Chris' Tool Obsession: Festool

Quick note: we weren't compensated in anyway for this post, but if anyone wants to send us free stuff, I'm not going to send it back ;)

I could definitely milk this one post into several separate posts, but instead I'll just talk about Festool as a tool manufacturer and leave it to one post. It's actually probably better to do it this way anyway because Festool is all about the total system - the family of tools and storage and dust collection, all working together.

They say that with good, expensive tools you feel the pain once (when you buy them) and with crappy, cheap tools you feel the pain every time you use them. I've certainly found this to be true in my experience. I've gone through a lot of crappy, cheap (yes, those adjectives usually go together) tools in my life and I usually end up regretting the purchase. Sometimes it make sense to buy something cheap - you won't be using it a lot, the alternative is more expensive than you can afford at the time, you need an entry level tool to help you decide whether you really want to spend big bucks down the line, etc. But, once you decide it's the kind of tool you want and that you'll actually use on a regular basis, it's my opinion that it's better to buy an heirloom quality tool once than a crappy quality tool several times over the course of the next 10-50 years.

All that said, you now know what could drive me to buy a $550 track saw or a $70 plastic case for tool storage. At first blush these prices are ridiculous, but then you use the tools and work with the system and you begin to see the synergy of it all. 

For me it started with Meryl getting me a 6 drawer sortainer as a gift.

At the time I had lots of little cases for various drill bits, drivers, and driver bits. There were long extension bits, countersink bits, twist drill bits, spade bits, phillips head bits, torx bits, and everything in between.

On any given job I might need any one of them, but I usually found myself bringing just a couple of these little cases and inevitably would run into a situation where I'd need a bit from one of the cases that I didn't bring. I spent a night going through all these bits and organizing them in this sortainer and haven't looked back since. Next was a 12 drawer sortainer which carries all the screws I'm likely to use on any given job. Everything from #4 1/2" screws for small drawer slides to 4" exterior grade screws for deck or gate repair.

After the sortainers I added several systainers, a dust collector (HEPA vacuum), track saw, plunge router, and orbital sanders. They all stack together easily for compact storage of my various tools.

I have a couple carts as well which are great around jobsites. I can make one or two trips to the truck and have all my tools where I need them to be instead of having to make 10.

I'm more organized, everything is at my fingertips so I'm more efficient, everything is kept clean and protected from the elements and I don't have to worry as much about whether or not I have everything for any given job.

And an even better part - they all work together. Different kinds and editions of tools stack together for easy storage and convenience. So often when new editions of tools come out batteries or chargers or accessories don't work with them anymore and you need to buy new ones. But not with Festool. They still keep the same locking mechanisms and placement so that the sortainer you bought 4 years ago still locks in with the vacuum you bought a week ago.

Beyond the tool organization the Festool lineup is about precision and dust collection. Cuts with the track saw are dead on, sanding with the orbital sanders leaves a lot less dust than any other method I've used before, and the plunge router is flawless. When you work with a Festool tool you can tell right away - they feel solid, are smooth, and every detail seems thought out. Nothing is perfect but Festool comes close.


G said...

Great review! I'm very interested.... What is on the picture of the beam - some sort of hanging device to get the sortainers off the ground??

meryl rose said...

It's the track for our track saw. and the track saw is AWESOME.

G said...

Oh wow, thanks for getting back to me!! That sounds AWESOME, I officially have tool-envy. Good thing I am just starting my collection maybe I can start with some of this. The organization part of it is KEY;)

Stuart said...

Festool is undoubtedly well thought out, high quality, and pricey in about equal proportions (if not slightly skewed towards pricey). I drool with green envy while using my not as nice yellow tools. :)

The question with all respect towards the Festool obsession - is it really for the rest of us who aren't trying to make a living off our tools?

My $300 mitre saw is no slouch but admittedly not in league with the $1300 Festool mitre. Even if I use the tool regularly I just can't make the usefulness vs. dollars pencil out when my livelihood isn't reliant on it.

aptpupil said...

Stuart - of course this kind of system isn't for everyone. Though I know plenty of hobbyists who buy into Festool, perhaps it's because they have more disposable income or love woodworking more than the average hobbyist or DIYer. Everyone has to make that choice on their own.

There are a few of their tools that are so expensive that even I don't see myself ever owning them - the Kapex (which you mentioned) is one of them. The Domino XL is another and the Planex is yet another. For what I do, spending $800-1300 for those tools just doesn't make sense. That said, I don't doubt that if I did buy them, I would enjoy using them, they would last me a long time, and they would make my job easier.

oldtownhome said...

Festool is AMAZING! Their green puts the Yellow and Black to shame! I want the track saw so badly. I think I'm going to be asking for that for Christmas.

meryl rose said...

DO IT! Seriously, the track saw has made life so much easier. Cutting sheet goods is a dream and it's so fucking precise.

Stuart said...

Like I said - I dream of having lots of Festool gear. It is absolutely some of the best gear out there.

I appreciate the comment about that not every Festool is right for the cost depending on who you are. The Kapex is the one that always jumps out at me (though I agree it probably is amazing).

The track saw is the one thing that always tempts me to just spend the damn money. There is no doubt it is worth it. Oh well, back to my DeWalts.

G Bear said...

I have the track saw and it was definitely worth the money. It saves me a lot of back aches when trying to break down sheet good. I also have the domino and I use it more that I ever thought I would because it is so easy to use. One day I hope to have the Kapex but it really is a lot of money. I also have the Festool vacuum. My only complaints...I have the older style systainers...not easy to open and the vac has only two swivel wheels. Four work better in a small shop. If I were starting out I would definitely try to get Festool tools first if at all possible.

Garen Pletzer said...

Also if you use them everyday they hold up much longer verse company's that think their being more efficient buying cheap tools and have to replace them every month. In one year a company I use to work for bought atleast 7 skill saws for me and every time same cheap junk. Why not buy one good saw and have your employees be happy. They also hold their value if you need to sell them.

Hans Dankers said...

I have the domino, ets 150, ro90 dx, carvex, atf 55 and 2 vacuums and I am happy with all of them.