Monday, June 30, 2008

Festool Kapex Miter Saw KS120 - Unbiased Review from a 70-year Vet

Marshall Burns here. A word about my past - over 70 years being involved in the saw blade and woodworking power tool industry. I learned most of my trade from my father, who spent most of his life working in saw mills in Maine taking care of and maintaining the saws used in all cutting operations.

All top quality saw blades are made of the best nickel alloy steel coming out of steel mills, and are sent through a ridged manufacturing process. Take 10" circular saw blades, for example. They are first precision ground then sent to the anvil room, where qualified sawsmiths level them to exact specifications. They are then tensioned to run true at about 3400 rpm, which is the speed that most 10" table saws run at.

Now, a word about the 10" Miter Saws available (and there are a lot of them!). Most of them run at 5000 rpm. This is fine if the user is using a good blade that is tensioned to run at that speed, but this is not what happens. The user invariably puts a cheap blade on the arbor that will not run true at this speed, causing an inaccurate cut. The operator then tends to blame the machine's accuracy.

I worked for five years as a sawsmith at Simonds Saw & Steel Company in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Simonds was one of the largest saw makers in the world, with over 2,000 employees. They claimed it took at least five years to become a master sawsmith.

Back to power tools. My purpose in writing of my past experience is to lend credence to what I am going to write about: The new Kapex Sliding Compound Miter Saw by Festool. The heart of this tool is the motor, which is 1600 watts (13 amp) and is the only one available with variable speed, electronically controlled from 1400 rpm to 3400 rpm. To me these are the best speeds to cut all woods and plastics, and also lower speeds for all non-ferrous metals. The machine comes with a top quality 60-tooth carbide saw blade that is leveled and tensioned by master saw smiths to exacting specs. With all other features listed here, this tool rivals the best table saws for accuracy.

Any one interested in talking more about this machine, feel free to call the Old Blade Man at Burns Power Tools (508.675.0381).