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Author Topic: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?  (Read 9050 times)

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Offline Iwood75

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The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« on: March 07, 2012, 09:26 PM »
I'm building a large assembly table and need advice on the best material for the top. I have a CNC vendor who will rout matching MFT holes and pattern, etc. for a very affordable price, so no... I won't be spending $600 to buy 3 perforated panels from Festool. Can someone identify the "type" of MDF which was used on the MFT/3? All of the MDF I've used to date, is gray in color and does not seem as dense, or high-quality as Festool's. On-line, I found a German product called LITE-MDF which is made of spruce and looks – can't tell much from their tiny photo – like Festool's. Or, should I consider plywood or counter material instead.  Note: my shop is in my unheated barn so humidity and temperature variations are important considerations. Your thoughts/advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your assistance!
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Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2012, 09:28 PM »
I'm building a large assembly table and need advice on the best material for the top. I have a CNC vendor who will rout matching MFT holes and pattern, etc. for a very affordable price, so no... I won't be spending $600 to buy 3 perforated panels from Festool. Can someone identify the "type" of MDF which was used on the MFT/3? All of the MDF I've used to date, is gray in color and does not seem as dense, or high-quality as Festool's. On-line, I found a German product called LITE-MDF which is made of spruce and looks – can't tell much from their tiny photo – like Festool's. Or, should I consider plywood or counter material instead.  Note: my shop is in my unheated barn so humidity and temperature variations are important considerations. Your thoughts/advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your assistance!

Gray?  All the MDF I've seen/used, even in your area was brown.  Where are you getting yours from?

Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2012, 09:40 PM »
Have you considered Richlite?

It machines much like wood and is very stable. It's used for countertops and also by Boeing for fixtures.


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Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2012, 09:42 PM »
Well, I guess you could call it "greyish brown"... I should have said it's not AS brown as on my MFT.
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Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 09:44 PM »
I did look at a material that my local lumber yard merely identified as "counter material" Maybe it was Richlite. Thanks Tom, I will investigate that option further.
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Offline Joe Smith

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 10:11 PM »
I buy very similar MDF as my MFT/3 from both Home Depot and Lowes.  Most MDF that I have ever seen, looks very similar.   Even the LDF I have used, has about the same color to it as my MFT/3 top.   

You probably can get a 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" MDF from a big box store for $30 to $40.  Currently I paid $34 for a full sheet. 

I use MDF and LDF pretty regularly (in four different states in 10 years) and the only difference I have seen between manufactures of MDF is the tendency for it to separate like flakes after some abuse to it. But with new stuff, it would be hard to tell the difference. 

If you are seeing a different color, you are probably seeing a different product.
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Offline Kevin Stricker

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 12:17 AM »
Not all MDF is the same, there is a big different in density and stability between Home Depot MDF and say Plum Creek MDF. I would steer clear of big box MDF and also Ultralite MDF as it is a bit friable and I think would easily get damaged when putting clamps in it.  Considering you are using it in your barn I might go for Medex, which is a water resistant variety.  You may also want to check out Extira, which is a new(to me) exterior rated MDF product that has a similar density to Plum Creek MDF.

Buy the good stuff, considering you are looking for a workshop application the higher density the better.

Offline fritter63

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 12:41 AM »
Be carefully not confuse MDF with particle board (or let a salesperson make that mistake):

MDF FAQ

Offline Deansocial

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2012, 02:33 AM »
I'm building a large assembly table and need advice on the best material for the top. I have a CNC vendor who will rout matching MFT holes and pattern, etc. for a very affordable price, so no... I won't be spending $600 to buy 3 perforated panels from Festool. Can someone identify the "type" of MDF which was used on the MFT/3? All of the MDF I've used to date, is gray in color and does not seem as dense, or high-quality as Festool's. On-line, I found a German product called LITE-MDF which is made of spruce and looks – can't tell much from their tiny photo – like Festool's. Or, should I consider plywood or counter material instead.  Note: my shop is in my unheated barn so humidity and temperature variations are important considerations. Your thoughts/advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your assistance!

Gray?  All the MDF I've seen/used, even in your area was brown.  Where are you getting yours from?


i think deep rout mdf is greyish

Online Alan m

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2012, 02:44 AM »
id be more inclined to go with a high density fiber board. i take it this is a stationarery set up
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Offline TomGadwa1

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 03:22 AM »
As stated above obtain the most dense material available due to the aforementioned clamping issues. Remember that Festool is using a very high quality grade of material for the MFT tops. Sometimes supplies like this are not available to the general public. If they were then why would anyone want to buy from the Pros such as Festool. I. E. Why go to a Steakhouse and pay more for a steak than one that I can buy at a supermarket. Because the Steakhouse and restaurants normally obtain higher quality cuts of meat. This is done to encourage people to go out and spend their hard earned money on something that someone else prepares. This is what employees people at restaurants and also at Festool. So good luck trying to find comparable material for your endeavor.
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Offline andy5405

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 04:16 PM »
I don't know exactly what the composition of the Festool MFT top is but I'm guessing it is something they have made for their specific purpose. It is certainly moisture resistant to a point as everyone uses my MFT tops to make coffee on site and it doesn't affect it in the same way that bog standard MDF would be affected. My two tops are 19.75mm thick which is neither a readily available metric or imperial size. I considered having my own tops done on CNC machine but it was going to be a lot of faffing around for results that could have been iffy so I spent £120 on two tops and am very happy with them. There didn't seem to be a lot of mileage in trying to beat Festool at their own game. 

Offline Umbro

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 04:40 PM »
Use either HDF (High density fibreboard) or moisture resistant MDF.
 If you use a laminated board such as ply it stands a good chance of de-laminating in a damp or moisture laiden environment. Plus it's not as dimensionally stable as HDF or MR board.
With ply you also run the risk of breaking the timber around the holes and also damaging the surface of the board if you over tighten your clamps. 
If you use standard MDF you can literally put a cup diwn on the top and if it's got a wet bottom [sad] it'll blow the surface if not sealed.

HDF would be my choice.

Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 09:56 PM »
Thanks all! You've armed me with exactly the kind of information I was seeking. I'll be checking out your suggestions.

In that my CNC vendor is a lumber yard, my options may be limited to what they stock or their wholesalers can provide. But, I won't just "settle" either. First and foremost is obtaining the best material. If they can't supply it, I'll buy elsewhere and pay them for their CNC routing... or drill the holes myself. Thanks again for your assistance.
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Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2012, 11:01 PM »
My CNC company quoted me $77.00 to rout the hole pattern in a 4'x8' sheet of 3/4"regular MDF. They CAN get 3/4" Medex and do the job for an additional $50.00. I realize that Medex is water resistant – therefore a better choice than regular MDF – but is it any more dense? They can't get Richlite or Extira and haven't yet found High Density Fiberboard. I visited 2 other lumber companies and they don't stock HDF and can't order-in just 1 sheet. I know that some of you have a lot more experience with these materials than I. What would you do? Keep searching for HDF or go with the Medex? Thanks again for all your great advice.

Joel
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Offline TomGadwa1

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2012, 12:09 AM »
I do not want to discourage your efforts but it sounds like you are about to spend $120.00 dollars on a MFT top that is most likely going to be missing some of the detailing that will be inherent in the Festool product. Bear in mind that the MFT top made by Festool has beveled edges and through holes holes drilled for the mounting on the MFT table. Also the holes are extremely accurately positioned. Another thing that I would consider is how much is my time worth to research and coordinate the effort of having the material obtained and then brought to the fabricating facility and then of course having that done and then picking up the top once that is done. Remember that all Festool wants for the replacement top is $145.00. So your going to save $25.00 for something that may not be as good as the product made by Festool. Such as the material for the top. If it sounds like I work for Festool I assure you that I do not. I am just a hopelessly addicted Festool-Holic.
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Offline Qwas

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2012, 12:40 AM »
No, he is getting a much larger MFT top, 4' x 8'. The beveled edges are easily added with a router afterwards.  [smile]

His CNC holes should be just as accurate as Festool's holes.  [smile]

His research and efforts could pay off in future jobs, knowledge is priceless.  [smile]

If he goes with the Medex, he may have found something better than Festool. No way of knowing until someone tries.  [smile]

Keep going Joel, there's lots of us out here still rooting for you.  [smile]
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Offline Kevin Stricker

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2012, 12:45 AM »
Tom, I think you are missing the point that he wants a larger tabletop than a single MFT top.  Also, there is nothing special about the MDF that Festool uses. I actually think they have decreased the quality of MDF used as my 3 year old MFT top is holding up a lot better than the one I got last year and I have been babying the new one to keep it looking pretty.

Joel, I would ask them how much for additional tops.  Most likely the bulk of the price is in the setup of the CNC.  I would consider just getting 2-3 tops in regular MDF, then you are set for a good long time.  If one gets ruined you have a backup.  Smaller off cuts could be really useful for jig making and possibly other small tops.

Just an idea...even if they charge full price for a second top it is still only $20 more than a single Medex top.  Spray some Sealcoat on it and it should be fine unless your barn has a leaky roof.

Offline TomGadwa1

  • Posts: 339
Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2012, 04:16 AM »
My apologies gentlemen. I did overlook that fact. Based on your cogent observations I applaud the OP's efforts. And considering the size mentioned it really sounds like a super deal!!
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Online Alan m

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2012, 09:03 AM »
personnaly i would make a jig for doing the patern rather than the top itself.
cnc the holes to fit a guide bush you have (30mm maybe)  and use a 20mm bit to make the  holes in whatever material you want. peronally this is what i will do . cnc in a few registation points so that you can continue the patern, 20mm holes for qwas dogs on the sides to give the corect inset for the holes and notchs for the qwas dog s to regester against for moving it along the piece.
im sure a 4.5 foot piece of plastic or dence sheet goods wouldnt be that dear and you can use it for ever and even do a few for your friends
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Offline mastercabman

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2012, 09:11 AM »
Try MDO
I don't understand!?! I keep cutting it,and it's still too short!

Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2012, 09:44 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement, Qwas.  

About "doing it myself"... I had considered finding a 20mm Forstner bit and building a jig to insure perpendicular drilling, using my MFT top for the pattern, marking the center points of each hole onto the new top by hand using the 20mm bit itself as a center punch, etc. but finding the bit, or 20mm router bit (then I'd need to buy a "holy" rail and of course a new rail-matching router... hmmm). The searches proved frustrating, time consuming and more expensive than the CNC option, so DIY doesn't seem feasible for me... nor as accurate in the end as the CNC route.

I appreciate the great suggestion of producing more than one sheet. However, safely storing the spare(s) for an extended period would be impossible in my environment. If this venture proves out well, I can always order another, if needed 4-5-6, years out.

Mastercabman, thanks for the latest suggestion. I'll check-out MDO too.

Thanks again for all your input. Feeling I'm not "in this alone" really does help.
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Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2012, 10:13 PM »
Well, my large MFT-like table is nearly finished! 

Material I selected is 3/4" Moisture Resistant MDF. Final cost for the drilled 4'x8' sheet, $127.00. 20mm holes were CNC drilled and are clean and very accurately positioned on 96mm centers.

The hole sizes however do vary very slightly – about the same tolerances as my MFT/3 table's holes. I used a very tight fitting custom Qwas dog to check hole sizes. Since it's a perfect "friction fit" in some holes and has the tiniest wiggle in others, it serves as an amazingly sensitive feeler gauge, identifying even the slightest variations. Curiously, I found alternating tight and loose entire "rows" of holes in the new sheet. I called the CNC vendor and learned the explanation... these CNC holes were drilled simultaneously with 2 bits. Both are new Amana 20mm bits which, while I'm sure within Amana's tolerances, are infinitesimally different. Still, they should prove OK since the dogs are always pushed to the "back" of the holes anyway when in use. At least, that's my theory.

I'll report back in a few months about how the material is holding up. It's so pristine... I hate the thought of making that first cut in it.

Thanks for your input along the way. It really did prove very helpful.
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Online ScotF

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2012, 12:01 AM »
Take some pics if you get a chance -- would love to see the top.  Also, you opted for Medex or a different brand? 

Thanks for posting this thread.

Scot

Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2012, 05:38 PM »
Scot, the CNC vendor obtained the Moisture Resistant MDF for me and I never asked for the brand name. I'll inquire and let you know. And, I'll snap a few pictures after I add the top trim next week. I've tried to post photos here before without success. I'm on a MAC and that usually calls for a workaround. So, I'll probably need a little advice.
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Offline Peter Halle

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2012, 06:16 PM »
Regarding posting images, you shouldn't have any issues because of a Mac.  I am a Mac also.  Here is a link to using iPhoto to ready your images, etc.  iPhoto and images here

Peter
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Offline Joe Smith

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2012, 09:02 PM »
Well, my large MFT-like table is nearly finished! 

Material I selected is 3/4" Moisture Resistant MDF. Final cost for the drilled 4'x8' sheet, $127.00. 20mm holes were CNC drilled and are clean and very accurately positioned on 96mm centers.

I'll report back in a few months about how the material is holding up. It's so pristine... I hate the thought of making that first cut in it.

Thanks for your input along the way. It really did prove very helpful.

I thought about this thread a little bit over the past few weeks.   These above statements seem to support my thoughts on this, which are that I would buy the big box MDF and not worry about it.  One, it is a workbench and it is meant to be used. So, it should not be viewed as a "pristine" anything.  Sure I like to keep my shop nice and presentable, but when it comes down to it, I do not want to worry about my workbench, especially if I am cutting into it with my TS55 ( I do not remember if you plan on using it for that purpose).

Second, I can get 4 sheets of MDF (lesser quality) for $127.  That just means, I can use it for its purpose, which is a workbench and replace it when it needs to be replace. If it gets wet by accident and unusable, I would just lift it up and replace it and continue on.  Even if I bought 2-3 sheets and had the CNC drilled so you get the exact spacing, it still is around the same amount.

Ultimately it does not matter, it is your shop and money, do what you want.
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Offline Corwin

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2012, 09:53 PM »
Well, my large MFT-like table is nearly finished! 

Material I selected is 3/4" Moisture Resistant MDF. Final cost for the drilled 4'x8' sheet, $127.00. 20mm holes were CNC drilled and are clean and very accurately positioned on 96mm centers.

I'll report back in a few months about how the material is holding up. It's so pristine... I hate the thought of making that first cut in it.

Thanks for your input along the way. It really did prove very helpful.

I thought about this thread a little bit over the past few weeks.   These above statements seem to support my thoughts on this, which are that I would buy the big box MDF and not worry about it.  One, it is a workbench and it is meant to be used. So, it should not be viewed as a "pristine" anything.  Sure I like to keep my shop nice and presentable, but when it comes down to it, I do not want to worry about my workbench, especially if I am cutting into it with my TS55 ( I do not remember if you plan on using it for that purpose).

Second, I can get 4 sheets of MDF (lesser quality) for $127.  That just means, I can use it for its purpose, which is a workbench and replace it when it needs to be replace. If it gets wet by accident and unusable, I would just lift it up and replace it and continue on.  Even if I bought 2-3 sheets and had the CNC drilled so you get the exact spacing, it still is around the same amount.

Ultimately it does not matter, it is your shop and money, do what you want.

Joe,  It seems that you have totally missed the point...  The bulk of the $127.00 was likely the cost of machining those holes.  Much smarter to start with a moisture resistant product if you are going to spend the time and money having the holes machined.  Heck, at $127.00, that 4'x8' top is cheaper than a replacement MFT top from Festool.  Sounds to me like a good way to go.
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Offline Iwood75

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2012, 10:27 PM »
Joe, the original price for a standard MDF drilled was $77.00. It went up $50 for the Moisture Resistant type. This is not meant to be a work bench. It was built to serve as my assembly table so the holes for clamping, etc. As such, the highest priority to me was flatness over time. My shop is in my unheated barn and humidity, my main enemy. Therefore, I felt that an additional $50 was a worthwhile "long term flatness" insurance investment. So, far, I haven't fastened the top down and it seems to lie there "flat as can be" under its own weight. I'm letting everything acclimate for a while so that I can plane or adjust the top framing if it decides to move before final fastening. So far, so good – even through a below freezing night, rainy days and 78 degree days, etc. No hot, humid summer yet... so we'll see.
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Offline Sometimewoodworker

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Re: The top on my MFT/3 is what type of MDF?
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2012, 02:30 AM »
, the highest priority to me was flatness over time. My shop is in my unheated barn and humidity, my main enemy. Therefore, I felt that an additional $50 was a worthwhile "long term flatness" insurance investment. So, far, I haven't fastened the top down and it seems to lie there "flat as can be" under its own weight. I'm letting everything acclimate for a while so that I can plane or adjust the top framing if it decides to move before final fastening. So far, so good – even through a below freezing night, rainy days and 78 degree days, etc. No hot, humid summer yet... so we'll see.
you may find no need to fasten it down.
I have 3 MFT style tops. The latest is in plywood and is fastened down as it is designed to rotate. Of the other 2 my first test top is small and gets moved and stood on its side so is screwed down the big one isn't fastened down and probably never will be. However, I have put them on a semi torsion box base so they aren't likely to deform. Also I used chipboard for the first 2 (and now about 4 years on they are in almost new condition) you can find detail at http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/20mm-hole-on-a-96mm-grid-system-(mft-top-style)/msg78004/#msg78004 and http://meekings.selfip.com/nui/Groups-of-photos/Wood_work_etc/Pages/Workbench.html
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