Has Festool’s corded track saw become obsolete in the face of strong competition from cordless models?
I spent the past couple of days adding plywood panels and 1-1/8″ butcher block-style wood countertops to my workbench, and gave my track saws a good workout in the process.
I own a Festool TS 55 corded track saw, and continue to enjoy the use of a Makita 18V X2 cordless track saw review sample that was provided by Home Depot.
The Makita track saw practically lives in the garage workshop and sees regular use. I use it outside on occasion, and when used inside I pair it with my Festool dust extractor that’s been equipped with a wireless remote.
Since I knew I had a lot of cutting to do, I brought out my Festool track saw, which has always delivered stellar performance. This time was no different; it performed nicely and left me with smooth and accurate cuts.
But, after fastening and removing the Festool guide rail from my MFT/3 table a handful of times, so that I could switch between cross-cutting and long rip-cutting operations, I charged up a pair of Makita 18V batteries and brought out the 18V X2 track saw. That’s when I noticed a difference in performance.
Note to self: Consider buying a guide rail connector or longer Festool or Makita guide rail for longer cuts.
Going back and forth between the Festool corded and Makita cordless track saws, I found myself questioning whether the corded saw had become obsolete.
Yes, I know that Festool has their own corded track saw, and that my model of corded track saw was replaced by a newer model 7 years ago, but still – I think my corded saw is still reasonably representative of where the tech is today.
I plugged my saw into my Festool dust collector vac, and the automatic activation was wonderful. But, I have a remote on the tool end of the vac hose, and so I was able to easily activate the vacuum when the Makita saw was in use.
Using a Bluetooth remote is a bit clunky, and there are some automatic battery-powered-tool-sensing tech and vacuum options you could look into if you desire more effortless activation when using battery-powered tools.
Both tools delivered smooth and accurate cuts, and both saws were usually great when it came to dust collection, except when making smaller or narrower cuts.
My much-loved Festool saw felt a little different when cutting through the 1-1/8″ butcher block-style countertops. It didn’t feel slow, weak, or underpowered, but when going back and forth between saws, it was obvious that the Makita cordless saw delivered faster and easier cutting performance than my corded Festool saw.
The corded saw has constraints. Most notably, myself and presumably many if not most other Festool users will be connecting the saw to their Festool dust vacs. Festool’s vacs have a limit as to how much power they can supply to connected tools, and if the combined amperage is too great, there’s a chance that residential circuit breaks will start tripping.
With cordless power tools, especially today’s tools that are equipped with high efficiency and higher powered brushless motors, performance is limited but with a higher ceiling. This is especially true for Makita’s 18V X2 cordless power tools, which operate at 36V nominally.
Pushing the saws through 5 feet of 1-1/8″ hardwood (with some glue mixed in depending on where I was cutting), I could definitely feel the difference in cutting resistance. The Makita saw glided through similar cuts with noticeably less effort.
Neither saw has a factory-fresh blade, but if I had to compare the two I’d say the Festool blade has seen less use and potential wear than the Makita.
I tell myself that this is a tricky topic, but here’s what it comes down to: which tool would I buy today? Here’s what would factor into that decision:
I bought my Festool track saw 9 years ago. If I were to buy a cordless track saw today, what will the battery situation be like 9 years from now?
Corded saws come with longevity.
But, in the here and now, Makita’s cordless saw delivers better performance and comparable results (at least from what I could tell without microscopic scrutiny).
Festool also offers cordless saws. but I think I would personally benefit more from buying into Makita’s 18V cordless power tool system than Festool’s 18V system, despite their cordless power tool consolidation efforts.
Thinking aloud, I wonder if Makita will have a new XGT cordless track saw. (Here’s more about the upcoming Makita XGT cordless power tools).
How often do I cut 1″ hardwood? Well… I actually have a bunch more projects in the works that will involve 3/4″ maple and birch, maybe thicker pieces of hardwood as well. I bet I’d feel a similar performance difference when cutting 3/4″ wood boards.
Festool has a larger track saw, the TS 75 REQ, but I’ve never considered it a good match for my use.
When it comes to pricing, right now I can get a full cordless Makita setup, with saw, charger, batteries, tool boxes, and a guide rail, for less than a corded Festool saw and guide rail bundle.
I’d need new Makita batteries after a few years. If I need them sooner, it would mean I gave the saw and batteries a good workout, taking advantage of the saw’s performance. If I need them later, potentially due to low use on the batteries, the approximately $130 to $200 price difference could go a long way towards the future purchase of replacement batteries.
I’d occasionally have to pay attention to the batteries’ state of charge though, as in my experience Makita’s newer batteries with built-in fuel gauges can self-drain over time.
The price difference between Makita cordless and Festool corded options will depend on the time of year.
At the time of this posting, you can get a Makita kit with 55″ guide rail for $569 at one vendor, and another vendor has a bundle with a 39″ guide rail for $499. Some times of the year you get bonus batteries as well.
I love my corded track saw, corded routers, corded sanders, corded hammer drill, corded jig saw, and my free-after-rebate corded Sawzall reciprocating saw. Of these tools, I continue to use my corded sanders and routers regularly, but not exclusively. At the time of this posting, there aren’t any cordless full-size routers. Yet?
I don’t regret my Festool purchasing decision in the least bit – this was a good buy back in 2011, and it allowed me to work on projects indoors with exceptionally good dust collection. But today? I think I’d go cordless – either with the Makita or perhaps another brand.
There’s no automatic dust collector activation, but the hose-end Bluetooth remote is the next best thing.
You don’t budget for a track saw if it’s not something you plan to use regularly. For infrequent use, perhaps a circular saw and edge guides or universal-type guide rails would be more economical. In other words, I wouldn’t be worried about the cost of replacement batteries several years from now.
I have been an advocate for corded tools, and they continue to have their place, but I don’t think I’d buy a corded track saw today.
See Also: When is the Last Time You Bought a Corded Power Tool? Cordless?
Today, why buy the corded Festool saw?
I can’t remember the last time I used my Festool track saw. I received the Makita from Home Depot in early 2018, and it essentially became my go-to plunge-cutting and track saw. If I remember correctly, my preferences started shifting when I pulled the Makita saw out for a couple of quick cuts outdoors.
There was one or two times when I thought my Festool saw was seriously bogging down. Nope, it was just the power cord snagging on the guide rail.
Some of my other corded power tools are obsolete, but I still use them for certain tasks. Not to mince words, I’ll be packing up my Festool corded track saw, and for an undetermined amount of time. I almost feel like this is a breakup letter.
What choice do I have? What more could it offer me? Compared to the cordless Makita, the only thing the corded Festool does better is allow for automatic dust collector activation. However, an $80 Festool accessory brought manual dust collector activation right to the tool – any cordless tool. I did forget to turn it on for part of one cut.
I suppose that if I wanted to be able to use the saw all-day, then the corded can-always-be-powered nature would be a big benefit. If I had used the Makita saw from the start, I could have topped off the batteries during a break period. Or, for heavy use, one could invest in a second pair of batteries, in some cases not paying any more than for the Festool kit.
Sorry my dear old Festool corded track saw, you’re obsolete, and I don’t think I would buy you again today.
Buy Now: Makita Bundle via Tool Nut
Buy Now: Makita Bundle via Rockler
Compare: Makita Track Saw via Amazon
Buy Now: Festool Track Saw Kit via Amazon
Buy Now: Festool Track Saw Kit via Tool Nut
I’ve used makita Festool and dewalt track saws. I find them all awesome and useful. Can’t imagine doing sheathing without one at this point. If I have to choose I’d go with dewalt. )I prefer the plunge mechanism with the parallel arms.). Also 60v isn’t to bad.
I think it comes down to application, brand loyalty and minor details.
In a wood shop/ furniture shop I can see using the corded saw. (not to say cordless doesn’t have its place)
Those that have drank the Festool cool aid certainly benefit from systainer and other Festool items such as slightly nicer tracks, greater availability of accessories (parallel guides, square guides, stops, etc. )
I think biggest thing Festool has going is safety. I notice slightly better dust collection and don’t forget having a riving knife.
That said I’d cry watching my crew destroy that expensive equipment in the field. The Festool products across the board seem to lack power when compared to similar equipment. Even their batteries are high tech but low on amp hr which translates to lack of production in field.
To say one or the other is better isn’t fair. I think just like anything else, it is dependent on the goal of the end user. Cord and cordless have their place as do all the brands.
We have become spoiled with so many options. Competition is fierce and tech is evolving rapidly. This leaves us with options and I love having options!
I would add the price is an issue. Festool is the Rolls Royce of tools. Most of us can get by with a Ford-level tool. I have done a lot over the years with my Makita. I got tired of tipping over my little Craftsman table saw slicing up 3/4″ plywood sheets. It is more than adequate to that task. But a typical DIYer may need to do that once every couple of years for a few days. I cannot see how a battery Festool justifies replacement unless it is your first one.
Mafell is even more expensive, and from the single tool I own is superior to Festool.
Yeah I’m leaning more towards mafell. That’s the brand besides dewalt and sawstop I’m going to invest my money in.
Another new option is the Makita 235mm (9-1/4 inch) cordless 18Vx2 saw that is track- ready
I too have a TS55 – and for sheet goods breakdown its fine – but sometimes regretted not having bought the TS75.
BTW – I tried the Festool brand track connectors – and found them sorely lacking – particularly considering the price. Getting 2 tracks properly aligned and then staying put with them is quite a nuisance IMO – especially when your someplace like out on the lawn at one of the kid’s houses. The Betterley (see link) connection solution may be better (couldn’t resist the pun) – but I ended up buying a FS 2700 rail – and might have bought the FS-3000 or even FS-5000 if they had been available when I bought the 106 inch rail.
Koko The Talking Ape
That brings up a question I have, which is how do ordinary circular saws combined with a nice guide/sled system compare to “track-ready” saws and actual track saws? I understand track saws have a plunge cut capability, but I can’t imagine I’d use that ability much.
Ease of use.
With some of these factors there’s a slight difference, with others it can be substantial.
Koko The Talking Ape
I don’t quite see how a good guide/sled would be less accurate or less safe than a track saw. The better ones have a sled (that the saw bolts to) that makes it almost impossible for the saw to wander. Very different than a simple clamp-on saw guide.
I’ve had 4 track saw systems, a bar clamp based one, the EZ smart, Festool and now the Makita.
I found that for very critical work, like cabinet boxes, most standard saws (not cheap I’d but good quality saws, like Milwaukee or pre-China Porter Cable) are nearly incapable of cutting a perfectly true 90 degree edge due to the fact that they have a single pivot point on the base with a single locking knob.
The other issue is just simple safety and efficient cutting. The ability to instantly set down a plunge saw immediately after making a cut is super handy and makes your job a lot faster.
For many years my go to saw fro breaking down sheet goods was a Porter Cable (Rockwell era) 4-1/2 inch worm gear saw. I had two shop made guide rails (each of masonite and maple glued together) so I could lay the Masonite straight edge along the cutline and run the saw baseplate along the maple straightedge.
When I bought the TS55 – the cut quality improved – less splintering – fewer kickbacks – plunge action very nice etc. I still pull out the old PC (uses a reverse tooth blade) for Plexiglas and some odds and ends where its light weight and small size are an advantage – but use the TS55 – on most plywood before it gets to the Unisaw.
Koko The Talking Ape
Hm. Well would a better-made circular saw fix the issue with square cuts?
And you can set down circular saws immediately, as long as the blade guard is functioning. Or am I missing something?
I feel like no matter what anyone tells you, you’re just going to keep coming back with “well what about…”.
Track saws aren’t for everyone. They’re expensive. If you can make your circular saw work then by all means use it. Lol.
When I got my TS55 I considered getting the cordless model, but since I planned to always use dust collection with it, I didn’t see any point in paying more for the cordless model (and as you pointed out, dealing with battery management).
I have read elsewhere that the Festool cordless model has more power.
I don’t use a track saw that often not on my MFT/3, I have the Festool TS75. It’s quite heavy and cumbersome to use in certain circumstances, but there are quite a few cuts I could only have accomplished with the additional depth of cut the TS75 offers.
I would like to pick up a Cordless Tracksaw, would be handy and easier to use. I will likely just go with Festool as I already have batteries and rails for the brand.
I’ve heard that the Makita’s work OK on the Festool rails. If true that and price might be a consideration for a future purchase.
The Makita Looks nice, but considering I already have Festool batteries, I’d need to purchase the full Makita Kit with batteries, so I would not really be saving any money. If Milwaukee came out with a Tracksaw, that would make more sense as I’m already using their M18/12 platforms.
The TS55 is obsolete. Corded or cordless.
Other than a few nicer fine features the TS55 is more expensive and down quite considerably on power compared to every other track saw on the market save the cheapie amazon jobs.
The TS75 is a much more powerful saw but still underpowered for the tasks beset of it.
The cordless TS55 is underpowered and kills batteries faster than every other cordless saw on the market.
As a Festool junkie I don’t like the TS55 one bit.
They should put the 1600w motor from the 75 on the 55 and make a stronger motor for the 75 if they want to stay relevant and make the TCS55 draw from both batteries so it’s a 36v tool rather than an 18v tool with extended run time. (This may be bad as the batteries already die quickly. Idk.)
Also not related to this but you should move the little red reply to commenta button to the center of the page (android, chrome browser) so you don’t hit it literally every time you’re scrolling with your left finger. I cannot tell you how annoying this is and why I rarely scroll through the comments here anymore.
I have the same annoyance with the reply button.
hmm. I never experience this, and if I recall correctly, that’s why I include a large gutter on the left side of comments.
Moving it over to the center becomes problematic and unsightly when you have threaded comments.
It might be possible for me to change the behavior, I just need to figure out how, and a way to make it less sensitive without becoming hard to press.
I can’t make promises, but I’ll see what I can do.
It has improved since you resized things last year (see the comments section of the 11/8/2019 layout changes post).
I still click reply inadvertently every third post or so.
Whoops, I forgot about that and thought I made the changes further back.
If I indent things further, it messes up comment “threads” which have smaller indents than they used to to prevent the problem if too-narrow columns that make for difficult reading.
I’ll revisit this, but it’s a tricky one I might have to get more creative with.
I have the cordless Festool track saw, after previously having the corded version (sold the corded when I got the cordless). To me the philosophy of a track saw is to bring the saw to the wood, rather than the wood to the saw with a table saw. I use it all the time to break down 4×8 sheet goods which would be a huge pain on a table saw, and much less precise with a circular saw. In that use case, I am often outside, care less about perfect dust collection, and skip the dust extractor – I just use the dust bag that came with the cordless saw. This makes it fully untethered and so much better for breaking down those big panels. I plop a panel of 2″ rigid foam on saw horses, put the work piece on top of that, and cut away.
Occasionally I’ll bring it into the inside shop where I use it with the dust extractor and a remote starter like Stuart. But I find myself doing this less and less, and mostly using the table saw inside.
Having used both corded and cordless, definitely agree that cordless is the way to go for a track saw.
One more comment for anyone considering a track saw: when I was first buying my corded one, the sales guy convinced me it’s a table saw replacement. Not true – while it can do some similar stuff, it’s a very different tool. Track saw is way better for long cuts on big pieces (think those 4×8 sheet breakdowns) but way inferior for smaller cuts, especially repetitive ones. For those, table saw is still the winner.
For jobsites, corded tools are antiquated for sure. For a shop less so. In a shop you’ll often have stationary tools that do what a track saw is typically used for, like a horizontal panel saw. I still use my corded track saw to make details on panels that you literally cannot do on a table saw unless unless you have a dual bevel blade or CNC machine. And for that use, corded still works fine, but if I had to buy one today it’d be cordless.
We ended up with the Kreg track saw and have no complaints. Unless I’m going to use something very often, I’d rather have a corded one. Just a homeowner/woodworker with limited time and funds. Buying a cordless track saw now would be nice, but realistically I’ll be using it a lot more frequently in 10 years when my kids are older. Replacing batteries just adds another layer of cost for infrequent users.
You’re finding the same thing I’ve been finding with circular saws. I’ve wanted to replace my perfectly working craftsman 7-1/4 corded device from 89 or so. It works – grinds just a touch – old didn’t get alot of use early on . . . . . . new diablo blade in it does wonders for it’s use.
But – in a replacement I figured I’d want either the new craftsman corded or the corded dewalt 575 (they are quite similar I know). but one day I got to try a corded dewalt against the newer 60V cordless and it’s not even a fair test. The battery tools today have more current throughput and better motor dynamics than nearly anything corded can muster. short of a corded device that runs a electronically controled motor – IE like that Bosch EVS router or the newer jig saw. Those motors are basically the corded equivalent of a brushless cordless motor.
While the festool 55 was the tracksaw everyone lusted for it’s outclassed today. and the 75 is better but either of the other company cordless devices seem to have more torque to spin the blade though harder stuff. Of the set today I really like the dewalt flexvolt tracksaw if I was to buy one.
but I have to say I’m leaning toward a new dewalt cordless circ saw and the new model Kreg accucut setup. with the optional dust port on the dewalt.
FYI, Festool saws are absolutely compatible with Makita’s rails, so if you
Continue with Festool’s saws, the makita 10’ track at $180 shipped is a great idea. After I got Makita’s 18v x2 saw I sold off my ts55 and all my Festool rails.
The ONLY advantages Festool saw offers is offcut anti splinter and the riving knife. But the Makita scoring feature is worth the switch all by itself. Not too mention the anti-tip feature.
The stock Makita blade is every bit as good as the stock 48tooth Festool blade, cut quality-wise.
I just watched a thorough review and testing of five cordless track saws over at A Concord Carpenter by Rob Robillard. Rob tested the same Makita and Festool (cordless version) reviewed here, as well as Mafell, Bosch and Dewalt units. While the expensive Mafell was the overall winner, the Makita came in second place overall and also won Best Value. The Makita also won the performance category.
Dewalt’s track saw didn’t perform well, prompting Rob to call it a “train wreck” at one point.
Sorry, my link didn’t post right.
Yea, Youtube links sometimes do that – display in-page. I usually just let it be as long as it doesn’t break things with clunky horizontal scroll bars on mobile.
Btw Stuart, I hope you are not insulted by my inclusion of a competing review and link. That was not my intention. It just seemed timely and germane to this discussion.
Not at all!
I haven’t watched the video yet, but plan to once I have a chance.
Interesting. I see other reviews that claim different – but makita does get good marks generally.
Question didn’t mafel actually make the first track saw – I thought I read that somewhere but I’m not sure.
Shame there isn’t a standardized track but like batteries – why would there be.
Surprised Bosch doesn’t make one – figured they would. if anyone did. One thing with dust collection which would make me consider a corded track saw – would be to have the cord run with the vac hose – since you have to have the hose anyway. Thus nothing to tangle up – combined together.
well gee bosch does make one. doesn’t get much play
yes – and Bosch shares same track as Mafell. And apparently the track to track connectors work very well. And cutting edge “gasket” is not stuck on with glue, slides into bead in the track extrusion. Their track looks better.
Bosch puts their name and color scheme on a Mafell missing a few niceties. And, yes the track connectors are very nice.
Forgive my nit-picking, Stuart… but I just read all that, and didn’t see the point in reading so much of it. You weighed all these options, and set out, determined, that it was a goodbye to your Corded Tracksaw.
But… I noticed something you only mentioned off-hand, and perhaps has a greater impact on what you’re going through. The power draw limitations of your Festool DUST COLLECTOR. You’re somewhat implying that, having both plugged into the grid power, you risk circuit overloads. And that, to me, seems like a bigger issue than the rendering of a Corded saw to be “Obsolete” in some way. Remember something you mentioned further down the self-examination of this article. The alternative of charging the batteries, spare set or current set, while taking breaks.
It isn’t a huge difference between the draw of the track saw and the draw of a high-speed charger. Either way… The simultaneous power draw of both the charger for the tracksaw, and the constant power draw of the dust collector, risk the same identical overloads as having the tracksaw plugged in.
So… To my eyes… well… to all my senses, even my gut (which I admit is substantial), it sounds less like a problem with the track saws, and more with the electrical wiring of your workshop. There should, perhaps, be a separate circuit run for the high-draw always-plugged-in-even-when-not-in-use systems you use. The dust collector, I imagine you have a compressor, perhaps? Shop Lighting, Etc. Then, on the regular circuits to be used, your tools get plugged in, dividing the total draw in half, and distributing it among two (or more) breakers, instead of just the main. That would resolve the risk to overload, regardless of which form factor of tools you’re using. Corded, Cordless, Pneumatics, whatever. They’d be on separate circuits, so the limitation of power draw is reduced. The performance of the corded tracksaw wouldn’t be compromised by the draw of the dust collector either, because short of blowing out the entire house’s power, they wouldn’t ELECTRICALLY know eachother was there. The draw would be spread out more, and whether you purchased a tool, or was given a sample to test, no matter how much power it risks, the risk to your HOUSE is Mitigated.
And I know a totally new circuit is neither cheap, nor easy, to add for this purpose. But think about it for a second… What if Festool contacted you TOMORROW, having seen this article, and offered to send you their most powerful CORDED model to test out? Would you be forced to say “No, I can’t handle the power constraints in my house” or would you risk it for the chance to answer this obsolecense question for yourself as a whole? Is YOUR saw older in age? Sure… but is CORDED truly a dead format for you? What if Festool wanted to help prove to you that it WASN’T by sending that test sample they hope will blow your mind?
Again, I don’t mean to nit-pick too much here… It just seems like the problem is more future-proofing your tool-testing facilities, than it is demoting or promoting tools on a permanent basis.
To just pile-on a bit more – if I’ve read between the lines correctly – Stuart may be contemplating adding some stationary power tools to his shop. For his case and many others that might require an upgrade to the house electric service and more likely rewiring the shop with multiple 208/220V circuits.
When I moved into my current principal house the house was wired for 150amps – and I upgraded to 400amps (300amps was not an option and 200amps seemed low to me – even though my electrician friends and the local utility thought I was crazy) and I knew I was unlikely to run everything at once.
My garage was already wired for 220 (2 circuits – one to accommodate a big old Hobart stick welder) – so that helped. The area I was going to make into my shop , however, was woefully lacking in both circuits and outlets. Beefing things up – to buy/run the main tools at 220V (table saw, bandsaw, jointer, compressor, radial and regular drill press, sanding station, baghouse dust collection) has certainly paid off over the years. And – I don’t blow breakers if the compressor happens to cycle on while the tablesaw, baghouse, airconditioning, and appliances all happen to be simultaneously running.
Yes, and that’s where I kick myself about not planning more 220V outlets. BUT, I’m also not ready to put anything in. Plus, I have GFCIs and certain variable motor drives don’t play nicely, and so additional dedicated lines (which still meet codes) might be needed too. I’m taking things slow and will plan new equipment or upgrades later on.
My hesitation about rushing in comes from my tendency to rearrange things until I get it right. If I get a table saw or jointer that requires 220V, there’s a good chance that the long-term placement is far off from the initial placement. With 110V, I can move things anywhere I need them. With 220V, I’m limited to where I place accessible 220V outlets.
That’s a problem because while there are 110V table saws, band saws, jointers, and dust collectors, there are also constraints on motor power and tool size.
If or when I buy a 220V tool, compressor, or what-not, I might make do with an extension cord until I better determine the tools’ final placements, and that is unless I go in different directions.
“Show, don’t tell,” means you’re going to be exposed to my thought and opinion processes in a less filtered manner.
I updated my garage a few years ago with a subpanel and multiple circuits. The only thing I’m kicking myself over is not putting in more than one 220V outlet – I should have put some in the ceiling.
I have no problem running a 15A tool from one outlet and another 15A tool from another outlet a few feet away, due to how the circuits were laid out.
By limitation, I mean that Festool dust vacs and tools are designed so that they can be used together and plugged into a single receptacle with less chance of a circuit breaker tripping.
Looking at an online manual for the Festool CT 26 and CT 36 vacs, and keeping in mind that these numbers might not be fully accurate as I saw slightly different specs in a different manual, the vacs have a power consumption of 2.9A to 8.3A, a max connected tool rating of 3.7A, and a max total connected load rating of 12A (1440W).
So, vac + tool must draw less than 12A. It’s possible that the saw was underpowered because of this, but I’ve never considered the possibility before. Powering the saw and vac from two different circuits is possible, but defeats the automatic activation feature I’ve been enjoying for years.
Now, I made sure I upgraded the garage with ample electrical power, and the subpanel allows for future expansion. But how many people do this?
Also keep in mind that track saws are going to be used in at least two types of places – workshops and on-site at clients’ homes and businesses.
Let’s say a kitchen cabinet installer is also custom-fitting wood or laminate countertops for a client. Well, they’re at the mercy of the client’s electrical setup, and that means being limited as to how much current they could draw from a single outlet.
There’s a reason that the dust vac was designed with max suction and max connected power tool amperage. I wasn’t commenting about any tool-testing or workshop limitations on my personal side of things, but about limits designed into the tools.
A 3.7A max connected too load means a roughly 400W max running power for a connected saw or other tool. Modern brushless motored power tools can greatly exceed that, because the limit isn’t tied to varied and even unpredictable AC electrical supply limits, but battery cells specs and the tool’s heat dissipation.
This isn’t the end but the start to my exploration efforts. I don’t believe Festool would offer scenarios by which to change my mind about my corded saw. My own next step is to pair the Bluetooth battery that came in recently with the Festool cordless saw sample that I’ve tested lightly but never fully adopted for project use.
And nobody said it’s “goodbye track saw,” it’s “see you in a few years or when I next unpack you.” The beauty of corded is that I don’t have to think about batteries with every use. But, I’ve been using Makita’s saw in lieu of my corded saw for its convenience, and now also I realize it’s also more powerful.
To put your nitpicking to rest, let’s say I had the following 3 AC electrical configurations:
15A outlet, 15A wiring and circuit breaker
15A outlet, 20A wiring and circuit breaker
20A outlet, 30A wiring and circuit breaker
Plugging my Festool corded saw into my Festool dust vac should provide the SAME performance in all three scenarios. If you have a 15A circuit with shared devices, there’s increased chance of a tripped circuit breaker, but the 12A max connected load of the vac and tool combo means there’s some allowance for lights or other low-draw devices on the same circuit.
All cool here, Stuart. Just… From what I was reading, and especially that end sentence in the article… “Sorry my dear old Festool corded track saw, you’re obsolete, and I don’t think I would buy you again today.” I didn’t really see where that conclusion came from, given all the high praise you had for BOTH tracksaws.
The… Nitpick… Was more… Isn’t this solved by putting them on separate circuits, where the power down on the dust collector wouldn’t be so pronounced as when you tested it?
Beyond that… Honestly, it’s not something I think much about. The tool industry ITSELF is moving in a bunch of directions that don’t comply with what I do. Milwaukee MX Fuel is a total flip to a fully electric set of tools that would normally run on Gas, or Pneumatics, or any number of other sources. DeWALT’s FlexVOLT system (ignoring the actual switching of voltages part) is actively putting full-battery-powered tools in place of small Gas, Corded, and Pneumatic tool systems we’d see on jobsites. Was it… Bosch? Makita? Whatever… They toyed with INDUCTION Charging for a while. All of these advancements are drastic turns from tools we were holding in our hands before they came along.
If I was to honestly try to predict whether or not Corded was going to be made “Obsolete” I would probably end up wrong, one way or another. With things like the DeWALT PowerBank? What’s the difference between Corded and Cordless on that device? Is your trusty Festool Track Saw still obsolete, if you can plug it into a device that runs on Batteries like that? It really gets into the realm of philosophical debate that I’m sure we don’t want to get into around here. fred would have an anecdote that would silence us all in a heartbeat, and we both know it.
But from the example, and the article you wrote… Honestly and truly… It sounded more like your own PERSONAL solution was to put them on separate circuits. I didn’t really see where the obsoletion came in there.
Now… This is your site, and you have all the power in the world here. But if I may make a suggestion? Add your note about unknown power situations on site to the main article somewhere… Because then it would definitely differentiate your personal experience with the two saws, with your thoughts about what benefits you had with YOUR power system, that others in the field genuinely wouldn’t have. THEN I would certainly see the direct connection to the question “Is the Corded Tracksaw Obsolete?” I guess my “Nitpick” was very tiny, but lost in a sea of commentary over your personal wiring situation seeming to be the deciding factor FOR YOUR SAW, rather than the general question asked by the TITLE of the Article.
It’s not like you did anything wrong, or that you have to justify anything. I did ask for forgiveness from the beginning.
Let’s consider the question “Should I buy a corded Festool track saw or a cordless Makita track saw?”
The Festool corded vs. cordless decision is a little more complicated. Things also get messier if we eliminate the inclusion of a Festool dust extractor in the mix.
Both saws deliver great cut quality. Both saws are easy to use. The cordless saw is more convenient (in my own experience). And now I find that the cordless is more powerful. AND the Makita is less expensive.
The statement “you should buy the Festool saw if…” gets harder to answer.
I could say “if you don’t want to have to worry about batteries after a few years.” But, the price difference works against this argument, as does the idea that many if not most users will put their saws through regular use.
My corded Festool saw is obsolete in that it’s no longer a strong alternative to modern cordless solutions. There are still some benefits, but two of its biggest advantages are no longer advantages. It’s no longer much more convenient when it comes to dust collection activation, nor is it much more powerful, thanks to modern cordless power tool tech and several brands offering Bluetooth dust vac remote options.
I won’t part with mine, but objectively it’s not as strong a recommended buy as it used to be.
I don’t disagree with you on any given point here, Stuart. I’m not even a Track Saw user to date. (Not that I would NEVER be, just… In my lifetime, I’ve yet to use one, let alone own one. Logistics and life events didn’t line up, you understand.)
My only real “Nitpick” is that… The article you wrote, versus the sentiment you’re expressing in these responses to us… They tell two different stories. And… I don’t mean this in any negative way… The sentiment you’re sharing in the comments are far more indicative and relevant to the topic than what you wrote in the article itself.
I, personally, would much rather a cordless workshop for my needs. Therefore, none of my opinions of how you should, or should not, think of the Tracksaw experiment here is at all relevant. I also have an extreme bias AGAINST Festool and Makita. This rules me out as well.
But where I’m not really that out of line, is where I’m seeing far better explanations, testimony, and background info from your responses in the comments. If given the choice, I see more relevance to the topic in your comments than in the article itself. I’m not about to dictate what to do with your tools… They’re YOURS, right? Whether it be through ToolGuyd testing samples, or personal purchase… It’s all you. I just don’t want you to think I’m commenting on anything other than the content of the article itself, that’s all.
It’s just an opinion here. You’ve done a far better job explaining, expanding, and exploring the topic of the article’s title while talking to us in the comments than when you wrote the article. The article was certainly well written, but I don’t expect any less from you after all these years running the site. I think I just see more relevance to the title of the article in your comments, and less in the article itself. From a context point of view anyways.
And, again… Please forgive any offense I may have inflicted in nitpicking. I certainly didn’t think it was all that major a nitpick, just one that takes a lot of words to… well… word correctly so it can be understood.
I could definitely use it if your trying to pass it on :p I use my jobsite tablesaw atm, and for me it always feels a bit awkward.
Oh, it’s obsolete, but by no means unwanted. =)
There is an element of this article that makes me ponder the word obsolete. I feel like at their core, tools are supposed to save us money. I am sure there are lots of readers here who would be reluctant to state their spend on tools they currently own. It gets significantly uglier when we include all the upgrades, to replace what still works but fails to interest us, breaks unexpectedly, or lacks some new feature. I do sometimes wonder how many people, during the course of their lives, tell themselves how many tens of thousands of dollars they saved using their tools, only to leave many times the saved dollars, in tools to their estate, not including all the tools they no longer own or discarded along the way. In this context is the newer tool worth the cost if it too will be obsolete and repurchased in some new form by our future selves. At what point do we draw the line? Is a working tool ever obsolete, or just less fun and exciting? Are we seeing the tool for it’s original purpose, to save us money amortized over our lifetime, or is there an alternate reason to own tools? Perhaps we are more collectors of tools in the end. They are fun after all.
It mat not be relevant to your comparison, but I have the DeWalt corded version and although I have not used any other, I have seen an unbelievable difference when switching blades. Last year I was ripping down 9/4 hard maple slabs to make a workbench, they were too big and heavy for the band saw, the stock blade on the DeWalt simply couldn’t cope. It was the typical cross cutting or multi-purpose blade and would bog down, burn the wood and even caused a worrying burning smell from the motor. I switched to a rip blade, probably half the number of teeth and the same saw cut through the slabs full depth without burning. I’ve since left that blade on the saw, the thought being that I am seldom doing the finish cut with the track saw anyway, so a quicker easier but rougher cut is fine with me.
I didn’t change blades because 1) I tend to rotate between cross-cutting and rip-cutting too often to justify dedicated blades, and 2) the cut quality has been superb so far.
Also, I wanted this project done over the weekend without further delay, otherwise I would have upgraded a couple of things, such as waiting for a 1/2″ shank top-bearing bit with 2″ cutting length instead of settling on the 1/4″ shank with 1″ cutting length I could find locally at the home center.
It wasn’t until I switched from tool to tool that the performance differences were apparent.
I have the older corded Festool and for my diy/homeowner needs it works just fine.
I can’t speak to motor power vs other brands. However I do have one question, if its an old festool you have is it also an old blade?
As to the corded vs cordless I am going to reiterate my stance when this came up a few weeks ago in an article. Personally not interested in a cordless model for something that I use maybe once a month. Its more trouble than its worth and I worry about battery lifespan being minimally used. If I was buying a new one today I would get corded. Of course I would expect that any corded I purchased would be more powerful than the cordless version by the same manufacturer otherwise something is seriously wrong. Would probably dissuade me from buying if that was not the case.
Old, but not worn.
Battery lifespan is a concern, but in this specific comparison, I can buy a new Makita saw kit for less than a Festool corded saw, and have money left over for replacement batteries a few years from now.
Corded vs. cordless is going to lead to different power capabilities. As mentioned, corded is going to have a different motor amperage limit than cordless. With corded, Festool has to design around users who will plug their saw into the Festool vac, which is then plugged into a single residential 15A outlet. Cordless tools aren’t subject to that same power constraint.
Track saws are tricky to talk about because they’re hefty investments, and I would assume that most owners plan to use their saws often. They’re a lot of money for a tool that would be used irregularly. For once-in-a-while use, their functionality could possibly be mimicked with less expensive tools. With that in mind, I tried to focus my thoughts on “here and now” considerations for this post, assuming that most people facing the corded vs. cordless track saw decision are planning for regular and not just infrequent use.
If buying a new track saw today, I’d still think about aspects that could come into play in the future, such as the eventual and inevitable need for replacement batteries, but it’s made complicated by the price difference that goes against typical cordless vs. corded comparison trends.
I realize that my situation is not the majority on this site but thats exactly why I post. I want to add this POV to the discussion.
I had not thought about the pass through on the dust collector. That does limit how much draw a tool can make which is a shame because its really a beautiful system. I don’t think I would personally feel like I must be able to power through the dust collector to purchase a tool, it would suck (not literally) not having it, but I do have the blue tooth button which is almost as good. I think some of festools more powerful corded tools, like the kapex, already do not work with the dust collector pass through.
I think though even for once in a while use the tracksaw is a must have unless its outside of your budget. It is as good replacement on large panels for a table saw, maybe even better. With the tracksaw I have a confidence that I never had with a circular saw no matter the guides I was using. Its makes cutting down boards a simple fast task where I always felt the circular saw was intimidating to use if I was needing any sort of accuracy. I am more likely to do projects because of the tracksaw.
Oh and get yourself the large track if you don’t have it. I use it as much as the half panel track.
The comments on garage power outlets hit home for me. I have issues with too few outlets and too many use desires.
biggest thing I need/want is a 2 more circuits and a dedicated 220/50amp outlet for a future electric car/welder.
So yes when I run the shop vac with the sander I know I’m getting close to the allowance. When I run the table saw I know if I was to put the shop van/dust collector on it it has to be on the other outlet. I need more power outlets and allowance. but I don’t run it all at once either.
We have two ts55 and a hkc55. I run through 3/4 ply all day long on jobs. I do not want to be replacing and charging batteries all day. Example: just finished a job and we put 26 sheets of 3/4 ply in that house. We also did some 1/2″, 1/4″ and bending board in 3/8″. When you are running your tracksaw for 6 or so hours you want a cord. I really like the hkc and the Bluetooth battery does activate the vac if you need it to. The thing I don’t understand is why if you are using a vac hose would you care about one more connection to the saw? As for the HKC it is different. I bought that so I don’t have to bring the fence or deck material to the miter saw. I can cut all the materials in the pile that the fork lift drops it off in. That way we don’t move all the material two or three times. Just once.
I know what you mean about if you’re going to have a hose anyways, what’s the matter with a cord too. But I’ve found with the Makita cordless that only having the hose makes it a heckuva lot easier to deal with and use.
The hose is fairly predictable in it’s movements, the cord gets weird quick. That – and the dust collection is absolutely as good as the festool and either saw works great with just a bag attached.
I use a wire framed Bosch planer bag and use it primarily outside when cutting sheet goods as it saves a lot of in-between cuts cleanup and of course, avoids you sucking in sawdust.
Just the hose is easiest to manage.
One power cord connected to the vacuum, and the vacuum plugged in separately, requires a little more attention.
Having a power cord connected to an outlet, usually different from the vacuum, and the hose, with the two sometimes going off in different directions, takes more attention to manage.
I don’t have a large workshop, and so the fewer cords and hoses to get tangled up on things, the better.
You do realise that Makita sell an AWS transponder that fits in all dust extractors like your festool don’t you? That way you can switch on your dust extractor from the makita saw – https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/WUT02U
Sure, but that’s a $200 accessory that only works with Makita AWS-equipped tools, and I believe you still have to buy a ~$75 transmitter for such tools. I don’t have any AWS-equipped tools – I don’t own any and I’ve never received any test samples to check out.
I’ve been quite pleased with Festool’s $80 remote and receiver combo that installed into the aux port of my Festool vac, and have used it with quite a few cordless tools so far. If I wanted to bring cordless vac operation closer to cordless, I’d get Festool cordless with Bluetooth batteries.
I think we have to step away from the “more powah is betta” justification. The intended purpose of these tools is cutting sheet goods. With the correct blade, these tools can be used in substantially thicker material with perfectly acceptable results. The cordless argument is strictly convenience. And it comes with a cost, you won’t get that far without a battery change, because these 36v saws suck down power as you get into thicker materials. I can rip and crosscut two doors to size and I’m down to 1 bar on my batteries. I can stretch much farther on 3/4” material, but the thicker material is a stark example of what a gas guzzler these things can be. Sometimes I have forgotten to turn on the dust collection, which reminds me how nice that convenience is (yes, now Bluetooth activation is now possible, but you can still forget unless you’ve bought into the newer system). But I have also thrown a bag on the saw and taken it out to the driveway for a few quick cuts without stringing cords everywhere and that’s been handy as well.
I disagree with the word obsolete. Convenience comes at the cost of batteries and the obsolescence inherent with battery systems. Think about how you prefer or need to use the tool and choose. I don’t see a new debate or decision point here at all.
My own preference is cordless. I don’t do a lot of continuous cutting and I do disconnect the hose and put the tool out of my way while I do other things between cuts. I don’t want something to snag the hose and pull the tool down to an unpleasant end. Not dealing with an electric cord as well is nice.
well let’s not discount hardwood. I know people that use tracksaws on Oak, or Purple heart etc.
Cutting glued up table tops for example. Hardwood flooring. etc. So not to only focus on how hard is it to cut 3/4 underlayment or 3/4 cabinet ply etc etc.
Example if I had one – last week I would have been cutting some glued up 4/4 Alder that was the table top for a end table/kennel I made. I used a straight edge setup with a normal corded circular saw but I would have used a tracksaw if I had one
It’s one of the reasons I wonder about some of the “also ran” tracksaws like the grizzly or the Kreg or some others with 9amp motors and the like. Also really would like to see a track saw that used a full 7-1/4 blade. I get partially why it wasn’t done but it would be nice to have more blade options
If the track is able to be kept immobile relative to your work, you can make progressively deeper cuts to stay within the saw’s abilities. If you’re doing 2” thick hardwood tops all day, something like a TS75 is probably better suited for your work.
I can’t argue with your logic, but for my own use I gravitate towards corded tools for items that I plan to have a long time. Drill or impact driver? Definitely cordless. But a tracksaw? Well, I only use mine a few times a year, for generally big projects. I’d like to think that it should last 10-20 years with my usage. For my money, I would rather stick with a corded model where I’m not going to have to deal with batteries and obsolescence (hopefully). This is the same reason why I will buy a corded miter saw next.
I’m in the same boat. Since I bought the Flexvolt Tracksaw I have only used my Festool TS55 once. For tracks, I hate Dewalt’s track so I use my Festool track with my Dewalt. I don’t like the zero clearance strip on the Festool track and I used a Makita replacement strip which I like worlds better. So yes, I love my MFT3 and most of my Festool products, but I should really sell the TS55 since I don’t use it anymore.
Festool products are became obsolete to me the moment they priced them. We’re in different markets. I’m in the huge “Pro-Sumer” market, Festool is in the small “Obsessive Vanity” market. Nothing against their tools, but one can buy tools that are 95% as good for 1/3 the price.
So I own the cordless Makita, and our shop has the Tsc75.
Festool blades are wider,which results in slower cutting.
Makita when pushed to hard,will deflect and cut a curve.
I still prefer using cordless tools, its what I’ve primarily been using since 04.
One thing I didn’t see mentioned here (maybe I missed it) is that the Festool corded model has a larger depth of cut than the cordless model. I’m just about ready to purchase a Festool track saw and,I’m pretty sure, considering all the features, that that one is going to prove to be tipping point for choosing the corded model.