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.