Upgrading the Pro Grip

I previously reviewed this system here.

I had grown tired of trying (and failing) math when it came to my sheet goods, so I decided to look at my Pro Grip saw guide to see if I could make some improvements. The Festool track saw will be coming soon, however I needed to get started on a project or two before then and needed another solution. I stated before that I had to measure around 6″ offset of the clamp to get an accurate cut, and it wasn’t all that accurate. About 6″ wasn’t good enough. I also frequently subtracted the 1/8″ of an inch or worse the 6″ part instead of adding either. It doesn’t make for good use of my expensive plywood.

I turned to a trick most people use for homemade track saw guides and used a scrap piece of 1/4″ MDF. I used a scrap bit of hardwood to make a fence, attached it to the MDF and put the clamp right up against one side. I then used the saw normally and created a perfect zero clearance guide for it. All I have to do now is line up my markings with the MDF, ensure the fence is tight to the clamp, and secure the clamp. The saw rides along the clamp just like it has always done. I crosscut a lot of panels for my flip top cart in early December with this and it was such an improvement. You could do this without the clamp and the saw plate, however the saw riding in a channel to me is more accurate than just up against a fence. I also made great use of this to give myself a clean edge on a piece of poplar I have had in my shop since the beginning, when I tried my hand at a chair back. The chair never materialized, but I was able to make a nice rip out of that poplar for another project.

Now, I bet you’re wondering if this works so well, why am I still in the market for the Festool? Well, a few things. Firstly, the saw isn’t spectacular. While it does the job, it isn’t a great saw. $10 saws generally aren’t. While the homemade version of the track saw gives a decent cut, it’s not splinter-free on both sides like the Festool can do. I’m so tired of pulling splinters out of my hands and having to deal with all the tearout Chinese ply seems to have these days. Very thin plies. For me to do 8′ lengths or longer, I would need to buy the 8′ clamp, which is $120. Cheaper than the Festool? Absolutely. But where am I going to put a 8′ edge clamp? At least with the Festool it could be two 55″ rails. Dust collection on the Festool would also be miles better. While it does seem like an excessive amount of money to essentially replace my current system, the Festool is just plain nicer, cuts better, and it more accurate. That’s my justification, anyway. $700 is quite a chunk of change, especially when it could buy a new table saw or a Domino, but I feel if I want to improve what I create it needs to be better than what I’ve been doing.

The question may be what do I do with this clamp when I get the Festool. I may give it to my brother-in-law. I may sell it to help finance the extra 55″ track. I’m not sure. While I’m going to be good and pay for all my Festools in cash, I’d still like some extra money to throw at previous purchases.

I can’t wait until I get my Festool, but this should allow me to do a project or two in the meantime.

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