. I also know I will be working more efficiently, safer and healthier. Plus I will not have to spend hours cleaning up my shop at the end of each work day.
I may have fallen way down the Festool rabbit hole, but I'm much happier for it and I have lots of company as well.
This page will be a blog-like in that comments on each tool will be noted as they arrive and are shop tested.