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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

This month:

Festool CT Boom Arm Set

Off To The (Discount) Store For Woodworking Supplies

Put On Your Woodworking Shoes

Dados With A Festool Router and Guiderail

Miter Saw Workstation Update

Festool CT Boom Arm Set

It seems like such a simple thing. It also seems expensive and perhaps even superfluous, but after much procrastination I pulled the trigger. Now I cannot envision being without the Boom Arm Set for my CT 36 Dust Extractor.

First, to the subject of cost...

Yes, the entire set is $365, not an inconsequential amount of money to anyone not involved in government procurement. The best way to think of this investment is that for approximately 50% of the cost of the Dust Extractor itself, the versatility, ease of use, and pure functionality of the unit will increase at least 100%. If you could double the performance of any tool in your shop by adding an accessory that cost half as much as the tool itself, you would probably do it. I have plenty of friends that have spent more on tweaks and accessories for table saws and band saws than the tools themselves. And that is, perhaps, a salient point... the CT 36 is a tool, no more, and certainly no less important than any other tool in my shop.

Now to the superfluous part...

It is. Well, strictly speaking, the definition of superfluous is "exceeding what is sufficient" and clearly the CT Dust Extractor is a perfectly capable machine all on its own. Whether used as a dust extractor for hand held power tools, for general workshop cleanup, job site cleanup, or even connected to stationary tools, the thing simply does a vastly superior job to anything else on the market. But, lest you think me gushing too much, it has some ergonomic drawbacks.

Any hand held tool tethered to a dust extraction hose and an electrical cord will be cumbersome at times. Whether sanding, routing, or sawing, it will seem that the hose and cord are constantly in the way, or in danger of being damaged. There is also a weight factor that will manifest itself mostly in the slow and boring job of sanding. I had taken to throwing the hose and cord over my shoulder, but that technique was only a partially satisfying solution.

When sawing and routing, the hose and cord drag over the work piece and/or the Guide Rail. The Guide Rail Deflector, a nifty $22 accessory, only partially solves the problem. While it may not mess up a cut, when the ribbed hose catches on the edge of a work piece, it just feels "funny" --- like it could mess up the cut.

Enter the superfluous Boom Arm. Well above my six-foot height, the arm supports the hose and the tool cord and swivels about to follow me as I work. All ergonomic issues resolved! Try it once, and you will whip out your credit card faster than Imelda Marcos at a shoe store.

At one time I think the Boom Arm, CT Handle, and Tool Holder could be purchased separately, but after puzzling through the assembly, it seems to me that the Boom Arm and Handle work together and are necessary to one another’s success. The Tool Holder is okay. I tried it, then later removed it and stowed it away. Regardless, buy the set.

You will get an initial indication that your $365 was well spent when you pick up the box. This "accessory" is not just well made, it is the proverbial "battleship." As with all Festool products, it is made of superior heavy-duty materials. When you open the box and see the outstanding packaging, you will once again feel that the cost is justified. Then, unfortunately, you will find the instructions. But do not panic. Although there are a lot of parts, you will figure it out, and a close look at the accompanying photograph will help you through. I assembled mine, disassembled it, reassembled it a little differently, then repeated the process twice more before I got it like I think it should be... it must be okay, because it works great!

Buy the CT Boom Arm Set from Highland Woodworking

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