Revisiting the Festool MFT/3
I’ve owned an MFT/3 for many years now, and recently sold it; for all of its many benefits and capabilities, I became frustrated with its many shortcomings. I’m in the minority, it seems, as I read glowing reviews – some by dispassionate reviews; others by individuals who have simply unboxed the thing.
For the record, I own several Festool products – so, I’m willing to pay for upgraded quality and functionality when it improves my work and working processes.
The attributes that tipped the balance for me are:
- Instability when reasonably side-to-side (hand planing, routing) force is applied;
- Having to reach behind the table to adjust to a non-90 degree angle; and the process to maintain the precise non-90 as you apply pressure on the side clamp;
- Having to reach behind the table to adjust the guide rail, both height and lock-down – this applies equally to getting the tension on the guide rail locking mechanism to be both loose enough to allow for height adjustment and tight enough for the mechanism to clamp the rail;
- Adjusting the guide rail height – my locking mechanism gets a bit ‘grabbly’, so that the guide rail doesn’t easily lay-down flat across the depth of the table;
- Limited ability to cut short or narrow pieces – you’re limited to the width of the guide rail + some distance to effectively register against the miter rail;
- To be functional, the MFT/3 requires either a very expensive circular saw; expensive clamps; or expensive 20mm dogs.
Each of these is not a decision-point; however, summed they represent enough for me to find a better solution. In my case, I’ve build a simplified cut-off table, with a front-mounted Incra Miter gauge and bar (that has an accurate rule), which registers 90 against either a Festool Guide Rail (if the work piece is large enough) or an aluminium extrusion straight-edge that registers against two points, front & back. It’s not as pretty as the MFT/3, but it’s more sturdy, less expensive, and spot-on accurate. Also, setting non-90s are inherently accurate with the Incra Miter Gauge.
Each of us has different needs within our shops; for mine, the MFT/3 became expendable.
Everyone, Do Take Care.
Thanks for a very thorough and informative review. We’d love to see a photo of your set-up.
-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin
You can make consistently spaced dog holes with a little bit of persistence and peg-board
Somewhere along the way, perhaps on LJ, I posted the procedure. Effectively, you mount a router, with a 3/4" or 20mm bit, onto a small (perhaps 15" wide) ‘sled’ that has the router at one end and a 1/4" or 5mm dowel (and hole) on the other end. Cut the board so that the half with the dowel setup rides on the peg board (you need to cut the underside so that it rides flush on both the peg board and the surface being routed), and then systematically move the dowel pin to another peg hole. This will create perfectly aligned dog holes xxxx" apart. With another dowel pin, you can then move the sled over to start another row.
With this, you’ll spend about 125 pounds less for the MDF work surface.