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Track Saws: Makita vs Festool

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Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 09-20-2013 07:08 AM 15441 views 1 time favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DavidNJ

387 posts in 740 days


09-20-2013 07:08 AM

I saw a Festool demo today…and I’m thinking about biting the bullet on a track saw. After reading the reviews, I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to these two: the Makita SP6000J and the Festool TS 55 REQ.

The Maikita has bee well reviewed and several people like it better than the Festool TS 55 they also own. The additional power and smoothness. Festool has just introduced TS 55 REQ to replace the TS 55 EQ. They were all recalled for a plunge problem but should reappear shortly. It looks like Festool added most of the features the Makita had over the TS 55. However, the TS 55 has two that the Makita doesn’t have: a riving knife and a zero clearance insert.

Festool has a larger system of tools than the Makita, however, I understand the Makita will run on the Festool track and the accessory groove underneath is compatible between brands. Other than the tracks, clamps, and parallel guides should be compatible.

Both have router options that use the track but are limited to their own brand routers! The Festool has a track with shelf pin aligning holes that can use their router. Very which to set since the router doesn’t need to be aligned over each hole. The router makes a very neat hole and since a guide isn’t over the whole the option to use a larger bit for shelf pin sleeves.

For course, when you mention Festool the first thing that comes to mind are dollar signs. The TS 55 REQ is $569. The Makita is $359 or $399 with the 55” track. The Makita 118” track is $267. The Festool 106” is $295, the 118” is $325. A significant but not wild difference (about $230 or so).

My main purpose is breaking down 4×8” sheets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClhwvC0mKQU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Stf8jcuCJM8

On another note, in the demo the instructor used a 4×8 sheet of insulation under the track saw. This not only supported the work but kept the saw dust from flying around.

Another interesting piece is the Eurekazone worktable for cutting sheets:


29 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

2033 posts in 1240 days


#1 posted 09-20-2013 11:11 AM

I bought the Festool before the others were generally available, had I waited I may well have went for the Dewalt (love the bidirectional track). That said, I bought it for breaking down sheet goods and it has exceeded my expectations…I don’t break down the sheets with the track saw. I cut them to finished size. But it has excelled at some other tasks as well, the main being straight edging the rough sawn lumber I buy; I no longer have to pay to get one edge ripped off. It’s even done well for the menial task of trimming doors, something that has always been a problem for me. I’m not the typical Festool owner though, most folks call it the slippery slope. For me this will be the only Festool I’ll ever buy (don’t like their iron-fisted control over pricing). But it has certainly earned it’s keep in my shop. BTW, I got mine when the Microsoft Bing discount was running, 25% off….just 2 weeks before Festool shut that down on their products.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View jonah's profile

jonah

453 posts in 2045 days


#2 posted 09-20-2013 01:19 PM

From what I’ve read, slightly tweaking and adding a quality blade to even the cheapest track saws (the Grizzly/Scheppach one) makes them perform nearly as well as the Festool. One of the biggest differences between them seems to be the quality of the stock blade, which is easily and cheaply remedied.

Just food for thought.

View gtbuzz's profile

gtbuzz

385 posts in 1188 days


#3 posted 09-20-2013 01:34 PM

I have a TS55 and love it. When I was looking at purchasing a track saw, I did consider both the Dewalt and the Makita (Grizzly wasn’t available at the time). Unfortunately I don’t really remember why anymore, but the Dewalt was the first one out of consideration. Ultimately, I decided on the Festool over the Makita because the price different wasn’t that significant and the Festool had the riving knife. Plus I already have some other Festool gear so I had already made the commitment down that slope :)

I don’t have a 100+” rail but rather 2 55” rails that I connect using the Festool rail connectors. It’s kind of a PITA this way, but as long as you use a good straight edge and are careful not to knock things out of alightment, it’s quite accurate. I don’t cut that long 8’ dimension enough to justify the space for a 106” Festool track. If I changed my mind and decided to get one though, I’d probably get the Makita or Dewalt track simply because their cheaper. from what I understand the tracks are pretty much interchangeable between the Festool, Dewalt and Makita.

I also second what Fred Hargis said – I mostly use this for breaking down sheet goods, but when I do, I often just break them down to final size. The only times that doesn’t really hold true are if there are a lot of cuts to smaller pieces rather than larger panels. I still find it faster to break it down to manageable sizes then take it to the table saw. I also like to do taper cuts with the track saw. I find it easier / faster / more repeatable with the Festool than on the table saw.

Both of the saws you mention are excellent and I really think you’re gonna be very happy with either choice.

Check out the Wood Whisperer’s review of the Grizzly track saw. If budget is a big concern it seems like a decent entry level choice into the tracksaw world, but compared to the three mentioned saws, it does seem like a definite step down. The Scheppach saw seems to be a clone of the Grizzly. There was a video review of it on Youtube that I watched a few months ago that came to the same conclusions as TWW, but he went a step further and came up with some mods that made the usability much nicer. This particular user also had a Festool TS and the cut quality between the two seemed very close with the Festool edging out because of the splinter guard. Most of the Festool’s advantages were in the usability department. I wish I could find it again, but you’ll have to go searching.

View DavidNJ's profile

DavidNJ

387 posts in 740 days


#4 posted 09-20-2013 04:22 PM

This is the Wood Whisperer test of the Grizzly: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/grizzly-track-saw-review/

http://youtu.be/PcfiKe1PkXU

There were wobble and tearout issues. It slides on the Festool track, but loses the inner zero clearance edge. Would a better blade help? Probably yes on one side but probably not fully on the upper surface. It does a riving knife though. Wood Whisper focused on calling it a step up from a regular circular saw.

Eurekazone and TrueTrac have $250-$260 8-foot kits that use a regular circular saw. You can get a Freud Diablo hi-ATB blade that makes reasonable guts. The Eurekazone unit has a zero clearance guard around the blade and a separation fin in the rear. Both have universal router attachments. Neither has a 1-piece 8’ track, instead requiring connectors. Both have universal router bases. Eurekazone also has a low cost parallel cut sled with 2’ width (Festool has one also, but with less than 1’ capacity).

Using a regular saw, neither has a dust collection solution.

The drawbacks of the Makita are the lack of a full zero clearance solution and the lack of a riving knife. If it had those features I’d probably just get it.

One problem with both the Makita and Festool rails is the limited nature of their router mounts. The Eurekazone and TrueTrac system have universal router bases. Festool’s and Makita’s are limited to their own routers, and for Makita, not even all of those! Microfence has a universal, but very expensive.

I really want the parallel guides. Festool and Eurekazone have them for $260 and $170 respectively. It isn’t practical to remove and reinstall the Eurekazone base repeatedly, probably requiring dedicating a circular saw ($120 or so). That saw would then have zero clearance and the anti-kickback fin, but would not have any reasonable dust collection or fine depth adjustment.

Adding it up, the Festool TS 55 R with 108” track and repeat cut guides is $1,144 with no inexpensive router option. The Eurekazone with a two piece track, regular circular saw, and their repeaters is about $560. The Makita reduces the Festool number to $960. Nothing free. Nothing perfect.

View Brickman's profile

Brickman

50 posts in 1118 days


#5 posted 09-22-2013 03:49 AM

I have the Makita and I am very satisfied with it. It provides clean cuts and is smooth and easy to use. I shopped around and was able to by the 118” track from Home Depot for a good price. I would buy it again in a heartbeat. I rip all of my sheet goods down in the driveway and only use the table saw for smaller parts as the Makita does such a good job with the sheet goods.

Mark

-- Mark - Pueblo, Colorado

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5280 posts in 1324 days


#6 posted 09-22-2013 03:57 AM


http://www.senecawoodworking.com/products/parallel-guide-system-for-incra-t-track-plus

Here’s another version of parallel guides that are well received.

View DavidNJ's profile

DavidNJ

387 posts in 740 days


#7 posted 09-22-2013 04:41 AM

The Seneca thing is interesting…it works the opposite of the other repeaters. The others go under the cutoff part of the work with the blade going above them. This one appears to be on top of the workpiece from the other side. It isn’t cheap ($145) + 2 Incra T-track Pluses.

Mark, has the lack of a riving knife or zero clearance been an issue? I think all of the other plunging saws have a riving knife.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

2033 posts in 1240 days


#8 posted 09-22-2013 12:36 PM

David, I can tell you I don’t even use the riving knife (or zero clearance attachment) on my Festool and it doesn’t matter in terms of cut quality. If I ever get to some really splintery plywood, I may put the zero clearance on for that, but so far that hasn’t happened. The riving knife was just something I never saw much use for on a hand held saw (OK safety police, take your shots).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1262 posts in 695 days


#9 posted 09-22-2013 01:32 PM

Thanks for the video to the WW. After seeing it I am thinking about the grizzly setup. never knew they made one. I could never justify the cost of a festool.

View Brickman's profile

Brickman

50 posts in 1118 days


#10 posted 09-22-2013 01:58 PM

When you first get the Makita the track has a rubber piece that you must cut through the first time you use it. This essentially gives a zero clearance setup on the side of the track as it is right against the wood on the track side. I still get very little tear out on the side without the track. If I have issues with tear out I throw down some blue painters tape and that takes care of it.

I do all of my cutting on the horizontal so a riving knife would see little to no use on sheet goods. I have never had any issues with binding. I can cut a 4×8 sheet half way, stop and walk around the sheet, and continue the cut on the other side with no indication that I stopped and changed positions. I would not dare do that on a table saw.

Make sure to get the track clamps that Dewault makes. They are pricey but make the system much more functional.

-- Mark - Pueblo, Colorado

View BHolcombe's profile

BHolcombe

83 posts in 822 days


#11 posted 09-23-2013 03:28 PM

I chose festool, top quality tool with excellent safety considerations. I cut sheet goods on the floor with sacrificial plywood under them, but the safety feature of the riving knife still appeals to me.

View WOODIE1's profile

WOODIE1

88 posts in 1026 days


#12 posted 09-23-2013 04:49 PM

I have the Makita and have not once wished I spent the extra $200 on the Festool. The Makita track has a lip on it for the Makita saw that prevents it from tipping off the track when you are cutting at an angle.

I do not buy into the track saw replacing a table saw. If you are buying to break down goods go Makita as what doesn’t it do that the Festool does? Festool is a great tool but only if you are willing to buy into the whole system. That said the options are endless and accys are there for any job.

There are blades avail for both and if I am not mistaken they are even interchangeable. Great saws but have their limits that most internet sites tend to downplay. Try and rip 1/2” off a 4’x 2”x 3/4 piece of lumber with a track saw.

Eurekazone is probably the best of all of them but they need some serious Co restructuring to go from backyard to mainstream tool.

View DavidNJ's profile

DavidNJ

387 posts in 740 days


#13 posted 09-24-2013 01:44 AM

In my decision, the track is the first question. The Grizzly and the Eureka zone don’t have 96+” tracks. There are numerous posts that have indicated issues with joining tracks. It works, but with my luck it will get out of kilter an some critical cut without out a margin for the error.

Second is that I would like a repeater. Cutting bookcase sides requires lots of long cuts with the same width. While I can probably get the marks ok, the odds of setting up the rail without error is less likely. The parallel guides help with that.

Here, Eurekazone is probably the best. The Festool has an extension that goes to the front for smaller cuts. The Seneca Woodworking system works similar to the Festool for cuts larger than 10”. For those, since it uses Incra T-rail plus arms, could go to 4’. The Festool is supported above and below the rail and has adjustment screws for alignment; the Seneca lacks this but its pieces are machined aluminum. The Seneca would allow a much wider cut being able to use Incra T-track plus guides up to 4’; the other have maximums around is 2’ (the back of a cabinet/bookcase could be wider).

The Makita and Festool use the same track for the most part, making accessories interchangeable. Grizzly’s, DeWalts, and Eurekazone’s tracks are different.

Another concern with the Grizzly is the Wood Whisperer reported wobble. One bad unit or the norm?

Conceivably the Grizzly ($180 without any track) could be used with the Eurekazone track. The Eurekazone base would provide a zero clearance insert, the Grizzly has a riving knife, and all the Eurekazone accessories would work. It would have the fine depth adjustment and better dust collection of a plunge saw.

Freud has four blades for the TS55, Makita, DeWalt, Grizzly: a 48T HiATB (38°), a 24T ATB (10°), a 14T Flat, a new 48T TCG for laminates and solid surfaces. For breaking down plywood, the 48T HiATB, about $40, should be all that’s needed with the HiATB usually producing very clean guts. All the Festool blades other a laminate TCG and their steel blade are ATB; Festool doesn’t specify the ATB angle. Their blades are 70+% more expensive than the street price of the Freud blades.

Makita has a button to make a 2mm-3mm score as their solution for tearout. Amazon reviews indicate it works. The one review of someone who owned a TS55 and a Makita liked the Makita for its power an smoothness. Festool has updated the TS55 with the TS55R adds most of the features the Makita had that the TS55 didn’t.

Both the Festool and the Makita have a parallel fence (used instead of the rail) for cuts with a straight reference edge less than 11” wide.

All in all…very confusing. If connecting to 55” tracks is considered ok, and this is the only configuration common across all, the Grizzly is $300, the Makita is $525, the Festool $740, and the Eurekazone with Grizzly track saw $430. If a single rail is required the Grizzly and Eurekazone are eliminated. A regular circular saw may reduce the cost of the Eurekazone $50 but kills the precise depth adjustment and dust collection.

Right now I’m leaning toward the Makita with the included 55” and optional 118” tracks, Seneca parallel guide, Makita miter guide (which is a square if set to 0°), a pair of clamps. Close to $1000.

This is the miter guide:

View John_H's profile

John_H

18 posts in 453 days


#14 posted 09-24-2013 03:17 AM

Have you looked at the Dewalt?

I have a Festool TS 55 with a 106” track and have been very happy with it.

With that being said, my son recently purchased a tracksaw and was looking very hard at the Festool or the DeWalt

First of all, you can’t even get the Festool REQ right now (the older version is still available from Bob Marino) so it’s kind of a moot point

He ended up going with the Dewalt – and I can see why. Right now you can get the Dewalt with a 59” AND a 102” track for $548 from ToolNut – with free shipping. I believe the Dewalt Router adapter for the track can also work with Porter Cable. (looks like they are currently back-ordered, he got his last week and is very happy with it)

http://www.toolup.com/dewalt_dws520ck_corded-tracksaw-kit-with-59-102-track.aspx

Here is a pretty good review of the Dewalt (comparing it to the Festool) at the woodwhisperer
http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/dewalt-tracksaw-review/

another review
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?94081-Dewalt-DWS520SK-vs-Festool-TS55EQ-long-with-pictures

Here is a link to a German made version of the Dewalt – not sure which one is the knockoff
http://eshop.wuerth.de/Handkreissaege-Elektro-HNDKRSAE-EL-TKS-59-E-KOFFER/07021581.sku/WuerthGroup-Wuerth.cgid/de/DE/EUR/;pgid=hpYggLKEB.wx_AKcRChw0ktH0000GG8jnkUY;sid=2XZDvAaC8XpAvFfDEg1dYQmIEM26jc85IEdUT4cM

View DavidNJ's profile

DavidNJ

387 posts in 740 days


#15 posted 09-24-2013 08:15 AM

The biggest issue with the DeWalt is the lack of accessories. The big advantage of the Makita is Festool track compatibility. The DeWalt was the first Festool competitor in the US and may be showing its age. That particular DeWalt package is out of stock everywhere; at Amazon its marked “Currently unavailable”

Note, the Grizzly has a similar problem with accessories. The Grizzly with an extra 55” track, connectors, and clamps is $300. The similar Eurekazone is $260 for two 54” tracks, connectors, clamps, and a saw base to use with your existing circular saw.

The advantage of the Eurekazone is the availability of lots of accessories: Miter guide, repeaters, router base, parallel guide, etc. Their parallel guide (really sort of a long fence) looks significantly better than the parallel guide (fence) also available for the Festool and Makita. For me, a way of having guides for repeat cuts is import, eliminating the Grizzly and the DeWalt.

Note, the EurekaZone site says their smart router kit is compatible with all routers and the Festool, Makita, DeWalt, etc tracks.

Availability of the TS55REQ isn’t an issue. It should be available with in a month or so, and who knows, they may have a sale to move inventory.

I saw a Dutch video comparing the Mafell, TS55REQ, Bosch, Makita, and DeWalt. In the end they rated them Mafell, TS55REQ, and Bosch. The Mafell is available from Timberwolf, but at mega $$. I am not to fluent Dutch, but the Mafell probably has the best blade change, eliminating the hole in the cover for bolt access. As a result, the vacuum should work better. It also uses the scoring function similar to the Makita and has the most powerful motor along with the Bosch. The Dutch test was probably not valid since they didn’t normalize the blades. Interestingly, neither the Mafell nor the Bosch seem to have the riving knife.

I sent out some e-mail to Seneca and Eurekazone with some questions.

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