At the Festool administrative offices in Wendlingen, Germany, tucked away in an outbuilding is the company museum that celebrates 90 years of tool innovation.
The company was founded in 1925 under the name Fezer & Stoll, which became Festo in 1933. It didn’t become Festool until 2000.
The company claims more than 350 patents and had it first major success with a portable chainsaw. The saws (Photo A) had a gas engine and required two men to operate. It was rather crude, compared to today’s models, but was a welcome change from swinging an ax all day.
In 1951, Festo introduced the first orbital sander, considered a revolution in surface finishing. The world’s first combination circular saw and guide rail followed in 1964.
In 1976, the company introduced the eccentric sander with integrated dust extraction. The next generation of compressed air-eccentric sanders arrived in 1982, which Festo followed up with the Rotex, the first geared eccentric sander, in 1984. The Rotex provided three applications — coarse sanding, fine sanding and polishing — in a single tool.
Other significant product introductions include the Systainer, a plastic tool storage case and organizer, in 1993; mobile dust extractors in 1999, and the Domino joining system in 2006.
The museum features a number of stationary tools that the company no longer produces. There are also examples of an early band saw (Photo B), mortiser with a chainsaw cutter (Photo C), and several circular saws with important safety innovations such as a riving knife and retractable blade guard (Photo D).
Today, Festool has about 2,500 employees worldwide. It operates in North America as Festool USA, based in Lebanon, Ind.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.