Festool Guide Rail Review:In the beginning 1000 years BF
(before Festool) to break down sheet goods man used the circular saw and a chalk line. The chalk line provided a straight cut line, but the accuracy of the final cut depended on the skill of the steady hand holding the saw. Man was looking for a better method. 600 years BF
, man started using a straight piece of wood to help guide the saw. This helped create a straighter final cut. But is was easy to cut in to the wood guide. The accuracy of the cut depended on how straight the piece of wood was. Plus it was difficult to cut on the cut line as there was an offset between the guide wood and the cutline. One last problem was is was difficult to keep the wood guide form moving while making the cut.300 years BF
, Man found the metal straight edge and combined it with the wood guide to solve some of the problems. First by combining the two it was easier to cut a straight cut as the metal straight edge was more accurate then the guide wood of early years. The offset between the edge of the metal and the edge of the wood took the guess work out of cutting exactly on the cut line. Man also add C clamps to help hold the device in place when making the cut.
But problems still remain, it was still easy to wander of the cut line and slice into the wood guide. The clamps stuck up and sometime got in the way of the saw. A straight accurate cut was still difficult to get as the metal straight edge was not that solid and flexed a lot. Man need a better way.
Then came Festool and the simple Festool Guide Rail. An accurate straight cut was now faster, easier and smarter.
First Festool combined the saw and the Guide Rail into a single system. The bottom plate of the saw mates into a track that is integrated into the guide rail. This means the saw will stay true to the guide rail and NOT wander off course. To make the saw slide easily over the surface of the guide rail, without binding, Festool added anti-friction strips (the green strips) along top surface of the guide rail.
The combination of the saw and the guide rail also positions the edge of the guide rail and the saw blade right on the cut line. This make for a easy, faster and smarter way of setting up the cut. Just place the edge of the guide rail on your mark and you are ready to cut your line.
Also part of the Festool Guide rail is a built in splinter guard to protect against splinters when cutting brittle plywood. If you look closely, in the photo above, you can see the clear splinter guard running along the edge of the guide rail.
Festool did two things to help hold the Festool Guide Rail in position when making the cut. First, on the bottom of the Guide Rail they place strips of foam rubber too keep it from slipping around your work piece, see photo below.
If you need more holding power, there is an integrated slot that runs the length of the bottom of the Guide Rail. Festool has screw clamps that fit into this slot that can be used to hold the guide rail in position. With the slot and the clamps on the bottom they are out of the way and do not interfere with the saw.
Festool does not just leave the Guide Rail as part of a track Saw. Festool creates a whole system around the Guide Rail. The Guide Rail works, not only with the TS line circular of saws, but also integrates with all the routers and the jig saws. There are accessories that can be used to attach most of the routers and jig saws to the Guide Rail to make accurate repetitive cuts. The Guide Rail is part of the Multi-functional Table and part of the LR 32 hole drill system. There are also all kinds of accessories. The newest member, of the Guide Rail system, is the Parallel Guide set. Besides the normal screw clamps there are the Quick clamps and the FS Rapid clamps.
This is just a partial list of what the Guide Rails works with and the accessories. But it demonstrates that the Guide Rail is part of the whole Festool system. I think the Guide Rail gets over look most of the time due too it's simplicity. To me the Guide Rail is one of the key components to the Festool system.