Author Topic: MFS: Notes on the MFS  (Read 36701 times)

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Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
MFS: Notes on the MFS
« on: January 27, 2007, 06:21 PM »
Notes on the MFS
This is an evolving document.
Greetings, all. Now that I've had my MFS400 for a while, here are some observations.
  • Print Jerry Work's guide to using the MFS and read it. Repeatedly.
  • Read Brice Burrell's excellent thread.  Again, repeatedly.
  • Before I bought it, I questioned the usefulness of the MFS 400. Seemed as if the maximum capacity was pretty small. I was wrong--I use it very frequently.  It's true that the smallest opening either MFS can be set to is the same, namely, 0 by 0. So you might argue that the MFS700 is more versatile. I think that at smaller settings the longer pieces that make up the MFS700 would often result in a more clumsy template.  This is particularly true when cutting circles, since the entire template assembly is pivoted around the center.
  • There is a BIG time savings in using the MFS to construct a template. I've frequently discovered that I could use a template while in the middle of the project that needed it. I would then have to break down various setups for that project, or at least move a lot of stuff around, to arrange to build the template. Now, with the MFS as my template-making kit, I do a lot less reconfiguring of the shop. This is a time savings even for a single use of the template.
  • Being finicky costs you almost nothing when using the MFS. If I want to make a template dimension 0.5mm more or less, it is the work of seconds to do so--no remaking or cobbling required.
  • To those with limited space: Rather than keep a lot of purpose-built templates around, I now keep "recipes" of settings for various purposes.
  • Guide Rail Connectors fit perfectly in the clamp slots of the extrusion.  They can be used to connect MFS extrusions together end-to-end.  Disadvantages compared to the joiners described below:  The connectors are very heavy, and take up enough of the slot that they may interfere with clamping.  Advantage:  You probably already have them.
  • You can get a set of 4 MFS "joiners" (493 235, a spare part, ~25USD), which allow you to connect two sections end-to-end. I believe that the intended use is two of these to connect two sections, but you can get away with a single joiner if you're careful. For the MFS 400, these parts allow the construction of a single beam 1200mm long, or two 600mm long. Jerry Work uses these joiners as markers in the groove next to the index marks.
    Spare parts have to be ordered directly from our service department. Please call
    800-554-8741 and talk to David or Lester.
  • An extremely accurate way to set up for a Festool guide rail:  Using an MFS section(s), a self-made stop that slides on the section and protrudes below it to hook against the work, set the section to the width of the piece you wish to cut.  From this point on, the MFS beam is a story stick--you'll just hook it against the work's edge and mark at the end of the beam  Tap single edge razor blades into the work against the end of the MFS section. Remove the MFS, place the guide rail's rubber against the blades, secure the rail, remove the blades, and cut. Thank you, Jerry Work and John Lucas.
  • I really like my OF1010, but: It was necessary to adjust the shortest depth stop on my OF1010 router to its minimum in order to rout through 18mm plywood using the MFS. The MFS sections themselves are 16mm thick, so the first 16mm of plunge travel is just to get the bit to the zero point on the surface of the work. Since longer 1/2"-shank cutters are widely available, the OF1400 would be a better choice to make full use of the MFS.
  • The FS-Rapid clamps can be attached to an MFS section.  The clamps may need to be adjusted slightly. The much more common FS 120 and 300 clamps, and the Quick Clamps work fine.
  • 1/4 inch square nuts are a good fit in the clamp slots; 1/4 hex nuts will also work.  5/16 nuts will not fit.
  • The FS-KS angle attachment can be attached to an MFS section, but it mounts to the top surface of the MFS section and will probably get in the way of the router. An adapter that attached the FS-KS to the side of the MFS section would be useful.
  • When you buy an MFS set, be sure you have a 30mm copying ring (aka template guide) for your router. While you can use other sizes of ring for rectangles and such, the 30 is required to use the included circle cutting piece.  I use the 30mm ring and 12mm bit by default. Keeps the math easy.
  • No matter what kit you buy to start using the MFS, you will end up buying additional pieces as the product's usefulness becomes apparent.  They're certainly on my wish list.

A Picture Is Worth 1K Words, So...

1416-11418-21424-3

MFS Parts Dimensions
Extrusion:  80mm wide by 16mm thick.  Nominal lengths are actual lengths, that is, a 700 is 700mm long.

An Example:  Slotting Narrow Stock
I made some pressure beams, used with threaded rod to clamp big work to the MFT table. The beams are 37x37x650. There are 8mm slots in two places on each beam for the threaded rod. Since the stock is narrow, in the past I'd have cut the slots with a table-mounted router
The MFS kit includes two pieces that look like heavy angle iron. I set my rectangle to cut the slot, and attached the two angles underneath the MFS, one on each side of the work, centering it. At that point the template was free to slide along the work, but couldn't wiggle. A single clamp in an MFS slot locked the setup in place. I could not cut deeply enough from one side, so I routed each slot from both sides of the work, repositioning the template. The template was accurate enough for the "mortises" to line up and make a neat slot.

The primary purpose of the routing slide is to support the router when hollowing out the center of large rectangles, for instance, a shallow tray.  This is done in a series of overlapping cuts as you move the slide from one end of the rectangle to the other.  The MFS with slide will accurately control the depth of cut, but it does not seem to be intended to precisely control the x,y movement of the router--other than constraining it within the rectangle.  There is no way to lock the OF1010 at a particular place in the slot, nor is there a pointer or markings to tell you where you are on the slide.

Both the OF1010 and OF1400 routers work with the routing slide, despite what you may have read elsewhere.  The OF1010 requires the 30mm copying ring.  The ring is a loose fit in the slot.  The ring protrudes below the slide; at the end of the slot, the ring will hit the extrusion, protecting it from the bit.  I don't know if the OF1400 needs a ring.  Anyone know?

The slide is a heavy steel channel.  There's a lever clamp that attaches to the outside vertical surface of an MFS extrusion.  Tabs in the slide go into slots on the top of the extrusion to keep things at right angles.  The slide is clamped only at one end, but in normal use you shouldn't be applying forces that would deflect it.  An index pointer centered on the slide's slot lays over the graduations on the extrusion.

The maximum distance the router can be moved within the slot is approximately 625mm (a bit more than 24").  The longest cut you could make is somewhat less, affected by your bit and also the extrusions.

Thanks to the index pointer and clamp, it should be possible to do a series of parallel slots, although the loose fit of the ring in the slot would need to be compensated for.  More accurate results could be achieved with a guide rail.

Circle Cutting
1426-4

Both the MFS 400 and MFS 700 kits contain two parts used to assemble a circle cutting jig.

The Pivot slides and locks into a joiner slot.  The length of the extrusion centers the pivot relative to the center of the circle routing insert.  The 8mm pivot pin fits snugly into a 5/16" hole drilled in the center of the workpiece.

The Circle Routing Insert is intended to slide in a narrow MFS rectangle to adjust the radius of the circle.  A locking screw locks it in place.   The hole in the center of the insert is sized for the required (but not included) 30mm copy ring.

The scale, used with the graduations on the rails, is used to set the radius.  There are markings on either side of the scale's zero point.  The markings nearest the pivot indicate the inside of the cut; those on the other side indicate the outside cut.  For example, if you're using an 8mm diameter bit and you're cutting a circular panel, you would use the 4th mark on the right of the zero (going toward the pivot) to set your radius.  If on the other hand you were cutting a hole with the same bit, you'd use the 4th mark on the left of the zero, since that indicates the outer radius of the cut.

A good line drawing and the usual terse instructions are included in the little booklet that comes with the kit.  It's easy and quick to cut accurate circles this way, but experiment on scrap first.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 09:11 AM by Ned Young »

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Offline Michael Kellough

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2007, 06:43 PM »
Thanks for the notes Ned. You're making the MFS sound a lot more interesting to those of us who haven't taken time to read Jerry's manual.

Offline Dan Lyke

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2007, 11:43 PM »
Thanks for the write-up! I spent a few hours working on a poor man's MFS this afternoon, and my sweety said "why don't we just get the real thing?". I'm not sure whether that's a commentary on my abilities, but she may be heading down to Fresno and be able to drop by Ideal Saw Works next weekend (our local Festool dealer stocks nothing and wants to add a special order charge to everything, and if I do that I may as well just order from Bob Marino, but my sweety's brother works for Ideal Saw Works, and they let us play with the tools in their showroom for quite a while, so I'm happy to send business their way).

So, after that long-winded digression, a few questions:

I think I read somewhere that the Routing Slide MFS-FS allegedly only works with the OF 1400? Is this true, or does it work with the OF 1010 if you've got the right bushing or adapter?

Jerry Work's guide seems to indicate that 5 rails are the right number to use the system for indexed cutting. Should I start out with that in mind?

I already have the OF 1010. Would I be better off going with the 700 and just routing inside the square, rather than trying to extend that tiny shank down the distance of the square with the bushing inside the 400? Or is that even possible?

Thanks!

Accomplished computer geek, novice woodworker, road cyclist, in Sonoma county, northern California.

Offline Tinker

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2007, 08:39 AM »
Thanks for the rundown on MFS.  I have been wrestling with whether to get the 400 or 700.  It looks like no matter which I get, I would eventually require some other parts to make bigger in one direction or another.  I think, Ned, you have convinced me to go with the 400 and make do with that until such time as I absolutely need to extend.  Between you and Jerry Work, i have a pretty good idea of how to use the template system.  I have a large (for me) project coming up that I think could put the MFS thru its paces pretty good.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Dan Lyke

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2007, 10:16 AM »
Thanks for the rundown on MFS.  I have been wrestling with whether to get the 400 or 700.

After sleeping on my questions for the evening: I think our budget for our next Festool purchasing trip is $500. Maybe I can convince my sweety to go to $600, which I think would include a 400, the 1000mm rail set, and the assorted bags of bolts & parts. That'd give the 5 rails for building the regular cut jig with a larger size capability than the 700.
Accomplished computer geek, novice woodworker, road cyclist, in Sonoma county, northern California.

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2007, 12:13 PM »
...and my sweety said "why don't we just get the real thing?".
Aren't sweeties like yours great?  I'll never forget the jealousy of my friends when I told them my wife was pushing for the PC 7539 router for table use, rather than something less powerful.
Quote
I think I read somewhere that the Routing Slide MFS-FS allegedly only works with the OF 1400? Is this true, or does it work with the OF 1010 if you've got the right bushing or adapter?
See added section at the head of the thread.
Quote
Jerry Work's guide seems to indicate that 5 rails are the right number to use the system for indexed cutting. Should I start out with that in mind?
Sure, why not.   :)  Eventually, you'll have extrusions of every size anyway.
Quote
I already have the OF 1010. Would I be better off going with the 700 and just routing inside the square, rather than trying to extend that tiny shank down the distance of the square with the bushing inside the 400? Or is that even possible?
If I understand, you'd be using the rim of the base of the router as the copying ring.  Never occurred to me to try that.  The 1010's base has two flats, so you'd have to be careful.  And I don't think Festool guarantees the concentricity of the base and the bit--that's why we go through the alignment step when mounting a copying ring.  All in all, this might work, but I don't find it attractive.

Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2007, 12:18 PM »
and the assorted bags of bolts & parts.
The joiners I mentioned are considered spare parts.  They shipped separately from the rest of my order.  Order them, and be patient.
Quote
That'd give the 5 rails for building the regular cut jig with a larger size capability than the 700.
That seems like a good plan.  The 1m extrusions were my next buy, but I hadn't thought of it in quite this way.

Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2007, 12:21 PM »
I'm trying something new on this thread.  I've discovered that I can modify my own posts, so I'm going to update the original post in response to comments and suggestions.  The idea is that first post will be one-stop shopping for the most important points of the thread, kind of wiki-like.  Let's see how it works.

Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2007, 12:28 PM »
Ned,
Editing a single post, and showing the updates, is a great way to go.  I'm using this technique as well in other places on this board -- for example, to update the list of entries in the Domino Raffle.  The time and date stamp makes it easy for people to see when the information was updated.
Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3337
Re: MFS: Routing slide questions
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2007, 01:55 PM »
"The slide is a heavy steel channel.  There's a lever clamp that attaches to the outside vertical surface of an MFS extrusion.  Tabs in the slide go into slots on the top of the extrusion to keep things at right angles.  The slide is clamped only at one end, but in normal use you shouldn't be applying forces that would deflect it.  An index pointer centered on the slide's slot lays over the graduations on the extrusion.

The maximum distance the router can be moved within the slot is approximately 625mm (a bit more than 24").  The longest cut you could make is somewhat less, affected by your bit and also the extrusions."

Ned,

Isn't the routing slide to allow X,Y movement of the router over a broad area, much larger than the router base alone would support when used with the MFS alone? For this application you wouldn't want to clamp the slide would you? Since the slide can move the limit to the router's travel is the slot length "625mm (a bit more than 24")" by the maximum length of your MFS rails.

If you use the slide does the 30mm copy ring extend deep enough to engage the MFS? Does the copy ring fit snug in the slot in the slide or are there two axis of movement there as well?

So what are some of the uses where you'd want to clamp the slide?

Offline Dan Lyke

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2007, 02:02 PM »
I think I can answer this one...

Trying to use the slide and the MFS rail as though it were a different clamp on a guide rail seems like it might have too much flex to be really precise (ie: trying to cut shelf rail guides in 8' shelf frame sides), and I can't see if there's a way to clamp the router to a specific place in the side. So for that I'd just align a standard rail.

However, if you were making parallel relatively short cuts (< 2', ie: drawer rail or shelf dadoes in a carcase side), it seems to me like you'd want to move the slide to the apropriate position, lock it, make your cut, unlock it, move the slide to the next position, etc.
Accomplished computer geek, novice woodworker, road cyclist, in Sonoma county, northern California.

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2007, 03:00 PM »
Michael,

Thanks for your input.  Please reread the MFS section and see if I've clarified it and answered your questions.

Dan,

Right you are.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3337
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2007, 04:18 PM »
Michael,

Thanks for your input.  Please reread the MFS section and see if I've clarified it and answered your questions.

Dan,

Right you are.

\

Thanks Ned,
That helped but I'll need to check out Jerry's guide (your rule number 1) in order to see enough decent  photos to get it clear in my mind.

The one question you seemed to miss is, "If you use the slide does the 30mm copy ring extend deep enough to engage the MFS?"

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2007, 04:26 PM »
Michael,

Quote
The ring protrudes below the slide; at the end of the slot, the ring will hit the extrusion, protecting it from the bit.

Ned

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3337
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2007, 06:49 PM »
Michael,

Quote
The ring protrudes below the slide; at the end of the slot, the ring will hit the extrusion, protecting it from the bit.

Ned

Doh! Thanks Ned, I'm a bit off my game today.

Offline Dan Lyke

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2007, 08:09 PM »
Okay, I find part #493235 in your post (as "Get the set of 4 MFS "joiners""), in Jerry Work's guide (as "...a small bag of "V" nuts and set screws"), and on the web site of a Festool dealer in England, but nothing in the catalog or the web site.

The folks at my dealer are trying to track it down, and have the Festool rep on the case, but do you have any other info which might help?
Accomplished computer geek, novice woodworker, road cyclist, in Sonoma county, northern California.

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2007, 08:22 PM »
part #493235 in your post (as "Get the set of 4 MFS "joiners""), in Jerry Work's guide (as "...a small bag of "V" nuts and set screws")

The bag o'joiners is a spare part.  Mine was shipped from Festool USA HQ, not their usual warehouse.

I've included information on ordering these in the first post of this thread.

Ned
« Last Edit: January 31, 2007, 09:03 AM by Ned Young »

Offline MarkusS

  • Posts: 59
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2007, 07:25 AM »
The MFS was invented by the german company "GEAT" a few years ago. Festool bought the concept from GEAT and changed some parameters (the profile and the size - the GEAT-system was longer). The GEAT-system was universal, you could use it with almost any router.

There is still an english broshure for the GEAT-system available (nice description, many pics), you can grab it here -> http://www.geatsystem.com/geatwd/dt/znf/sdg_3e.zip

No need to say that the price raised a little bit when Festool took over the system  :P

Regards

Mark

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2007, 09:27 AM »
Mark,

Thanks very much for the information on GEAT, and for your posting on the Systainer insert and a competitor.

Ned

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2007, 04:42 PM »
  • Guide Rail Connectors fit perfectly in the clamp slots of the extrusion.  They can be used to connect MFS extrusions together end-to-end.  Disadvantages compared to the joiners described below:  The connectors are very heavy, and take up enough of the slot that they may interfere with clamping.  Advantage:  You probably already have them.

Quoting myself seems a little weird, but there's no better way to announce new information.  Also, I've included some useful closeup photos of the MFS in the first post.

Offline womackdesign

  • Posts: 66
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2007, 07:21 PM »
HI. I am looking for more information on the geat system then the wood depot site. Can somebody advise the web site that the router insert plate came from.  I have bought the MFS 400,MFS 700, and the 1000 ext rails. Festool issued a product sheet with the jig "parts" that illustrate the various componets that make up the system. One item is a mystery part #493 318 looks like a keyhole slot, anybody know what this is for. The Festool German web site also sells the 400mm rail as a separate componet which should be done in the states. Any of you guys in europe have any information on the geat system before festool bought the rights? I have read Jerry Work great work on the subject but there must be more information of this system. Thanks 

Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2007, 06:42 PM »
I got a personal email asking a question about the MFS--a question that I'd thought of also.  I think this may be of general interest:
Quote
My question is there any reason you see why I can't buy the longest 2000 mm rails & cut to  shorter lengths?  In other words why couldn't I simply get the 2000 mm rails & cut one rail in half, and one in 3 pieces.

Would I need additional hardware/parts to do this like threaded jointers etc.?
1.  The 2m rail does not have graduations on it.  The graduations are really important to the use of the MFS, unless you're making a production jig that won't ever be changed.

2.  If you cut a rail to make several rails, you will need joiner slot bushings, screws, right angle nuts, and alignment pins for one end of each of your "new" rails.  See the callouts on one of the photos in my Notes on the MFS post.

3.  If you cut a graduated rail, the "new" rails won't start at zero.  Worse, they won't start exactly on a useful graduation, because of the saw kerf.

Quote from: this used to say
4.  In Europe, 200, 400, and 700 rails are sold separately.  We should encourage Festool USA to make them available in NA.

4.  [As of 4/1/2008] Festool USA lists all rails (properly, Extension Profiles) as standard stock items, sold in pairs.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2008, 01:15 PM by Ned Young »

Offline Jim Dailey

  • Posts: 278
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2007, 11:31 AM »
Ned,

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Since we exchanged PM's I've ordered a MFS 700 set & 1000 rails.   Although based on your comments I am very tempted to order a MFS 400 also.... to get the short rails in the MFS 400 set since Festool USA unlike Europe won't stock them separately....  Or offer a "super set" that would include both the MFS 400 & MFS 700 rails...  Are you listening Festool USA....???

Your posts about the MFS system has been very helpful... 

And again "Thank You"

jim
Life is just a series of projects...

Offline Dave Rudy

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  • Coloroda Front Range, in the lee of Pikes Peak
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2007, 02:40 PM »
Jim,

Since the 400 rails are listed as parts on the parts diagram and have parts numbers, have you tried Festool parts to see if they will sell them separately?

Might be worth a shot.

Dave

Offline Jim Dailey

  • Posts: 278
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2007, 04:39 PM »
Hi Dave,

I like your idea about ordering the MFS rails as "parts", but in a prior conversation with Mark on the Festool USA desk he had indicated the rails where not available as far as he knew....  But Mark suggested I speak to David McGibbon the Festool Service manager directly.    I left a message late last week (before I received Neds feedback about cutting down larger rails would lose the index marks) for David about the availability of individual 2000 mm rails but haven't heard back from him...

Fortunately Festool USA is stocking MFT rails, legs, corners... etc. as "parts" making it easier to create a larger shop built MFT.

Thanks, jim

Life is just a series of projects...

Offline Dave Rudy

  • Posts: 771
  • Coloroda Front Range, in the lee of Pikes Peak
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2007, 09:15 PM »
Jim,

From the Festool parts website:

http//ekat.festool.com/EKAT_USA/jsp/main.jsp?doAction=start&partLang=en&docuLang=en&locale=en_EN&viewerType=6&verticalLayout=1&HOOK_URL=&currency=USD&filter_F_Typ1=on&filterValues_F_Typ1=US&currencyKey=US

I got the MFS 400 as part number 492610.  Maybe Mark can find it to order that way.  Maybe not, but worth a shot.


Dave

Offline Ned

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Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2007, 10:27 PM »
Included information on circle cutting.

Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2007, 07:20 AM »
Ned,
Excellent discussion, with great details.  I'd be interested in seeing even more on the MFS -- more in-use shots for specific projects.  How do other people use the MFS?
Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2007, 01:37 PM »
Just converted the images to inline thumbnails.  The first image isn't a thumbnail, and that's intentional.

No change to the text.

Offline TahoeTwoBears

  • Posts: 194
  • Sugar Bear - South Lake Tahoe, California, USA
Re: MFS: Notes on the MFS
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2007, 09:15 AM »
Storage of anything that doesn't fit in a Systainer is an issue. Are the extrusions drilled so that I might hang them like the guide rails? If not, would it be possible to drill them in a manner that wouldn't harm them or their functionality?

Mike