Recently, Matthew Grisley of Leigh Industries dropped by the WJ shop to demonstrate their new Super FMT Jig. The jig forms both mortises and tenons with one setup, much like their original FMT jig, but at almost half the cost (about $449 as of 2010). Why the price drop? “The parts are made from punched and formed steel or injection-molded plastic,” Matt explained, “which is considerably less expensive than the machined or die-cast aluminum we use on the original.”
They also changed the clamps: twist-action F-clamps on the Super; cam-action speed clamps on the FMT. But, since the Super FMT is the same size and accepts the same bits as the regular FMT, it, too, can produce over 70 sizes of mortise and tenons, ranging from 1/16" x 18" to 1/2" x 5" — including square tenon, louver and y-axis joints.
The tenons are actually formed with a climb cut — cutting in the opposite direction than a person would usually use with a router — something I learned as I watched Matt put the tool through its paces.
I also found out about the rare earth magnets: one helps align the tabletop, another stores the sight (which snaps to a window on the tabletop to align your stock), and still others hold the clamps in place on the jig so you can have both hands free to locate your stock.
It takes some time to set up the Super FMT jig, but I had the advantage of standing around and watching Matt do all that. Once it’s set up, you can start a new project, with repeatable results, in seconds.
The new price point was key to Leigh’s development of the Super FMT. According to Matt, “many people wanted one, but just couldn’t justify the higher price, especially in a tighter economy.” Matt’s dad, Ken Grisley, the founder of Leigh Industries, took that info to heart in his research and development work on the Super FMT — and some of the first shipments to retailers sold out before the product had even gone on the market.