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    Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    I am very new to woodworking and would like to start trying my hand at some very simple cabinetry. I am a cancer survivor, and as a result I am not the strongest of people so my physical limitation are important to consider. I know I need a tool that will rip large pieces of wood and I have recently discovered the Festool TS 55 and 75 plunge saws for about $500 and $625 respectively. I like this idea because I can place the wood on a table and take the tool to the stock rather than taking the stock to the tool. If I go the route of the plunge saws what drawbacks will I have to deal with? What have you all heard about the plunge saws?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Well, if everything you build is out of sheet goods it might be a thought. The first thing that comes to mind is blade size and horsepower. Can't put a dado bade in and using a track saw for crosscuts can be a little difficult. Setting the track for repetitive cuts isn't as easy as a good fence, etc...

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Track saw and table saw complement each other, but neither replaces the other (unless maybe you're talking about a Euro sliding table saw). If you're using a lot of plywood, a track saw is a really good investment. You can certainly get reasonable results using a regular circular saw and straightedge, but that's a lot more difficult to set up every time. But as Ron said, it's not a table saw. You can't use it for repeatable cuts using the fence, you can't rip hardwood as easily with a track saw, no dado capability etc.

    Staying true to my role of being one of the "tool enablers" here, the only suggestion I have is that you buy both...
    Bas.
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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Tablesaw hands down. For very few dollars and an hrs work you can make a straightedge guide for a circular saw to break down sheetgoods to sizes easily finished on a TS. That is exactly how I do it.
    If you want I can show/tell/guide you how to make that guide as I am sure many others here can.

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Alex,
    I've had the TS55 with 2, 55" rails and a MFT 1080 (now MFT3) since 2005. You can do 95+% of what you need to do with that set-up without a tablesaw and without a mitersaw. It can be done safely and with close to 99% of the dust captured. On top of the safety and top quality cut you will have a tool that will last and hold most of its value should you need to sell it. Sheetgoods and regular lumber up to 2 1/8"(TS-55) thick are no problem. There are work arounds for the repeatable rip issue mentioned above www.festoolownersgroup.com and if you don't want/can't afford an MFT you can DIY a table like Matt did easily and cheap http://ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=37455 to do crosscuts, repeatable rips and do your dados with a router like a lot of us of us do.

    Do you need a Festool TS-55? No Any Circular saw can be used in a Plywood saw guide. The Festool TS-55 is a different animal and part of a system.
    Will a tablesaw make life easier to do some cuts? Yes There are work arounds for the plunge saw limitations if you look.
    Do you need a SawStop with a Festool TS-55? No
    Do you need to worry about kick back with a TS-55? No
    Can you sit a cup of coffee on your TS-55? No
    Can your Tablesaw fit in a Systanier 3? No

    Like Bas, my best advice is get the TS-55, a tablesaw and an MFT3. My second best advice is get a good circular saw and a plywood guide to break down sheetgoods into manageble sizes and then use a tablesaw to get a final dimension. If you need just one tool with the limitations you mentioned, the TS-55, some guiderails and some type of table will work fine.
    ‎"Good things happen to people who underestimate their setbacks."-Jason Isbell

  6. The following user says Thank You to Tarhead for this useful post:


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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Alex, you have received all good advice so far.
    I have a small shop, in which I do/have done a bunch of cabinet building. Breaking down sheet goods in a one man shop can be at times challenging.
    I have used multiple circular saw guides for breaking down sheet goods, so that I could handle them easier. to get them to the tablesaw.
    Trying to run 1/2" or 3/4" sheet goods thru a table saw by your self can be awkward.
    The guides sold for circular saws or "ok" at best. My experience with them is that on full length rips, you can be off a bit. A track saw stops this from happening.
    I have the Makita version tracksaw SP6000K with both the 55" and the 105" tracks.
    It makes breaking down sheet goods easy and accurate, not to mention giving you a perfect straight cut no matter what you are cutting.
    In saying all this you STILL will need a decent tablesaw. It's really hard to do without one. as others have said.
    HTH

    MAC
    Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf.

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Great Thread and Question!

    Not sure if you would be interested in making your own MFT, as mentioned by Mark (Tarhead).

    But here is the original link, I posted awhile back, which is my how to, or how I did:

    http://ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=36869

    Need a welder, or someone who can weld. or u can use a drill and "bolt on".

    Im glad I made vs bought. Save a bunch of money.

    Good Luck in whatever you decide.

    M
    -You feeling lucky, trunk?

    -Go ahead, make my tray! :bcool:

  9. #8
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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    One thing I forgot to mention is that I am currently renting my house, which fortunately has a pretty nice garage. However, this also means that I do not know where I will be in a few years (especially after I finish graduate school). I think I am going to go with the festool as it sounds like (and after watching videos on youtube) I can get really great cuts with. Also, some of you made the point that for dado cuts I can use a router and I found a seemingly really useful router guide that on the wood whisperer website. Sweet, another opportunit to build something. I realize that a table saw is in my future as well, but maybe not right now.

    I am not going to purchase for a few months so please continue to post here and continue to give me advantages and disadvantages of both.

  10. #9
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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    I have a tiny "shop" and don't have a TS. I have a TS55 and really love the saw. It doesn't take any room and breaking down sheet goods, squaring panels or cross cuts (w/mft) are really great. The only thing I do often and wish was faster is ripping thin strips or rail/stiles for cabinet doors. That is much easier on a TS. There are some pretty simple mdf jigs you can make to get around but are slower. You can't do dados on it either, but I like using a router for that. It is a really good all around tool, if you really get into WW, you won't be sorry you got it since expanding to the other Festool products can make a really capable shop that doesn't take up much room.


    Wes

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    One BIG problem with Festool is once you start down that very slippery slope (buying Festool tools) you better have a decent chunk of disposable income since nothing with the Festool name is cheap. Buying one tool leads to another, and then to another, etc.

    You might keep an eye on Craigslist for a decent used table saw. Something that uses a conventional motor/blade/belt drive, preferably old iron and delta/powermatic/etc. Even a old sears 10" saw can do a good job if you put a good fence on it.

    The table saw will be more versatile the smaller your projects. granted once you get up into the 'sheet goods' arena it becomes more cumbersome.

    For cutting sheet goods with a circular/skil saw its all in the blade and having a good, clampable straight edge. I had a BIG project to make out of mahogany 3/4 and 1/4" plywood and I cut it right the 1st cut (no subsequent cuts to get it right) everytime. Just get a 4x8 piece of foam board and lay the sheet you want to cut down on it, clamp the straightedge on it where it belongs and cut away. I had no splintering in crosscutting the plywood. My straightedge (of 30+ years) consists of a piece of plywood about 12" wide with a piece of aluminum angle iron screwed on the guide edge. cuts straight and true every time.

    If you do go the Festool route (and I'm not trying to talk you out of that), be sure to not abuse the blade and cut other than your cabinet grade sheet goods and the blade will do a good job for a long time. Change to an 'everyday blade to cut that everyday lumber for your maintenance type projects. I have various quality blades for my circular saw based on what I'm cutting (pressure treated, 2x4, framing lumber, etc). I even have a few blades I purposely mangled to do rough cuts for that distressed look.

    Enjoy the hobby.

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    I've been making my own furniture and now furniture for my adult kids for 30+ years. I have never used a festool anything but keep looking at them. I will start a dresser for my daughters wedding present, a bedroom set, this weekend. Maybe describing how I will do them with my tools will help you understand something useful about the choices.

    The bedroom set I am making is the cherry set from Woodsmith. I changed a few things, of course. The dresser will have an extra large drawer on the bottom, for instance. The sides are essentially a flat panel door with a frame of 13/16 cherry and a 1/4 cherry plywood panel (center). The festool would be great for the cherry panels but they are pretty easy to do on my table saw too. You would need some kind of table to support the wood on the festool. I am using scrap but if I started with a full sheet, I would throw a lattice of pine on top of my table saw or the trailer I haul stuff home in and use my Milwaukee circular saw with a home made plywood guide to break down the full sheet. The cherry frame will be easily ripped on the table saw and cut to length on the compound miter saw. I will set a stop so that my pieces are all the same length. I think this would be pretty tough on the festool. The design calls for pieces on the four corners (verticals) that have 1/4 dados that locate the drawer dividers and a long dado on the edge to hide the locating dados. All these get cut on the table saw with miter guage (Osborne is what I use). You could do the long dado with a router table and I might be able to do the cross grain ones on a miter table too using a miter guage. I hate cutting dados in hardwood with a router, however, because of the noise and because the bit wants to wander some. Table saw is much smoother/nicer IMHO. The pieces that go into the verticals on the corner have to have a tongue to fit the 1/4 dados. Table saw or router table will make this but ripping them to width is an easy table saw operation and a tough operation with a guided circular saw. Then there are facing pieces to make 13/16x13/16 with a 1/4x1/4 dado. Again easy to do on the table saw, tough to do any other way. Then are the drawer supports. Again relatively narrow hardwood pieces easily cut with a table saw and difficult to cut with a guided circular saw. The back and drawer parts could be done either way but it is much easier making consistent rips against a fence with a table saw.

    I said all this to say that I think hardwood furniture will be very hard to do with a festool. The kitchen cabinets I made 15 years ago would be a good festool project, however. A lot depends on what you use it for.

    Jim

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    I have the TS55 and tried to do as much with it as I could when I first got it but the tablesaw just does things alot better. I don't have an MFT/3 so that might make a difference.

    The main thing I use the TS55 for now is just sheet goods but it is soo good at that job. I break down sheet goods with the TS55 then do the dimensioning on the tablesaw but I am able to use the TS55 cut as a good/straight edge. If I had the MFT it might be able to do dimensioning there too but i don't know enough about the MFT to say

    I also use the TS55 for 45 deg bevel cuts, that is still a cut on the Tablesaw that still scares me. I could have used a circular saw but they are just too loud and the 45 deg cut is not as accurate.

    I also use it to give me a good edge on rough lumber.

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    As far as using a table saw vs a track saw they can both do about the same thing. Most of the time there is 1 decision on picking a tool to use. Is it easier/faster/safer to move the tool (track saw, hand held router) or is better to move the wood (TS, router table)? If moving the tool is what you need then a circ/track saw is what you need. If that is what you need, and you want something of the highest quality then the Festool is a strong choice. It also happens that moving the tool makes them smaller, therefore easier to store and lug around.


    As far as describing a total WW project, you are using a ton of tools and there are many different ways to work. I have limited time so I try to go with the tool setup that will produce excellent results without tons of setup time. Router bits are quicker to change then dado blades for instance. Using the Festool rail and router make dados (stopped or otherwise) very easy and quick to do. For dados on smaller pieces I prefer the router table then doing small pieces on a TS. Laying out the rail and cutting is 20 times faster then clamping edge guides with a normal circular saw. Just measure, make some marks, line up the rail and cut.

    Wes

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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexSwansboro View Post
    I am not going to purchase for a few months so please continue to post here and continue to give me advantages and disadvantages of both.
    While Festool does make very nice, high-quality, tools, I'd have a hard time paying $600 for a glorified circular saw in your position when I get great, straight cuts from my $100 circular saw with homemade guide and zero-clearance base.

    As for the router, make yourself a small router table. While I do use my router handheld with regularity, I use it more in the table. A good table doesn't have to be large. My previous table, which I used for many years, was very portable and I used it mounted atop a B&D workmate.

    With a circular saw, router & table, a drill, basic hand tools and a lot of ingenuity, there are few things you can't build.
    Turning beautiful wood into scraps...one board at a time.

  16. #15
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    Re: Festool Plunge Saw vs. Table Saw of similar price

    I am confident somebody experienced with a festool can do at least most of what I do on the table saw. And I agree that the disadvantage of the festool will be when you would really rather move the wood past the sawblade than the sawblade past the wood. Working with smaller pieces of wood, in other words.

    Relative to making marks on the wood and then cutting to those marks, I feel compelled to comment I very rarely do that. I have found it to be inaccurate. It will get me to within 1/64 or 1/32 but sometimes that is not good enough, especially from a repeatability standpoint. I have seem a video of making repeat cuts on a festool so I realize there are some techniques. But I still think that Wes's point about which you want to move (tool or wood) is a good way to looks at it. When working with smaller pieces of wood you will struggle with the festool just like I struggle to put a full sheet of plywood through my table saw. My normal technique is to set the rip fence with a steel ruler (tape measures are too inaccurate) or set a stop for the compound miter saw or radial arm saw with a steel ruler. Stops are usually set a little long and then business cards are used as shims to move the board into the saw to get just the right length.

    So a much shorter way to say what I was trying to say the first time is if your project involves smaller pieces of wood and especially if you are making joints in these pieces, the festool is probably not going to be so handy. If your project involves big pieces of wood, then the table saw may not be very handy.

    Many people who have about the same tool setup as I do like routers for dados, I just do not happen to be one of them. I would like making long shallow ones with a festool rail and appropriate base for the router, however. I often use home made jigs for this on big pieces of wood. When making deeper cuts with a router, it likes to make loud uncomforting noises and sometimes wants to wander.

    Regardless of which you start out with you will encounter things you would rather use the other tool for. But a relatively inexpensive circular saw and home made guide will break down sheet goods into manageable pieces quite well. There are no great substitutes for a table saw. That is why it is usually recommended as one of the first tools to get.

    Jim

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