Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why I love the internet, and FOG

The Festool Owner's Group saved my sanity today.

I won't get into technical details, but the short version is that I own two Festool track saws, the big one and the regular one. I bought the big one used, and it wasn't properly adjusted. I was trying to trim the ends off of the slabs today. The blade was deflecting, scorching the wood, overheating and dishing (ruining) the blade... Deflecting to the point of nibbling at the saw housing. When a tool is causing damage to the project, and to itself? That's bad. It needed help.

FOG to the rescue, saw works great now.


I was talking to someone the other day about Festool, and their complaint was that much of the system isn't intuitive. This from a woodworker who rebuilds his land rover as a hobby when he's not raising two daughters... Like any of that is intuitive.

There are many things in woodworking that seem intuitive and simple. And they are, to a point. But doing them better... Sharpening, sawing, layout, hand planing, chiseling, working more productively, and on, and on... Getting better at almost anything, is not intuitive. So, it helps to have a tutor for some things.

I hate the Internet for learning things a lot of the time because it's a bottomless, shifty morass of unreliable information from professionals, novices, hobbyists, and 50 year old men posing as underage girls... And it's just as likely to ruin your mind and your day if you give in to it.

But if you come in with a specific question, within specific boundaries, a bit of a knowledge base, and you don't mind taking the time to UNDERSTAND what the proposed solution is, it can be miraculous, and help you get past those things that aren't as intuitive as we'd like.

My $500 circ saw is now cutting cleanly. It's not scorching the ends of a $4000 slab of walnut, and it's not causing $75 blades to overheat and self-destruct. That makes me happy.


William Duffield said...

How about a link to the specific FOG post, or at least a clue to help me find it. My TS-75 is doing the same thing, and the experts at the retail store where I bought it couldn't help. I followed Festool's setup instructions as best I could, and also unsuccessfully searched FOG for the info I needed.

JW said...

The original post was under Festool problems, but the answer was in the archives.

Search for how to toe-in the saw. The short version is, the blade shouldn't run perfectly parallel. When the cut is done, the back of the blade (TS75) should be away from the wood by about the thickness of a business card, at full depth. The idea is that the plate should only contact at the point of cut, and after that should steer clear, and not rub against the wood.

JW said...

Oh, one more thing...

I've worked the retail side. There's no commission, or incentive to be serious Fes geeks. It's just the way the business is structured. The best they can typically do is warranty the tool.

Shane Holland is a Festool rep, and seems to always have an eye on the problems board. He's got a lot of good advice to dispense. And there are a lot of glorious geeks on the FOG who either work with the tools for a living, or work with them a lot for fun. Many are engineers, so the level of discourse is very high sometimes. It's a great place to hang around if you really want to learn something...