Multifunction saw table
I am often asked what are the most used tools in the shop. My typical answer is our table saws, planer, and routers. Lately, the most used tool in the shop is the Festool Multifunction Table (MFT) 1080. It has become our workbench, clamping station, sanding table, sliding miter saw, router table, demonstration table, and general work table.
In this article we’ll discuss the MFT 1080 features we like and don’t like as well as how to setup the MFT 1080, its guide rail system, and the Festool ATF 55E Circular Saw to cut more accurately than a radial arm saw, sliding miter saw, and perhaps even a table saw.
Clicking the hypertext links (bold-faced blue text) and blue-framed images will launch additional content.
Special thanks to Christian Oltzscher (President and CEO of Festool USA) and Bob Marino (Festool Sales Rep) of Festool USA for providing the Festool Multifunction Table for our use and this review.
The MFT includes a protractor head, a 48″ long aluminum crosscut fence and stop, an FS 1080 guide rail, and guide rail support brackets that convert the MFT into a sliding miter saw when used with a Festool ATF circular saw and an overhead router system when used with the Festool OF 1000 router. After only 10 minutes or so of calibration, I was able to achieve remarkable precision in regards to squareness and crosscut length. Few radial arm or sliding miter saws can boast the accuracy and width capacity of the MFT / ATF Circular Saw combination.
Note: For those contemplating the MFT/ATF combination as a sliding miter saw, there is one caveat: I have not figured out a way to use it to miter large crown-type moldings vertically. Of course, you can lay the material flat on the table and setup the guide rail and ATF to cut a compound angle, but due to the precise requirements of the angles, I have not tried it. However, as a panel crosscutting device, the MFT/ATF combination is hard to beat.
Installation and Setup
Aside from carting its huge shipping box off the shipping dock, setting up the MFT 1080 was a breeze. The parts included in the shipping container include:
Building the ultimate ALL-IN-ONE woodworking station. PART 1
- The table frame, table top, and leg assembly.
- Circular Saw/Router Guide Rail.
- Front and rear guide rail support brackets.
- Protractor head, fence, stop, and fence lock.
I installed/setup the MFT using the following steps:
Before you make a cut with the ATF circular saw, adjust its depth of cut so that it just barely cuts into the top. Again, make sure that you adjust the tighteness of the front/rear guide rail supports so that when you clamp them down, they don’t slide down with you apply the weight of the saw.
What I Like About the Festool Multiple Function Table
Extremely Versatile The MFT is a versatile work bench/work station. The perforated flat top and the open design simplifies clamping work and jigs for hand and machine operations. It seems like there is always a way to fit a clamp on, around, or through the top to hold down work.
Light But Stable It is light enough to be portable, yet it feels as solid as a fixed bench. I don’t do much work out of the shop, but you could take the MFT just about anywhere and instantly setup a work station for cutting, routing, sanding, and assembly.
Integrated Saw / Router Guide. The integrated guide rail, miter gauge/fence, and Festool ATF circular saw provide a very accurate crosscutting system. It is especially useful for crosscutting wide panels (up to 24″). I found cutting precise angles on large (wide) work is a piece of cake with the MFT.
When used with the Festool OF1000 router and its guide rail attachment, you can accurately and easily rout dados, rabbets, and sliding/housed dovetails in small or large panels. It is perfect for dadoing rabbeting cabinet sides for shelves, tops, and bottoms. The combination of the fence stop and the guide rail’s non-slip strip does a good job of holding the work in place while cutting and routing. For our shop, the combination of the MFT with our shop-made panel cutting table has ended any desire I had for a vertical panel saw/router setup.
What I Don’t Like About the Festool MFT 1080
Protractor Head / Shot-Pin Is Easily Budged The protractor head locks in place using a spring-loaded shot-pin. Even with the shot-pin fully engaged, the protractor head can be budged several degrees if the fence is bumped, or can be knocked completely off of the setting if you deliberately bump the fence. For this reason, a fence lock is provided and must be used. However, I found the head can move several degrees while fastening the fence lock. Consequently, I made a small stop for the rear edge of the fence. When I want to return to zero, I simply set the fence up against the block and tighten down the fence lock. Click here for Darryn’s Комментарии и мнения владельцев regarding his protractor head / shot-pin fix.
Table is Too Low. I’m 6’2″ and the table top height is about 32″. I don’t mind bending over to kiss the wife, but the MFT is too low for my comfort. I made up four blocks with counter bored recesses that raise the table to a more comfortable height. Festool responded to this gripe indicating that the table height was designed with both short tall woodworkers in mind. Obviously no size fits all when it comes to workbenches. Height adjustment (as well as wheels) were considered, but the added weight was unacceptable for a tool designed to be portable.
Hard To Hold Short Work When Crosscutting The table, guide rail, and fence system handle large work very well but short work pieces can be hard to hold. Due to the width of the guide rail, it is difficult if not impossible to manually hold down work pieces with a length less than 6″ when cutting at 0deg and work pieces less than 9″ to 10″ when cutting at 45deg. The instructions and my experience suggest that you drop the guide rail down on top of the work. Doing so however, makes it difficult to fit a hand under the rail to hold work. The Festool flat clamps will hold the material, but you they only fit under the guide rail when cutting material thicker than 3/4″. Click here for Wayne Tinker’s Комментарии и мнения владельцев regarding crosscutting short work pieces, and the MFT in general.
Setup and Tear Down With this gripe you know I’m scratching for something negative to say. Let me pull one up from my years of experience with Shopsmiths. But first, look up the word Multifunction, Multifunctional, or the words Multiple Function in the dictionary. The second definition down reads like this:
A trait, often associated with woodworking tools, that requires repetitious acts of setting up and tearing down.
Okay, I took a bit of literary license there. The MFT is so right for so many functions (like that favorite Swiss Army knife in your right hand ), that you want to use it for everything, meaning the setup for function A gets in the way of Function B. For instance, several weeks ago I clamped the AKEDA dovetail jig to the MFT. The jig sat on the table at just the right height, and provided ample space for routers, cutters, and guide fingers. Then I needed to crosscut a stack of work pieces to length. Choice: Remove the AKEDA-related stuff off of the table or do the crosscutting somewhere else.
The Bottom Line
The combination of the MFT, the ATF 55E Circular Saw, the OF1000 Router, the ES150 sander, and the CT22E dust extractor gives new meaning to the concept of a five-in-one or multiple function tool. After working with the MFT for about a month I wrote Bob Marino and suggested that Festool should offer such a combination as a small shop cabinetmaker’s / finish carpenter’s package. I spend more time at the MFT than any other tool in our shop. It’s a work bench, assembly table, crosscut panel saw, chop box, sanding station, overhead router table, and more. Since it comes with the guide rail assembly, I definitely recommend it to anyone who has a Festool ATF circular saw. And it should certainly at least be considered by anyone planning on a panel saw purchase. Now if only the top would magically clear itself for the next operation.
Комментарии и мнения владельцев From Festool
Bob Marino, a Festool Sales Representative, responds to this article.
The (MFT) table top can be turned over and turned side to side providing a long life before it is no longer useable. (it) should last a long time. Also the entire fence/miter gauge assembly can be moved to the other side of the table if you wish.
Tips and Комментарии и мнения владельцев From Readers
I have received a number of “lengthy” tips and Комментарии и мнения владельцев from readers regarding the MFT and/or its accessories. Click here to read them.
A Year Later
I continue to receive emails questioning the usefulness of the Festool MFT and whether or not I use it. I use the MFT everyday, and in ways I would have never imagined prior to owning one. It may very well be the most used tool in the shop. It is my main workbench (I have discarded my original workbench), clamping center, and perhaps most importantly, my crosscut tool of choice (perfectly accurate, 24″ width capacity, unlimited length capacity, dust collection). Combined with the ATF circular saw, an OF1000 router, the CT dust extractor, and a bucket of Festool and shop-modified clampsthe MFT has become indispensible in our shop. In a recent email exchange with Russ Ginter, I wrote the following (edited slightly) that sums up pretty well my thoughts and use of the MFT (and other Festool tools).
First of all, I believe the table saw to be the single most important tool in the Woodworking shop. No tool, when setup correctly, provides the combination of cutting versatility, speed, and accuracy. Some tools may be faster, but not as accurate. Others are more accurate, but not have the versatility of the table saw. Consequently, my recommendation is to always begin with the best table saw one can afford.
With that said, as you begin building cabinets or large case work, you most certainly will begin working with large sheets of plywood, melamine, and other similar panels. As you do finish carpentry, you will work with long work pieces, sheets of paneling, and so forth. These large or long items are typically difficult to work with on a table saw without expensive sliding tables, panel handling carts, and/or a helper.
This is where the Festool system shines. Using the MFT for crosscuts and a panel cutting table as I describe on the web site, and the Festool ATF circular saw and guides, you can easily handle, cut, and assemble cabinets and case work. Last week I was working with large and heavy melamine panels. With my panel cutting table, I can easily “load” the panels for cutting. With the Festool ATF, guide rails, and dust extractor, I can easily and accurately rip and crosscut the panels to size. 85-90% of the dust was collected. My back was saved. I did not have to wrestle the work onto a vertical saw, or the table saw. The cuts were chip-free.
Another project last week included a fairly large (10″ x 10″ x 40″) dovetailed case. In the past I had some difficulty clamping a large carcase. Using the MFT with its perforated top, I was able to place clamps at every imaginable position around the “box” ensuring the dovetailed joints received adequate clamping pressure. Though Festool provides and offers additional clamps that work very well with the MFT, I have slightly altered (ground off the retaining pins) of an armload of Jorgensen F-style 12″ and 24″ clamps to fit through the MFT perforated top. Consequently, clamping odd-shaped or large carcases has never been easier. I just remodeled our shop and tossed my workbench. I now use the MFT and my TS outfeed table as my only work benches.
I used the Festool router, MFT, and the MFT guide rail to quickly rout large mortises in 8/4 lumber the week before. These were very large mortisesin the past I would have produced a makeshift jig. However, with the Festool router/MFT/Guide rail, I simply raised the guide rail to accomodate the thickness of the wood, placed the largest mortising/straight bit I owned in the Festool OF1000 router, and made 6-7 passes, sliding the router over the workpiece, guided by the guide rail. Could not have been easier or quicker. The mortises were perfectly square, depthed perfectly, the dust and chips were collected, the final job was done quickly and effortlessly. No wasted time building a jig I probably would never use again. No muss, no fuss.
Suffice it to say, users of the Festool system (MFT, guide rails, saw, router, dust extraction) find unlimited uses for the tools. I received several emails every week from users of the tools that extol similar experiences and virtues of Festool tools. Sure, there are other ways of acheiving all of the above. But the Festool system is compact, does not require shop-built jigs, provides excellent dust collection, etc., etc., etc.
Where to Purchase Festool Products
Generally big-box home centers do not carry Festool products. So, where can you purchase Festool tools and accessories? A number of Woodworking Tool mail order and chain retail stores are starting to carry them. You can also order Festool products online, direct from the Festool-USA web site or from Bob Marino’s Festool retail web site. I purchase my Festool accessories and parts from Bob Marino.
Festool Online Sales. Bob Marino Bob Marino is an Independent Sales Agent for Festool, an avid woodworker, a regular and familiar contributor to on-line woodworking forums and all-around good guy. Not bad for someone from NJ (just kidding of course). Bob has opened an on-line retail store to sell Festool products. Because of his service and accessibility, I purchase my Festool accessories through Bob. You can also contact Bob at Bob Marino’s Email Account.
Комментарии и мнения владельцев / Questions
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DIY 3-in-1 Multi-Function Portable Workshop
Portable Workshop. I’ll showcase everything this versatile homemade tool can do with some practical examples.
Who is this homemade woodworking tool for? I think it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t do big projects and who likes making their own tools. Someone who’s looking for something economical and who wants to get more out of their circular saw, jigsaw, and router, and who doesn’t have a particularly big workspace.
Plans for the 3-in-1 portable multi-function workbench:
This is the 3D SketchUp model included in the plans available on my website. The tool has three main functions: a table saw, a jigsaw table and a router table.
I’ve posted a specific article for each of the three functions. If you’re interested in finding out how I made the modifications and improvements to my Portable Workshop you’ll find the links further down in this article.
How to use a portable DIY multi-function workbench?
It’s been almost 7 years since I made the Portable Workshop. There’s nothing better than using a homemade tool for years to find small errors that are impossible to spot while you’re designing it on the computer.
This design is perfect for small spaces such as a garage where you want to keep your car and at the same time do small DIY projects. When closed and up against a wall, the cabinet is only 82cm deep and 54cm wide.
I’ve fitted two wheels in the back so that I can move it easily. To open the two folding tables, first we must have the key to the lock on hand. This way we can safely store our power tools inside the cabinet. When open, the cabinet is 140cm wide.
After all these years, the board has stabilized and the folding tables have gone a little lower. In order to make them level again, I have to stick a strip of edgebanding on the bottom frame of each folding table. I’ve also used PVC edgebanding to adjust the height of the table stops.
How to use a portable table saw?
Now I’ll show you the first and most obvious function of this tool. I’ve installed an inverted circular saw to use as table saw. Back in the day, I made a recess in the bottom of the benchtop to insert the base of the circular saw, allowing for easier installation.
With this circular saw and a 235mm blade, I can get a cutting height of around 70mm. In the second photo you can see the saw fence. In the first article I showed how to make some improvements such as this cursor and a new blade alignment system.
This is a simple, easy to build fence, which is perfect for this kind of homemade table saw. This design also includes a simple crosscut sled. I think it’s enough for this kind of saw, too.
If you want something more precise and versatile, on my website you’ll find the plans for the sled with adjustable inserts I made for my last mobile workbench. You can make more types of cuts more accurately. You only need to adapt the sled sliders to the miter channel of your Portable Workshop.
3 in 1 # Table Saw & Mini Router Table & Jigsaw Table // Multifunctional DIY Table
Along with the fence, I can use this tenon jig. I only have to insert it into the fence and make the required cuts after holding the workpiece with a clamp.
The plans also include a plywood miter gauge. I can use it to make angled and cross cuts. Nowadays, on the market, there are fairly affordable miter gauges that you can use with this saw to achieve more accurate cuts.
How to use a homemade jigsaw table?
The next function is the DIY jigsaw table. It’s made up of a guide with bearings to keep the blade firm and square when cutting. I’ve designed a fast-locking system for the battery jigsaw. This way I can continue using it as a handheld saw in a matter of seconds.
With this saw I can make curved cuts as long as they aren’t too narrow. I can also make other kinds of cuts that are impossible with a bandsaw. By attaching an extra long 150mm blade I can cut up to a height of 70mm.
If the blade is sharp, you can see it can easily cut through hard birch plywood that’s 54mm thick.
Another interesting option is using the fence with the jigsaw table. This allows me to cut tenons and make other kinds of straight cuts. Here I can also use the miter gauge to make cross cuts, angled and non-through cuts.
How to use a homemade router table?
Finally, I’ll show you how to use the DIY router table. Together with the saw table fence I can do almost all kinds of router projects, only limited by the power of these small routers.
The lifting system allows me to tilt the router up to 50 degrees to get the most out of my bits. I can also use the usual accessories for this kind of router such as a miter gauge or featherboards.
In these shots you can see how easy it is to operate. Another interesting function is that I can swap the front panel to use other routers with different collars.
I can also attach a drill fitted with a collar. This is interesting because it lets me use any drill accessory in the Portable Workshop, such as sanding drums.
Festool MFT/3 Multifunction Table
Festool may have designed the next evolutionary step in workbench technology. With its compact size and light weight, you can easily carry the MFT/3 to any jobsite. It may, however, find a more common home in the workshop. The Festool Multifunction Table has features to make clamping faster and easier and allow for repeatability when making cuts with plunge saws and routers. Ultimately, the Festool MFT/3 Multifunction Table aims to streamline it all—routing, sanding, clamping, assembly…you name it.
What We Like About the Festool MFT/3
Two main things stand out about the Festool Multifunction Table at first glance. First, it remains extremely portable. Second, this taskmaster seems to excel at providing a myriad of ways to reduce setup time for cuts and clamping.
The Festool MFT/3 weighs 62 lbs. While not overly-heavy, it has the requisite sturdiness to support up to almost 265 lbs. of material. Since the legs fold out, you can work with the table at height (35″ tall) or fold the legs in and work on the ground.
Hijacking the MFT/3 for a Mobile Work Table or Cart
Some folks have integrated the Festool MFT/3 into a mobile work table or cart. This makes it easy to do assembly work or even use it as an outfeed table for your saw. The examples we saw included storage for Festool power tools, a CT dust extractor, and some Systainers as well as 3″ or 4″ casters to provide some mobility.
A True Multifunction Work Table
As the name indicates, the real magic of the table revolves around its multifunctionality that’s made possible predominantly by the perforated top and the V-Groove side rails. The top features a perforated grid hole pattern that works in conjunction with Festool’s clamps to secure workpieces—even those with irregular shapes—quickly and easily. The integrated V-Groove side rails let you attach Festool’s angle unit and angle stop to the table.
These tools let you make repeatable and precise angled cuts. They also give you some more reliable points for attaching clamps.
The Festool MFT/3 Multifunction Table also comes with an integrated guide rail system that gives you an adjustable maximum cutting depth of three inches. It also accurately cuts materials over 27″ wide, which presents a challenge for even the largest miter saws. The guide rail system works with any of the Festool TS Series saws, Trion jigsaws, and OF Series routers.
Ergonomics and Usability
Festool really seemed to pay a lot of attention to the ergonomics of this system. As silly as that sounds when it relates to a table, it matters. For example, the tensioning knobs on the legs have been placed further from the side of the table to keep you from scraping up your hands when making adjustments.
One last thing worth noting includes the table top surface. When it inevitably gets dinged up and damaged, you can unfasten it and flip it over. That gives you twice the expected life. We love that.
Festool Multifunction Table Pricing
The Festool Multifunction Table doesn’t come cheap—but it can really save you time in the shop. In the end, the flexibility and features it offers make it an easy purchase for serious woodworkers and anyone seriously into cabinetry. The Festool Multifunction table comes in two variations. The Festool MFT/3 retails for 749 and offers all the following bells and whistles:
- 42″ guide rail FS 1080
- Additional clamp
- Adjustable stop
- CMS router table miter gauge
- Guide rail deflector
- Support unit
- Swivel unit
Or, you can opt for the MFT/3 Basic version of the table, which does away with all of those frills. It retails for 615. Both versions come with Festool’s 3-year warranty.
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The MFT/3 is the perfect height to make work more comfortable. V-groove channels make squaring the miter gauge easier, more accurate and provides a mechanism for attaching accessories. The MFT/3 has many features like perforated tops, side channels for attaching clamps, and folding legs to allow two working heights, as well as easy transport. On the jobsite or in the workshop, use the MFT/3 as a supplemental work surface for sanding, jointing, clamping, or just about anything else.
- Can easily be carried to a jobsite, due to its compact size and light weight.
- Accurate and repeatable cuts with the guide rail and plunge saw or routers.
- Clamp faster with uniform holes and Festool clamps.
- Use with legs folded out, at full height, or folded in and set on the floor.
Guide Rail system
The integrated guide rail system allows you to cut with confidence. Adjustable to a maximum cutting depth of three inches, accurately cut materials over 27 inches in width. a feat which is impossible with the largest of miter saws. Combined with Festool TS Series saws, Trion jigsaws and OF Series routers, the guide rail is used to make precise, splinter-free cuts that are safer than with a conventional table or radial arm saw.
The angle unit supplied with the MFT3 Multi-Function Table attaches using the V-Groove side rail enabling easy removal and quick, accurate reattachment. Using the angle units detents, make precise angle cuts at common angles. Changing the cut angle is much easier when compared to a miter saw where the entire saw head must be repositioned. The angle stop allows the guide rail and saw to remain stationary while repositioning the workpiece and fence.
Precise, repeatable angle cuts. The angle stop, which is attached to the Multi-Function Table using the V-Groove side rail, prevents movement of the angle unit by stabilizing the end of the fence. It can be easily removed or repositioned using the locking knob
Not even the placement of the tensioning knobs for the legs of the MFT escaped consideration in the redesign of the MFT3 Multi-Function Table. The knobs are now placed further from the side of the MFT to provide ample room for rotating the knob without damaging your most valuable tools.- your hands.