Visiting Fein and Festool Power Tools in Germany
My first trip to Europe proved to be a thrilling and exhausting educational experience for me as I explored what makes Fein and Festool tools so good-and so expensive. Their engineers showed me they only accept less than perfect when it's just barely detectable under a microscope. I don't even know if NASA is this tough (although I hope they are). And they expect the same from any company making parts for them. Actually, they expect them to exceed the goal, but they will reluctantly accept the goal if it's right on the mark. The end result is that they make superior-quality power tools that will cost more money, but will also deliver top-shelf performance and do it for many years, even decades. Who wants to buy the same tool two or three times? We've likely all done it at some point. Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing anybody's tools. I'm just saying you get what you pay for.
It's the same with cars. Higher-quality cars cost more than lower-quality ones, and they tend to outlive those cheaper models by a long shot. I'll continue to use the tools in my shop, but when they give out I'll take a serious look at Festool for its Domino joinery machine, plunge circular saw, router, sander, and dust extractor. And, I'll keep my eye on Fein's Multi-Master, orbital sanders, and vacuums.
Day 1: Greetings from Nurtingen, Germany to all of our WOOD® magazine readers and participants on our WOOD Online forums. My first day in Europe was filled with the excitement of exploring new lands and cultures, followed by an invigorating and educational tour of the town where I'm staying, and capped by several bits of exciting news from our host, Festool.
Long a presence in Germany and Europe as a maker of high-quality, long-lasting woodworking tools, Festool welcomed us with a very fine dinner Saturday evening that made this farm-raised Midwesterner feel right at home: pork chops. But that was not by a long shot the good news. Rather, Festool announced that it is relocating its North American headquarters to Lebanon, Indiana (within an hour and a half of my Hoosier hometown) where work began over a month ago on a new facility that will house corporate offices as well as warehouse space and a second training center. This training facility, like the one in Henderson, Nevada, will help educate those retailers who sell Festool products on how to use them, how to demonstrate them to customers, and how to troubleshoot them and service them. Festool will continue to operate its training center in Nevada, and will also keep its Goleta, California office open as a distribution and service center. The good news for woodworkers in the United States and Canada is that Festool has just made a huge commitment to our market to sell and service tools and train us in how to use them.
The folks from Festool also promised to show off their hottest, newest tool that's not even available in the U.S. yet because demand in Europe has more than doubled the supply. This tool, called Domino, is a hybrid tool that's been creating a buzz on the Web. Check back in a day or two for the word on that.
Festool does nothing second rate. When I cleared customs at the Stuttgart airport early Saturday morning after a long flight from Atlanta—and nine hours sitting in one position is borderline torture to this 6-foot-4 editor—I was greeted and picked up by Christian Oltzscher, president and CEO of Festool USA. He drove us&emdash;via the high-speed Formula One track known as the German highway system—to Nurtingen, a nearby town where Festool is located. I got the opportunity to explore the town a little bit, and found it to be almost storybook in its Old-Europe charm and architecture (take a look at the photos; that's me in the middle of an outdoor market downtown).