Riding the rails

One of the hardest things to do in life is admit when you are wrong. I get a few things wrong in life and especially in the shop. I’ve changed my layout so many times it’s just become part of the process. I get some processes wrong occasionally by going too fast. I get measurements wrong by not taking my time.

Some opinions I get wrong as well. One big opinion I got wrong early on was about Festool. The more I saw it in stores the more I was intrigued by it. The price, as I’ve stated, put me off. Some of the tools still do. My initial reservations have greatly softened to the point I actively wanted to purchase something where it would help my shop out.

For that reason, on Saturday I purchased the TS55 REQ. I have been trying to get better results with my homemade track saw, but the results didn’t show up when I started building my flip-top cart. I didn’t get straight edges for some reason. It was a great upgrade over the previous version, but for some reason wasn’t quite working out. I’m sure I could have worked with it in some capacity, but it wasn’t as good or as pleasurable as it should have been. The Festool, on the other hand, is really a dream to use. I was trying to decide between the two versions, and went for the lighter one over the TS75 (the numbering refers to the cut depth in mm). The 55 also comes with a 1400mm (55″) rail, which I read wasn’t awesome for crosscutting sheet goods, so I upgraded to the 1900 (75″) rail.

What I love about the saw, and loved about the idea, was being able to measure something at about three points, make the marks, set the rail on those marks and just go. A huge, HUGE upgrade over the clamp system and offset measuring. Even with the improved guide rail I made, it’s still a massive upgrade for one simple reason – no tearout. I made a test cut yesterday and a few other cuts without the splinter guard and the cuts were glue-ready. It was so awesome to see. More than that, it was awesome to feel. I have gotten so many splinters in my hands handling plywood, and I will be very happy to do that a whole lot less.

I thought my first Festool would be good, but frankly I’m blown away. It really does open a whole new world to me and I may continue to be wrong about other things. I look forward to it.

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