Author Topic: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy  (Read 1608 times)

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Offline rmc

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MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« on: August 12, 2018, 12:38 AM »
Hey there...I'm wondering if some of you can share your procedure for setting up and using the MFT to ensure that its always square...I seem to find it being out of square all the time and having to re-square basically every time...and once and a while it seems to shift or something on me and I'm going nuts.  I've followed the procedure festool (and others) have demonstrated on youtube and wondering if others face this issue, or if I'm just an idiot.  I'm by no means a pro, very much a hobbyist so I could very well be doing something wrong.  Thanks for any insight!
Tool Profile: Festool TS55, DF700, CT26, Bosch table/miter saw, Bosch MRC23 router

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Offline zapdafish

  • Posts: 480
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 01:07 AM »
i use 4 qwas dogs to setup initial squaring and after that just use them to verify squareness. So far after first setup it's never changed on me.

http://qwasproducts.com/QwasDogs.html

CT22, TS55, Kapex, RO150, Domino, RS 2 E

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2339
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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2018, 05:47 AM »
I drop 2 Qwas or Parf dogs into two holes at the back of the MFT. I use a Woodpeckers framing square or the Woodpeckers MFT square (both have long legs and are perfectly square). I butt the square against the 2 dogs and adjust the swing down fence to lie flush against the other leg of the square.

The swing down fence lowers to nestle into the homing locator projection at the front of the MFT. It is steadied by the Slop Stop gadget I added.

I use the same 2 dogs to position the wood that I will be cutting.

The only time the fence has not been already square, one of its retaining nuts had loosened.

I never use the compass head that came with the MFT.

If your MFT is frequently out of square, I would check for loose nuts on the attachment bolts on the fence’s swing mechanism. I’d check the homing locator at the front of the MFT for looseness. I’d also add the SlopStop gadget as it does eliminate jiggle once the swing down fence is down on the homing locator.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 05:51 AM by Birdhunter »
Birdhunter

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2018, 07:00 AM »
Hey there...I'm wondering if some of you can share your procedure for setting up and using the MFT to ensure that its always square...I seem to find it being out of square all the time and having to re-square basically every time...and once and a while it seems to shift or something on me and I'm going nuts.  I've followed the procedure festool (and others) have demonstrated on youtube and wondering if others face this issue, or if I'm just an idiot.  I'm by no means a pro, very much a hobbyist so I could very well be doing something wrong.  Thanks for any insight!

First off, you are not an idiot.  Many have asked for help squaring up their MFT's.  Some have reported issues with keeping them square (something that I personally have not experienced.)

The method that I settled on is in this old video:  (please note that there are indeed many different ways to set up and square your MFT and my way isn't the best or only way)



Peter

Offline ScotF

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2018, 10:07 AM »
One of the things that used to be an issue for me was over tightening the rail to the angle stop. You might try adjusting that.

Offline ElectricFeet

  • Posts: 69
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2018, 02:02 PM »
...I'm wondering if some of you can share your procedure for setting up and using the MFT to ensure that its always square...
I recently bought an MFT with all the trappings (fence etc) and basically the extras have sat in a cupboard the whole time.

Unable to consistently get a square without checking EVERY time, I gave up and switched to parf dogs, which guarantee square to the holes.

I’m very disappointed that Festool dropped the ball on this one (and I’m slightly disappointed in myself for not sending it back as not fit for purpose). The mechanism is simply not good enough.

(I’m a Festool fan on pretty much everything else, apart from the tape measure.)

Offline Birdhunter

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2018, 02:19 PM »
I don’t agree that there is a fundamental problem with the MFT. I’ve never used the protractor because all my cuts have been 90 or 45 degrees and dogs provide excellent positioning without the protractor. Except the one time a nut on the swing hinge got loose, my fence has always stayed square.

If I wanted to make cuts at other angles, the protractor is available.

My only issue with the MFT is that the top sags over time. However, it’s easy to flip.
Birdhunter

Offline ElectricFeet

  • Posts: 69
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2018, 02:53 PM »
I don’t agree that there is a fundamental problem with the MFT.
...
Except the one time a nut on the swing hinge got loose, my fence has always stayed square...
Some people have this issue and some don’t (it looks like you were lucky).

And that’s the fundamental problem: a design that, due to whatever reason (could be user error; one screw tighter than another; different thermal qualities of different metals; slop in plastic; or just plain luck of the draw) cannot guarantee consistency is not a good design.

It’s a great idea; we just need V2.

Offline Birdhunter

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2018, 05:29 PM »
Is the problem keeping the rail square to the protractor or is the problem the rail not staying square to the hole pattern?

To me, using the protractor for 90 or 45 degree cuts seems to add opportunities for loosing squareness and is unnecessary.
Birdhunter

Offline ElectricFeet

  • Posts: 69
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2018, 05:50 PM »
Is the problem keeping the rail square to the protractor or is the problem the rail not staying square to the hole pattern?

As I understand it, Festool doesn’t guarantee that the rail is square to the holes. It’s supposed to be square to the table.

In my case the whole thing changes slightly every time I move it up and down. The tolerances are just not small enough to ensure squareness.

As most of my cuts are at 90deg and I have to put everything back in a cupboard after use (which means lowering the supports and removing the rail), all the faffing about squaring everything every time is just too much trouble. Parf dogs are so much faster and guaranteed square.

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2018, 05:56 PM »
 [popcorn] [popcorn] [popcorn] I can't wait to hear more from the Original Poster so that we can and try to help him out.

Peter

Offline Michael Kellough

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2018, 07:18 PM »
I don’t think Festool guaranties anything to be square. It’s all adjustable and can be as square as you like if you make it so.

The frame is fairly square. The holes in the mdf are pretty square and also pretty close to parallel to the edge but there is no guarantee.

Since the mdf can move within the confines of the frame you have to make the final adjustment. Don’t bother trying to make it impossible for the mdf to move, unless you keep it in a climate controlled environment.

If the chance of the mdf moving within the frame is too much to cope with you can rely on parf dogs etc. as long as “pretty close” is good enough. There is no way to adjust dogs (unless you catalog the individual characteristics and use oddball dogs as shims to compensate for some other oddities). I take that back, you can add shim stock to dogs. I like plastic shim stock for this and other uses.

Offline rmc

  • Posts: 8
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2018, 11:16 AM »
[popcorn] [popcorn] [popcorn] I can't wait to hear more from the Original Poster so that we can and try to help him out.

Peter

Thanks for the input here, I'm also starting to think that one of my issues is that my 'squares' I use to get everything right might not be truly square.  The other thing that seems off right now is my quide rail seems to be like warped or something, it will not lay flat on the work piece...any chance it could warp?  The only think I can think of that I might have done wrong to cause this would be leaving the guide rail in the up position (if thats a bad thing). 

I have some ply to breakdown tonight on the MFT, I think I'm actually going to take the entire thing apart and basically start over like its a new table, re-tighten and align everything and maybe that gets me a better result.  I think the MFT is a great tool, just need to figure out a repeatable procedure to make it a bit easier. 
Tool Profile: Festool TS55, DF700, CT26, Bosch table/miter saw, Bosch MRC23 router

Offline Birdhunter

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2018, 11:26 AM »
I leave my rail up and it seems to be OK as long as I don't bump it.

I don't know if my rail is bowed. The weight of the saw should flatten it.

I saw a neat way to check a square. Lay one leg of the square against a straight surface. Draw a pencil line down the length of the other leg. Flip the square over butted against the same straight surface and draw a line down the leg. The two lines should either overlap or be perfectly parallel. If the lines diverge, your square isn't square.

A big square works a lot better than a small square.

A lot of the big box store squares are not square.

I find the Woodpecker squares are dead square. The big ones are pricy. There are several other types of squares that work and are a lot cheaper. I think they are phenolic.
Birdhunter

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3535
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2018, 12:51 PM »
@ rmc don’t mess with the adjustments of the MFT until you resolve the question of whether your square is accurate. There is at least one factory adjustment (the lateral angle of the rail to the table) that is counterintuitive but best left as is.

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 668
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2018, 02:32 PM »
The first time I set my table up, I moved the locating doohickeys for the rail so the rail would just skim a Woodpeckers track against dogs. That way I can square my rail to the holes and use dogs for a fence when desired. Plus I can check the rail accuracy to the holes very quickly. The Woodpeckers track is used because I commonly use them for my fence, so they are always will me. Others cut a piece of wood to set their rail in place. We all have our own ways of doing things...

Offline jobsworth

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2018, 06:23 PM »
@rmc

No yer not a idiot. If you were around when I first got mines and was cussing up a storm in the back yard screwing cut after cut. I was rerady to give up on Festool al together.

First thing to always keep in mind is FT is a different approach to woodworking.

 In some cases requires a lot of jigs and creative thinking to get what you want done.

It took me going to a FT end user class to figure out what I was doing wrong. I remember telling my frustrations to the LV FT instructor Steve Bace over the phone before the class. During the class he took the time to work with me and now I understand what was going on.

First; You need a true known square square.

I highly recommend either a Wood Peckers 1281 or larger square or a Anderson Plywood square. Once you get them you'll be on your way.

Next I recommend getting a slop stop. Its a aftermarket doohickey that mounts inside the channel of your rail to stop the slop the rail has when its setting on the guide rail clamp (doo hickey that raises and lowers the rail and the rail sets on, Im to laxy to look up the actual nomenclature) . It can be purchased from a couple of different suppliers her on the FOG . Toolnut I know sells them.

those 2 things should help you out greatly. Now what I do is use 2 of the compasses instead of that black plastic doc hicky that mounts to the rear of the fence. The black doo hicky is fussy and i found unless your careful when toghtening it , will pull the fence out of square.

A tip: Ensure the little tab is fully  inserted in the channel of the guide rail each time you raise and lower it. Its just something I check bc Im suck a klutz and get into a hurry the guide rail doesnt set fully in the channel sometimes.

Here is some info from a guide/ pamphlet I started to write.

Im by far no expert this is my method of doing things.

Note I said my method as there are many ways to do this.

It has never been edited or completed and is still considered I/W or rough draft.

 I havent touch it in a while.

maybe I should start again as Im under the weather for a few days and bored out of my skin.

1)   Make sure the Blade is clean and sharpe.
2)   If connecting 2 guide rails together ensure that the rails are perfectly inline, set up so cuts will be accurate.
3)   Check condition of zero clearance strip on guide rail for accurate cutting. This is especially true if you have had your blades sharpened or are switching between blade manufacturers their tooth dia. may have changed or be different festools is 2.2mm
4)   Ensure Gibbs Cams are adjusted so the saw has little play on guide rail.
5)   If MFT is set up for cross cutting ply to length, ensure that guide rail to MFT fence is at a perfect 90’. Make sure you are using a known good square square to check 90.

Setting up your MFT to make cross cuts.

 Once you assemble your MFT you have to ensure that your fence is a perfect 90 degrees to your rail.

 I do this by installing bench dogs (Qwas dogs and Parf dogs appear to be the most popular).

I put the dogs in the MFT holes and run my fence up to butt up against the dogs. Then set up the rail run the rail mounts against the stops and take a known good and accurate square (woodpecker 1281 square is most popular however Anderson Plywood makes a true inexpensive square out of ply gut to a perfect 90 by CNC) to ensure you have a perfect 90. Then tighten the screws that hold the guide rail to the mounts. 

 For sheet goods be sure to cut the factory edge and ensure that edge is set against the MFT fence prior to cross cutting.

Tip: make sure that your piece is butted up to the fence. It does have a tendency to move and dust accumulates between the piece and the fence. Sometimes its so subtle you wont notice.
If that happens you will not have a perfectly square piece.


In my best Sedge imatation voice I hope this helps. (to bad I dont have Cloe here helping me )  [thumbs up]

« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 06:33 PM by jobsworth »

Offline fshanno

  • Posts: 960
Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2018, 11:40 PM »
Have you thought about a stationary workbench with tracksaw crosscut capability?  There's lots of designs for such tables.  That's going to be much more reliably square than any kind of portable table like an MFT.  Plus you could go ahead and configure it for 36" or even wider crosscut.  You may have a bench already in use that could be modified.  All you need is a straight fence on one side and stops to bump the guide against.  And it would always be dead square and ready to go. 

And you certainly haven't wasted money on your MFT.  Crosscutting is just one of the myriad of things it's great for.  For those rare occasions when you need to set up a crosscut station at a remote site, you've got the best portable crosscut rig on the planet ready to go.

The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

Offline rmc

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2018, 12:20 PM »
Ya I’m starting consider a new workbench, I build one about 5 yrs about when I first started wood working and it’s been good but I feel like I’m at the point now where I can use something more, I’m  seeing if there is a local guy anywhere who can CNC a top in the MFT pattern (any Calgary area woodworkers know a guy?).  The festool road show or whatever it’s called is coming to town Friday so I’m gonna stop by there and see what they have to offer also. 
Tool Profile: Festool TS55, DF700, CT26, Bosch table/miter saw, Bosch MRC23 router

Offline Birdhunter

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Re: MFT Setup and Squaring...driving me crazy
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2018, 01:03 PM »
I built a Moxon vise using Benchcrafted components and I’d never want to be without one again. You might consider building one onto your new bench.
Birdhunter