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Thread: EZ Smart Guide System Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Oakdale, CT
    Posts
    50

    EZ Smart Guide System Review

    I needed a tool for cutting sheet goods and have been looking at the Festool guide system and the EZ Smart Guide system. Last Friday I ordered the EZ Smart Guide system. The price was the tie breaker for me. The guide package arrived on the following Monday. That was fantastic service. I also purchased a Porta Cable 324MAG saw to dedicate to the system.

    First impression was that the packing was excellent. The instructions were not what I was hoping for. A lot is left out. To really prepare for setting up everything I needed to go to the website and download additional instructions to be able to get the whole picture. Mounting the saw to the smart base was the first step. I needed to cut out part of the base to allow the blade guard to slide past the base. I use a roto-zip to cut out the small area that was blocking the guard. Next I needed to drill a hole in the base to allow access to the leveling screw on the base of the saw. I decided to use the double sided tape to attach the saw to the base. This is a one shot deal and after measuring and cutting the strips to size I lowered the saw onto the base. I got a nice snug fit and measured the blade to the edge guide and was less than 1/64”.

    The next step was to cut the zero clearance inserts. There are 2 included one for use without the guide rails and the other for use in the guide rails. I follower the instructions for this and cut both inserts for the 90 degree setup. Things are looking good at this point.

    I now needed to cut the trim pieces in the guide rails to finish setting up the system. This part is tricky and needs a bit of practice. I have attached a hose for dust control to the saw and need to set it on the rail and plunge down and then run the saw the length of the guide. I completed this and noticed that the far end had a bit of an indent in the plastic. There was a bit of sideways travel in the base slot. What I learned was to keep pressure down and to the right the entire time the saw is on. Do not move the saw until it comes to a complete stop. Any movement will chip the plastic edge guide. This takes patience and practice.

    Next is cutting the zero clearance inserts for bevel cuts. You will need inserts for each bevel angle you cut to keep them tight and able to help with dust extraction. I set up everything for a 45 degree cut and set the saw into the guide rail and made the bevel cut. This cuts out quite a bit of the plastic runner and requires a lot of control to keep the saw on the guide and plunge the cut. I bevel cut one side of one of the 50” guides and stopped. This was a lot of work on the saw and I knew that I wanted to get more experience before cutting the other guide rail.

    My system included 2 – 50” guide rails and 4 clamps along with the base plate. The 2 rails slip together and are secured with allen screws. The guides are sturdy and keep a good straight edge when clamped together. The Smart clamps slide into extrusions on the bottom of the rails and clamp to the work surface easily and are well designed.

    The system has a learning curve and I need to think about a better way to attach the dust collection hose and power cord when in use. In a small shop like mine you will need to think this out carefully prior to using the system. My biggest problem was in dealing with the hose, power cord and properly plunging and controlling the saw for the cut. I have ordered 4 replacement plastic guides to have on hand, just do to the fact that it is so easy to chip a rail. I will also need to improve the dust collection on the saw. The manufacturer is sending me some plastic to make an addition to the blade guard to help with this.

    I will be using the guide system for cutting large sheet goods and be sticking to the 90 degree cuts for now. I did have the opportunity to try out a friends FESTOOL saw and guide system. I really liked the dust extraction and the ease with which the saw plunged. Most skill saws are made to be set at a depth and sliding up and down during a cut is not something most of the saws are really designed to do. The guide on most saws is flat steel and doesn’t track smoothly up and down. When the funding is there for the FESTOOL system I will definitely be purchasing it, but for now the EZ SMART Guide system will be in the shop. It’s hands above any of the straight line guides that I have seen.
    Bob Nazro
    A Connecticut Yankee
    I've measured this three times and each time I cut it, it's still to short...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Portsmouth, VA
    Posts
    476
    Thanks for the thorough review Bob. I have never seen the EZ system up close but I do have the festool ATF 55 saw and guide. I havent used it much yet, but what I have done with it impressed me quite a bit. It sounds like you still favor the festool over EZ if I read the last paragraph right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Oakdale, CT
    Posts
    50
    Bob,
    For out of the box simplicity I would choose the FESTOOL. There was a lot of information I had to dig for on the EZ guide system. They are slightly apples and oranges due to the fact that you are choosing you own saw, but the learning curve is much smaller with the FESTOOL. I'm shure thats one of the reasons it's priced where it is.
    Bob Nazro
    A Connecticut Yankee
    I've measured this three times and each time I cut it, it's still to short...

  4. "They are slightly apples and oranges due to the fact that you are choosing you own saw"

    My opinion is that Festool makes one of the better saws on the market and EZ makes the best guide. Like a Delta table saw with a Biesemeyer fence, it's a marriage made in heaven.

    To me, the ability to choose my own saw, even a Festool if I could afford one, was one of the strongest selling points for the EZ. I've used three different saws on my guide and they all worked flawlessly.

    Circular saws are constantly evolving - I like the idea of being able to upgrade to the latest and greatest without chunking my guide system or my wallet to do it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    15,300
    Festool CS wins on dust collection...that was my main reason for choosing F over E although I have both systems!
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

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