Festool Multifunction Table (MFT 1080)
By Jack A. Loganbill
I am often asked what are the most used tools in the shop. My typical answer is our table saws, planer, and routers. Lately, the most used tool in the shop is the Festool Multifunction Table (MFT) 1080. It has become our workbench, clamping station, sanding table, sliding miter saw, router table, demonstration table, and general work table.
In this article we'll discuss the MFT 1080 features we like and don't like as well as how to setup the MFT 1080, its guide rail system, and the Festool ATF 55E Circular Saw to cut more accurately than a radial arm saw, sliding miter saw, and perhaps even a table saw.
Clicking the hypertext links (bold-faced blue text) and blue-framed images will launch additional content.
Aside from carting its huge shipping box off the shipping dock, setting up the MFT 1080 was a breeze. The parts included in the shipping container include:
I installed/setup the MFT using the following steps:
Step 1: Unfold the Legs. The legs and table top come installed to the hefty aluminum frame. Simply fold out the legs and you're good to go. The right-rear leg is micro-adjustable for length to remove any wobble when placing the table on an uneven surface. You also notice I raised the table height approximately 3" by placing blocks under each leg. I counter-bored the blocks to prevent the legs/feet from slipping. They work great and the additional 3" of height saves my back.
Step 2: Install the guide rail front support bracket. The front bracket is distinguished by its small sheet metal tab that fits the channel along the underside of the guide rail. Notice that the factory installed a stop in the front table frame to accurately position the front support bracket. DO NOT ADJUST THIS STOP. Attach and slide the front support bracket, from the left end of the front table frame rail until it hits the pre-installed stop and tighten its lock knob.
Step 3: Install the guide rail rear support bracket. The rear support bracket is distinguished by its rotating guide rail platform and guide rail connector bar. Again, notice that the factory installed a stop in the rear table frame to accurately position the rear support bracket. DO NOT ADJUST THIS STOP. Attach and slide the rear bracket from the right-end of the rear table frame rail until it hits the pre-installed stop and tighten its lock knob.
Step 4: Install the guide rail. Slide the guide rail onto the guide rail support platform of the rear support bracket and tighten the support bracket's guide rail connector using the supplied Allen wrench. Rotate the guide rail down towards the front support bracket and make sure that the bottom channel mates with the guide rail tab on the front support bracket.
You adjust the height of each support bracket by releasing its clamp, sliding the bracket up/down, and locking it into position with the clamp. You may have to tighten/adjust the front/rear guide rail support bracket clamps using the two Allen screws to ensure they clamp satisfactorly. The first time I used the guide rail, the weight of the saw and my pressure caused the support brackets to slide down a bit, causing the saw to cut deeper into the table top than I had planned.
Step 5: Install the protractor head/miter gauge & attach the fence. Place the protractor head/miter gauge in the rear holes, specifically rows 4 & 5 from the right-hand edge of the table. Notice the bottom of the miter gauge has two studs that fit through the table holes and large screw knobs to lock the miter gauge in place.
Attach the fence. You can attach the fence to the miter gauge using either of two slots that run the length of the fence. One slot sets the fence at a height of 1/2", the other sets the height at 1-3/8". I have been using the fence at the 1/2" height so that the guide rail sits flat on the 1/2" to 3/4" thick materials I tend to use most.
Step 6: Calibrate the protractor head/miter gauge. During the photo shoot, we decided to completely disassemble the MFT and reassemble and calibrate the protractor head/fence. Using the five step calibration method I was able to square the fence to cut a 16 x 16 workpiece within .002" square, for 16". I doubt any sliding miter or radial arm saw offers this level of accuracy: .0015" (1-1/2 thousandths) per foot or .000125" (1-1/4 ten thousandths per inch)! I acheived this accuracy after only one adjustment of the fence (I first squared the fence / guide rail with my Starrett combination square to .008" per 16", which of course is more than acceptable in its own right. I left the small blocked bolted through the table to act as stop so that I can always return to this near perfect setting. Click here to view calibration sequence.
Step 7: The table and guide are now ready for use. The fence is 4 feet long and thus must be locked down at its far left end. A sliding black plastic lock is provided to lock the fence in any position along its arc. The lock simply slides in a channel of the left or front table rails. Without this lock, the fence is easily bumped out of alignment. I left my adjustment block as it serves as a sure 0° stop for the fence/miter gauge.
Before you make a cut with the ATF circular saw, adjust its depth of cut so that it just barely cuts into the top. Again, make sure that you adjust the tighteness of the front/rear guide rail supports so that when you clamp them down, they don't slide down with you apply the weight of the saw.
I finished setting up the table and guide rails by cutting a few panels and 45° cuts for a small frame as shown in the photo to the left. Once setup the saw and guide rail cuts perfectly square and miter joints. The extra block I added provides me a bit more security knowing I can remove the miter gauge head and fence and replace them without having to recalibrate.
Light But Stable
Integrated Saw / Router Guide.
When used with the Festool OF1000 router and its guide rail attachment, you can accurately and easily rout dados, rabbets, and sliding/housed dovetails in small or large panels. It is perfect for dadoing & rabbeting cabinet sides for shelves, tops, and bottoms. The combination of the fence stop and the guide rail's non-slip strip does a good job of holding the work in place while cutting and routing. For our shop, the combination of the MFT with our shop-made panel cutting table has ended any desire I had for a vertical panel saw/router setup.
Protractor Head / Shot-Pin Is Easily Budged
Table is Too Low.
Hard To Hold Short Work When Crosscutting
Setup and Tear Down
A trait, often associated with woodworking tools, that requires repetitious acts of setting up and tearing down.Okay, I took a bit of literary license there....The MFT is so right for so many functions (like that favorite Swiss Army knife in your right hand pocket), that you want to use it for everything, meaning the setup for function A gets in the way of Function B. For instance, several weeks ago I clamped the AKEDA dovetail jig to the MFT. The jig sat on the table at just the right height, and provided ample space for routers, cutters, and guide fingers. Then I needed to crosscut a stack of work pieces to length. Choice: Remove the AKEDA-related stuff off of the table or do the crosscutting somewhere else.....
The combination of the MFT, the ATF 55E Circular Saw, the OF1000 Router, the ES150 sander, and the CT22E dust extractor gives new meaning to the concept of a five-in-one or multiple function tool. After working with the MFT for about a month I wrote Bob Marino and suggested that Festool should offer such a combination as a small shop cabinetmaker's / finish carpenter's package. I spend more time at the MFT than any other tool in our shop. It's a work bench, assembly table, crosscut panel saw, chop box, sanding station, overhead router table, and more. Since it comes with the guide rail assembly, I definitely recommend it to anyone who has a Festool ATF circular saw. And it should certainly at least be considered by anyone planning on a panel saw purchase. Now if only the top would magically clear itself for the next operation....
Bob Marino, a Festool Sales Representative, responds to this article...
The (MFT) table top can be turned over and turned side to side providing a long life before it is no longer useable.... (it) should last a long time. Also the entire fence/miter gauge assembly can be moved to the other side of the table if you wish.
I have received a number of "lengthy" comments from readers regarding the MFT and/or its accessories. Click here to read them.
I continue to receive emails questioning the usefulness of the Festool MFT and whether or not I use it. I use the MFT everyday, and in ways I would have never imagined prior to owning one. I have since discarded my main workbench. In a recent email exchange with Russ Ginter, I wrote the following (edited slightly) that sums up pretty well my thoughts and use of the MFT (and other Festool tools)....
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