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MFT - wossit all about?

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jonn

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Still trying to find a demo of somebody doing something useful on one of these very expensive tables with holes in things.
Total failure so far.
Is it just about buying attractive gadgets?
What can they do which can't be done on a normal bench, or even a B&D workmate (£44 B&Q) and a lot easier too?
Mystified.
This seems typical, he doesn't rate it much himself even though he's some sort of enthusiast:


MTF = £300 Festool badge = £700 (here in Norway)?
 

martin.pearson

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If it was me I'd look at making a large set square from ply, with a rail tacked on the bottom edge to engage with the starter straight edge on the board to be cut, so it'd align tight with just one hand. Big knob in the middle to hold it with.
No reason why it shouldn't be even more accurate than the fussy MFT/dog set up, as there would be fewer components needing to be close fitting, resulting in fewer random/systematic errors.
The term "multi function table" seems to be misleading - it's clearly a "single function table" - namely cutting sheet material.

Your square idea would work but not sure how it would be more accurate as the MFT top & dogs are 100% accurate. Not sure where fussy set up comes from either, maybe it's not to your liking but I don't find it fussy at all. Had my table for about 18 months, not used every day but often enough, the dogs fit as snuggly today as they did the day I first machined it, the dogs are stainless steel so not much chance they are going to wear being pushed into a bit of wood & when I go my Son can either carry on using them or sell them lol.
Maybe generally Multi function is a bit misleading but now days lots of things are, for me it is multi function as I use it for everything, not having a woodworking bench it gets used for a lot of things you might use that for, I can't do some of the things a vice would be needed for but I do clamp a lot of different things on my table. I don't have a decent tablesaw so the MFT top & rail set up gets used for a lot of the things that you might use a tablesaw for. I use mainly hardwoods so I am not cutting sheet goods most of the time lol. It doesn't suit everyone, as with most things it depends what you do & how you like to work.
As with most things there is normally another way to work, you have to decide how you want to work & what might be best to help you do that efficiently & easily. The set up saves me time & makes things fairly easy for me although I don't have anything to compare that against, in the future things might change, always happy to look at new ways of working lol
 

mikej460

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You won't be able to use clamps as you have said & you won't be able to lock the dogs in place from the underside of the table but I think that is about all, all the dogs that I have seen fit in the holes but don't poke out the bottom of the table so you should be good there.
I have 4 mft tops from CNC Designs screwed into a 2x4 frame to give me a very large assembly and sheet dimensioning table using a Triton tracksaw and a 1500mm Triton rail for cross cuts and smaller cuts then two joined 1400mm Evolution rails for ripping full sheets. It works very well and I have dimensioned sheets of 18mm birch ply and mdf on it for a number of projects. I've also assembled our new 4.5m x 2.5m greenhouse frames on it, cutting out enough mortice and tenons than I care to remember then gluing, screwing, clamping and sanding on the same table. I use Quad Dogs that screw tight into the hole without protruding through the bottom, likewise you can buy various clamps that you can use in blind holes. The only issue you may face is with tracksaw rail clamps but I use Axminster rail clips to hold my rail against 2 tall Quad Dogs.

I've been following this thread and I understand Jacob's frustration with the cost of mft gear, it can be a very expensive rabbit hole that requires strong discipline and self challenging to avoid the 'ooo shiny shiny' temptation, although I doubt Jacob would ever be sucked in 😉.

The bottom line, iterated by others, is it's a horses for courses solution. If it doesn't appeal then don't buy it. Likewise if you see the benefit of a tracksaw but not all the gizmos then there are plenty of tracksaw saw board type solutions on Youtube. I'm a fan of the hybrid bench designs that use the best of mft functionality with a solid bench. HookedOnWood is a good example as is the one made by @billw in his post here Workbench Design | UKworkshop.co.uk. and @ian33a in his post Custom MFT top

For me the mft is another tool which I use for dimensioning, quickly and accurately; it is also an excellent assembly table but I still have my old solid beech school bench for planing or malleting the hell out of something. One day I plan to build a new bench that incorporates both concepts along the lines of the two above but maybe with a hinged extension similar to that used by @petermillard
 

Jacob

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.....

I've been following this thread and I understand Jacob's frustration with the cost of mft gear, it can be a very expensive rabbit hole that requires strong discipline and self challenging to avoid the 'ooo shiny shiny' temptation, although I doubt Jacob would ever be sucked in 😉.
......
The only frustration was trying to find out what it was for - which wasn't easy! It's the "Multi function" in the title which was misleading, and one or two unconvincing youtube demos.
Turns out it isn't multi function at all but is a single function system for cutting sheet materials and barely essential IMHO whether you have a track saw or not, which I'd worked out by post #10 which seems like weeks ago now!
Track saw looks handy and that soft start plunge cut is a good idea but I don't cut enough sheet to need one.
The sacrificial board under a track saw or circ saw with straightedge, is also a good idea but not exactly a new one - I've done it in the past - not a whole dedicated board just whatever I've got in the scrap heap to slip under a cut. Similar for occasional routing jobs
I don't see the point of all the predrilled holes you could rapidly drill just the ones you need for a job, or tack on a few laths as stops, bung in a few nails, screws, clamp on your track/straightedge, whatever. And anyway I don't have room for another massive bench in my workshop.
I do think it's a bit oversold but don't mind me just carry on!
 
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Jake

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The only frustration was trying to find out what it was for - which wasn't easy! It's the "Multi function" in the title which was misleading, and one or two unconvincing youtube demos. Turns out it isn't multi function at all but is a single function system

I haven't got one but if I didn't have a table saw I would probably buy one. It doesn't claim to be a Universal Function Table. Smashing in deep mortices by hand? No. Using a router to mortice? I imagine so. Seems aimed to me at the site market, picked up hobbyists because there are similar convenience reasons.
 

John Brown

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It is easy, in my opinion, to convince yourself that you need something like this. Personally, I don't have the room for an MFT, but I have to admit to having various items that looked to be indispensable, if not life changing, that are gathering cobwebs.
I can see how an MFT would be useful if I did that sort of stuff for a living, but as a semi-retired firmware writer I can still feel those must-have rays burning into me...
I think I'll stop reading this thread now...
 

jonn

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It is easy, in my opinion, to convince yourself that you need something like this. Personally, I don't have the room for an MFT, but I have to admit to having various items that looked to be indispensable, if not life changing, that are gathering cobwebs.
I can see how an MFT would be useful if I did that sort of stuff for a living, but as a semi-retired firmware writer I can still feel those must-have rays burning into me...
I think I'll stop reading this thread now...
Do like I do: Go to AliExpress and look up all the small useful things you can get. Few things as exciting as small parcels in the mail 🎅
 

HamsterJam

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Sooo what can we do on an MFT?

1. Accurately cut sheet material using a tracksaw - this seems to be the No1 use
2. Clamp work pieces at 90degrees (eg mitred frames) during glue ups
3. Clamp flat workpieces for sanding, routing and carving
4. Hold pieces still for machining biscuit joints/domino jointing, etc
5. Quickly clamp down a small bench machine (mitre saw, bench grinder, etc,)

….what else?
 
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Jacob

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I haven't got one but if I didn't have a table saw I would probably buy one. It doesn't claim to be a Universal Function Table.
Multi function Table
.......... Using a router to mortice? I imagine so.
But why?
Seems aimed to me at the site market, picked up hobbyists because there are similar convenience reasons.
 

JobandKnock

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….what else?
Impress your mates? (although I doubt it would work with my mates)

Using a router to mortice? I imagine so.
I'm similarly non-plussed. Why? For housings I tend to just use the mitre saw and a chisel

Seems aimed to me at the site market, picked up hobbyists because there are similar convenience reasons.
Maybe in Germany. It's a handy crosscutting/cut to length device, but I can't see there being many site jobs that would justify either the expense or the pain of dragging such a big piece of kit around - unless you want to make bookcases or kitchen cabinets in situ (not a common need, surely?). I once bought a Workmate 2000, designed and built in Germany. Nicely made piece of kit but BIG a PIA to move around a site or get in the van - either too big or not big enough - so mine spent at least a decade at the back of the garage until I had a clear out and sold it in the Small Ads.

German carpenters must do things differently. The most obvious use is the one @petermillard puts his to - as a small workshop piece of kit for which it seems to be very appropriate. On site I use a rail square, which has the advantage of being considerably smaller, if a bit more basic
 
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ian33a

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Sooo what can we do on an MFT?

1. Accurately cut sheet material using a tracksaw - this seems to be the No1 use
2. Clamp work pieces at 90degrees (eg mitred frames) during glue ups
3. Clamp flat workpieces for sanding, routing and carving
4. Hold pieces still for machining biscuit joints/domino jointing, etc
5. Quickly clamp down a small bench machine (mitre saw, bench grinder, etc,)

….what else?

.... it also brings sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, fresh water systems, public health - oh, and peace. But aside from that, what else have the Romans MFT tables brought for us?

{apologies in advance - this is probably lost on rather too many people}
 

Distinterior

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Me and two of my mates were sitting in the Amphitheatre in Pompeii about 15 years ago......It was a scorching hot day and as interesting as it was, we couldn't help partially enacting the Judean Peoples Front..(or it may have been the Popular Front of Judea..) scene...When my mate shouted across the Amphitheatre....."Splitters" at the top of his voice..We got told off and asked to be quiet..! 😁😁
 

Sporky McGuffin

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I don't see the point of all the predrilled holes you could rapidly drill just the ones you need for a job

I think the point of them is that they're already there and in guaranteed positions, so (overstating the faff element) no need to find a drill, find a charged battery for it (or a mains point), find the right bit for whatever you're doing, measure the position to the required degree of accuracy, find your drill stand thing, and then drill the hole hoping you've done it accurately enough for the job at hand.

Bit like using Technic Lego for making yourself toys instead of just some strips of ABS and hot glue and a drill or two and a ruler and a protractor and a lathe and mill to make whatever connectors and brackets and stuff you need. The former is fast, accurate, easy, and - importantly for a lot of things - is a COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) solution so you can easily acquire more of anything.
 

Beanwood

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Sooo what can we do on an MFT?

1. Accurately cut sheet material using a tracksaw - this seems to be the No1 use
2. Clamp work pieces at 90degrees (eg mitred frames) during glue ups
3. Clamp flat workpieces for sanding, routing and carving
4. Hold pieces still for machining biscuit joints/domino jointing, etc
5. Quickly clamp down a small bench machine (mitre saw, bench grinder, etc,)

….what else?

This pretty much covers what I use mine for.

It really does make 90 degree (Or 45 for that matter) joins for boxes etc very quick and easy. Yes, I'm sure it could be done with a workbench, some screws, some batten, a square.... but for me - an occasional user - at £40 for a top which is guaranteed square, life is just too short!!
 

Bojam

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Turns out it isn't multi function at all but is a single function system for cutting sheet materials and barely essential IMHO whether you have a track saw or not, which I'd worked out by post #10 which seems like weeks ago now!

It clearly is multi-function as many has gone to great pains to explain. I think you are being willfully obtuse. The fact it doesn't appeal to you is neither here nor there. Clearly it works for many people for the reasons outlined at length in this thread.

You can use it with a tracksaw to make perfect 90 and 45 degree cuts. Not only on sheet materials but solid wood as well. I do the latter frequently and it works very well. I don't have room for a sliding table saw and have found this solution to work for me.

IN ADDITION to this core function, an MFT style bench also allows varied clamping/work holding solutions for hand planing (yes, this is possible as long as the MFT top is mounted onto solid heavy duty bases - which mine is), joinery, sanding/scraping and assembly. I also have a router plate installed into my large homemade MFT top and with a couple of different fences I can use a table mounted router to do a whole range of tasks.

I have a small workshop (in fact two small spaces - one inside with just enough room for a PT and bandsaw and the other shown below in the photos which is a covered space outside). Since space is at a premium I need multi-functional solutions to maximise what I can do. This bench fulfills my needs as a hybrid woodworker.

IMG_0061.jpg
IMG_0121.jpg
 

TomGW

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Initially I bought a Lidl/Parkside tracksaw, fitted it with a Freud blade and got an Evolution 1.5m track - no major cost involved. Before I had ever heard of an MFT I set up a part sheet of MDF fitted with a straight edge and two permanent stops to register the track at precisely 90 degrees. This delivered the cross-cutting accuracy of a MFT for very little cost. I’ve got an MFT top now but still use the original setup as well.
 

Jacob

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It clearly is multi-function as many has gone to great pains to explain. I think you are being willfully obtuse. The fact it doesn't appeal to you is neither here nor there. Clearly it works for many people for the reasons outlined at length in this thread.

You can use it with a tracksaw to make perfect 90 and 45 degree cuts. Not only on sheet materials but solid wood as well. I do the latter frequently and it works very well. I don't have room for a sliding table saw and have found this solution to work for me.

IN ADDITION to this core function, an MFT style bench also allows varied clamping/work holding solutions for hand planing (yes, this is possible as long as the MFT top is mounted onto solid heavy duty bases - which mine is), joinery, sanding/scraping and assembly. I also have a router plate installed into my large homemade MFT top and with a couple of different fences I can use a table mounted router to do a whole range of tasks.
Obviously you can extend its usefulness if you really have to but the question is why bother if you have anything resembling an ordinary work bench.
Difficult anyway with the expensive but lightweight paste-table version and I doubt that steel pegs in MDF would stay precisely positioned if used as stops for typical planing operations; possibly the most energetic hand tool activity of all.
 

Bojam

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Obviously you can extend its usefulness if you really have to but the question is why bother if you have anything resembling an ordinary work bench.

I and many don't. If you are primarily a hand tool woodworker or have a tablesaw (not a tracksaw) and need a dedicated bench for hand tool work then sure, a traditional bench is a sensible option. An MFT style bench might still be a worthwhile addition to complement your set up for use in assembly etc.

If on the other hand you have limited space and/or need a bench to use with a tracksaw and for all the other functions outlined at length above then an MFT style bench seems the way to go. I would also dispute the idea of "extending its usefulness'; all the uses described are built into the system as all they depend on is having a grid of bang-on accurate dog holes across the worktop. Sure, buying clamps and a fence system etc. involves a cost but so does e.g. buying a tablesaw or vices for a traditional bench.

Difficult anyway with the expensive but lightweight paste-table version and I doubt that steel pegs in MDF would stay precisely positioned if used as stops for typical planing operations; possibly the most energetic hand tool activity of all.

I don't have a lightweight version and again this illustrates the point that this is in fact a very versatile setup - you can build an MFT style top into whatever kind of bench you want. I could mount a top into a traditional (M&T) frame for maximum strength if I wanted (e.g. like this). I don't use long dogs as planing stops. I have low profile dogs or better still use strips of valchromat with dog holes that align with the holes in the top that can be fixed in place with low profile dogs. Rock solid and in two years of use I have observed no change in the state of the holes (no slop developing from use). I don't hand plane stock flat and square anymore but use handplanes for cleaning up joints, smoothing, etc.

Horses for courses. I get the strong impression that you're just arguing for the sake of it, which is fine I guess but gets pretty tedious after a while.
 
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