The Perfect Combination of Brains and Brawn.
Festool’s OF 2200, $1,029, is a big router with a light touch. Weighing in at over 17 pounds, the OF 2200 sports a 3-1/4 hp (18-amp) motor to power through just about any routing task–from deep pocket mortises to heavy molding cuts. But the beauty of this beast is its ability to handle the biggest job with ease and finesse. For example, the depth of cut can be adjusted in increments as fine as 1/256″, and the plunge mechanism is silky smooth but locks tight with a lock on each column to eliminate flex. Several ergonomic tweaks make the router’s size more manageable. I’ll let you know more about those later. Toss in the versatility and time-saving features, and it’s plain to see Festool has set a new standard for plunge routers. Of course, a machine like this comes at a price. But, considering the time, effort and hassles this router saves and the quality of design and construction, it puts the price in perspective. Plus, the OF 2200, like all of Festool’s products, is part of a large family of interrelated tools designed to work with each other. The value is there for the pro and the serious hobbyist alike.
I put the OF 2200 to work in my shop over the past month. The router always satisfied me. I used it to cut mortises and large geometry edge profiles in wood and to plow dados with Festool’s optional guide rail system. The overall design of the router is well thought out and free of the gimmick features and operational hassles I’ve found in other plunge routers.
Photo 1. The handles are tilted forward for a natural, more comfortable grip on the router. One of many features that help the user get a handle on a big router like this.
At over 17 pounds, this router is a handful. Fortunately, Festool has done its homework and designed the ergonomics of the router to maximize user control. First of all, the soft start is a dream. It ramps up the power quickly but without any hint of a snap from its powerful motor. The motor uses a magnetic break to quickly bring the spinning bit to a stop when the power is shut off. Very few routers have brakes, and I love this feature. To help improve the router’s handling characteristics, Festool set the handles, so they tilt away from the user for a more natural grip (Photo 1).
Photo 2. The plunge lock is mounted on the end of the left-hand handle. This allows the operator to lock and unlock the plunge mechanism without letting go of the handle. The on/off trigger is also integral to the handle.
Additionally, the plunge lock and on/off switch are integral to the handle‚ (Photo 2)
, so the user never has to let go of the handle to operate them.
Photo 3. Festool mounted the router with a 30-degree offset to the base. This puts the operator in a more natural and comfortable position when using the auxiliary fence.
Festool also offset the motor housing 30 degrees from the fence assembly‚ (Photo 3).
This allows for a much more natural stance when using the router with the fence attachment. It puts the operator alongside the router rather than having to push it from behind.
Photo 4. The unique spindle lock has a ratchet feature that allows you to tighten or loosen the collet without removing the wrench.
This router is tool-free except for a single collet wrench. No downtime was spent fishing around for wrenches or screwdrivers. Festool adds a ratcheting spindle lock to the OF 2200 to streamline bit changes. The ratcheting spindle lock allows you to leave the wrench on the nut and work it back and forth to tighten or release the collet (Photo 4).
Compare this system to changing bits on a standard plunge router, where swinging the wrench between the columns can be a test of patience.
Photo 5. A pull lever releases the base plate for quick, hassle-free changes. Festool offers several accessory bases with different functions and hole sizes.
The tool-free design extends down to the interchangeable base plates. A quick flip of a spring-loaded lever allows you to swap out bases instantly ‚ (Photo 5).
No screws to drop or lose.
Photo 6. Guide bushings and other base plate accessories fit on pins in the base. The base plate is installed over the top and locks the accessory in.
Accessories such as dust shrouds or guide bushings can be added in seconds‚ (Photo 6).
Photo 7. The depth stop has a cam lock on the bottom. The cam lock is used to attach the depth stop to the fixed step on the turret while the depth of cut is fine-tuned. Once the perfect setting is reached, the stop is locked with the depth-stop lock, and ten are released from the turret. The result is a perfect setting on the depth stop without having to make trial and error setting.
Another time saver is the quick zeroing depth stop and the ultra-fine adjustment knob at the top of the column. One turn of the knob equals 1 mm and is numbered, so adjustments are as fine as 1/10-mm (1/256″). That’s plenty fine for my woodworking needs. The depth stops itself can be micro-adjusted by attaching it to the turret while leaving it unlocked, so it’s free to move up and down when the micro-adjust knob is used to fine-tune the depth of cut (Photo 7).
As the base moves up and down, the depth stop automatically moves. Sample cuts and further adjustments are made until the setting is just right. Then, lock the depth stop and release it from the turret– the depth stop is set. The four-step depth stop turret has a handy final pass offset. It’s a tiny 2mm (about 5/64″) bump on the lowest turret peg. Set the depth stop on top of the bump and make the next to the last pass. Then move the turret, so the depth stop lowers exactly 2mm for a final clean-up pass. This helps ensure a final pass with high-cut quality.
Accuracy and Durability.
I’ve already mentioned the 1/256″ precision on depth adjustment, but some other features fall under the accuracy heading. One is the electronic speed control (MMC) that allows infinite rpm adjustments between 10,000 and 25,000 rpm. Once the speed is set, the MMC keeps the bit spinning at its assigned RPM regardless of load. The spinning shaft is held in place by three bearings, one at the top of the shaft, one at the bottom, and one in the middle. The three bearings dampen vibrations and ensure a smooth cut and long router life. It makes for a robust drive system capable of continuous duty in the shop or on-site. There’s a quick-mount fence available as an accessory that attaches to the guide bars with a single lock knob and a micro-adjust knob for the fence. Unfortunately, the fence is not included in the basic router kit.
Routers are notorious for making mounds of dust and shavings. They are also one of the hardest tools to collect from. Festool has developed the most effective router dust collection system I have seen. Coupled with Festool’s CT 22 vacuum and their 2″ accessory hose, dust collection was nearly 90% on the router I tested. Dust collection dropped to about 75% when I used the smaller 1-in. hose that comes standard with the CT-22.
Photo 8. Dust collection is excellent on the OF-2200 thanks to a telescoping shroud between the base and the router that captures and funnels chips to a large-diameter tube. A swivel head hose attachment helps keep the vacuum hose out of the way. A chip defector is used to corral chips from edge routing operations.
Festool increased the collection efficiency of the router by using large diameter piping built right into the router base and extending up the router body to a swivel head attachment for the vacuum hose (Photo Eight).
The piping connects to a telescoping, clear plastic shroud between the base and the bottom of the motor housing. The shroud effectively captures and funnels chips to the dust extraction pipe. The two-part shroud is designed to telescope or collapse as the router is plunged. The telescoping half of the chip guard is mounted under the router motor and can be locked in the up position to clear the way for bit changes. An included Chip Deflector is added to the base to help capture chips when edge routing.
Photo 9. Festrool's storage containers are out of the ordinary as well. I've shared the Base Accessory Kit for the EF-2200. The kits are stackable and designed to piggyback on Festool's shop vacs. A quick reference chart with pictures maps out where all the accessories belong in the case and how they are attached and are used on the router.
The router comes in its storage container called a Systainer (Photo 9).
Leave it to Festool to pay attention to detail, even when it comes to something as mundane as storage containers. The containers are remarkable not only for how they’re designed to fit together and piggyback on Festool’s vacuums but also for the illustrated liner on the lid of each box. The liner has a photo of the packed box, so you know where everything goes. (With some tools I’ve owned, I’ve never figured out how to get the genie back in the bottle). Other photos serve as a quick visual reference guide to show how the accessories attach to the router and how they are used.
Final Thoughts. This is truly a very fine router. I have to try hard to think of something I don’t like about it. I found it awkward to lay the tool down when the chip deflector is on the base. You can’t set it on the base, or the chip deflector gets in the way. You can’t set it on its back, or the dust collector tube gets in the way; setting it on its face means laying it down on adjustment knobs. I also wish the depth stop gauge was in inches rather than millimeters on the units sold in the U.S.
When looking to purchase the OF 2200 router, consider the Base Accessory Kit as a necessary part of the purchase price. The kit greatly expands the versatility of the router. The Basic Router Kit costs $800 and comes in its own Systainer 4 case. The router has a base plate, an insert for standard guide bushings, a chip catcher, and a 1/2″ collet. The Base Accessory Kit costs another $310 and comes housed in a Systainer 3 case. The Base Accessory Kit includes a parallel edge guide, connecting rods, a dust extraction hood for use with the edge guide, a guide rail adapter, an extra wide support base plate, a guide rail base plate, a small bore base plate, a template guide base plate, plus 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″. and 1-3/8″ guide bushing plates.
Like an expensive car, the Festool OF 2200 is designed for those who demand performance and reliability. The Festool saves so much time and aggravation; it’s worth the extra money. For the pro especially, time is money, and this router will save you time in making adjustments, changing bits, and swapping out base plates for various tasks.