I have been testing out Festool’s new CMS router table system (Festool microsite), and it has impressed me in quite a short time. It is too soon to formally review the router table, but I have worked with it enough to share my first impression and initial assessment.
If you don’t have time to read through the whole post, there’s just one thing you need to know: the CMS router table is a beautifully well designed and efficient system that performs absolutely flawlessly.
Initial setup is intimidating, but only at first since the CMS stand, router module, and various components all ship in their own separate boxes. Festool’s documentation is fairly detailed and easy to follow, so there were no major snags along the way. Overall setting up and breaking the system down is straightforward and simple.
The CMS stand is extremely light and can be used with the legs folded in or fully extended. (I have my fingers crossed that Festool can/will bring their table saw module to the USA market.)
It is evident that a lot of engineering went into designing the CMS base unit. To be honest I had anticipated a legs system less thoughtfully designed.
Rubber feet and leg caps help protect floors and worksurfaces from damage, making the CMS stand suitable for portable or stationary use.
The oversized knob you see here must be fully loosened to rotate the legs from its stowed position and back. It is easy to turn, making jobsite setup and break-down as quick as can be.
The CMS router table is designed to accommodate Festool’s OF1010 and OF1400 routers. Although it doesn’t look like much, the three hold-downs do an excellent job of securing even the larger OF1400 router without any wiggle or wobble.
The router plate is easily flipped or removed for router attachment. Here you can see the depth adjustment and two cam-locks that keep the router plate secured to the CMS base.
What surprised me is how well machined and finished the base plate and all other system components were. The smooth finger-pull holes with their machined and beveled edges were one of the first things I noticed when unpacking the components from their shipping boxes.
You plug your router into the small dongle and the CMS power cord to an outlet or dust extractor. The red stop button could have been a bit larger, but it protrudes outwards by a good amount. If so inclined users can always fashion a larger e-stop paddle, but it hardly seems necessary.
Various ring adapters are included for use with Festool’s different routers. The directions show which ring adapter(s) to use with which routers, with clear model numbers eliminating the possibility of any confusion.
Although I would have preferred aluminum rings, the plastic rings feel sturdy enough to squash any ounce of doubt. They are easily inserted and easily removed. Five sizes plus a sixth adapter-only size should be enough for any size router bit.
Router Table Plate
The router plate connects quickly and easily. One side of the router plate is keyed so it can only be installed one way. Loosen the cam locks, disconnect router power and dust collection, and flip the plate over for bit changes or router removal. Bit changes can be done above the surface, but there are times when you might want to tighten or loosen the collet from below.
Router Table Fence
Oh, what a beauty. The fence adjusts forward and backward as easily as open and closed to accommodate different bit sizes. A large knob controls the right fence depth, should you want to use the router for jointing. Note that the fences are close together here to better demonstrate this feature.
The fence looks complex at first glance, but it’s not the least bit challenging to figure out what each knob does.
The fence can be adjusted a couple of inches back and forth, and it can be mounted to a second set of threaded holes should a greater distance from the router bit be desired.
Festool came up with very effective featherboard designs, which is a good thing because there’s no way to use 3rd party accessories with the router table.
The horizontal featherboard can be rotated up out of the way when not needed. When it is needed and used, the horizontal featherboard provides firm but gentle pressure as workpieces approach and pass by the cutting bit.
The vertical featherboard adjusts quickly after first loosening an oversized and comfortable knob. Since workpieces are held down immediately before, over, and after they pass through router bits, there’s no need for the rigid beefy fingers of other featherboards. There’s a bit of springiness that helps resist lift-up.
Both featherboards work well together, and they also help shield the router bit, preventing fingers from getting too close. Surprisingly the CMS router table does not come with a push stick, something you will definitely want to use with the setup.
I am slightly disappointed that I cannot use push blocks with both featherboards in place, but I have not come across any times thus far when I needed to.
Auxiliary Dust Hood and Starting Guide
The router table comes with an auxiliary dust hood and unique starting guide. While most other router tables come with a starting pin, the CMS router table comes with a guide that flexes, bends, and provides additional workpiece support.
I haven’t yet explored the potential of the starting guide, bit it seems like it might present a greater advantage over starting pins when used with pins with roller bearings. It should provide support even as you move a workpiece into contact with the router bit.
Oh boy, what a joy the sliding table proved to be! There are other sliding router tables on the market, but most seem to have compromises.
The sliding table is really only most effective when paired with Festool’s beefy miter gauge. The miter gauge is easily assembled and easily adjusted with detents at common angles and a detent override. The attached fence can be unlocked and adjusted to maintain proper spacing away from the selected router bit.
It would have been nice to see a hold-down accessory, but I haven’t come across a routing task where hold-downs or clamps would have been necessary.
The fence can be attached as shown or via the other t-slot (top) for a wider but lower profile fence.
The extension table installs quickly, but you should definitely watch Festool’s assembly and adjustment video before you give it a shot. Once installed properly and leveled off, it provides adequate support for longer workpieces. This is not nearly as crucial an accessory as the sliding table and miter gauge combo, but it’s nice to have.
Festool claims that their CMS router table bests other brands’ offerings and custom-built or configured setups. The truth is, it does. And for what the CMS router table costs, it had better be leaps and bounds better than all other options.
- It’s the best portable router table I’ve seen or used
- Dust collection is excellent
- No need to shop around for separate feather boards, miter gauge, sliding sled, power/control accessories, or dust ports
The router table components are designed to seamlessly work with each other, resulting in a system greater than the sum of its parts.
After setting up the router table and getting used to it with a couple of yards of test cuts, I find myself utterly impressed with the entire system. The design is without compromise, its operation flawless, and dust collection is close to perfection. It’s practically a masterpiece of engineering.
Thank you to Festool for providing the review sample unconditionally. In addition to followup reviews, the CMS router table will be featured in an upcoming series of brief how-to’s, tutorials, and project logs.