Festool T55 Plunge Cut Saw Deal Breakers & a Neener

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If you work with sheet goods the Festool T55 plunge saw, with edge guide, seems like a great idea - albeit an expensive one. Lay the guide's zero clearance edge ON THE LINE (rather than some offset FROM your line), set the depth of cut and cut a straight line, on the line - even if you've got the blade over at 45 degrees. For $430 for the saw and guide that's what you get.
But if you want to use the parts you cut - well there's something missing - making the line you're about to cut SQUARE to either the factory edge or the one you'd just cut. For ply cabinets you want RECTANGLES - with square corners. So here's deal breaker #1 - no square attachment for the fence. You want square - you need to buy their special table - another $400+.
Now I could make some sort of thing to square the guide edge to a reference edge. But if I'm going to pay $430 I want THEM to provide that little necessity. Oh, and if you want to cut a 4x8 sheet into two 24" x 96" pieces you need a guide extension - for another $60 or $70 dollars.
The second deal breaker is that you have to use THEIR saw blades - at 2 to 3 times what an equivalent "normal" blade would cost. Sort if the multi-blade razors. The initial cost is maybe $12. But replacement blades are $3 or$4 a pop.
Since the saw and guide system idea didn't fly - got the Domino and the accessories along with the other bits AND a boatload of "dominos" (they don't like it when you call them biscuits). Two Systainers are thrown in for "free".
The Festool Domino is a chunk of change. However, when you compare it to the Leigh FMT PLUS a router and you're in the same price range. The Domino doesn't take up as much room when not in use and has the ease of use of a biscuit joiner with much stronger results.
Have four more bonsai tables to make this week. The Domini should make cutting the 32 mortises per table, 124 total go a bit faster than using either the mortising machine which doesn't do end grain well - or the TREND mortise and tenon jig. Will report back about how that goes.
charlie b
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Hello Charlie, I have been mulling over buying the Domino vs a Trend M&T jig for a while. I have several routers so the Trend is an obvious choice from a financial point of view but when I think of multiple slip tenons - for a set of chairs as an example - the Festool looks like it will win out in a race against time. From your last paragraph it sounds like you are using the Trend so please let me know how you'd compare the two. I have read other reviews of the Trend on this newsgroup and the comments are mixed so I need some more opinions before I make a decision. Thanks in advance, Marc

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marc rosen wrote:

http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/TrendMTjig/TrendMTjig1.html
As you'll notice, the TREND MT Jig has a problem with tolerances - if you're going to do both the mortise and the tenon with it. Between the guide diameter and the router bit diameter, if they accumulate your can get a very loose or very tight fit. For loose tenon work that's not a problem.
The killer with the TREND is what you have to go through to switch from cutting mortises in side grain (leg for example) and end grain (table apron for example). Clamps can get in the way so you have to take one or more off, then put it/them back on. That often involves tilting out the pivoting support piece and removing (and not losing) allen head screws - in a tight space.
Then there's the left/right stops. They slide between the jigs table top and two guide plates. If the guide plates are set so there's no mortise thickness slop then the stops are hard to move in small controlled increments.
Any of the M&T jigs involve a fair amount of set ups and changing set ups.
Let's take a simple example - a set of table legs and apron parts. Legs are 1 1/2" square and the aprons are 3/4" stock. You want the INSIDE face of the aprons flush with the INSIDE faces of the legs.
+--------------+ | A | | | | +--------------- | B | D +-------+-----+--------------- | C | | |
If you use leg faces A&B as reference faces for laying out the mortise and inside faces C&D on the apron part you may see the set up problem. When you cut the mortise AD the leg mortise is cut with the leg horizontal, face B against the back support of the jig, top end to the right. But when you go to cut the mortise for BC, face A is against the back support of the jig and the top end is to the right. That means you have to reset the left/right stops. That's two set ups to do the legs - AND you better keep track of the parts orientation or you're screwed.
The process is repeated for the apron mortises so there's two more set ups and you still better keep track of parts orientation.
Now if any part that requires horizontal positioning is wider than about 2 1/2 inches, you have to REMOVE the pivoting vertical "fence" - a two minute operation but a) time consuming & a hassle, b) you now have some allen head screws to keep track of. Lose one and you make a call to TREND - or scavange one off the unit - to be put back later.
With the Domino you've got built in left & right reference pins that are spring loaded so they retract if not needed. They position the center of the mortise 45 mm (about 1 3/4") from a reference edge or end. There's a pair of adjustable, retractable, stop pins attachments that mount on either side of the DOMINO's base that go from 100 mm to 205 mm (about 4" to 8"), with 1 mm lines to set them pretty close to exactly where you want them (within 0.04" or a tad over 1/32") Ah hell - text only is just too limiting. I'll be putting together some web pages on the DOMINO over the next week or so - have more Bonsai tables to make (if you think tools proliferate get into Bonsai). You really need pictures and diagrams and illustrations to show all the options this tool provides. These guys built a boat load of features into what looks like a biscuit joiner - on steroids and built in presets for up/down, left/right, in/out etc. They've thought of things you didn't realize are handy - and even got the on/off switch right - push foreward to ON push DOWN on the back of the switch and it pops to OFF (wish they'd done that on their saber/sabre saw - I hate to have to take one of my hands of the tool while it's running in order to turn the damn thing off).
This is a whole new way of making mortise and tenon joints - at least furniture scale mortise and tenon joints. The Stickley / Greene & Greene / A&C folks (with some bucks to spend) are gonna love the DOMINO
I'll post the url to my take on the tool here when it's done.

Here's my take on the TREND M&T JIg
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/TrendMTjig/TrendMTjig1.html
I built four Bonsai tables with loose tenons using the TREND. Sixteen M&T joints - 32 mortises per table, in two sizes. The DOMINO would've done the job in a quarter of the time - or less.
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/BonsaiStands/BonsaiStands1.html
If you're not in a big hurry and decide on the TRENT M&T JIg, I can make you a good deal on my used one. Won't be needing it anymore.

No problem.
charlie b
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Hello Charlie, Thank you very much for your description - and I read every word. I think I made my decision and now all I need is to set aside some money for that Domino. I think the introductory price is in effect until the end of May (According to one local - Maryland - dealer) I was discussing its expense with another woodworking buddy and I told him if I build 6 chairs by Thnaksgiving it will prorate out to $160 per chair but if I decide to make 8 chairs I'll doit it for 125 a seat. He said to build 10 chairs and give him 2 and said I'd better buy it so he could borrow it. I think I'll finish my cherry bed first and then look into buying the Domino once the bed is in place. Thanks again for your comments; they were very helpful. Marc
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Snip
So how is that Domino working out for you at cutting square or parallel to the factory edge???? ;~)
Oh, I get it, you were bound and determined to buy a Festool. LOL

The deal breaker so far for me is that you have to use a noisy shop vac or a $250 new Festool vac.

. I'll be looking forward to that.
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I could never see the appeal of this thing. Making a cutting guide (no offsetting needed) takes about ten minutes and will work with the circular saw you have. Want a more elaborate system that captures the saw? They are available from a few sources for far less than $400.00.
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Even if they supplied you with a square attachment, that wouldn't guarantee that the factory edge would be square, or straight. I NEVER use the factory edge for anything. The odd time a sheet of MDF has an edge which I trust/use. I don't know if anybody here will, but I never use the factory edge. So, when you're checking, put down that line, and cut along a line you trust.

That's a savings to those who don't want or need a long edge. That is why it is called an option. The plus side to an extension, is that you can set up your next cut at the same time as the first when you don't need to make an 8' cut. (Besides, you can never cut a 4 x 8 foot sheet into two 24" wide x 96" long strips....but I knew what you meant. <G>)

I would WANT their blades. Price: $48.50 (Festool Fine tooth saw blade 160 x 2.2 x 20 - ATF 55 - ATB - 48 Teeth for an absolutely superb blade which a supplier of mine uses to cut 12' sheet goods to required length. He's been using the same blade for 2 years and uses it every day. So less than 50 bucks isn't bad for a superb blade like that. I think they are a very good value. I buy all kinds of blades and things for specific tools, my table saw blades don't fit my circular saws or my jig saws..LOL

http://www.specialtytools.com/index.php?cPath=5_3826_3761
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Robatoy wrote:

Festool seems to require the same sales price for all their resellers. The prices at the link you provided are the Intro prices everybody is selling them for ('til the end of the month?). The whole system comes to $920 - before tax, license, dealer prep, special floor mats , . . .. The $80.50 for the state sales tax is a PITA but hey - it's California - and Northern California at that. Mail / on-line order would've been cheaper even with shipping, assuming it's less than $80.50 and no sales tax -but then I'dhave to wait and listen for the UPS/FedEx truck. That's fun in a way - but I want to PLAY NOW!
The T55 kit is only going to go up about $10 so I may go that route in the future - or - fine tune the set up on the sliding table of my Robland X-31.
These shows sure put a hole in the bank account - twice a year!
charlie b
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or a T55 kit. I have to upgrade somehow but have little room to do it. The T55 will certainly take less room. (It is also much cheaper, but that isn't my prime consideration) It sounds like you think it is a better option also?
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Toller wrote:

A sliding table with a 52" cross cut fence takes up a LOT of space and it ain't fun climbing under it to get to the ON switch. The idea of a folding leg table with pull out ply sheet supports you can saw through without having the table cut in two was appealing enough to plonk out $320. Will be nice to not have to worry about the cut off falling - on my foot. Have a kitchen worth of ply cabinets to make in the next few months. Baltic birch ply comes in 5x5 sheets so it won't be quite as cumbersome as 4x8 sheets.
charlie b
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ps - the TRENT M&T Jig is gone. Gave it to a person with the woodworking / furniture making addiction/ passion and not a whole lot of money. Hope it makes things a little easier for her. The lady's dad was a carpenter and cabinet maker and she grew up in his shop. He must've made it fun because most kids avoid their dad's profession like the plague and she really enjoys designing and making things.
You can sell or trade the tools you upgraded fun - and get back some of the money. But if you pass it on to someone who could use it but didn't have the money to by it - pricelss.
charlie b
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"charlieb" wrote in message

Good on ya Charlie. You are a class act.
I immensely enjoy your musings on woodworking topics. I save many of them. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.
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Lee Michaels wrote:

Amen, Lee. I enjoy his stuff too.
Tanus
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This is not really a sig.

http://users.compzone.ca/george/shop /
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http://www.festoolusa.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=8&prodidI1588
Why would you spend $400+ on their MFT table instead of $71.50 on their Combination Angle Unit? Do you get a thrill out of spending 6 times as much money to get the same result? Or you could just use the saw and guide rail to square one edge of a piece of plywood, then use a metal carpenters square, that you have checked for accuracy by flipping it over and drawing the lines on top of each other. A metal carpenters square will make make an accurate 90 degree line very quickly and easily. I use one to establish a 90 degree line to a cut edge when needed. Its not difficult.

For $71.50 they do provide that optional accessory. Kind of like routers come with a basic, almost worthless black sub-base and then you buy or make other more useful ones. Or like combination squares come with a square head and then you can buy the centering head and the angle head to attach to the ruler. Optional accessories are very common with woodworking tools.
Oh, and if you want to cut a 4x8

Festool sells many lengths of guide rails. Long 3 meter ones down to 800mm ones. A length to suit any purpose. Personally, if you are going to make long cuts, get a long guide rail so you know it is 100% accurate. Joining two shorter length guide rails is convenient for carrying the guide rails and cost, but its not as accurate if you want a 100% straight true line. You may not be familiar with this, but Delta sells its Unisaws with 30" or 50" fence rails. Buyer has the option of which length to purchase. Festool gives you the option of different guid rails.

(Amazon.com product link shortened)9416011%2C552292&sort=salesrank&emi=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=gp-center-4&pf_rd_rMBCRMCEGFDCJVGE501&pf_rd_t1&pf_rd_p(3723401&pf_rd_iU2262
Using 7.25" circular saw blades as a comparison product. $20.20 for a 40 tooth Freud. $123.95 for a 60 tooth Forrest. $22.80 for 48 tooth Milwaukee. $19.50 for 40 tooth Porter Cable. Festool charges $40 for 40 tooth, $53.50 for 48 tooth, $30.50 for 12 tooth, $36 for 14 tooth. And the Festool saw comes with the 48 tooth, $53.50 balde as standard equimpment. Unlike every other saw sold with cheap blades where you have to immediately buy a quality blade. Festool does not cheat you in that regard.

You made a poor economic choice. You fell for the package deal. For $200, you get the size 2 case and biscuits and all 4 cutters. But the Domino itself comes with the 5mm cutter. The 5mm cutter sells for $27 individually. Why did you buy an extra 5mm cutter by buying the package? Do you really think you will wear out the 5mm cutter that quickly that you need two brand new ones before you even turn the machine on? Is this like the sawblades above where you think you will wear out the high quality 48 tooth Festool sawblade that comes with the saw and you think you have to buy several extra blades to have sitting around for years and years? Or do you just like to spend money? Nothing wrong with that as long as you admit that is what you enjoy doing. The free size 2 case cost you about $40 when you factor in the cost of the biscuits and cutters in the package. You paid full retail price for the plastic size 2 case by buying the $200 package. Biscuits are priced at $65 for the various sizes. Different amounts depending on size purchased. You can easily figure up the per biscuit cost. Wiser choice is to bypass the expensive plastic size 2 case and use margarine containers or plastic tool boxes to hold the biscuits. And then just buy the biscuit size and cutters you will actually need. What does the 6mm size do for you that the 5mm or 8mm cannot do? Why buy the 6mm cutter and biscuits? Think about the size of the biscuits and what size wood they will work in. What thickness of wood would 6mm work in that 5mm or 8mm would not also work? Think.
Of course many people love to buy whole sets of things. Like every size chisel in 1/16" from 1/16" up to 2". Mounted in a display case it looks pretty. Not useful, but pretty. Some people are like that.

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This thread brings to mind sporting equipment such as skies and tennis raquets. You can buy ever more expensive tools (Read Festool ) but there is a limit on how much improvement you will see in your work product over a high quality but less expensive tools(Read, Porter Cable, Milwaukee,Hitachi et al). Even if I buy the most expensive raquet in the world, chances are I'm not going to beat Pete Sampras, nor will I be able to beat Tiger with the most costly clubs. Joe G
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Cheap clubs will do if you can get past his body guards... . . . . . . . . (that was too easy)
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No doubt that is true, but it is an inappropriate comparison. You probably couldn't even use Sampras' raquet or Woods' clubs. They are designed to be used by experts with perfect form; a non-expert will find them very unforgiving. After not skiing for a while I couldn't make a turn without falling on my expert skis; had to go back to my softies to get my form back.
Professional woodworking tools are easier to use, more precise, do things automatically that are difficult to do otherwise, and more durable. They won't make an expert woodworker out of you, but they will sure help.
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Toller, I might not have explained my point well enough. I tried to say that a high quality tool, but not necessarily the most costly is preferable to the highest cost tool (where the intangible differences are measured in small increments.) For a pro who earns his living at ww or that rare woodworker who has no budget limits, the very top of the line may be worth it. An aside: There is also the affliction of tool lust. It may take the most costly to satisfy that itch. Joe G
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wrote:

that is certainly true, and is probably your point. But sometimes they are, and they are often good value, if not the best.
I am eying both the T55 and the Domino; just haven't worked up the nerve to actually buy them. I just bought a very expensive elliptical trainer though, and damn it is smooth!
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They have one: Combination Angle Unit (Item # 491588)
It's featured in the article at: http://www.woodshopdemos.com/fes-57.htm
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