Festool MFT/3

Words Thomas Philips | January 14, 2015
The Festool MFT/3 takes all the benefits of a traditional worktable and re-imagines them in a smaller, portable design
Words Thomas Philips January 14, 2015

When you start using Festool tools, you’ll quickly discover that ingenuity is one of the hallmarks when compared to other tool brands. Festool does an exceptional job assessing every tool they make, creating tools that not only perform as they should from a functional standpoint, but also adding in design elements that make the job simpler and more enjoyable.

The Festool Track Saws I just told you about are perfect examples. Not only do they cut sheet goods like much larger table and panel saws, but their safety, portability, ease of use and dust collection are all exemplary as well. In many ways, Festool has taken functionality from much larger woodworking equipment that typically requires a huge amount of space, and they’ve re-imagined it in a way that’s easier to use, has a significantly smaller footprint, and is designed to be portable.

As you venture into woodworking, you’ll quickly discover that one of the things you’ll use most in your endeavors is a worktable. A solid worktable is the foundation for many projects, as having a smooth and flat surface is essential for various cutting and joining tasks. The problem with traditional worktables is they require a large amount of space, and from a portability standpoint, they’re pretty much impossible to take with you.

Enter the Festool MFT/3. It’s a worktable for the 21st century – Festool’s reimagining of a classic worktable in a smaller, better performing and portable design. How good is it? For me, it’s the best worktable I’ve ever used, and I use it on pretty much every project I undertake.

So what makes the MFT/3 so great?  Simply put, it’s an integral part of the Festool system. I’ll explain more about the other components later, but for now, here’s a quick overview of the what to expect from the MFT/3 itself.

Festool MFT/3 Fence

Festool MFT/3 Fence

Festool MFT/3 Overview

With a table surface of about 45-9/16″ x 30-7/16″ and a weight of 62 lbs., the first thing you’ll notice about the MFT/3 is that it’s designed to be portable. Typical worktables are huge and almost impossible to move, whereas the MFT/3 is the exact opposite. The legs all fold quickly through the use of large, comfortable tensioning knobs; the weight is manageable by one person; and the legs are all covered in rubber feet (one of which is adjustable, to level the MFT/3 on uneven surfaces).

I know what you’re thinking: why do I need a portable worktable if I’m never going to take it anywhere? At least, this was my thought. I have a dedicated workshop in my garage with space for a larger table, so for me, the portability factor didn’t seem like a big deal. But as I started doing more projects around the house, I soon discovered the benefits of a mobile worktable. Because all of the Festool tools I use note exemplary dust collection, it’s possible to move from my tools to the actual room I’m working on. So in the past, if I was working on a project in the bedroom, for example, I would go to the bedroom, measure, go back to my workshop, make the cut, go back to the bedroom to test the cut, and so on. But when I started adding up how much time it took going back and forth, I realized how much time I was wasting. And that’s where Festool comes in. With the MFT/3, I can have a solid worktable in the actual room I’m working on, saving me numerous trips back and forth to the cutting station, while the integrated dust collection ensures my house isn’t covered in sawdust. The same is true for outdoor projects – with the MFT/3, you can set up a workstation exactly where you need it, saving you a huge amount of time not having to go back and forth to another location for cutting and assembly.

Aside from its portability, the MFT/3’s second defining element is its ingenuity. You’ll note the MFT/3’s work surface is made from MDF with a series of precisely laid out holes, and the border of the table notes both a v-groove and a t-groove on all four sides. It’s this top and these rails that form the basis for the MFT/3’s integration with the full range of Festool accessories. On the work surface, for example, there’s a wide range of clamps that fit into the MFT/3’s perforated top, locking down your workpiece for various routing, sanding and assembly tasks. The same is true on the sides, with the grooves accepting various clamps and accessories as well. And speaking of these grooves, if a single MFT/3 isn’t enough for your projects, multiple MFT/3’s can be jointed together with simple MFT connectors, creating a work area as big as you need it to be. I’ll detail some of my most used Festool accessories in a separate article, but I will say that I’ve used the MFT/3 on a huge assortment of assembly tasks, and when used with the right Festool clamps, you simply can’t beat its versatility and ease-of-use.

Festool MFT/3 Guide Rail and Angle Guide in 45 degree position

Festool MFT/3 Guide Rail and Angle Guide in 45 degree position

Festool MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station

By itself, the MFT/3 is great, but when paired up with the cross-cut accessories, it’s even better. When purchasing the MFT/3, you have the option of either the basic MFT/3 ($545) or the MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station for $100 more. And believe me when I tell you, spend the extra and get the cross-cut option. In addition to the MFT/3 itself, the cross-cut kit includes the FS 1080/2 guide rail system, an angle unit with fence, a fence clamp and a stop flag. With this setup, you’ll immediately discover how Festool has created such a uniquely integrated system.

If you read my previous article on the Festool TS 55 REQ and TS 75 EQ track saws, you already know how capable they are. But when you add in the MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station, their versatility is taken to an entirely new level. With the MFT/3 system, it’s incredibly simple to make perfectly accurate, square cuts, or adjust the angle unit and make perfect miters at any common miter angle.

The way the MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station works is really quite simple. Step one is installing the guide rail onto the integrated mounting units. Once installed, the rail runs perpendicular to the front of the table, and when not in use, it can easily be flipped back for full access to the table’s work surface. It’s also adjustable vertically, allowing cuts up to 3 inches in depth. Step two is installing the angle unit and fence. There are various ways to mount the angle unit (in the front or back, for example), and once mounted, all that’s necessary is to ensure the fence is square to the rail. I use a large carpenter’s square for alignment, while others use an aftermarket product called “dogs”, which are basically dowels that fit precisely into the MFT/3 perforated holes (check the Festool Owner’s Group for more info). Whichever method you use, simply align your fence up to the square (or dogs), ensure it’s square, tighten, and you’re done. When paired with a Festool Track Saw, the system allows you to make perfectly square cuts over 27 inches in width – well beyond what’s possible with any miter saw.

For miter cuts, simply adjust the angle unit and fence (much like you would on a table saw) and cut along the guide rail as before. To prevent flexing of the fence during miter cuts, the included fence clamp attaches to the end of the fence, significantly stiffening the unit. Once set up, the angle functionality of the MFT/3 cross-cut station works incredibly well, rivaling the accuracy of a miter saw but offering significantly more cutting capacity. For added speed when cutting 45 degree miters, you can again opt to use the “dogs” as well, with the MFT/3’s diagonal hole pattern giving you a precise 45 degree angle. Simply install two or more of the dogs diagonally, butt your workpiece up to them, and make the cut.

To put it simply, if you’re purchasing a Festool track saw, adding the Festool MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station will take its level of functionality to an entirely new level.

Festool MFT/3 Guide Rail

Festool MFT/3 Guide Rail

In addition to Festool’s track saws, I should also note that the cross-cut station works beautifully with Festool routers and jigsaws as well, with routers in particular something I use quite often with the MFT/3. Because the Festool router family can all be used with Festool guide rails, precise routing tasks can be accomplished with significantly less effort than with other systems. One of the things I recently used it for is routing dados for cabinetry. First, I added an auxiliary fence running parallel to the guide rail to ensure the workpiece was positioned in exactly the same place each time; then I used the router in tandem with the guide rail to make perfect dados. You can use the same system if you need to make a series of linear plunge cuts, as the guide rail and fence ensures perfect uniformity across all pieces.

In truth, the more you use the MFT/3, the more you can customize it to fit your specific needs. There’s really not a right or wrong way to set it up; it’s more a case of thinking about the work you need to do and setting it up to suit your specific needs. If you use your track saw to make a large amount of small rip cuts, for example, you can add an auxiliary fence with integrated measurements to speed the process. If you’re making a series of cabinets and are planning on routing a large amount of dados, you can add a longer rail running parallel to the front of the MFT/3 and route two sides of the cabinets in a single pass. Once you start using it, and understand the versatility of the rails and hole placement, there’s really a huge assortment of ways you can suit the MFT/3 to different project types. As I said in my Festool Track Saw article, the Festool Owner’s Group and Festool YouTube channels are both great ways to learn tips and tricks for getting the most out your MFT/3 table.

So in conclusion, what do I think about the MFT/3? I love it; it’s as simple as that. I used my track saws by themselves for a short time, and they were fantastic, but once I added the MFT/3, it took their versatility to an entirely new level. The MFT/3 in tandem with my track saws are easily two of the most used Festools in my workshop, and whether you’re a new or experienced woodworker, I guarantee they’ll save you time and give you better results on your next project. And when it comes to tools, there’s really nothing else you can ask for.  You can check out both the Festool MFT/3 and the Festool MFT/3 Cross-Cut Station on the official Festool USA website.  And don’t forget to check out the Festool Sweepstakes website, where right now you can sign up to win a new Festool TS 55 REQ Track Saw and a CT 26 HEPA Dust Extractor.