July 28, 2008

Festool MFK 700 Modular Router - Review

festool_mfk.jpgFestool has recently bombarded the market with four new tools; a modular router, a full-size router, an upgraded workbench, and the much talked about Kapex miter saw. Not only does Festool operate at a level of quality that must frustrate other tool makers, but they are one of the few companies who consistently design from the ground up, seemingly forgetting everything they know about the tool at hand and starting over with, usually, fresh and revolutionary ideas. We got a chance to test out their new MFK 700 Trim Router and were excited at the potential of this tool.

Just at first glance, we could tell that this is no ordinary trim router. First, it's much larger, having a bigger base plate as well as a much longer body. Secondly, it comes with a base that places the tool in a vertical position, but there is also another one available that sets it in at a horizontal position. It is this second base where we think the larger length of the tool comes in handy, giving you more options to comfortably hold the tool. This is just conjecture, as we only tested out the vertical base.

On all other trim routers, the motor is set into the base plate and locked at the desired height. The Festool is not like that. Here, the motor is locked into the base plate the same way every time and all of the adjustments are done within the two part base plate. This way the relationship between the motor and the base plate is always the same, giving much added stability as well as less of an opportunity for the tool to slip in it's adjustment. The motor attaches by way of two rods which, once tightened, allow for zero wiggle, and the base plate adjustments are solid and precise, but only have a range of about 1/2".

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As far as 'does it work?" Well, what do you think? It works great. The soft start engine has a natural feel to it, the power is impressive and handled everything we threw at it and when it's connected to the Festool dust collection system the results are unbelievable. You could seriously bring this tool into someone's living room and work with it all day and have zero cleanup to do when you're done. It's almost spooky how effective the Festool dust collection is.

festool_mfk_base.jpgOne thing that bothered us about the router is that there is absolutely no visibility at the bit. There are reference marks on the base plate, but aside from that, there is really no way to see where the bit is in relation to the wood. It's a Festool, so we're sure that the reference points are dead on, but still, being able to see the bit is comforting and sometimes necessary.

And there's no way to talk about a Festool tool without touching on the price. The basic kit (with the vertical base and a 1.5 degree horizontal base) retails for $510, the 0 degree horizontal base, if you want it, is an additional $145, and an edge guide is another $50. That's a lot of dough. True, it is a very quality tool; the engine purrs, the dust extraction is top notch (but at least another $300), the adjustments are precise, and we're sure that the tool will last for a long, long time, possibly forever. But do you really need it, when something like the Bosch Colt (a very nice little router), does the trick as well? We think that you should close your eyes and imagine 1/64" in your head. If you picture the grand canyon, then you should seriously consider the MFK 700, but if you're sitting there thinking "huh?" then the money might be better spent elsewhere.

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There's no doubt that it's a nice tool, but to make something that costs five times what a fully functional competitor makes is verging on audacious. We know that there are a lot of you out there who swear by Festool and will say that it is a far superior tool to any others, hands down. And, fine, you're probably right. But there has to be a cost analysis in there somewhere. We've been using a Bosch Colt for over a year and a half now and even though it's taken a beating, the adjustments are still dead on and the motor still runs great. How would things be any different had we ended up with an MFK 700 instead?

Now, we're sure we're going to get pounded by the Festool Army out there, but basically all we're saying is that, sure, Festool has created another amazing, top-notch tool, but because it's so expensive, it's worth weighing the options before you dive in and clean out junior's college fund.

At McFeely's.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at July 28, 2008 5:23 AM

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Recent Comments

Great review! As a recent Festool owner, I have to congratulate you on the honesty. The tools are top notch but the prices are just in the stratosphere. I just paid half as much for a 106" guide rail as I paid for my saw and 55" guide rail. A Bosch Colt is definitely in my future, sorry Festool.


Posted by: Eric at August 4, 2008 9:01 AM
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