Festool USA is about to get some direct competition for its TS 55 EQ plunge saw.
DeWalt announced it will introduce two new plunge-cut circular saws later this year that ride on an aluminum track system, much like the Festool guiderail system. DeWalt has already been selling these two saws overseas, and you can see them in action on the company’s web site for the United Kingdom.
Why should woodworkers care about circular saws? We’ve been very impressed with the accuracy and quality of cut of the Festool system. The saw really shines when slicing sheet goods, and the tool produces finished cuts with ease. We’ve seen people build entire kitchens on a jobsite with this tool and some guiderails.
The genius of these systems is in the track. For most applications you can simply set the track down on your work and position its zero-clearance edge on your line. Then it’s just plunge and go. Rarely do you have to even clamp the rail in place because it’s quite grippy.
So how do the DeWalt saws compare? The specifications of the tools are similar, with the major difference being that DeWalt is going to sell both a cordless and corded version of the saw. The cordless version uses a 28-volt phosphate lithium-ion battery. DeWalt officials say you can cut 121′ of 5/8″ plywood on one charge.
Also, the Festool and Dewalt saws have slightly different maximum plunge depths, which could be due to the size of each tool’s blade. The DeWalt’s 6-1/2″-blade saw makes up to a 2-1/8″-deep cut while on the track. The Festool cuts 1-15/16″ deep on its track with its 6-1/4″-diameter blade. The DeWalt is heavier: 11.2 lbs. to Festool’s 9.9 lbs. They are both variable-speed tools (with similar speed ranges).
Both tools offer an anti-kickback device that works like a riving knife on a table saw. DeWalt’s engineers point out that their device is spring-loaded – it drops into the cut as soon as clearance is available. A second interesting safety feature on the DeWalt saw is that it has a spring-loaded cam that rides along the track’s center rib. This cam permits the saw to be pushed forward, but not backward – this also eliminates kickback. This feature can be bypassed by the user.
So of course, the next obvious question is how the saws compare on price. Complete details from DeWalt are not yet available, but here’s how it looks now. DeWalt is going to sell each saw in a kit that comes with a length of track.
The corded saw DWS520SK will be available with a 59″-long track for $499. You’ll also be able to buy that saw with a 102″-long track or with both lengths of track. DeWalt officials didn’t have information on the pricing on those two other kits. The cordless DC351 saw also will be available in those three configurations, with the most expensive option being the saw and two lengths of track for $999.
The Festool TS 55 EQ sells for $475 with a 55″-long guide rail. A 106″-long guiderail costs $245.
The DeWalt saw will be available for testing in the coming months, and we’ll report back how it performs. PW
Chris is the editor of Popular Woodworking.