Festool Meets A “Mechanic”

So, I’ve been flirting with this idea for a while now and essentially, here’s how it went down:

My wife has been wanting some built-in cabinets in our dining room and a couple of months ago, we started fielding quotes. They were outrageous… Like, REALLY outrageous. So outrageous, that I began to ponder the idea of building them myself. The only problem (besides my complete lack of knowledge and experience working with wood) was that my shop simply wasn’t outfitted to work with wood. And frankly, I didn’t like the idea of converting it because of two main factors:

First, my shop is outfitted for my mechanic duties. Everything has it’s place and there’s a place for everything. The idea of mixing that up and hindering a space that has worked so well for me, scared the hell out of me.

Secondly, the idea of introducing saw dust to my shop really bothered me. My dad was a woodworker. In fact, I’d consider him a master wood worker. Hell, he once built a working padlock completely out of rare hardwoods. It was a thing of beauty… but you know what wasn’t? All of the damn saw dust that covered everything he owned. I’m insanely dedicated to keeping my shop clean and I simply couldn’t live with that.

So, now what?

I started my research by looking at dust collection – my number one priority. That search took me down all sorts of avenues and each seemed to end with Festool. “Their dust collection is insanely effective,” one member on the forum said. “I don’t even really deal with saw dust at all.”

Good enough for me… So then I started researching Festool and all of the tools I’d need for my project. It was then that I started to realize that Festool is really a kind of system approach to wood working. Everything they make is designed with everything else they make in mind. AND, just about everything they make is designed to fit in a systainer – smallish plastic bins that are compact, strong, and stackable. So now I had a solution that was supposedly close to dustless and compact enough that when not in use, could be packed away in a corner of my shop utilizing a tiny footprint.

It was a true win/win. That is until I started pricing the tools. Holy moly is this stuff expensive. Want a track saw? Hand over $650. Want a good length of track to go with it? Hand over $400. Want a decent router? Hand over another $500. Want… You get the point. Money doesn’t go far at a German tool store.

I priced out everything I needed and it was close to $8,000. I then looked at my options knowing that a reconfigured and dusty shop space was not one of them. That left me with the idea of building a small shed dedicated to wood working and filling it with less expensive tools. Considering the time and money it would take to build this shed and outfit it, Festool started to make more sense. And then I started to think about the quotes I got for the built-in cabinets my wife wanted. Suddenly, I could sort-of rationalize all of this… I bit the bullet and ordered a crap load of Festool from Festoolproducts.com.

And this is a good time for a disclaimer of sorts. A lot of people think I get a ton of free shit to review for the site. And while I do get some free stuff, it is fairly rare. In fact, most of the time I have to give the stuff back that I review. This project is a bit different. I’m not buying this stuff to review on the site (though I plan too). I bought this stuff to use in my shop for a personal project. As such, I got online and asked for tool advice from Festool USA. They gave me a list of tools they thought I would find best suited for the job at hand and then I took that list to Festoolproducts.com. I placed an order like anyone else would and then waited for the UPS truck.

Before that truck arrived, however, the guys at Festoolproducts.com sent me an email. Turns out they are owned by toolnut.com – a company that I’ve actually bought from in the past. Basically, they wanted to know what I was up too… I told them about my project and they decided to sponsor me after the fact. Pretty rad, right? I like it for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it all came together so naturally – toolnut.com gets some promotion, I get some revenue, and I don’t at all feel like a whore for some tool company. In fact, the net/net of it all is still a pretty substantial financial outlay on my part. Thus far, it’s been completely worth it.

Anyway, I only bring that up for transparency’s sake. I don’t want you guys think I’ve jumped a shark or anything. I haven’t… I just got really lucky.

But back to the shop and this project… The video above is the first of a series that will cover my experience of learning how to make stuff out of wood using the Festool system. Admittedly, this is as experimental on the production side as it is on the project side. I don’t feel comfortable at all in front of a camera and I’m also just learning the technical side of making these videos as well. But, hopefully things will get a little better from here on out. It can only get better, right?

One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t really like talking about tools all that much. I do, however, really enjoy making stuff with them. As such, the first few of these videos will just go over the basics of the tools that I have and then the rest will focus on making stuff using these tools as well as my thoughts on each in use. Make sense? If so, stay tuned…

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Plastic Bins
Plastic Bins