Thread: plunge saws - festool vs makita
4th Dec 2009, 02:12 PM #1
plunge saws - festool vs makita
Just wondering whether anyone has used these saws (the TS55 or TS75 Festools vs the Makita version). The Festool is about twice the price - is it that much better. I have seen some reviews in the US that argue that the Makita is a better saw than the TS55.
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4th Dec 2009, 10:40 PM #2
I have been fortunate enough to use a borrowed Festool but have never even seen the Makita so can't comment. The big thing with the Festool if you buy their dust extractor is no dust at all, you could even use inside a house with no problems it is that good. I do not believe other manufacturers have this feature. If you are cutting a lot of sheet goods especially MDF/pineboard I would buy the Festool with dust extractor. There were some kits getting around with both in them as well as guide rails.CHRIS
5th Dec 2009, 03:50 AM #3
yes, the price is indeed double, but the difference in quality isn't. It couldn't possibly be (even modern Chinese tools can have amazing value for money, and could in some cases reach up to 50% of a Festool product). Though i must admit, i do know the TS55 and its predecessor AT55 from practice, but i only saw the Makita equivalent in action for the first time some months ago.
So i too couldn't comment on all the Makita's virtues, since i haven't worked with it yet. But it would seem that Makita has learned fast in copying the German finnicky precision. Makita was once a bit like Hitachi, rugged in a simplistic way, but in its modern battery driver drills and its large circular saw 5143R i have come to know much more sophistication. The developers from Makita Duisburg made sure that the brand can stand its ground amongst the stiff German quality competition; they had to or else they wouldn't survive. The Makita plunge saw would indeed seem to offer a lot of the Festool's traits, at a considerably lower price. The machine looks to be constructed with care and with attention to the little details, as Festo started to do some 30 years ago.
The AT55 is value for money. It is robust, has advanced electronics and it is precise on all accounts. Together with a guide rail, you have to be stiff drunk not to manage a decent cut with it, leaning right against the intended hairline all the way from start to finish. It even has double ball bearings on one side of its blade arbour, has a compact excellent motor and a fine set of gears, performing like silk as long as the machine is not raped. I have the EB-version (electronics with electric brake), but the brake is a bit hard on the brushes, since the electronics switch the motor in reverse at reduced power for a second, which gives a snappy standstill but also a quick flash of brushfire on the commutator. I would rather have bought the AT55E (electronics without the brake function) instead, and i may pick up a used one if the price is right.
The TS55 is a bit lighter, contains more reinforced nylon and slightly thinner cast alloy parts, although the motor is more efficient and has slightly higher Wattage. The trend towards getting more function out of less expensive materials, is clearly visible in modern Festool machines like the TS55, but then this is visible in most tool brand products (and in many more product categories, like household appliances and gardening equipment). But in spite of that, the precision has remained beautiful and exemplary. This, and its almost inherent guarantee to deliver quality workpiece results, is still the main reason for people buying Festool. You shell out a lot of cash, but you only stand a very small chance of feeling sorry for it afterwards. For the first time i felt a bit of a Festool after-sales dip when i found out that Milwaukee's POS 13 (an AEG Winnenden designed palmgrip delta sander) ran smoother and contained much more metal than Festool's DTS 400 EQ, which was more expensive. There i was with those nice systainers filled with neatly boxed assortments of velcro sanding pads, the nifty bajonet connector mains cord and this systemised disposable dustbag cassette, and they hadn't even bothered to design the machine itself to perfection, like older Festo machines used to be. I must admit that i've become a bit more sceptical towards the dentist-like system accessory thinking behind the brand. You can almost picture the clean Teutonic white-clad engineers in designer glasses, looking a bit like brain surgeons behind CAD-workstations. Like making dedicated parts for Lego Technic, they think up nifty wannahaves that go so perfectly well as an enhancement for your new system toy, but what's the use when the machines themselves show manufacturing tendencies that make the accessory design effort look disproportionate, like so much other design junk. I'm willing to pay top dollar for nifty engineers who think up truly worthwhile things. I'm also willing to shell out for quality materials that provide superior results and long service life. But i'm not willing to pay double for a brand that floats on its laurels, with the competition gaining on them where pure machine quality is the issue.
With the TE55, this issue is not a serious issue yet, it is a good machine, but it will not outrun the two Makita's that can be bought for the same price. Makita has some good shop vacs, too. Recently their German branch brought out a HEPA-version, which would be interesting to test against the Festool vacs. There's a thread about it, somewhere in this forum.
The TE55 is expensive and just about worth it. Try to get it cheaper, to make it a bit more worthwhile. If you would have mentioned the Hilti WSC 265 KE, now there's another story. About as expensive as the Festool 55 and it also looks very clever (not a plunge type, but with a compact in-line motor and angled gear set), but it's the poorest value for money i ever saw in a Hilti machine. I'm glad i bought that one second-hand and not at RRP.
Below: AT55 as seen on Ebay. As an older model it can be had cheaper, but even used models still fetch hefty prices. I can vouch for this saw, this model and the larger AT65 are brilliant machines. In Holland many interior rebuilders and project furniture installers and quality allround carpenters are seen sporting and treasuring these saws. I didn't spend as much hours on a TE, i don't yet know how it will feel like after some 500 hours of working life, but it feels good when fresh and new. The FS rails and many other accessories fit both the AT and TE.
5th Dec 2009, 09:04 AM #4
As an addendum to the above and to horrify all the Festool owners of which I am one but not the saw I do not believe the rail system is as easy to use as accurately and consistantly as they would like us to believe. Sacrilege I hear you say, but I am an average user who has done a fair amount of work using this system cutting sheet goods and it is a bit of a fiddle getting it to cut square as others have found and a few have dared to talk about. Yes, it gives good straight cuts and yes it is good if you take the time to align and measure what you are doing but you can't just plonk the rails on a sheet and expect the cut to be spot on square without a bit of fuss. I was surprised to see how easy it is NOT to get the advertised accuracy and square cuts when I first used it. I made my own version and it gives results just as good for the price of a bit of plywood and timber. You do not need a rail saw to do that part at all, its advantages lay in the plunge, dust collection etc. I will now duck for cover as I get mowed down by those who think the sun rises and falls on the idea of aluminium rails that cost a fortune. BTW I never got the idea of keeping my tools in the systainer either but I do think Festool tools are value for money for certain jobs and users it is just that I am not fanatical about the brand.CHRIS
5th Dec 2009, 10:23 AM #5
hi chris. dont worry about ducking for cover mate. i used your method for cutting sheet goods for years.
i used to cut a straight edge from a 150mm strip of mdf or melamine and then screw or clamp it to the workpiece, then measure from the edge of the saws base plate to either side of the blade.
i would take this measurement into consideration when preparing to make my cut with my straight edge.
this is a tried and tested way of cutting sheet goods and works perfectly.
however, i am sorry you dont find the festool rails to be precise. in your defence they can be useless if you dont use the clamps also.
i never use the rails without clamping down first. this prevents any unwanted slipping of the rail during the cut.
if you where on the gold coast, i would be happy to show you how i can repeatedly cut 1/4 of a millimetre using the rails and clamps.
i find the festool saw and rails to be a great addition to my tool kit and it has paid for itself several times over during the last year alone.
but we cannot stop progress, the new makita and dewalt and metabo kits have to be taken seriously.
they are cheaper alternatives and rock solid high quality tools.
i have a friend who just got back from afghanistan, he had a few days in dubai, and he bought the makita kit with systainer and 2 rails for AU$430.
i hope to get a few hours use with his setup in the new year and i will be happy to report back to the forum with my experience using the makita.
i would like to thank gerhard for his thoughts also.
i have seen the hilti track saw, and i know a few builders that have been thinking about buying it. i would never buy it myself, as i am a self confessed festool addict!
btw gerhard, i think you are getting your TE's mixed up with your TS's!
5th Dec 2009, 11:27 AM #6
Justin, my problem is getting the rails dead on and exact to the marks. I have seen the razor blade method used and I don't think I have had the rails move in use but it must happen as Festool have introduced the clamps. My issue is in the error from one end to the other when attempting to cut square. Getting both ends of the rail exactly correct and on the marks is not that easy due to the flexible strip they put on the rails. If it had a nice defined sharp edge then things would be better. I think Festool have even acknowledged the problem themselves
Parallel Guide Set - GUIDE RAILS PARALLEL GUIDE - Festool
I put a fence of timber on a piece of plywood and cut the ply off by running the saw along the fence. This gives a very crisp line to put on the marks but it is still subject to the same problem to some extent. I am going to attach a piece underneath it to butt up against the sheet and this will automatically square the rail to that edge. I feel that unless there is a quick automatic way of squaring the rails with precision then rail systems aren't the ducks guts so to speak. As it stands rail systems are not very user friendly, that is slap it down on one mark and cut. Maybe I am missing something here and I can be shown the error of my ways, I hope so.CHRIS
5th Dec 2009, 04:27 PM #7
I just had to make a couple of small melamine cabinets on site and used my festool saw and the track. Measured carefully, marked with a sharp pencil, lined the track up to the marks and cut. It's not the first time I've done this by a long shot and, although the cuts aren't as crisp as the table saw, the cabinets always go together square and I've not had a complaint from a client yet. Yes I have had the track slip on occasion but not often enough to make me clamp it every time.
Haven't checked out the Makita version yet but it seems to me that as long as the build quality is good enough half the price sounds good. After all, it is just a saw with a straight edge.
6th Dec 2009, 02:04 PM #8
I just bought a festool ts 55 with 2 rails & clamps. for 2 reasons:
1)I chose the festool over the makita (which i could have got for $460 cheaper) mainly because i qualify for the extra 50% investment tax incentive,
so financially i was better off going festool (as it was over $1000) over the makita because of the first year write down.
If your in the trade then the festool is actually the better deal if you get in before dec 31.
2)The amount of video's on you tube and reviews on the festool setup is impressive, the lack of decent video and informative reviews on the makita is a bit of a pain as initially it was my first choice,i'm sure it's a good tool as im yet to come across a truly dud tool from makita.
If i were buying as a home user then the makita deals going are pretty hard to go past, and when the dewalt version comes out here in early 2010 (according to the dewalt rep i spoke to) i think they may get even more competitive.
edit:i couldn't agree more with the poster above "Haven't checked out the Makita version yet but it seems to me that as long as the build quality is good enough half the price sounds good. After all, it is just a saw with a straight edge".
6th Dec 2009, 09:05 PM #9
There was a review of the Festo, DeWalt & Makita in one for the US mags a couple of months ago - the Makita came a distant third. IIRC the one reviewed didn't have a retracting riving knife, can't remember if it didn't have one at all or it was fixed at full depth - either way, not so useful.
If you look around the forums, there was a link to an Australian shop (in WA?) importing a Chinese knockoff of the TS55 & TS75, came with one 1400 rail, but all the Festo accessories fit.
6th Dec 2009, 11:13 PM #10
I remember that tradetoolsdirect.com have a cheaper plunge saw. I couldn't check at the moment because their website is down
7th Dec 2009, 08:14 PM #11
yes, you're quite right of course, its a TS (TS55EB in my case), but i've been busy repairing two Hiltis the last week. Didn't think, just typed what sprang into mind.
And hi, Mini!
As for the price and the "urgency" to absolutely must-have this accessory, you've certainly got a point. The FS-accessoires are made of extruded aluminium, which is an expensive half-product, but not half as expensive as what Festool charges. It's just another typical Festo "dentist-engineer" way of charging over the top, the trick that is also pulled of with systemised SLR-camera's with matching lens-bajonet fittings and flash connectors. It's patented and nobody else deliveres quite the same sizes and details, so you are forced to invest yet further into original Festo stuff.
But still, these rails are a good solution. Sure, you can use a good straight length of wood for a guide rail, and generic wood clamps to hold it down. Of course it will work, but you'll always need to push the saw sideways tightly along the rail to prevent it from going astray and off the mark. In my exprience, providing this sideways force gives a bit of a cramped handling and it distracts me from the sawing process itself. With a prefabricated rail, the saw's sole fits tightly on the profile and can be trusted upon to slide with minimal friction and sideplay on top of the rail itself. No lateral forces are needed whatsoever to make the saw stay true. I know a lot of carpenters that just check the surface and the rail for cleanliness and then lay it down to saw without clamping or, to be more sure, just push the rail down with one knee and one hand.
I think a lot of the dependablility of the rail's grip has to do with clean contact between the surface and the rail itself. I have a brush ready, if necessary a slightly wet cloth. I sweep the surface and wipe the rail's bottom side and then the grip is often good enough to at least minimise sliding risk. The price of the original Festo clamps are an outrage. Their heads are flattened to fit the rail bottom's profile and there is a brand name stamped on it, but else they are ordinary run-of-the-mill glue clamps made by some unknown manufacturer that merely manages decent quality. I bought a set of these clamps second hand, never in my life will i shell out 75 Euros or more for such stupid items!
For flat surfaces, i use a few homemade tricks. For perspex and melamine and coated fibre board and trespa i use either converted windowframers suction cups with homemade bracket that fit the rail's top profile, or sheets of pvc with lots of softener. This soft pvc in bright colours is also used for stamped out farm animals for children to stick on car windows. In Europe many cars can be seen with such animals stuck on the insides of back seat car windows, which are meant as playstuff for children to keep them occupied during long journeys. This pvc material is a bit like cling film, it seems to suck itself tight against any flat surface and provides a lot of friction. I also experimented with brackets fitting the rail's top profile, with brass fingers reaching into the cut, bolted on to them. The fingers have a thickness perfectly matching the saw blade teeth width. I use these brackets to "extend" the rail. First i saw a bit, than i click the brackets on top of the rail, with the fingers in the cut made moments ago. Then i can slide the rail forward underneath the brackets and there's a fair change of continuing the cut in the straight line without a degree deviation. Than i slide forward the brackets and slide forward the rail a bit more. Of course i have marked the entire cut length upfront, so i can continually check if i'm not yet running off the line, but in practice it has proven to work rather well.
So, yes, the rails are ludacrously expensive and not really necesary. But i must admit that, having gained experience with the 1.4 metre length of FS-rail that came in a set with the TS55EB, i did commit the crime against my wallet by buying an additional 2 metre FS-rail. Furthermore, many more saw brands nowadays offer such rails. They obviously don't want to miss out as competitors, so the Festo rails have probably been such a must-have-argument by serious saw buyers that all competitors felt themselves obliged to deliver their own alternative as a sales argument.
10th Dec 2009, 12:50 AM #12
OK Gerhard - photos of your jigs please.
I agree that the clamps are very over priced for what they are. I ended up buying some when they were discounted locally (lazy), but I may have to modify them a bit for better action. The trigger style clamps for instance should be easily emulated with some hardwood, bolts/screws and rectangular nuts.
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