At first glance, the jigsaw in the photo looks ordinary. Oh, but it’s not. This is Carvex from Festool. Being from Festool, you know there’s more to it than meets the eye.
There are four different Carvex models coming out in 2011. Two jigsaws will be barrel-grip saws and two will be D-handle saws . Of the two barrel-grip saws, the PS 400 EQ is corded and the PS 400 EB is cordless. The PSB 400 EQ is the corded D-handle saw and the cordless D-handle model is the PSBC 400 EB.
The cordless models come equipped as 18.0 volt units, but can use any Festool flat battery pack going back to 2005. This includes not only Lithium Ion, but also nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride. (How’s that for backward compatibility?) In addition, the new jigsaws can run using any Festool 10.8 to 18.0 volt batteries – if it’s Festool and it fits the tool, it powers the tool. Of course, corded saws use the Festool interchangeable Plug-it cords.
All Carvex jigsaws have brushless motors, an automatic guidance system that automatically adjusts carbide jaws to the blade to reduce drift, and tool-free blade changes that differ from most jigsaws in that the T-shank blades are slid into the tool and locked with a simple twist that’s similar to and about as difficult as turning a key in a lock. (To remove the blade, lift a lever at the side of the tool and it’s done.) Each jigsaw also comes with a couple Festool jigsaw blades, a chip guard and splinterguard.
Now for the radical features that we’ve come to associate with Festool innovation. These saws have LEDs to light up the cuts. No big deal, right? Wrong. These saws have something I have never seen before. The LEDs are stroboscopic. As the blades get to speed, the flashing lights (you cannot see them flash) become synched with the strokes to present the best visibility for precise cuts. As this happens, it’s like the blade is standing still as the cuts progress. And when you turn the tool upside down – something woodworkers in Europe do, I’m told – the lights turn off. You wouldn’t want any light shining in your eyes.
Another feature that will make you stop in your tracks is the jigsaw’s base. There are a number of different inserts for the flat base, including a base that adapts to guide rails. But if you want to cut at angles, the flat base doesn’t bevel as do most other jigsaws. You actually swap bases in a tool-free operation just as with blade changes. Take off the flat base and install an angle base.
To me, the angle base is the show stopper. Once attached to the saw, you dial-in the angle using a rear-access knob that’s hooked to a gear drive. To view this, think butterfly wings. You can increase the bevel as if the wings are fully up and ready to add thrust for travel, or you can decrease the setting as if the wings are through the thrust. Besides looking cool, this allows you to cut directly at a corner, if you need to.
For me, this is extra special. In my DVD “Cheating at Hand-cut Dovetails” (order a copy here) I share a method of cutting pins and tails on wide panels that employs a jigsaw. Crazy, huh? One of the drawbacks to using this technique is that you have to set your jigsaws base to your dovetail angle, and because you have to cut both sides of the pins, you have to find that setting both to the right and left. With this base, you dial-in the dovetail angle of choice, then cut half of the joint with the saw resting on half the base. To complete the cuts, simply flip the saw to rest on the opposite side. The angle is already established. It’s the little things that get us tool freaks jazzed.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Carvex we played with was a prototype, but it was a working prototype. That means these are getting close. When we get our hands on a production model, you know we’ll bring you more.