Festool wants to replace your table saw - Fine Homebuilding

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Festool wants to replace your table saw

comments (8) May 26th, 2009 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

Festool came in to our office last week to give us an opportunity to get up close and personal with a few of their newest tools. Bookmark the Tool Hound blog in your internet browser to read more about these tools in the near future--in fact, Festool’s power planer will likely be the focus in the pilot episode of our upcoming Tool Hound video series “A Closer Look”, set to begin filming this week. For now, though, I want to discuss the question that keeps coming up…Is Festool really worth the money?

We could choose any tool for comparison, but because Festool's latest product is a companion to the popular track-guided circular saw category, let’s focus on that.

The new Parallel Guide is basically a set of rails, each with an adjustable stop, that attach perpendicular to your existing Festool circular saw rail. The sole purpose of the Parallel Guide? To allow you to make repeatable rip cuts; something that was a major downfall of the TS saws and guide system before now.

This setup will allow Festool Fanatics to use their TS 55 or TS 75 circular saw to make identical rip cuts as wide as 25 19/32”, or as narrow as 1/16” (using the Extender). The setup is a bit cumbersome, and it lacks some of the highly-refined fit and finish that I’ve come to expect from Festool products, but it definitely works.

So, the new Parallel Guide Set sells for $325. Combine that with a TS 55 saw ($500), and a 106” track ($260), and the grand total for the Festool setup is $1,085. It’s hard not to factor in a Festool’s durability and their use of the finest bearings, gears, motors, and ergonomic design…

…but what do you think? Is Festool coming close to replacing the table saw altogether?

posted in: Blogs, cabinets, doors, saws, stairs, circular saw, built-ins, tablesaws

Comments (8)

BigBossBee BigBossBee writes: I'm sorry to say but most people just don't understand. I wish more people could look at this debate from the macro perspective instead of the micro.
Do you think Chevrolet makes money on their corvette, or their half tone pick-ups who's front rotors are smaller than a Jetta's. Festool, I'm sure is making money on their little clamps and their little plastic boxes, but they are also providing a superior tool that would most likely cost double if profits weren't made on the little items.
I just don't see how this is even a question. Festool's track saw vs Dewalt's are you kidding me.... hold them each in your hand. Look up "adaptive preference formation" hhhhmmm little psychology for you, Expect more out of your tools and use some common sense. A table saw shouldn't cost $200 i don't care if your buying it for your son's Bob the builder tool set.
Maybe we're working to cheap! Maybe it's not the price of the tool. Maybe it's the recession.

Oh and if your trimming a deck in the rain, quote from the movie True Grit, "I can't do nothen for ya son"

Posted: 10:06 pm on April 11th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: I can say for certain that Festool will never replace the table saw. They may be onto replacing the panel saw but that's about it. Although, as much as Festool may want you to believe their system will replace a shop full of tools the fact is it doesn't but it does provide a convenient niche.

It's just another gadget and does a certain task fine but in no way can possibly replace standby tools like a circular saw or a miter saw. Did your George Foreman grill replace your stove? How about that Leatherman tool? did you toss all of your wrenches and screwdrivers for it? I didn't think so. The Festool tools are just another way to do some specific tasks but in no way can tackle all the tasks that a proper table saw or other simple standby tool can. A parallel jig and a circular saw cannot rip plywood faster or more accurately than a table saw. That's just a fact. A guide jig is limited by it's length whereas a table saw rips any length. The more I think about it the more I realize there are really just too many individual short-comings of the saw and guide system to list here. But I think it's clear it doesn't replace a table saw

So the TS55 cuts flooring straighter and door bottoms easier. I've been in the remodeling biz for over a decade and a half and never had a problem with either of those tasks while using a $100 circular saw, a $20 fine tooth blade, and a shop made guide. I get perfect results every time. Add that up and it's a $120 investment. To a remodeler like myself who is forced to carry one of everything the ingenuity involved in making my own guide as opposed to buying a $1000 task specific guide rail system just lowers my overhead. I think this is why when the Festool subject comes up, the first guys to spout glory are those in niche fields like flooring or cabinets and home-shop enthusiasts.

I always like the reasonings Festool lovers give. Especially whey they say "it's a better quality tool". As if a $1300 Kapex cuts more accurate than my $500 Makita? It doesn't get better than perfect every time, does it? Another excuse is "these Festool tools are built to last a lifetime". Really? or is the tool just so much more costly that you treat it like a baby. My tools generally last longer than some of my peer's because I take better care of them. But I also make sure to get my full use out of them and don't baby them. Are you willing to cut in a remodel skylight using your TS55? Do you mind if I use your Kapex in the rain to trim out a deck? I bet if you put a diamond blade on that Festool grinder it would cut concrete and block great...wanna try?

The fact is if you really use your tools then you will want to and need to replace them regularly. Sure my tools will wear out eventually but I won't worry by then I will be able to honestly say I got my money's worth out of them. And really do you want your tools to last a "lifetime" anyhow. It sounds good but if that were true then why not go to a garage sale and pick up a 1950's era Black and Decker drill, Skill circular saw, etc. (buy them all, they are only $1 each). Those tools could last several lifetimes but you don't see many carpenters still dragging them around. It's not like you're buying heirloom tools these days. Go ahead and try to pass them on to your kids, your kid is going to laugh at it. By then those tools will be relics. We will all think back to those heavy old Festool tools and appreciate the next wave of light weight, computer controlled, easier to use, more accurate tool technology.

Here's some more food for thought:

Posted: 7:28 am on June 29th

Festoolboy Festoolboy writes: I use a Kapex, TS55, 5 inch rotex, 3 inch grinder, and a 5 inch sander non stop...all from Festool. Try using a TS55 and guide rail to cut borders into a hardwood floor after running it wild, or doing complicated inlays. There simply is no better way. My old school flooring buddies freehand these cuts with a SkilSaw, and after they add an eighth inch of filler...it still looks like doo doo. I'll always pay for Festool. And by the way, once you really get used to "nearly dustless" tools, you will fear using conventional "homeowner" tools. There is a lot to be said for spending a quiet evening at home and NOT having to blow sawdust out of your nose incessantly.

I wouldn't suggest buying these tools if you are going to let employees use them. Each tool involves some learning , won't take much abuse, and there is always the conversion of imperial and metric on the fly. Sorry to rant, I just like 'em. I'm buying a Domino next week and an MFT is soon to follow. It's nice to feel like I just bought the last grinder, saw, sander, etc., that I ever will.

Posted: 1:44 am on June 26th

henryjonesII henryjonesII writes: Does anybody have any experience with the dewalt track saw?

Henry Jones, Jr.
Washington, D.C.
woodworkers store
Posted: 4:38 pm on October 19th

davidwood davidwood writes: ....The new Parallel Guide is basically a set of rails, each with an adjustable stop, that attach perpendicular to your existing Festool circular saw rail. The sole purpose of the Parallel Guide? To allow you to make repeatable rip cuts; something that was a major downfall of the TS saws and guide system before now.

Eurekazone just received a patent and the repeaters
are included in the application.
I don't have all the details but the festoll parallel guides are just a bad copy of the ez repeaters that you saw them demoed by dino in a breaktime fest.

Imagine how the original inventor feels about this?
2 years ago taunton did a comparison test on guide systems
and nothing was mentioned about the ez repeaters or the smart clamping system that allows the user to cut narrow strips and takes away the need to bring the tablesaw up and down the stairs. Yet, nothing about that.
Until now. For the record. the title of the review was:
Can a saw guide replace the tablesaw?

The ez repeaters was redisigned few times over the years and the newest model offers 42" and 51" capacity.
Take them for a test drive and do a comparison test.

Your statement is false to say the least and for the shake of fairness, taunton's credibility and dino's efforts,
I think a correction is the right thing to do.
I'm afraid to talk anymore. I don't want to be banned from
taunton press with all the info and hard work that was done
by many people before you.
On the other hand, I can't stay silent and ignore the facts.

This is not your private forum to sell misinformation for free tools. Your job is to be an editor and not a salesman.

Best regards.
dino's friend.

Posted: 9:58 am on September 6th

HappyJoyLover HappyJoyLover writes: Well they always say different strokes for different folks. If something works great for me, then I made a good choice. I bought the TS55 about 2 years ago along with both the short 55" and long 106" track with clamps. Two reasons: I build some big and really heavy doors and door frames, some arched, and can't pick up these things to run through the table saw. The Festool setup is easy and more accurate than anything I want to try to jig up. It also takes a whole lot less floor space to cut 4x8 sheets with Festool tracks than to have to pick up the sheets and try to run them through a stationary tablesaw without kickback.

I also plan to buy the router which will use the same track and also the TS75 to make deeper cuts. The domino jointer and one of their jigsaws is also on my Christmas list along with their auto-start vacuum system. I have made plywood jigs and tee squares for routers and saws but they take a long time to setup and are not that accurate. I have owned almost every brand of woodworking tool ever made and am now eliminating all sub standard equipment from my collection. Time is money so I will buy the best tool for the job.
Posted: 10:27 pm on May 30th

reggieK reggieK writes: I have watched several Festool demonstrations though I do not own any of their brand.

Personally, I just do not see any benefit for paying such exhorbitant prices. The quality of Festool brand is very good from what I have read. The issue I have with them is that the cost of their tools is typically more then double the competitors.

No matter how much branding they do...I just do not think that I will ever find my budget will allow such extravagence. Especially, considering the additional tools and options I may be able to acquire if I do not purchase from them.

Considering the price quoted for this system...I would find it much more cost effective to build my own shop jig for straight and replicable cuts on a regular circular saw. The cost outlay for a "specialized" Festool to do a similar task just does not provide me enough time savings or convenience to pay me back for the outlay.

Also, considering that a decent portable contractor's style table saw is under $500.00 (a competitors circular saw and a simple jig would be even lower price)...compared to over $1,000.00 for this Festool setup...who would think that this is a valid replacement (unless it is a government buyer looking for the $2,000.00 hammer!).

Obviously, I am not one of Festool's targeted markets....
Posted: 7:12 pm on May 29th

vanderpooch vanderpooch writes: Justin,

As you know, there is a pretty tall stack of Systainers in my shop, a fact I reconfirmed by loading ALL of them in my truck this morning. You could say I am a fan.

But I think some of their prices are just ridiculous. At the time I bought my tracksaw, there really wasn't another tool that would do what it could. And a homemade shooting board is not the same thing. I happily forked over the dough, knowing I couldn't replicate that tool for that price anywhere else. The same could be said for a number of other tools I've purchased from them.

However, this week I got an envelope in the mail from Eagle Tool containing an adaptor to allow my little Festool router to use Porter Cable style template guides. The damn thing costs more than an entire set of guides, and it's plastic! I at least expected it to be metal, like the Bosch adaptor, which, BTW, only cost $15. This cheesy little piece was $25!

I think those rails are way overpriced. A buddy of mine built some out of wood in a hour that are just as functional. Even if you figure his time @ $75/hr, that's still a lot of money saved.

Ummm, what were we talking about?

I don't think a tracksaw will ever replace the tablesaw, at least not for me. I would, however, like a really compact table saw, even smaller than the Dewalt, with an 8" blade. I really never need to rip anything wider than 12" and thicker than nominal 2x on the job site...

That's my two cents,

- Kit
Posted: 12:02 am on May 27th

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