When you look at the latest developments from Festool what is immediately apparent is the extent to which this German manufacturer has analysed just how the trades are already using its tools. These are no solutions in search of a problem but the result of the careful scrutinising of a particular application, and finding an answer that is not only easier to use, but ultimately provides a better finish.
A case in point is a new concept in sanding. A good surface finish on the edges of worktops is more often than not achieved with a time-consuming hand-held block, whilst using a random or orbital sander can run the risk of rounding the angles. The Festool solution is the ES-ETS 125/ES-ETSC 125 edge sander, where you can run the tool along the top of the workpiece whilst sanding the edge. Whether it is an inner corner or external curve, painted or untreated, the tool can deliver the required result, whilst the unit can be set to run along angles from 43 to 92º, and locked in position.
To complement new developments like its edge sander, Festool prides itself on providing a complete system, including storage and transportation, and its Systainer3, developed in partnership with bott and TANOS, is the latest embodiment of that ambition. These sturdy tool containers will slide effortlessly in and out of the bott vario 3 vehicle equipment range, stack and lock together on site for space saving, or sit on any of Festool’s dust extractors. Variations on the theme include the XXL, with a 64 litre capacity, and the Organizer, with its transparent lid and compartments for small parts, whilst more and more tools are being made available within a Systainer3.
This year the Systainer concept moves on still further with Toprock taking a bow. Here, a Bluetooth loud speaker has been incorporated into the lid, providing high sound quality in a durable package, whilst connecting two Toprocks to your smartphone via Bluetooth will allow for stereo sound. There’s an integrated battery that gives 10 hours of play at medium volume, and there’s a USB point for charging smartphones and other devices.
By securing tools in your van whilst driving the Systainer can mitigate the effects of accidents, and damage in transit, but one tool that provides a rather more dramatic demonstration of advances in safety is the TKS 80 bench-mounted circular saw with SawStop technology. It works by detecting the moisture inherent in the human body and protects errant fingers in the process. If a blade threatens to come into contact with a user’s skin a cartridge works together with a spring to push an aluminium block into the saw blade. That saw blade will then stop in less than five milliseconds, disappearing into the machine bench and out of the hazard area. To get started again it’s a simple matter of removing and replacing the old blade and cartridge.
If you’re working on larger panels on site you might be well be using trestles, or some other improvised support. Launched in April of this year, the new STM 1800 saw table and work bench is a purpose-built solution. It weighs in at just 34kg, can easily be assembled and transported by one person, whilst its mobility is enhanced with rollers and a brake. Extensions can provide an even wider surface for bigger board material, with a fully assembled contact surface of 1,800 x 1,800mm. That means builders can machine material without additional assistance and, in conjunction with a guide rail and saw, this folding table can easily be transformed into a mobile panel saw, with the workpiece held securely in place at all times. Indeed, thanks the table’s tilting function, sheet material up to 3,100 x 2,150 mm can be held and machined by a single person. The working height can be adjusted, it takes up very little space when folded down, and can be assembled large or small as required.
Earlier this year, Festool’s Spring launches included an entry level dust extractor in the shape of the Cleantec CT15, the weight saving Li-HighPower battery pack, and the TID 18 Impact Driver. Professional Builder’s Tibby Singh Chodha has already reviewed this powerful 180Nm, 4.0 amp hr lithium-ion cordless impact driver and you can read that review here.
Festool knows its customer very well and they recognise that, whilst the trades might not be apt to read instruction manuals, they invariably have a long list of questions. A new user friendly How To app seeks to answer these through videos and other resources.