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Portable work bench: MFT 800 vs homebuilt vs other?

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Forum topic by m88k posted 06-15-2010 10:19 PM 8891 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


06-15-2010 10:19 PM

I’m looking to do woodworking while traveling; mostly between my place and my parents, but I’ll probably be spending several weeks out at a vacation home in the middle of nowhere, and I’m looking to take some sort of workspace with me. Also, I’d like to place this thing in the back of a small hatchback, so dimensions are limited to about 55”x32”.

I recently picked up the Festool TS55, which is absolutely wonderful, and the only reason I’d even consider springing for the MFT 800 (currently $306 with all accessory hardware). Really, it costs way too much for 4 square feet of table, but the tool integration is appealing. Also there are no reviews of the MFT 800, only it’s big brother and the new MFT 3.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the sawhorses and boards/sheet approach, which potentially provides the most work area for the money, but is the least conducive of precision work. Also, I’d need to buy sawhorses, cause my wooden cheapies aren’t portable enough.

Then there are the more reasonably priced Vika workbench and Skil X-bench, possibly other options here I’m unaware of?

Finally there’s the build-it-myself option, which I may not have time to complete before traveling. Also, I’ve had no luck finding folding legs that seem sturdy enough.

Any advise or opinions on the above options, or suggestions to look at something else are welcome.

-- ~Mark


16 replies so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1510 posts in 3591 days


#1 posted 06-16-2010 12:35 AM

The MFT is (relatively) light, at least in comparison to the home-made semi-portable tables I’ve made, and it’s pretty sturdy. It’s not heavy enough for hand planing, really, but I’ve had no reservations about standing on it.

And if you have the Festool saw and don’t currently have a workstation with the fold-down rail and a fence, the integration is nice. A word of warning, I keep a speed square around to adjust my MFT fence and rail regularly, I’m told the new table has a much better rail system.

But, as much as I’m a “build it yourself” sort of person generally, here’s a vote for the MFT. Spending a few bucks gets you doing the thing you really want to be doing faster.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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JimmyG

4 posts in 2389 days


#2 posted 06-16-2010 12:45 AM

I have one and use it with my Festool. It’s a good, sturdy table, as mentioned above. It’s worth the money if you are going to use it on site. Otherwise, maybe not. A sliding compound miter saw will do the same, unless the boards are too wide. Do I use it? Yep, all the time, without the Festool guide on it. For clamping, holding, stacking, etc. And, when the need arises, I use it with the saw and guide. Note that I do not have a table saw. Just a bandsaw and miter saw.

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3043 days


#3 posted 06-16-2010 12:46 AM

I’m not familiar with festool model numbers or tools so I’m not much help here.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

259 posts in 2589 days


#4 posted 06-16-2010 02:39 AM

One guy in our woodworking club has a portable setup that he takes to different club events. He has two of those black plastic sawhorses. I think some are better than others, so spring for the good ones. Then he has a piece of phenolic plywood he sets on the sawhorses. He has a pair of cleats at each end of the plywood to capture the top rails of the sawhorses. He put a nice oak edge band around the board to dress it up. You could probably use regular plywood and use contact adhesive to stick down a piece of countertop laminate.

I don’t think he hammers mortises or anything like that, but he does use it for a lot of stuff. We have sharpening sessions and he uses it for his Tormek and splashes water all over.

-- Tony - http://ravensedgetoolworks.com

View m88k's profile

m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#5 posted 06-16-2010 03:16 AM

I found this bad boy at Harbor Freight while picking up clamps an hour ago. Looks quite handy. I just wish they hadn’t zip-tied it to the shelf. I would have liked to play with it.

Dan, do you have the 800 or the 1080? I’m worried that the 800 is too small, as all the raving about how useful the system is comes from the 1080 or the MFT 3. The local Woodcraft has the MFT 3, I should ask if they have any of the older ones floating around somewhere. As far as what I want to be doing, I would be happy to design and build a custom bench, but I have 3 largish projects I’m working on and about 2 weeks before I’d like to start my travels. And I already bought a plastic speed square to live in the TS55’s systainer.

Jimmy, I have the track saw, and have no intention of buying another circular saw soon.

Jim, the MFT 800 is Festool’s smallest portable table. It’s been discontinued and is on what Festool calls “closeout”, a measly 10% discount from MSRP. The ts55 is the smaller track saw, with a 55mm cut depth and a 55 inch track. Here it is at CPOFestool, for some reason not discounted properly.

-- ~Mark

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Dan Lyke

1510 posts in 3591 days


#6 posted 06-16-2010 03:41 AM

I have the 1080. The 800 is small, but if you put your tools away and only do one thing at a time…

Of course I have a lot of trouble keeping to that, “just this cut, then I’ll need the Domino again, and the sander, and…” and my table is full.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View swirt's profile

swirt

2118 posts in 2438 days


#7 posted 06-16-2010 03:47 AM

Two folding Stanley Fatmax sawhorses with 2×4’s dropped into the parallel slots can give you a very sturdy work space then you can clamp a piece of plywood to the 2×4s.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View m88k's profile

m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#8 posted 06-16-2010 04:27 AM

Dan, thats what a cheap folding picnic/ card table is for. My landlord has two stored in the garage, and while they shake way too much to work on, they’re great for storing workpieces that are crowding my bench and tools I’ll need in a minute.

-- ~Mark

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m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#9 posted 06-17-2010 10:53 PM

Does the MFT have leveling feet? I can’t find a reference to them anywhere, but it seems like a serious oversight on a 300 dollar portable workbench…

Found it. I always think to search for “height adjust”, when I should search for “level”. What I found was a reference to a single leg adjustment. This compensates for uneven surfaces, but does nothing for actually leveling the table. Just seems silly to spend so much on a table and still have to shim it to account for an unleveled floor.

-- ~Mark

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 2752 days


#10 posted 06-17-2010 11:40 PM

I have the 800 and the 1080. They are fantastic portable tables, but like anything portable, they have their limitations. I do not use mine for any hand-planing because I don’t feel they are stable enough—That, and I have a good workbench right next to the 1080. For portable work, I have often in the past (pre-Festool) used the black plastic saw horses with a sheet of plywood. That is good only so far. Great for laying out tools and supplies—not so good for actually working on.

Of course you could build something, but how portable will it be if it is heavy enough to use. The Festool clamps available are awesome with these tables. The fence and track for the saw is great if you need it. Since you already have the TS 55, I would highly recommend the table. I agree the 800 is a little small, but with your limited ability to haul it, you’re going to have that problem not matter what you do. If you could manage the price and size of the 1080, I would get it instead. They are both priced better since they are discontinued.

Good luck
Kent

-- http://shepherdtoolandsupply.com/

View m88k's profile

m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#11 posted 06-18-2010 03:48 AM

It’s the price that kills me Kent; I feel like Festool is one of those products where prices are totally reasonable compared to options in Europe, but the prices don’t translate like others do when they cross the pond. And while the discontinued prices are what got my attention, they barely take care of sales tax.

That, and while the 1080 would fit in my hatch easily, moving a 75 pound folding table regularly sounds like a bit of a pain. I remeasured by the way; rear area is actually more like 55”x40”.

-- ~Mark

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2540 days


#12 posted 06-18-2010 04:24 AM

I’m very happy with my ts 55. I use it with a piece of cheap OSB on either my workbench or on sawhorses. On the sawhorses, I usually put down a double layer to avoid any sagging. I see no need for an expensive table.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View m88k's profile

m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#13 posted 06-18-2010 08:02 AM

Rich, I’m currently using the TS55 directly on my mdf and 2×4 bench. The beast accounts for all of my workshop space in my landlord’s garage, I roll the bench (on casters) out onto the driveway in the afternoon and merrily cut away. Works beautifully, and I absolutely adore the saw. (thanks for the recommendation) That said, I feel like I may have more purpose for the MFT than you. As the TS55 is my only saw, I’m thinking about the MFT as a way to easily introduce repeatable cuts, and an overly sophisticated miter gauge. That said, it’s really hard to consider spending that sort of cash on a table when it’ll delay my plans to get a router.

I think I’ll bail on the MFT for now and keep an eye out for anyone selling theirs; they seem to be the Festool with the worst customer satisfaction, and the new models are incompatible with the old, so maybe I can get a decent deal if I just wait.

I’m thinking I’ll throw together my own shopdog variant next week, maybe a torsion box worktop for it….

-- ~Mark

View Domer's profile

Domer

252 posts in 2832 days


#14 posted 06-18-2010 08:28 PM

I think the MFT for $300 does not have the miter fence. I think it is more in the $400 range. You might want to make sure before you buy it.

I bought one at Woodcraft when they were closing it out because I have several Festools. I didn’t realize how handy it is. It is very solid and portable, a little heavy for this old guy but I can handle it.

Anyway, I am very glad I bought it. I use it almost every time I work in the shop.

Domer

View m88k's profile

m88k

83 posts in 2418 days


#15 posted 06-19-2010 08:39 AM

The closeout price of the MFT 800 basic is 202, 306 with hardware.

According to the Festool Catalog, the MFT 800 includes; the table, 2 guide rail supports, angle unit, fence rail, fence rail clamp, adjustable stop, deflector, and an fs 800 guide rail. I assumed the angle unit+fence rail made the miter fence. Is this incorrect?

-- ~Mark

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