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Monday, April 12, 2010

Festool's Proprietary Bench Dogs: a Step too Far

Engineered Incompatibility: a Festool Core Design Principle

Anybody familiar with Festool probably also knows that the company's tools tend to not fit industry standard accessories.  For example, Festool's TS-series plunge-cut saws ride on a guide rail, but won't fit into rails that fit most other circular saws.



I'm not bothered when a highly-engineered, innovative platform such as Festool's system (or Apple's Mac & OSX operating system) isn't compatible with industry standards.  In many cases, Festool's design is superior to the industry standard solution.  Case in point: Festool's Domino Joiner.  The Domino uses rectangular biscuits (Festool calls them Dominoes) rather than the industry standard, a football-shaped biscuit.  The dominoes are far better, for several reasons. 

But occasionally, engineering incompatibility can cross the line.  Festool has been walking this line for a while, and taken a step over the line here and there.

Pointless Lockout: MFT benches and bench dogs

Festool's MFT benches are great, if what you're looking for is a portable work surface with innovative features that works well with other Festools.  But if you're a woodworker in a permanent shop, rather than a contractor, then the MFT benches (and the whole system of bench dogs and attachments) are a slap in the face.

Unlike the Domino tenon, the Festool Guide Rail system, or Festool's proprietary sawblades, the MFT tables and associated accessories and bench dogs are engineered to be incompatible with the industry standard for no reason except to lock customers into Festool, and lock out a large portion of those customers' existing bench toolkit.  

The most egregious of all: Festool's MFT table has bench dog holes that aren't the industry standard 3/4", nor are they 20mm in diameter (which is a standard forstner bit diameter).  Instead, Festool's holes and dogs measure just over 20mm, ensuring you will never be able to make your own benchtop to accept Festool bench tools, and you'll never be able to use all those dogs, stops, wedges, holfasts, and vises you've collected over the years.

Wack!

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