At the 2016 Dewalt Experience show, besides having the tools on display, there were several opportunities to try out the new tools that were being introduced. In a separate room off the show floor, Dewalt had set up hands-on demos of many of the new FlexVolt tools.
Due to the limited time, and the fact that other attendees also wanted to get their hands on the products, I was only able to test out the table saw, miter saw, and recip saw. Besides these tools, there were opportunities to test the circular saw and the angle grinder.
This is not a preview post. We’ll cover each of these products more in depth in later posts. In this post I merely wanted to relay what my initial experiences were getting my hands on some of the new Dewalt FlexVolt tools.
60V Max FlexVolt Cordless Table Saw Hands-On (DCS575)
I own the Dewalt DW744 benchtop table saw, which I bought around 2004, and so the new 60V FlexVolt table saw was very familiar to me. It had the same rack and pinion fence, blade height, and blade angle adjustments.
The power switch was new – it had a nice big paddle switch that you had to lift up to turn the saw on, but that you could easily press to stop the saw.
Rather than a full kerf 10″ blade, the saw has an 8-1/4″ blade. It has no dado capabilities.
The rationale here is that most users only need the capacity of an 8-1/4″ blade, making the saw smaller than a 10″ saw would have to be. Plus, it takes less power to turn the smaller blade. Maybe we’ll see a full-size 10-inch cordless table saw join the 120V Max lineup.r
Interestingly, the Dewalt employee at the demo refused to officially admit that my DW744 table saw had dado capability even though they show you right in the manual. Plus, there’s a dado plate available for my DW744 saw. Maybe he was thinking of the DW745 ($299 via Amazon), which does not have dado capabilities.
I did get a chance to look at the arbor of the FlexVolt saw and there is really no way you could fit a dado stack on it. Possibly you could fit a pair of box joint cutting blades onto the arbor, but it’ll be interesting to see if Dewalt says anything about that.
The last feature that I found interesting was the flip-down work support. This has been incorporated into Dewalt jobsite saws for a long time. It is meant to support the work piece by the fence when the fence isn’t over the table. What’s new, or at least I can’t find this feature on any other Dewalt saw, is that the flip down support has a second position that allows it to be down over the table.
What this does is move the fence away from the blade when you are ripping thinner materials. The guy doing the demo said that way you could get your hand in there safely to push the material through, but I still think that’s way too close.
They gave me a choice of ripping some 2x SPF or a 1″ oak board. Having ripped a lot of oak boards on my table saw, I know that if the saw isn’t set up right or the blade is dull, you’ll burn the oak.
I set the fence to rip a narrow strip out of the board and turned on the saw. One thing you notice right away is the saw is quite a bit quieter than a corded saw. They had a 745 table saw set up right next to the FlexVolt saw, and when you turned that saw on it was definitely louder.
I really couldn’t feel any difference ripping the oak on the new FlexVolt Saw vs. my old 744. I was simply able to push the board through the blade without having to slow the feed rate at all. The motor didn’t seem to slowing down at all during the cut. And that’s the whole point behind these FlexVolt, they should feel just like you are using a corded tool.
Corded-like power? Yes!
Also the there were no burn marks anywhere along the entire length of the ripped oak board.
I’d already taken up about 15 minutes of the presenter’s time and I probably could have spent the next hour feeding different wood through the table saw, but there were people setting up to film behind me and I still hand’t tested out all the tools I wanted to.
We’ll have more to say about this saw once we get our hands on a demo.
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120V Max FlexVolt Cordless Miter Saw Hands-On (DHS790A)
I also own a Dewalt DW705 12″ compound miter saw, and while it isn’t a slider, it is still a 12″ Dewalt saw. I’ve used the saw for at least 13 years and it’s been a real workhorse, so I have a pretty good idea what a 12″ saw should feel like when cutting different materials.
All of the miter saws were equipped with a 12″ 60 tooth blade, presumably the one they’ll ship with.
To test the miter saw, the presenter just handed me some 2x material, I don’t remember if it was a 2×10 or 2×12, but it was wide enough where I needed to use the sliding mechanism to make the cut.
I also wanted to try out the hold-down while I was making the cut, which surprised the presenter. So I moved it over to the left side and clamped down the 2x material with it, no surprises there other than not having a quick release mechanism to quickly adjust the clamp.
Qualitatively, using the saw under battery power almost felt like using my DW705, but again that’s the point, it’s supposed to feel like you are using a corded tool.
I really should have tested the saw on batteries and again when running on AC power, but they weren’t set up for that, and I didn’t ask.
There’s also a non-sliding version coming out.
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60V Max FlexVolt Reciprocating Saw vs. Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall Comparison
I had an interesting experience with at the FlexVolt reciprocating saw hands-on. They handed me a 60V Max recip to cut through a 4×4. The blade wasn’t very sharp and I had to apply a lot of force to even get the saw to cut. I ended up heating up the blade so much that it was smoking when I cut through.
They said, “let’s change that blade and try again,” so this time I tried it with a fresh blade and I was able to cut the 4×4 with a minimum of effort.
Next they handed me a Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall with the same type of blade. The Sawzall cut notably faster than the Dewalt FlexVolt. So then we took the blade out of the Milwaukee and put it in the Dewalt. The Dewalt still cut slower than the Milwaukee.
At this point they were a bit flummoxed. I did comment that the Dewalt vibrated a whole lot less than the Milwaukee. What I didn’t say was that I was having a harder time getting the shoe of the Milwaukee on the 4×4 when I started the cut to minimize the vibration. Mind you I did not change the shoe position at all, I left it as they gave it to me.
To keep things going I said let’s try the 2″ steel pipe with both saws. After trying both saws I felt the Milwaukee was cutting faster, but not by much.
Don’t get me wrong, these are both really good reciprocating saws, but I think the take away was supposed to be that the Dewalt was faster at these two tasks. I’m not sure why the demo didn’t work out the way it was supposed to. I didn’t intentionally misuse the Dewalt, I tried to maintain the same cutting pressure for both saws — just enough to let the teeth of the blade to do the work.
It’s worth pointing out that the two saws are about the same size. Don’t let the FlexVolt recip saw’s 60V Max part make you think it’s significantly larger than an 18V-class tool. Also, the FlexVolt saw has a 2-position blade holder. Dewalt said that this allows for better optimization of the cut. The premium 20V Max reciprocating saw has a 4-position blade holder.
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I wasn’t blown away by the performance of the tools I tested, but again I don’t think that was the point. The point is for you to not notice whether you are using a cordless or corded tool. If you look at it that way I think the demos were a success at least for the table and miter saws.
I’m not sure what happened with the recip saws. I’m sure the intention of the demo was to show how much better the FlexVolt saw was compared to the Milwaukee saw. I have to think that they tested the demonstration over and over again to make sure it showed what they wanted it to show.
Maybe I was using a faulty saw, maybe I was cutting “wrong.” I wasn’t just holding the blade at a fixed angle like a jig and lightly pushing the saw through, I was rocking the saw back and forth slowly to minimize the length of the cut like you (or at least I) do when you are using a hand saw.
One final note, I wish I would have made the time to test the FlexVolt circular saw, I heard from a few people the day after the show at Black & Decker University that they were really impressed with it.
Stuart’s Note: I had managed to test the circular saw and reciprocating saw. The circular saw, which was one of my favorite new tools from the event was more manageable than I had been expecting for a 60V Max saw, and cut through 2x material like butter. I didn’t notice any bogging down, and the ergonomics were as good as can be expected.
I think that this is the brushless circular saw that Dewalt users have been waiting for. Maybe we’ll eventually see a 20V Max 6-1/2″ model, but in the meantime the FlexVolt felt to be a very promising cordless circular saw.
curious was the milwaukee saw set to orbit cut? does it have that option, my corded one does.
Also honestly it’s not that surprising to me – and no not a fanboy – that a milwaukee recip saw would work exceedingly well. IT is the device they made their name on.
either way though – interesting matter.
still disappointed that the table saw isn’t a 10 in job with a dual battery config – I mean if the mitre saws were made that way on purpose why the hell not. Granted I already have a 7491 and I love it but it would be nice to have a cordless model when I take it someplace.
You can make your 7491 cordless with the Dewalt Portable Power System. =)
yeah I know – that and some 600 dollars after I buy more batteries.
also did either of you mess with the new light box they put out – doubles down as a battery charger on cord.
The area light? Yes, I tested its basic functionality, but not its Bluetooth controls. That’ll all be discussed in another post.
It’s nice, and huge, which can be a pro or con, but also pricey at $399.
I don’t think the Fuel Sawzall has an orbit mode.
Your right Ben the Fuel Sawzall has no orbital mode.
Why on earth would the reciprocating saw not have a 4 position blade holder. Typically brushless tools spare no premium features, regardless of brand. My prediction is a few years nearly all major tools will be brushless. Is the lack of a 4 position blade holder on the new reciprocating saw a glimpse in the future where major brands are going to start to scrimp on their Flagship tool in said category. The 18v basic reciprocating saw came with a 4 position holder. On a manufacturing level this extra feature cost about 13¢. I understand on basic no frills tool , some combo kits, entry level, and loss leaders; some compromises have to be made. But dialing back on the Flafship tool in any category is disappointing. I understand, where a less than 10 inch blade on the cordless table saw makes sense for many reasons, and I do not feel that is a cost cutting comprises. OEM’s listen up on your “best in class”, flagship , premium tools don’t short change us. We are already dishing out several hundred bucks for a tool most of us probably have in a corded or less cool cordless version, what’s $5 bucks more for those little features that really sets the high-end tool apart from the competition.
If it is the same that I am thinking of, the 4 position holder on Dewalt/SBD products is far inferior to the standard 2 position holders from a complexity/robustness perspective, so they are probably sticking with the better part/product, even if it doesn’t look as good from a marketing perspective.
Regardless, it is hard to imagine a scenario that requires a 4 position holder that a 2 position one cannot handle.
Perhaps you are correct: However, I bought the 20 volt max saw. And for $20 at the Dewalt service center they swapped out the 2 position blade holder for the 4 position blade holder. I will have to disagree with you on….
“Regardless, it is hard to imagine a scenario that requires a 4 position holder that a 2 position one cannot handle.”
The change of angles, particularly when the blade is perpendicular has saved my bacon numerous times. Especially with a longer 12″ blade that is quality and can handle some gentle flex. Literally tight space situations when the reciprocating saw can only get close enough in a Tetris style way to barely reach the cut. Furthermore, my original comment was not just about the reciprocating saw. It was more about cutting corners on top end tools. For example, take the tough system radio (currently the flagship of all their radios/speakers, at least until the flex volt one hits the market), which is awesome by the way! It will charge Bluetooth batteries, it has Bluetooth for music from ones smart phone, Dewalt has a Bluetooth app for tools and smart phones. But when I’m up on a 20 foot latter 40 feet away I can’t change the darn radio station when a 20 min commercial break comes on, even with the app. How much would 10 lines of software code really cost the end user for that functionality?
Trying to judge the flex volt battery size they look similar in dimesions to the 40v LiON that are used on DeWalts outdoor equip those are about 4.5×4.5x6ish. and are fairly denseand weighty less of an issue with a table saw, but awfully heavy for a hand tool
Agreed. I think the Flexvolt thing is mainly a marketing strategy that allows DeWalt to launch a completely new battery platform while being more attractive to their existing 20V users under the “guise” of compatability.
Similar to Milwaukee’s 9Ah battery, I don’t see these 15 cell packs ending up on many hand tools. Circular saws yes as they rest on the workpiece (and are already fairly large tools), and recip saws maybe as they are used two handed, but not on one handed tools.
Don’t get me wrong, adding capacity to their 20V tools will certainly have its applications, but with the amount of energy already available in the 18V 5Ah (and soon 6Ah) 10 cell batteries, I don’t think it would realistically be something to sway a buyer into the platform.
First, there were a few pics of a flexvolt 6.0ah battery next to the full sized 20v max batteries (the 3, 4, and 5.0ah 20v’s are all the same housing). The FV is no where near as big as the 40v OPE line, but noticeably taller than the full sized 20v’s.
Second, I don’t think the FV 60v stuff is only marketing. The batteries are capable of higher overall power output at a lower amperage than it would be at 18v nominal. That is the primary advantage over Milwaukee’s ‘high demand’ line, as the draw from a table saw, or full sized miter saw, would create so much heat that next to zero efficiency would be the minor problem, and it would only get worse from there…
Milwaukee is working around it as much as possible with the traditional approach of heat dissipation/control, advanced motors, etc…but this 60v approach comes in from the opposite direction…higher output at a more manageable amperage, and that is kind of unanimously superior in DC electronics to my understanding…
So all i mean is, the 60v line is how we’re getting cordless full sized miter saws, table saws, and hopefully things like powerful sanders, routers, maybe an sds max hammer?, etc. It doesn’t really hurt things like circ and recip saws, but doesn’t really show the platform’s real potential as well…
Sds max hammer coming soon
so what does a 4 position blade holder look like? The last dewalt recip I picked up had 2 slots for the blade. one vertical and one horizontal. twist lock. Not my milwaukee device doesn’t do this it’s vertical only.
SO I’m curious as to what 4 positions looks like.
Secondly could it be that the flexvolt saw produced so much recip force that they had to use a beefer holder so as to tolerate the stress. Thus reducing it’s complexity.
follow on might also be a case of – polling the users determined that the most useful position was X and Y.
are you sure that 2 slot blade holder wasn’t a 4 position clamp? vertical and horizontal positions, and the blade can be clamped in with the teeth pointed either up/down in the vertical, or left/right in the horizontal. It’s hard to explain what I mean, but that is how it is in my 20v premium recip he’s mentioning in the write up.
the cylinder has 2 slots (not a cross, they’re kind of off set to center with the shoe opening), so accepts 4 blade positions. I picked mine up kind of in a hurry during a kitchen remodel, and it’s ended up being one my favorite cordless tools i’ve ever bought. The thing is bullet proof, and with those diablo carbide tipped blades, i’ve yet to run into something it won’t sword through. I had a very old corded single speed craftsman single position thing, and anything would’ve been better than that, but reading that this 60v one doesn’t seem to be a drastic improvement is actually kind of nice haha. Only wish it had an LED like their newer compact version (which doesn’t have the 4 position clamp iirc), as i’m often one handing that thing into the dark unknown.
If I’m not mistaken, the two slot-type (in a “plus”-configuration) is the four position, because blades can be inserted and lock with teeth in either orientation within each slot (teeth up or down in the vertical slot, left- or right-facing in the horizontal). A major benefit is more flexibility in tight spaces and cutting directions.
I know you weren’t being fair your a milwaukee fan the Dewalt brushed 20v model cuts almost as fast your gonna tell me this 60 volt tools model isn’t faster
Great review Benjamen. I have a theory why the DeWalt recip saw did not perform as well as expected. Nothing you did wrong mind you, but you state “I tried to maintain the same cutting pressure for both saws — just enough to let the teeth of the blade to do the work.” I bet the DeWalt people generally bear down on the cut more than you did, since the higher voltage should allow more power under load than the Milwaukee. Just an idea.
That would be my guess. Without any pressure, there should be no load on the motor and the blade will travel at maximum design speed. Now to actually cut anything there will be pressure on the blade and load on the motor.
I’m thinking that the Milwaukee is higher speed but the DeWalt can maintain its speed better under a greater load. That should let it cut faster by really putting some weight into the work.
It would be like using a self feeding bit. It will drill faster in a 12v hand drill that can do 2000 RPMs than a hole hog set to 250 RPMs so long as the material is soft enough for the 12v to maintain a speed greater than 250 RPMs but anything harder, which in this example would be just about everything, and the hole hog wins hands down.
The alternative would be that the Milwaukee really is better but I can’t see the DeWalt reps designing a demonstration to show that.
Re ; 4 way blade, Dewalt offers the blade in horizontal and vertical position (+), while Milwaukee only offers it in the vertical (I).
This offers teeth @N,S,E,W,Milwaukee is North and South only.
I bought into Milwaukee for the full size 7 1/4 Cir the saw, and have 75% of their product line.
Where Dewalt is stronger( 18-20v only) impact is slower… Fixed with one-key? drill chuck is terrible, 2 way Sawzall only, Cir saw and grinder will stall,sawzall blade is extremely hard to change when dirty.
Full disclosure i’m a fence/hand railing contractor, we use a sawzall to cut roots (95% of its use).
I switched from 18v Dewalt last yr due to no batt gouges, and no full size Cir saw.
I had the 18v Dewalt set from 04 till last August.
I have 2 Sawzall, 4 impacts, 2drills,2sds,2 grinders, 2 jigsaws, 2 Cir saws, right angle impact, vacuum,2 oscillating saws, 2 blowers, and m12 duplicates if available.
Hope this helps.
You replaced old tools with newer models of a different brand of course its going to be better. Derp.
Forgot to add, I use m12 instead of 18v, for the ergonomics.
CPO outlets has 15% off this weekend for the 4th of July holiday. This includes all of the new FlexVolt products! That table saw is tempting me.
Another complete line up of tools set up for failure. I wish these idiots would stop with the battery powered miter, table, band, & recip. saws along with the battery powered lawn equipment. Why is it that they think that a 60v or any battery is anywhere near the power, reliability, or stamina of AC electric , gasoline, or pneumatic powered tools. Yeah they advertise that “6ah” BS, but if your ripping a 16′ 2×10 into thirds for custom build or cutting 1 up for blocking, ain’t no way in hell that it’s gonna last. Another thing is how much money they’re asking for these POS tools & the batteries. The worst part is these imbeciles are starting to think that the bullshit “smart” battery technology is gonna be the future of tools. I will say that L ion batteries are better than the old nicad, etc, but not for anything above 18/20v. They need to get their heads out of their ass & stop the shenanigans. I hope that someone who works for these idiots reads what I’m posting. I’ve been a contractor for 18 years & have never seen such gimmicky tools.
The Rational with the smaller blade is safety regs on the Job Site. When it comes to the amp per hour with the blade size, they had to make the blade size smaller to be compliant