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Author Topic: Mft squaring problems  (Read 7986 times)

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Offline Rudymejia12

  • Posts: 38
Mft squaring problems
« on: December 05, 2017, 12:26 AM »
How often do you square up your mft?  I feel like I have to do it a couple of times a day. Is that normal? I use a wood pecker square and it's usually the inside corner where the track meets the rail will move just a hair. Enough to make my cuts off by 1/32 maybe. Any advice or input would be great. I also bought the accessory that goes under the track to prevent movement. I have seen all the videos. I have no problem making it square. It's keeping it square that I am having issues. Thanks in advance

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Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 728
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2017, 03:10 AM »
Only when I had disassembled the fences and after moving it (the latter to be sure, no real deviations found so far).
As long as it stands in one place I havn't found issues.

Offline geoffshep

  • Posts: 153
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2017, 04:04 AM »
You must be moving something between the operations for it to change.  Are you cutting different thicknesses and therefore raising/lowering the front and rear brackets?

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2017, 04:55 AM »
Have you tried doing away with all the MFT extra bits and just use some bench dog (tall and short) and a guide rail up against the tall dogs.

272165-0

There are dogs suitable for the task from Lee Valley, Qwas, TSO and Axminster.

You will be able to get consistent 90 deg and 45 deg cuts and never need to do any calibration at all.

Peter

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2067
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2017, 05:10 AM »
Peter, as usual, is correct.

I use 2-3 bench dogs along the top of the MFT parallel to the long side. I square the fence to the dogs using a Woodpecker framing square. I tighten the fence bolts.

When I cut, I butt the wood against  the bench dogs, drop the fence making sure it nestles into the SlopStop, and lock down the fence. I do clamp the wood. I try to guide the TS55 without any side pressure.

I’ve never used the protractor that came with the MFT. The bench dogs work well for me. I use both Qwas dogs and the dogs Peter invented.

I get consistent square cuts.
Birdhunter

Offline geoffshep

  • Posts: 153
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2017, 06:17 AM »
That is not what Peter is suggesting.  He is using dogs to position the workpiece, and also dogs to position the rail.  This is also the way I use the MFT - but it is not answering the OP's question.

The MFT default setup is fine for repeated cuts at a set thickness, but as soon as you adjust the guide rail clamp bracket up or down it can tilt, thus moving the support point for the rail out of square.

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3502
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2017, 08:25 AM »
As someone already mentioned, there can be some issues when you change the height of the rail brackets to accommodate different thicknesses.  I find that these can be minimized if when squaring up the rail you add a little tension in and use the slop stop.  I keep a scrap piece of plywood a little smaller than the surface area of the table, and have scribed a line from a trusted square on it (Woodpeckers 32" T-square).  So when I setup my MFT, I simply line up the splinterguard with the line and am ready to go, assuming, of course that the splinterguard is still relatively intact.
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Offline Rudymejia12

  • Posts: 38
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 11:30 AM »
Thanks for the input everyone. I think geoffshep and ear3 got it. I do lift the guide rail up and down for different thickness. For Peter and birdhunter I have considered that option but for the amount I spent on the mft I am not ready to give up on it. Peter thanks for all great videos btw!

Offline Corwin

  • Posts: 2512
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2017, 12:59 PM »
This is a common problem that has been discussed here several times. Please read my post in this thread: TS55 + MFT/3 Not Cutting Straight
Looks like your rabbit joint is a hare off! ;)

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2067
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2017, 01:05 PM »
I often adjust my rail to accommodate different wood thickness and never lost square. I guess I don’t understand how adjusting height affects square.
Birdhunter

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 774
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2017, 01:57 PM »
Have you tried doing away with all the MFT extra bits and just use some bench dog (tall and short) and a guide rail up against the tall dogs.

(Attachment Link)

There are dogs suitable for the task from Lee Valley, Qwas, TSO and Axminster.

You will be able to get consistent 90 deg and 45 deg cuts and never need to do any calibration at all.

Peter

One thing I found out when I tried using my TSC55 wit the tall dogs was the lower battery will not clear the dogs as it overhangs the side of the rail.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2017, 01:58 PM »
I often adjust my rail to accommodate different wood thickness and never lost square. I guess I don’t understand how adjusting height affects square.

If, as you raise the rail at the hinge end or the support at the free end, there is any left/right play then your squareness is lost.

Peter

Offline TSO Products

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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2017, 03:54 PM »
Have you tried doing away with all the MFT extra bits and just use some bench dog (tall and short) and a guide rail up against the tall dogs.

(Attachment Link)

There are dogs suitable for the task from Lee Valley, Qwas, TSO and Axminster.

You will be able to get consistent 90 deg and 45 deg cuts and never need to do any calibration at all.

Peter

One thing I found out when I tried using my TSC55 wit the tall dogs was the lower battery will not clear the dogs as it overhangs the side of the rail.

that is why TSO has developed  the "Stubby Dog" with a height of 40mm above the worksurface - just half the height of our Tall Dog. picture attached . Works great with 3/4 inch / 20mm thickness material. Let us know if there is interest and we'll stock them.
email to: info@tsoproducts.com

Hans
TSOproducts.com

Home of the GRS-16 and GRS-16 PE Guide Rail Squares -  the MTR-18 Triangle and Work Holding solutions

Offline Chris Perren

  • Posts: 82
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2017, 04:03 PM »
@TSO Products

perfect solution for the TSC ...  I'm interested in ordering a set

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 774
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2017, 05:00 PM »
Very nice Hans. My work around so far has been to remove the lower
battery for those few cuts that I have had a problem with and run on 18V.

Not the best but it worked.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 4828
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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2017, 01:29 PM »
When I was having similar issues with my MFT, used a slop stop

https://www.toolnut.com/tool-improvements-slop-stop-for-festool-mft-tables-and-rails.html

and also use 2 of the MFT angle stops (compasses ) rather then the little black plastic thing that locks the MFT fence in. That will make it almost bomb proof as long as you dont move angle stops you should be in good shape
Loving the Calif sun....

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1832
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2017, 02:03 PM »
I often adjust my rail to accommodate different wood thickness and never lost square. I guess I don’t understand how adjusting height affects square.

Same here. I often remove and replace the rail and fence without issues. I leave the rail and the hinged support together when I do remove them but I just never seem to have the issues that others constantly do and I am pretty fussy about accuracy. I am also not relying on dogs either although I do believe that is a great technique and would use the dogs and holes if I ever do start to have problems. Maybe I am just lucky.

I don't doubt what others are saying but it is just not my experience.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Rudymejia12

  • Posts: 38
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2017, 04:12 PM »
Jobsworth I'm not sure what angle stops your talking about. I already have the slop stop installed.
When I was having similar issues with my MFT, used a slop stop

https://www.toolnut.com/tool-improvements-slop-stop-for-festool-mft-tables-and-rails.html

and also use 2 of the MFT angle stops (compasses ) rather then the little black plastic thing that locks the MFT fence in. That will make it almost bomb proof as long as you dont move angle stops you should be in good shape

Online Peter Halle

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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2017, 08:19 AM »
He is saying that he uses two of the protractor heads instead of one protractor head and the small black fence clamp mechanism that original comes with the MFT/3 setup.

Peter

Offline DynaGlide

  • Posts: 99
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2017, 08:58 AM »
I square mine using the 20mm holes and dogs then leave 2 dogs behind the fence touching. Seems to work

Offline TheSergeant

  • Posts: 80
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2017, 01:18 PM »
I've had 3 MFT/3s, none of them stay square.  There's a reason everyone uses Parf Dogs, Rail Dogs, etc.  Slop Stop only fixes half the problem.  The other half is the poor design of the rail support.  If you raise/lower the rail you have to resquare.   Frustrated with this I finally got rid of all my MFTs.  I built an MFTC which I love and now that I"m finished restoring my vintage mill I'll be making a set of dovetailed brackets like the ones below.  This is the design Festool should have gone with.  The dovetail design makes it's impossible for the rail to go out of square. 

Offline Corwin

  • Posts: 2512
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2017, 02:49 PM »
...  This is the design Festool should have gone with.  The dovetail design makes it's impossible for the rail to go out of square.

As I see it, the dovetail design is not unlike what Festool has done, it is just that Festool has not done a good job of it, leaving far too much slop in the system.

Another problem area with their design is the indexing pin that fits within the track on the underside of the rail. It is V shaped and if not raised up properly can be another issue for error in squaring. I see that your MFTC example also addresses this issue.

Well past time for Festool to address these issues.
Looks like your rabbit joint is a hare off! ;)

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 4828
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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2017, 04:50 PM »
what Peter said
Loving the Calif sun....

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 1763
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2017, 05:55 PM »
I use the squaring method demonstrated online by Festool instructors Steve Bace and Brian Sedgely. Plus I have the Slop Stop installed. I check squareness with a Woodpeckers square. I rarely find the need to re-square unless I bump the guide rail or fence. While I agree that improvements are possible I don't find the current tools a problem and am not required to make adjustments very often.
Randy

Offline gnlman

  • Posts: 119
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2017, 06:35 PM »
Hi. I do not use the protractor, as I was having issues keeping square as well. I bought some dogs that attach to the original Festool fence installed them in the back holes, and square the guiderail to that with a square. Doing so gives you more cross cut capacity and before buying the slopstop I moved my front rail support over a wee bit so when the rail hit the top pin it had a little sideways pressure...had to shim the fence as well...once the slopstop was installed there was no need to do that anymore. I find that if I put the material under the rail before adjusting the height the rail lays flat on the material and keeps the back hinge from going out of square, then bring the front guiderail support up til it touches the guiderail and it stays square for me...I think the protractor was the main issue for me, but I also believe that I push the stock against the fence a little harder than needed....having the fence fixed and supported by the dogholes corrected this issue. Could the supports be better....yes, the dovetail idea is a very good one....but by doing what I did my frustrations with the mft were solved, and I really do like the table otherwise.
I should add that I also have the parf dog system, in certain cases with longer rails it works great, but I like the hinged guiderail system on the mft, it saves lifting the entire rail off the workpiece, and allows the use of the stops on the Festool fence. I think I have 4 stops on my fence allowing me to keep various measurement in memory since I screw up a lot when I'm cutting lots of pieces....lol
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 06:39 PM by gnlman »

Offline Chris Perren

  • Posts: 82
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2017, 06:20 PM »
The "Stubby" dogs from @TSO Products are the match for the TSC 55 ...  Love to see more of them..


Quote
Quote
One thing I found out when I tried using my TSC55 wit the tall dogs was the lower battery will not clear the dogs as it overhangs the side of the rail.

that is why TSO has developed  the "Stubby Dog" with a height of 40mm above the worksurface - just half the height of our Tall Dog. picture attached . Works great with 3/4 inch / 20mm thickness material. Let us know if there is interest and we'll stock them.
email to: info@tsoproducts.com

Hans
« Last Edit: December 23, 2017, 06:24 PM by Chris Perren »

Online yetihunter

  • Posts: 505
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2017, 03:42 AM »
How often do you square up your mft?  I feel like I have to do it a couple of times a day. Is that normal? I use a wood pecker square and it's usually the inside corner where the track meets the rail will move just a hair. Enough to make my cuts off by 1/32 maybe. Any advice or input would be great. I also bought the accessory that goes under the track to prevent movement. I have seen all the videos. I have no problem making it square. It's keeping it square that I am having issues. Thanks in advance

It's not you, it's the rail supports and the fence.   
I had intended on buying a bare MFT a couple of years ago (aware of the user experiences with the intended setup) but got a deal on an unused one with the
whole shebang.  So I gave it a whirl.

I squared with a square.  I squared with dogs.  I installed a slop stop.
The fence is thin, light, and has little support.  It will flex when you square everything up and it will flex when you use it.  Adding more clamping support
just flexes it the other direction.  The rail supports go out of square with every height
adjustment and anytime you lift the guide rail on it's hinge.  They also flex and exhibit side to side play.  The gut reaction to tighten any screws more will just compound the issue.   With time, I presume that the constant realignment will wear out the aluminum, and it will get even sloppier.

What I actually use when doing the whole tracksaw thing is a combination
of large and small parf dogs, the seneca guides and the tso square.  The Seneca and TSO products have their limitations, but within those, they're certainly more reliable.

You'll find that without the MFT hardware, there will still be things to watch for.
If you don't clamp the guide rail, it might move on you while sawing.  If you clamp the guide rail, it might move on you while clamping. 🤒

I'm not slamming the mft, itself, though.  If mine breaks from building
a Roubo on top of it, I'll rebuild the mft on top of my roubo.






Offline mwbrewster

  • Posts: 29
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2018, 09:29 AM »
I find that if I put the material under the rail before adjusting the height the rail lays flat on the material and keeps the back hinge from going out of square, then bring the front guiderail support up til it touches the guiderail and it stays square for me...

This is a great, simple tip that I'll start doing from now on.

Ive had all the same trials and errors that many others have had, detailed in the many posts on the subject.  After scanning the posts, I bought the parf dogs, qwas dogs and slop stop. Those additions have improved my cuts but I'm not completely satisfied with the entire process - still having off-square cits more frequently than what i expected from such a high-quality line of tools.

lately I've been setting it up as follows: I line up the guide rail on both supports without tightening the rail to the back support.  I then loosen and slide the stops that lie on the edge tracks out of the way so both support brackets are free to move. Then I align the guide rail to two dogs placed vertically to the left of the rail and clamp them both supports down.  This takes any track stop alignment errors out of the equation. To avoid having the business end of the guide rail fall across the centers of holes, i use the  fence as a spacer between the dogs and rail. That places the rail nicely so i don't cut across holes.  Then i tighten the rail to the back support while making sure the rail stays snug to the spacer/dogs. I tighten the back/bottom support screw with the allen wrench and only hand-tight on the front/top one - as recommended in one of the videos from a festool cabinets class.  Next I set up the fence, squaring it to two dogs placed behind it. Once I'm confident that is properly aligned  with the dogs  / holes ,  I carefully tighten the fence clamp on the end of the table  making absolutely sure that it doesn't knock the fence out of alignment . Those dogs basically reside behind the fence any time I'm using the fence so a quick eyeball will verify that the fence is square to the holes. a periodic lift of the dogs to hear that they are still in contact is a good double check.  Note: the dogs I use for the fence are the low profile ones so i can get them spaced out laterally as far as possible without interfering with the guide rail.  Lastly, I'll set the height of the rail using the actual work piece as a reference, then clamp both supports down tight. I do a final check of square by using a high-quality square between the fence and the rail with the rail now at the final height.

As mentioned many times before on FOG, if I have to adjust the height of the support brackets for different material thickness, the chances of it remaining square are slim to none because of the rock or tilt of the brackets when loosened.  In that case I will re-verify square with the same high quality square, sometimes you repeating the entire process just to make sure.

Now, having done all that I find that I have to continually check for square, as often as after every three or four cuts when the cuts really count, making sure theres no debris along the fence, or tearout on the material that could interfere with the cut. Sometimes I find that it remains square for a while, and sometimes I find that if I so much as look at it, the squareness is lost.

I'm going to add raising the supports to the proper material thickness with the actual material still underneath the rail so the supports come up evenly without any tilt (thanks for the tip).

I'm not ready to give up on it, but it seems like i spend a lot of time worrying about the squareness, especially on those important cuts.  The only sure-fire, absolute certain way to get a square cut in my opinion is to use rail dogs and bench dogs exclusively, eliminating the protractor and support brackets altogether so that everything is perfectly aligned to the grid. However, one of the things that originally drew me to the mft was the flag stop adjustment being readily available and easily adjustable as well as being able to lift the rail to get work pieces in and out and set it back down without having to worry about the squareness of my cuts, effectively speeding up the process greatly.

This forum has been a great resource for me, and i appreciate the participation from those with a lot of years of experience behind them.

Edit: failed to mention that I tighten the support brackets down tight with the knobs after tightening the rail to the rear bracket, making sure the front bracket's pin is properly engaged in the slop stop, and when i'm confident that the rail is perfectly aligned to the grid.  Ill then move the track stops back into position and tighten them down but it's not necessary given that i always loosen them to align the rail anyway. I guess this is just so i dont forget to tighten them back down and lose them when i go to break down the table.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 09:49 AM by mwbrewster »

Offline jobsworth

  • Posts: 4828
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Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2018, 07:14 PM »
Sounds from what I read that you run the fence up to the dogs to square the fence.
Then you tighten the rail like it says in a video to do.

Do you use a square to ensure that the rail is square to the fence?

Anderson Ply has a good inexpensive square you could get.

 It has to be a good known good square.
Loving the Calif sun....

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 1255
Re: Mft squaring problems
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2018, 08:13 PM »
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 08:17 PM by Svar »