TreeHouse spends over 75 hours per year training each employee to be near-expert on all of the products & services we sell. One of our Home Performance Consultants, Mike, recently went to Indiana to be fully trained on Festool Power Tools. The following is his account of his time and learnings there.
Festool & TreeHouse
I went to Festool training already knowing that those elegant, German-designed and manufactured power tools were incredible. I’ve seen demonstrations at the store. I’ve watched videos online. I’ve even borrowed tools from our rep to use on a few projects around the house. What I learned at training is why Festool is so amazing. It was obvious right away that they don’t do anything without a reason, and they realize that these tools are an investment. They want their customers to be happy with the purchase, so they’ve built in a lot of features that are designed to help protect that investment and their customer. Having one of the best overall warranties on power tools doesn’t hurt either.
Before I get into the specifics on the features, though, I have to say that as a company, Festool shares a lot of TreeHouse’s concerns and guiding principles: they care about their employees; they strive to have minimal impact on the environment; they care about your health and well-being; and they value excellence and quality. All of that is apparent when you visit their facility, work with their tools, or talk to the people who use Festool.
Festool & Quality
Now, the first thing I need to point out, because it was the point we kept coming back to for every tool we looked at, was their all-inclusive three-year warranty. On any power tool they sell, Festool will repair and replace anything required for three years from the date of purchase. These tools are built to last, whether you’re a professional who uses them every day or an enthusiast who builds on the weekends. Plus, they’ll pay for shipping to their facility and then back to you. They do their best to get it out their door within 48 hours of receiving it, so it is back in your hands and working for you as quickly as possible. What does this really mean? These tools will last a long time, and if you do ever have a problem, they are serviceable. Really though, you should only ever have to buy one, assuming you’re using it as intended.
I got to see their repair shop while I was there, and honestly, it was tiny. Considering that every tool that needs repaired, both from the US and Canada, comes through that facility in Lebanon, you would assume that it would be a large room, if not it’s own building with a warehouse for spare parts. The whole room, though, wasn’t any bigger than an average living room. This includes the racks that hold the tools they’re working on as well as the work desks and some shelves for spare parts. That is a testament to the quality of their tools. These things are meant to last, but it’s good to know they can handle the repair in case you need it (but you probably won’t).
Festool & Air Quality
The most important thing to know about Festool is that they designed all of their tools (except for the drills) to connect to a vacuum for optimum dust extraction while cutting or sanding. This keeps your workspace clean for a more efficient use of your time, but it also keeps you healthier. Saw dust is a known human carcinogen, so by keeping it out of your space and out of your lungs, it means far more than just saving some time on cleaning up after you’ve finished for the day. And we’re not just talking about a little bit of dust. Festool dust extractors are HEPA certified vacs designed to capture upwards of 98% of the dust kicked up by the tool. Here’s a picture from a single eight-foot cut along a piece of three-quarter inch plywood. Normally, that ends up in the air and on the floor around you. Plus, even the dust extractor is considered a tool, so it’s covered by that same three-year warranty.
Festool & Technology
Within the tools themselves, Festool built in some very intelligent technology. They have electronic safeguards and controls that help the tool do its job better and protect it from being damaged by overuse. Inside their drills, saws, sanders, jigsaws, routers, and planer, are controls to prevent the motor and the control board from overheating, maintain a constant speed under load while using the tool, allow you to adjust the speed at which the tool is operating depending on the type and thickness of material you are working with, plus a few more to safeguard your tool, ensuring it works at peak performance.
Festool & Craftsmanship
All of these features are great, but they don’t mean much if the tools don’t do what they need to to help professionals and hobbyists make beautiful pieces. Festool designs tools to help you save time, keep your workspace clean, and most importantly: make the best pieces you can make. Any of their saws, from the Kapex to the Carvex, gives you a clean, splinter-free finished cut. Need to make a lot of cuts? Precision is their specialty, allowing you to make the same cut again and again without worrying about things changing their angle or their measurement. All tool companies claim “repeatability” though. They all say their tools allow you to make the same cut again and again. Festool makes tools that allow the same cut to be made regardless of who’s working with it. On the jobsite, cuts can be called down to whomever is working the saws, and you can count on getting what you need every time.
The best example I saw of this level of person-to-person repeatability occurred when ten of us used the Domino to join two planks of wood. Each of us took a turn with the tool, many of us for the first time, and made a plunge cut into the edge of a piece of three-quarter-inch material. After we’d all made our cuts, our trainer inserted the dominoes to the various holes, and the pieces lined up perfectly. Ten different people. Ten sets of hands. It came out perfect. The tool measured out the cuts for us at the same depth and the same distance apart every time. This eliminates precious time by not having to mark where all the plunges are being made, though you can do that too if you want. Plus, after we were done, there wasn’t any mess for us to sweep up.
Festool: One Tool to Rule them All
In all, the training left a big impression on me. There are still hundreds of accessories I didn’t get to see, and a lot of new things coming out in 2015. The learning will never slow down, but I am so glad I got to dive into this company for a few days. They don’t do anything without a purpose, so you can rest assured that your tools will do everything you need them to, plus more. I went to Indiana knowing Festool was good, but I really had no idea.