MFT - Why?

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deema

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I know, I know, it’s calling into question what many consider the holly grail of wood working jigs. But what’s the point of a MFT?
Let me put this into context, I’ve had one, I made one for my RAS, and thought it would be very useful for clamping. I also knew I could swing the arm out of the way and use it for all the other uses that are claimed for it. Now, being a engineer at heart, I placed a black dot next to each hole every time I used one…….guess how many I used? 3

I admire Peter for producing the 10 minute workshop videos, I think that the amount and time and effort he has put into what are very well thought out segments to be a real credit to him. I think I’ve watched all of them up to the point he retired from earning a living doing cabinetry. Now, I may be wrong, but I don’t think he actually really used any of the features of his MFT apart from mounting the lift up track on it……he used a couple, of holes for clamping stuff whilst he dominos off the edge, but that’s it.
Again, I’ve watched a few other uTube ‘real users’, not those who are trying to sell the latest wizzy gadget or subscriptio, and again, most only set it up for cross costs on one segment of the table. The rest of the holes appear to remain unused. Other people I’ve come across who have them, again seem to use it primarily for cross cutting…..in one place to preserve the top. Ie a straight edge and a 90 degree so, circa 4 holes.

Id like to ask, what’s everyone else’s perspective, and when you really think about it, do you actually use all the holes on the surface, or just a couple?
 

Spectric

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I have been here and asked the very same question, why do I want a lot of holes in my workbench so things can just fall through. I spent a lot of time looking into this and thinking about what it could do for me and always drew a blank. The fact festool was involved made me very suspicous because maybe it was just something that was part of their approach to woodworking and not mine. Some of my first thoughts were, people have been woodworking for centuries and without an MFT, perhaps with power tools it has a use and then I could see how it helps people working only in sheet goods to cut repetative pieces but what about me, how would it help me which I could not fathom out. The answer came whilst watching a video about some bench build where they were using dog holes and microjig dovetail slots, now you have a solution that both aligns and clamps. I still did not want holes in my bench, just seems like putting holes in a bucket and would let things escape so I thought of a top that just sits on my bench. I finally had to at least try things out to experience this craze of 20mm holes and so made a board with 20mm holes and the dovetail slots in between. It could have ended up as just an expensive experience with no benefits to myself but although not an MFT convert, I can say my approach with boards that sit on the workbence has been a success made possible by microjig. I use the dogs for alignment and location whilst the microjig clamps do the clamping and it has been a useful addition to my working methods.

I will say that I use a tracksaw and Benchdogs square for cutting sheet goods so not any MFT variant and you don't need a board full of holes because with them around the edges and a row through the middle you can just use a piece of wood to provide a straight working edge so maybe having the full number of holes is a just in case approach. With the Parf system you will end up with a board of 3mm holes anyway. I have found having extra holes spaced at 32mm can provide extra suport for working on corner joints.
 

TRITON

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Well theyre very good for clamping something mid-bench, for routing and the like.

I think something which would be handier, would be t track inset into the bench. Which allow for infinite adjustment, so you can place a component on, use a stop to stop it moving, parf holes in a hold down setting to secure it and then the t track would allow the placement of a guide rail or guide bar to router a dado into.
What I mean is is with parf holes, theyre set a set distance apart. So you are repeating the same placement spot for whatever sized component, and guide rail. but are limited to only allowing movement at whatever the holes are centered at.

I think a series of parf holes, and T track would give you better options and infinite angles to lay a guide rail against.

Think I'll draw something, work some stuff out.
 
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deema

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@TRITON what you suggest, to me sounds like a really good solution.

I took the MFT top off, and reverted to just a solid top that I decided I would drill any holes I needed. I haven’t drilled any yet, instead I screw jigs to it as needed. But a T track slot would be very useful.
 

Doug71

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I have an MFT style bench that is used for power tool work and is also my assembly bench, it's about 2.1m long x 1.1m wide.

One of the main reasons I built it was for cutting up sheet material with my tracksaw, it worked well for this but I now own a sliding panel saw which does the job much better so the MFT doesn't get used as a cutting table much now.

I still wouldn't be without it, I love all the clamping options it gives me and I often use dogs to help hold frames square while working on them.

I managed without one for 30 years but I would miss it now as it has become part of how I work.
 

Spectric

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The big issue with T track is that it is not so easy to get it to cross over in both the vertical and horizontal directions, with the microjig dovetail slots you end up with a matrix in both directions which gives total flexability. Take a look at these and you will see what I mean.







 

TRITON

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The big issue with T track is that it is not so easy to get it to cross over in both the vertical and horizontal directions, with the microjig dovetail slots you end up with a matrix in both directions which gives total flexibility. Take a look at these and you will see what I mean.
You may not have to have them cross. Its for aligning the guide rail for saw or router. The parf dog aligns the board, the t track which would extend across it can be aligned in parallel, or at any other angle. I dont think we need it to do every job with every option, just change the parameters of the dog system to include infinite angles but also be moved beyond the set distances of the parf centered holes.
 

Jake

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The big issue with T track is that it is not so easy to get it to cross over in both the vertical and horizontal directions, with the microjig dovetail slots you end up with a matrix in both directions which gives total flexability. Take a look at these and you will see what I mean.


That looks really flimsy.
 

Rozza

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I know, I know, it’s calling into question what many consider the holly grail of wood working jigs. But what’s the point of a MFT?

The point for me, is that the MFT table, out of the box, just worked. No dicking about with t-tracks being in the wrong place, needing different clamps, extending guides and the like. With a set of dogs, Festool quick release clamps, I have found nothing that it does not allow me to quickly and simply and accurately. As Mr Parfit has demonstrated many times

I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who asked. Definitely one of my best purchases ever. Each to your own!
 

johna.clements

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Many things including tools are not used to their full potential. Often different people use different features. I don't think that means that there is anything wrong with the tool.

I have not used a MFT yet nut what surprises me is why they are not used more to cut angles. 45 degree is obvious but if the guide rail/track is fixed to dogs in different columns and the fence or dogs are in different rows there would be a number of repeatable angles that could be cut.
 

Rozza

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Many things including tools are not used to their full potential. Often different people use different features. I don't think that means that there is anything wrong with the tool.

I have not used a MFT yet nut what surprises me is why they are not used more to cut angles. 45 degree is obvious but if the guide rail/track is fixed to dogs in different columns and the fence or dogs are in different rows there would be a number of repeatable angles that could be cut.

Yep, and with the use of folding wedges those angles are infinite. There’s always an adjustable mitre of course!

If you have the table rather than a top on a bench, the mitre guide for the MFT works very well
 

Spectric

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That looks really flimsy.
One of the issues with T track is that it is easy to pull it out of it's slot unless the board is thick enough so that you can use threaded fasteners rather than woodscrews. I have been using the microjig slots for over a year and with no issues, the system is just so easy to knock up fences and work supports as well as those odd jigs to get you out of a tight spot.
 
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petermillard

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I know, I know, it’s calling into question what many consider the holly grail of wood working jigs. But what’s the point of a MFT?
Let me put this into context, I’ve had one, I made one for my RAS, and thought it would be very useful for clamping. I also knew I could swing the arm out of the way and use it for all the other uses that are claimed for it. Now, being a engineer at heart, I placed a black dot next to each hole every time I used one…….guess how many I used? 3

I admire Peter for producing the 10 minute workshop videos, I think that the amount and time and effort he has put into what are very well thought out segments to be a real credit to him. I think I’ve watched all of them up to the point he retired from earning a living doing cabinetry. Now, I may be wrong, but I don’t think he actually really used any of the features of his MFT apart from mounting the lift up track on it……he used a couple, of holes for clamping stuff whilst he dominos off the edge, but that’s it.
Again, I’ve watched a few other uTube ‘real users’, not those who are trying to sell the latest wizzy gadget or subscriptio, and again, most only set it up for cross costs on one segment of the table. The rest of the holes appear to remain unused. Other people I’ve come across who have them, again seem to use it primarily for cross cutting…..in one place to preserve the top. Ie a straight edge and a 90 degree so, circa 4 holes.

Id like to ask, what’s everyone else’s perspective, and when you really think about it, do you actually use all the holes on the surface, or just a couple?
Thanks. Now at the risk of stating the obvious, not every part of the making process gets shown in a video, and I can assure you that I’ve used most of the holes on the MFT at some point. No, not all of them, but I wouldn’t personally do a partial grid layout, as I could virtually guarantee that the place where I wanted to put a clamp was the place where there wasn’t a hole!

The hinged rail is very useful as a straightedge - bear eg a domino against the back edge and a flagstop on the fence for accurate mid-panel mortices, for example. But they’re not for everyone, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never suggested they’re some kind of hold grail product; on balance I’d rather have one than not, but if you don’t find them useful, don’t use them. 👍👍
 

bertterbo

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That looks really flimsy.

Do you mean the plastic parts or the thin edges of the wooden dovetail itself?

If it's the latter, it reallys quite adequate. If you think about it, the timber isn't really under any kind of stress on it's thin components. It's only really compression. So unless your plywood has voids in it, it works perfectly fine.
 

petermillard

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One of the issues with T track is that it is easy to pull it out of it's slot unless the board is thick enough so that you can use threaded fasteners rather than woodscrews. I have been sing the microjig slots for over a year and with no issues, the system is just so easy to knock up fences and work supports as well as those odd jigs to get you out of a tight spot.
I saw that demonstrated in the Matchfit promotional video Roy, and wondered to myself if anyone had ever done that in real life? Most of the time I’m clamping flat onto a surface, so the chances of pulling out retaining screws are pretty modest. 🤔

6F630199-B01B-40B1-88B1-32F0A1EDC19D.jpeg
In another spectacular piece of timing, I’ve just ‘matchfitted’ (or is it ‘microjigged’ my workshop MFT to try them out. Have to be honest I’m on the fence about the system, but I’m prepare to give it a try. 🤷‍♂️👍
 

Spectric

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but I wouldn’t personally do a partial grid layout, as I could virtually guarantee that the place where I wanted to put a clamp was the place where there wasn’t a hole!
Another bonus with the microjig dovetail slots, you have no problems with clamping but sods law will always deliver a synario where you may need a dog to restrain or locate something, but bridging dogs with something often gets you out of the hole.
 

bertterbo

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I made my MFT table by buying one of the CNCed tops and then constructing a base for it. My plans for it were to use it with a tracksaw and bench dogs for making crosscuts. But to be honest, I never got on with it. The lack of repeatability and there almost never being a hole where I needed one soon put me off. I think the way to go is a fence with stop and a flip down rail like Peter uses. Maybe one day I'll try it, but where my bench is currently located, it wouldn't work.

Having said that, I use the holes for clamping ALL the time. The clamps from Axminster are super useful!

I certainly wouldn't want an MFT style top as my only bench, but if you have the room, having it as a dedicated sheet material cutting station makes a lot of sense in my mind.
 

Spectric

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@petermillard what I find useful is that you are not restrained by any angle and they come in handy for not only workbench tops in conjunction with dogs but also for making a high fence for the mitre saw or router table or there are many jigs that can be knocked up, just a piece of MDF and some slots and you have a jig for a given purpose. It is so easy to run the slots that I now make most jigs adjustable rather than a fixed setup for a specific task.
 
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