The Slippery Slope of Festool

I’m down in Costa Mesa, California to work at the Lee Valley booth at The Woodworking Show. After we set up our booth on Thursday, we had the remainder of the day to do whatever we wanted and, being woodworkers, we decided to visit the local woodworking store.

Our first stop was Woodcraft where we chatted with the staff there and wandered through the aisles in a clockwise fashion, ending up at the front-right corner of the store where the Festools are displayed. As of then, I didn’t own any Festool tools – I’d heard all the rave reviews, I’ve used some of them myself, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to pull the trigger. In case you don’t know, they aren’t exactly cheap (neither in price nor quality).

I looked up from the dreamy Festools and saw a fellow I recognized as the manager or owner (I don’t know what his role is, but it’s something important). Before I got distracted by another Festool, I walked over to talk to him. Standing at the counter talking to him, I noticed a blue pencil sticking out of a wooden turning. Not any blue pencil – a blue Festool pencil. “That must be an expensive pencil,” I commented jokingly. “Do you sell them here?” They didn’t. But I wanted that Festool pencil so I asked if I could buy it. He didn’t reply – he just handed me the pencil. That was my first Festool.

We continued on to our next stop – Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.  We were greeted as we walked through the door by the manager, Guy. He introduced himself and we introduced ourselves. He gave us each a Rockler catalog and talked about how many customers he refers to Lee Valley. Again, we wandered through the aisles. Some of the guys bought little things. I didn’t.

That night, back at the hotel, I lay in bed and read the 148-page catalog cover-to-cover. I scrutinized all the pictures and read the write-up of anything that looked interesting. I stopped at page 22 – the Festool page. For a while, I have been wanting a Festool vacuum, but they always seemed out of my budget. However, when on the road, I have this expectation to bring something back and somehow big purchases don’t seem so big. The $505.00 (USD) CT 22 is the one I like – it’s a great size. And I remembered seeing a sign at Woodcraft that advertised 10% off as well. That seemed really affordable. So as any responsible purchaser would do, I did some research. I soon found out that the CT 22 has been discontinued and replaced by the much-improved CT 26 which sells for $550 (USD). For the small price difference and big upgrade in features, the CT 26 is the obvious choice.

That night, I dreamed of Festool vacuums. I was looking at them at Canadian Tire. CT is the abbreviation for Canadian Tire; CT also stands for CleanTex (the 22, as in CT 22, indicates how many litres it can hold). I think that is the significance of my shopping at Canadian Tire, which I almost never do. I couldn’t decide which one to buy and the staff were not very knowledgeable and too busy to help. Sometimes dreams are so real.

The next morning I continued my research. At the show, we were given a calling card which we could use to call home. But instead of calling my family, I called my local Festool dealer to talk dust extractors. Although both the CT 22 and CT 33 were discounted since the introduction of the new models, I decided that the CT 26 was still the best choice for me. If I bought it back in Canada, I would be paying $700.  Since the dollar is on par right now, I would save about $150 buying it in the US.

That day at The Woodworking Show, I talked to Guy, the Rockler manager we had met in his store. I told him that I wanted to buy a CT 26, but because the hours of the show I would not have an opportunity to make it back to a store. He said that he thought he had one left at his store and would bring it to the show the next day if he did have one. I agreed to let chance make the decision for me: if they had one in stock, I would buy it now; if they were out of stock, I would think about it more and maybe buy one later.  Rockler did have one and I bought it. Now I just have to get it home.

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