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Track saw - T55 or Mafell MT55

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petermillard

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Just when do you think Festo (later Festool) saws and rails appeared in the UK? Festo patented the guide rail in 1962 according to their web site, but it wasn't until the 1980s that they introduced a plunging saw running on a guide rail - the ATF55. I actually went to a distributor demo of one of those in West Bromwich in 1985 and I recall that the saw which was offered with a "single hump" rail (like the Excel guide rails referred to in a post further up) but no systainers back then. At the time I owned a Holz-Her Mosquito plunge saw which I'd picked up in Germany in the early 1980s, but that didn't run on guide rails:

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(Mine was like that, but dark grey and silver in colour, photos from the 'net). I passed on the Festo on the grounds that I simply couldn't afford it - I recall that the price was eye watering. In any case, with the Mosquito and a small Elu MH25 I'd also bought in Germany I thought I had sheet material cutting taped:

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(photo from the 'net) But neither of them were rail saws, so I made do with home-made guides or battens for years. I do recall Elu/deWalt offering rails and conversion sub bases for some of their saws in the 1990s (like the MH265) and Holz-Her also offered kits for some of their saws, but still I didn't bite.

In 2001, however, I was contracted to replace an entire mill floor with a 22mm verola plywood floor and at that point I bought a Hilti 255 plunge saw and two guide rails. So that was actually my first saw/guide rail set and it was bought in part because I needed a 110 volt saw. That Hilti saw used the same guide rail profile as the mk.1 rail from Festool (only one joiner, like the Excel rails referenced in an earlier post) and it really speeded up the job no end. In about 2004 or '05 the Hilti WSC255 was sold and replaced by a WSC265 (more depth of cut - deep enough to cut 50mm exterior doors), which I still own:

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and I also bought myself three Festool FS1400/2 guide rails (which were cheaper than the Hilti rails and had the double joiners). That's where my experience of the current generation of Festool rails starts, in 2004/05. I was very tempted at the time to buy the Festool ATF55, but Festool were rumoured to have a new model in the works and in any case the Hilti rep offered me a really good deal on "old stock", so...

The Festool ATF55 I refer to was no less than the same model I had seen demonstrated in the mid-1980s (video clip here) which was the model prior to the TS55. In the meantime I had also bought a less than stellar Bosch GKS68B plunge saw and rails which was a great disappointment (who says Bosch never make lemons? The withdrew the model within a year of launch) - it still lurks in the attic somewhere to this day.

The WSC265 was subsequently replaced by a TS55 in 2010 which I still use periodically, although for the last 3 or 4 years I've been mainly using either a Makita DSP600 for sheet stock or for the bigger stuff a Festool TS75. This year I also purchased a second hand Bosch GKT55CE and some cheap Evolution guide rails to finish a cement fibre board project (no point in wrecking the Festools)

So yes, by the time the TS55 was on the market in 2006/07 (? replacing the 20+ year old ATF55) I had been using Festool rails about 5 or 6 years, a few years of that on the mk.2 guide rails, and was on my third plunging rail guided saw. I never said I had a TS55 in 2005, though...
Great history post @JobandKnock 👍 Small clarification - the Excel rails are clones of the Makita rail, so have the same central rib, and upper-facing t-slot at the left. The one-hump rails are the old Festo-pattern from YouTool, sold through SauterShop. 👍👍
 

Doug71

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Just a quick question for the Mafell owners.

Over the years I have seen quite a few reports saying that when doing a bevel cut with the MT55 the blade doesn't cut to the splinter strip, it can be 1 or 2mm away from it.

Is this true or has it been fixed or does it depend on the saw set up from the factory?
 

h-magic

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Just a quick question for the Mafell owners.

Over the years I have seen quite a few reports saying that when doing a bevel cut with the MT55 the blade doesn't cut to the splinter strip, it can be 1 or 2mm away from it.

Is this true or has it been fixed or does it depend on the saw set up from the factory?

It depends on the saw from the factory.
If it does it you can either send it back get it corrected or do it yourself apparently.
 
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