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Festool CMS Router Table First Look

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 710 days ago 2799 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As most of you know, I have a nice working relationship with Festool. While they are no longer a sponsor, they do give us great tools for our giveaways throughout the year and they also provide me with tools for review purposes. This gives me a unique opportunity to show you how the tool works so you can decide if it’s worth the investment.

I’ll be honest, I have an unhealthy addiction to the green and black. Or is it a really dark blue? And I know I’m not the only one with this affliction! But even if you’re not quite prepared to pull out your credit card just yet, you can at least enjoy the eye-candy of a well-made machine. Not me….the CMS! So here’s a first look at the Festool CMS Router Table.

My goal with this presentation was to show you the three primary functions of the table: edge profiling, end-grain routing with the sliding table and miter gauge, and bearing routing. The system performs well in all three areas but here are a few things that caught my attention, for better or worse.

Sliding Table
The sliding table is the bees knees. Anyone who has used a sliding table on a tablesaw knows how useful and accurate these things can be. They slide along effortlessly with friction-free motion, resulting in the cleanest and most secure cuts possible. So imagine that same concept on a much smaller scale at the router table. Just like at the tablesaw, the slider isn’t a necessity, but it’s a heck of a nice add-on.

Bearing Routing
One thing I do a lot of in my shop is pattern routing, so anything that makes that process easier and safer is a good thing. Festool includes a separate dust shroud/guard that attaches right to the table and is very effective. Keep in mind that this is a feature that most router tables, to my knowledge, don’t even offer. If you want something like this, you would normally have to make it yourself. Additionally, they came up with a nifty alternative to the traditional index pin. Instead of having a few inches of space between the pin and the spinning bit, Festool gives you a long plastic arm that nestles into the bearing of the bit. This gives you continuous support as you smoothly transition from the support arm to the bit. I am not exaggerating when I say that using a bearing-guided bit has never felt safer! I was quite impressed with this simple feature.

Dust collection
Is anyone surprised that their dust collection is second to none? I’m not. This is just something that you come to expect from Festool. Because the unit collects the dust from above and below, dust collection is about as close to perfect as you can get.

Vibration
This is something I noticed immediately when I first fired up the router: the system has very little vibration. I don’t know if it’s the rubber feet or the little rubber tape strips under the table top, but something is eating up that vibration. I’m not sure how much this ultimately impacts the quality of the work, but less vibration is always a good thing. Get your minds out of the gutter you heathens!

Micro-Adjustment
This isn’t a negative so much as a missed opportunity. The primary fence has a big old adjustment knob at the back that can be used to push the right side of the fence in and out. This is incredibly helpful when you need to use the router as a quick make-shift jointer. Of course with respect to the road warrior crowd, that’s a killer feature. But to the shop woodworker, it’s a missed opportunity. Sure, some of us might use our router as a jointer, but the vast majority of us already have a jointer. It’s too bad the micro adjustment can’t be applied to the entire fence as well. This could have given Incra a run for their money in terms of micro-adjustment. Instead, it’s a very cool feature that I’ll never use.

Portability
The router table comes in two forms: one that attaches to an MFT Table and one that is stand-alone. The version I received was the stand-alone. Because the table is on its own folding stand, you have to expect a little movement. However, the unit never felt unstable in any way. The system is compact and obviously weighs considerably less than a comparable shaper or traditional router table. If stability is a major concern for you, you might consider the MFT-attached version as I hear it is more stable.

Update The Metal Bar
Within a few minutes of posting, several folks pointed out the potential obstacle created by the metal bar that holds the featherboards in place. I didn’t provide much commentary about this primarily because I felt it was just too soon. Many safety features initially feel like they are in your way until you learn how to work with them. Tablesaw guards and jointer guards (especially European versions) tend to create a similar situation. So I really didn’t want to pass judgement too soon. Time will tell. I should also point out that in the video, I was using one of my tablesaw push sticks. Clearly not the best tool for the job, but it’s all I had access to at the time.

It’s Your Call
When I mentioned I would be doing a video on the CMS, I immediately received questions asking how it compares to other comparable router tables on the market and whether it would be worth the typical Festool premium. I am not really prepared to answer this right now as I have only worked with the system for a few days, using test pieces for the sake of demonstration. I’ll know a lot more in six months. Even then, I may not be able to tell you if it is “worth it” for you. Similar to most tools in the Festool lineup, some will find the feature set and quality-level irresistible and invaluable while others will simply balk at the price. Welcome to a phenomenon I like to call, The Festool Polarization.

What I can tell you with confidence is that this unit is every bit as capable as other router table systems we know and love already. Do the extra features justify the extra cost? Well, that depends on how much you value those extras. But rest assured, as with all Festool products, this unit is designed with precision and safety in mind and is made from high quality components. It also integrates seamlessly into pre-existing Festool setups.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com



12 comments so far

View gbear's profile

gbear

389 posts in 2726 days


#1 posted 710 days ago

Nice job on the demo Marc…this appears to be another quality Festool tool. A couple of questions:
Does the table accept routers other than Festool?
What is the price of the table and router that Festool recomends?
Thanks

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View thewoodwhisperer's profile

thewoodwhisperer

601 posts in 2810 days


#2 posted 710 days ago

I can say that the table is not INTENDED to take other routers. Even if you could get one to clamp in place, you’d have to get something going for the lift mechanism to work properly. So I’m sure someone out there could get another router to work, but that’s definitely not what Festool wants. :)

As for pricing, I’m sure most vendors have ordering set up already but the one I came across recently was at Highland. You can check it out here: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/festool-cms-router-table.aspx

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com

View pickpapa's profile

pickpapa

128 posts in 1287 days


#3 posted 710 days ago

Hey Marc,
Thanks for the demo. It took me a minute to wipe up the drool over the tool. One thing came to mind toward the end when you were showing the micro-adjustable split fence. First thing I thought of was bars and munts for TDL doors. I was just running a little over 250 of those pieces last week on a shaper. I’m sure a router bit is made for profiling door parts, I have just always used the shaper, however it is exactly the same type setup. Hows the baby boy doin these days. I know you’re loving every second of time with him. Thanks again.

-- Chuck.. aka Pickpapa`'`'`'`'`'` The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. Heb. 1:3

View joeob's profile

joeob

68 posts in 1956 days


#4 posted 709 days ago

Musnt be for international viewing,
all i am getting is a black rectangle

Joe.

-- To finish something you must first start!

View Sirgreggins's profile

Sirgreggins

292 posts in 862 days


#5 posted 709 days ago

i just got my first router table for my bday. First pass i made i wasnt holding on tight and shot the board across the room. whoops! better hang on

View thewoodwhisperer's profile

thewoodwhisperer

601 posts in 2810 days


#6 posted 709 days ago

Did I ever tell you about the time I fed a piece of wood between the fence and the bit? Wow, talk about a missile! That was early in my woodworking career but a lesson I will never forget!

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com

View danr's profile

danr

150 posts in 1811 days


#7 posted 709 days ago

WoW $1500 for a small router table and a router. Thanks for the demo but man that $ is crazy. For that price I would get a fairly decent shaper. I know, I know, shaper cutters cost more than router bits, etc. etc. etc.

For half the money I will take my custom made mobile, 300 pound, 4ft. x 3ft flat top / micro dot, PRL-V2 lift, PC 7518 router, precision collets and nuts, digital height readout, Pinnical fence and coping sled any day. Of course if/when I aquire a “small” power feeder then I will have spent as much as the festool table and router.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m sure the festool is a great product but Wow, what you get for the $................?

Thanks again for the nice demo.

View MiniMoose's profile

MiniMoose

27 posts in 715 days


#8 posted 709 days ago

I imagine that Festool will release the rest of the modular system here in the USA fairly soon, The table saw insert for the TS75 would be the bee’s knees with the sliding table (been available in Europe for some time). There are inserts for a belt sander and the larger hand planer, I believe. That’s when you’d start seeing the utility of the CMS system. For small shops and mobile shops, you can’t really beat it. Buy it once, buy it for life….

-- Squeek!

View thewoodwhisperer's profile

thewoodwhisperer

601 posts in 2810 days


#9 posted 709 days ago

Good points guys. And please, don’t ever feel like you’re going to hurt my feelings by being critical about a product. I’m just demo’ing it. I hope that Festool pays attention to and considers this feedback in their future development of products.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com

View Julian's profile

Julian

503 posts in 1317 days


#10 posted 709 days ago

The video takes a minute or two before it starts. Great video; better than the one on Festool’s website. I agree with Dan; just too pricey for me. I have never owned any Festool tools because I’m not a professional woodworker and can’t justify spending so much money. The features that I thought were very good was the great dust collection, sliding table, large insert plate, and the micro adjustable split fence. I can see the benefits of this router table for a professional woodworking that goes to a job site. This is got me thinking on how I can make my own sliding table for my homemade router table. Thanks for the video.

-- Julian

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

4595 posts in 919 days


#11 posted 709 days ago

I watched this on YouTube last night. Looks like quite the nice product. I think I’d get annoyed by the feather board/plastic guard really quickly. I figured it would be in the way, then seeing you use the push stick sort of confirmed that. The sliding table looks really nice though. I’ve wanted to add something similar to my router table for a while, but I think it will wait until I make a new one…

I would have to agree with Julian… looks great, too expensive for my level. I was extremely impressed by the DC though. Wow.

Great video, and thanks for the early demo Marc :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist - www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods

View joesotick's profile (online now)

joesotick

1 post in 29 minutes


#12 posted 20 minutes ago

Can anyone let me know what the best and or type of raised panel bit to use on the festool cms table?

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