On my recent trip to Seattle I manage to stop by 3 Woodcraft stores and each
one had considerably expanded shelf space for Festool over my last visit
about a year ago. They sure make nice tools and no doubt profit margin is
also nice based on amount of shelf space and prices. It does remind me
though of the old econmomic principle, "Excess profits lead to ruiness
competition." Look at the high priced Tormek machine and now after a couple
years, knock offs at less than half the price are everywhere. I can't help
but think the same thing will happen with Festool.. Still got to hand it to
Festool for stepping it up a notch.. Just can't convince myself I need to
pay those high sale prices when woodworking is only a hobby.. Maybe in a
couple years.. maybe that's wishful thinking.. We'll see..
Actually I think more than a couple of years. I suspect that the Tormek
patent ran out and then the copies began to be produced. I recall Tormek 20
+ years ago.
I can't help
If Festool or Tormek were each new that could happen, IIRC this has been the
Festool business model long before it was marketed as strongly as in in
recent years. I''m in my 50's and younger than Festool.
Still got to hand it to
I can certainly agree that the pricing is kinda high and especially for a
hobby but once you own and use the tool you almost look for excuses to use
them and none of my 20 yearold + PC equipment waqs ever up to the quality of
the Festool tools that replaved them. I don't recall ever being quite that
excited over my 3 PC sanders and or Plate Joiner which the Domino replaced.
Don't get me started on the Festool vacuum over the typical shop vac. ;~) I
suspect life expetancy is a big reason for the extra expense of the tools.
There is a plus to the fixed Festool pricing, you can buy the product
anywherem including the places you like to shop the mostm and feel confident
thay you are not paying more than somewhere else.
I got the CT22. The CT33 IIRC has a storage compartment for extra bag
storage. Other than being slightly taller and having 50% more waste
capacity they both have the same performance specs. And they are quiet.
What I like about the Festool tools is that they are beautifully designed
for serious woodworkers, with some really thoughtful touches that show that
the designers are serious woodworkers themselves, who are aware of all the
lost and unbillable minutes that fill up a worker's day.
I just got a 5" random orbital sander and a mini vacuum for dust collection.
The package was $591 with tax in Washington state, and you never heard such
whining while I was considering spending that much for a sander and vacuum.
But I got it out to the job and turned it on, and in about five minutes I
was in love.
This isn't my first Festool - the first one was their TS 55 EQ circular saw
with guide rail system. This was for cutting out cabinet parts from raw
sheet goods. What a time saver. Instead of having to make rough cuts and
take the pieces to the table saw to finish them to size, you can cut them
right out of the sheet, as accurately as you can mark, with finished edges.
The vacuum that I mentioned has a storage area in the top for the hose and
power cord - and this is the revelation - there's actually ROOM for both of
them, even when you're at the end of the day, worn out, and all you want to
do is get the damn things stuffed in there and back into the truck. It's
hard to describe what a relief something like that is. It's easy and quick,
and not only that, the power cord is probably fifteen feet long, and
properly sized for both the vacuum and the tool that controls it.
I could go on, but in my opinion, right now Festool tools are the cream of
the crop, and until the other players up their game to make theirs as good
as Festool has made theirs, I guess I have to say that they deserve the
price premium they're getting. I can tell you that if I can afford their
prices, I'll be buying them for my next tool purchases if I can possibly
The vacuum is the Mini model, the smallest they make, and a staggering $400,
more or less,
Festool might be great stuff if you don't use it for production work.
My shop went through several of their circ saw systems and we also
tried the domino. Both are complicated and well thought out tools.
The problem is the electronics, switches and dials kept breaking. The
domino takes too long to switch between tasks and doesn't work well
enough to replace our industrial bottom side mortisers. I didn't find
an advantage to using custom dominoes in our shop either. We use
loose tenon joinery quite a bit and it's much easier to cut our own
tenon stock than to have to order from a vendor all the time. The
circ saws, well the electronics would either burn up or the switches
would break apart inside. It looked to me like the heat was breaking
down the plastic parts. Some parts were really solid while others
looked a bit fragile. I tore into 2 circ saws after I walked through
the shop one day and found they were broken. I wasn't impressed with
what I saw and by this time Festool had gotten tired of me returning
their stuff. I wrote off everything festool by donating it to a local
If you do production work then I'd recommend production tools.
Otherwise keep your receipt and warranty papers nearby.
I always wonder when I only see glowing reports about the other half
of the story. No doubt Festool represents one of the better tool
lines out there, but is it a heavy duty professional use tool, or is
it actually an eight hour a day, all day tool?
I don't know. They have been making tools for a long time, and
certainly their tools represent some of the best engineering out
there. But again, are they tools to be used and enjoyed as needed,
say a couple of three hours a day, or are they heavy enough to carry
the load all day long for 12 months a year?
I seems like a million years ago, but I remember tools like the PC
locomotive sanders (model unknown) that were used by some floor
finishers I knew. Those tools were used to sand down hardwood floors
clean, no dust collection, no blue Z belts, nothing but a guy and his
sander. Those sanders worked all day every day for years without
mishap or breakage sanding floors all day long.
My buddy in the laminate business swore by that monster as well and
used it as a shaper (now were are up to '79 or so) to cut and smooth
curves in his mdf cutouts before laminating. Again, used all day.
Right next to his PC half sheet sanders, which got the same
treatment. Hard, daily, all day long use.
I had two saws when I started out as a full time wood chopper, a
Rockwell 315, and later, a Milwaukee. Both of those saws went to the
job and did a carpenter's work all day; anything from making and
setting forms for concrete to finishing out an office with custom
Back then, even has hard as I used them, my tools simply did not
fail. I wore out a set of bearings about once a year, but that was
about it. Bought in 1975 brand new by me FOR $85 (!!!), I still have
my first Milwaukee VSR hole shooter, which has been used beyond any
reasonable expectation, and still runs today, just a little sparky. I
was in commercial work then, and it has hung everything from doors and
cabinets to sheetrock. Not to mention building thousands of feet of
metal track framing.
I wonder sometimes when I read about Festool if they are in that same
league as some of those old tools.
One thing I know for sure, there are only a couple around that are.
Like I pondered above, I don't know where Festool falls in that
equation. Using a fancy saw and guide set up (I know... the intent of
the Festool is accuracy, but think switches, brushes, and guard return
springs) all day long might be its undoing.
Is the saw really heavy duty? My old Rockwell and Milwaukee could cut
just as straight as any saw out there with our shop made guides.
*BUT*, it could also be set up at the horses and cut build up
components all day for a couple of days, then cut the decking, siding,
and cornice and never blink.
I would love to have the money and the time (and the paid work!) to
really woodshed a couple of those tools and see if they can put in a
hard week of all day work, not just a tool in the box used as needed.
Even though they don't do it that way now, I would love to see the
boys sand down a house full of floors with 3 - 4 coats of dried
varnish on them using a Festool sander.
Or see someone put a couple of thousand Dominoes in a week. We have a
semi custom furniture factory about 50 miles away and they use loose
tenon, hidden screws, dowels, and some other joining equipment. I
would like to see how it would perform in their hands.
In a way, it doesn't matter. I don't use my tools that hard anymore.
I don't know anyone that does. It has been 30 years since I stood and
cut buildup all day long with a steel bladed circular saw, never
driving a nail. Those days are long behind me. I actually don't use
ANY tool exclusively all day every day except my lathe when I am
No reason for any Festool owners to get their tidy whiteys in a wad.
I don't own anything Festool, and have never met anyone that wasn't
thrilled with the tools.
Just wondering how they would stack up, that's all.
Good post. Your related experience is about what I'd expect, from the use of
what is arguably a modern "consumer oriented" tool, in a production shop ...
"semi-pro consumer" use perhaps, but still consumer oriented, which their
advertising and business model seems to bear out.
Festool has done an excellent job in carefully generating (through
advertisement/price/marketing) the "perception" of a product capable of
production work ... and there is little doubt that Festool is more than a
couple of cuts above the brand name products of today (that are no longer
what they once were) ... but the fact is that they still must build, to some
extent, to the realities of today's global marketplace, which has as
tendency to cheapen even the higher end products in one way or the other.
Good point of view. What tools in your production shop do hold up that you
can also buy at Woodcraft and or Rockler?
I think that the Festool stuff is much better than average but industrial?
Probably not. I'd not use a BMW or Mercedes to plow a field either.
I think the context of the tool's use has been overlooked in the
vs Hobbyist/Amateur/Consumer comparison, in part due to an American
In a shop that mass produces furniture/ cabinets, etc. it's high
dedicated stationary tools - with the accoutrements to support them
-3phase, dust collection, materlals handling, jigs and fixtures,
rooms and so on. Raw materials come in, are processed, packed and
on to a truck for delivery and maybe installation.
In europe, especially in the older cities, it's a bit different, with
On Site work, often in a People Living In It environments - frequently
accessible up three, four or five flights of stairs or a smallish two
three person "lift". One or two craftsman start with stock and make
and assembly, even finish, everything On Site.
So portability, noise and cleanliness are really really important.
Now, with THAT context, look at the Festool system. The tools and
support - vacuum, with power for a tool, work table, clamping etc.
can fit in a small truck or van - and more importantly, a small "lift".
Once On Site only one electrical outlet, and not a special one, is
required - power cords being interchangeable you plug in whatever
tools is to be used into ONE cord - no Gordian Knot of power cords
cluttering the floor of the workspace, no equivalent to a 220V
power cord running from a dryer outlet to the work area. The tools,
including the vacuum are relatively quiet - and because dust collection
connections are built into the tools and designed to work with the
vac, NO SAWDUST - which means you don't have to seal off the work
area - or listen to the owner complain about sawdust and chips
being tracked through their home.
That Euro Context, which is what Festool designed for, happens to
be nicely applicable to the small one or two man shop as well as to
amateur/hobbyist woodworkers. In THAT context, tools aren't used
continuously 8 hours a day, day after day - and the person using them
paid for them so may be a bit more careful with them than a production
worker on a production line. ( I worked on the assembly line a Ford
many years ago and I can testify to the abuse tools are subjected to).
Let's face it. In a garage shop, do you really NEED a $2000, 3 HP TEFC
220V motor, 800 pound cabinet saws, with 52" fence set up or a 15"
Unless you're doing 5 or 6" crown molding, is a 12" SCMS really
And if you've got a lot of sheet goods to process, you've probably
in an Aggazzini or SCMI unit - with sliding table and outrigger.
I sometimes work with stock off a bandsaw mill. A 12" planer with a
220V 3 HP motor, rather than the little "lunch box" Delta portable
planer, comes in handy. But that's not a common need - for me - and
I suspect, for most in this forum.
Is Festool marketing their product line well in the U.S.? You bet.
Are they getting a premium price for their products? Well that
depends on how you look at it. If a tool enables you to do something
you couldn't do before, or do it for less than the alternatives - and
makes it easier, or easy . . .
Pshaw, I like the Festool equipment because it's the only tool made reliably
in someplace other than China. That alone is worth opening my wallet. If I
could guarentee a tool maker produced their goods in the US I'd never buy
anywhere else - even if the tools themselves were crap.
That aside, I do enjoy the dust collection and modular plug design they
have. It makes the tool so much more homeowner friendly. I think you post
touches on all the pertinent points.
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