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The Festool TSC 55 REB cordless track saw played a critical role in the recently completed mHouse.
"We would not have been able to efficiently and accurately complete this project without this amazing saw," said John Aufderhaar, president of Bedford Falls Communications, which publishes Surface & Panel magazine and built the mHouse. "It was used in so many applications and with many distinctly different materials, yet it cut true each and every time with a level of accuracy I've never seen before."
Faced with cutting more than 300 40-by-8-foot panels — ranging from 3/4- inch Sapelefaced DesignEdge plywood from Columbia Forest Products to 8.3-mm SIMOWOOD from SIMONA to 8-mm Stonewood solid phenolic panels from Fiberesin — Aufderhaar and the crew constructing the mHouse knew they needed a portable solution.
"Our only other option would have been to set up a vertical panel or a sliding table saw, but space and portability prohibited it," Aufderhaar said.
The mHouse's exterior was clad in a combination of SIMOWOOD and Stonewood phenolic, all of it in a varied pattern determined by architect John Vetter. That required three times more 8-foot cuts than if full sheets had been mounted.
Both materials are dense. Each 4-by-8-foot sheet weighed in excess of 150 pounds, so it wasn't like cutting lightweight pine boards.
"The Festool track saw cut all of them like butter' said Aufderhaar, who opted for the cordless version because portability was so important.
He admitted, however, that he was concerned about battery life. It was never an issue. At the end of 8-10-hour days, the crew pulled the batteries off the saw and plugged them into the charger, and they were at full charge and ready to go by morning.
Aufderhaar was so impressed that he decided to test the saw with the craftsmen working on the mHouse.
"There were at least 10 of them. All are fine cabinet makers, and even the crew who constructed the shell and core were cabinet makers first and builders second" he said.
Like all fine woodworkers, they had their preferred tools and wouldn't think of picking up someone else's saw.
"One by one, I challenge them to try the Festool track saw," Aufderhaar said. "Every single one of them had the same response: 'No thanks; I like my saw.' And to each of them, I said, 'Try it just once, or I'm not paying you.'"
The craftsmen might have been stubborn, but they weren't stupid.
"I knew how much they were going to like it, but even I was surprised at the accolades and almost spiritual praise for the track saw" Aufderhaar said. "From that point forward, they had to stand in line to use the saw. They absolutely loved it.
"Take a number"