festool tsc55 plunge saw

Tools I Paid For With My Own Money – Festool TSC55-KEB Cordless Plunge Saw

It must be over ten years ago that I was sent a plunge/rail/track saw for testing. It was mains powered, and probably just as well, because battery and motor technology at the time wasn’t up to the challenge. Well, no longer, and thank whomever for that because I don’t know what I’d be doing now if we hadn’t figured out the wonders of cordless tools.

Trades did have a homemade equivalent of a track that worked up to a point – usually a piece of ply base with a straightedge screwed to it that would give tolerably good results when cutting sheet materials. Good enough for 1.20m cuts but heavy and getting inaccurate for longer cuts.

The big difference was the arrival of genuinely straight and light aluminium rails (joinable) matched with a saw that was designed to glide accurately along extruded guide grooves that gave good results every time, if you took care in the marking out.

festool plunge saw

I did buy myself a corded version of a different make as a result of my testing and used it for a few years. It did well – I remember cutting 50mm thick oak and beech with it and the mains power came into its own.

Some years down the line, I tried a Festool TS55 cordless version and, from then on, I decided I had to have one. I negotiated a good price through my contacts and soon spent productive hours exploring the advantages of accurate right-angled, angled and straight cuts.

It was a game changer onsite. A bag with two or three rails, some rail clamps and a couple of rail joiners, along with the neatly packed Systainer box and a pair of trestles and you were set up to trim doors (oh so easy), cut sheet materials, square off table tops, or even make bevel cuts that were accurate enough to be used in proper joinery.

Don’t Forget to Mention the Systainer

Festool is proud of its Systainer system, and, having got used to it, I find it very useful. But the way that the Systainer is arranged for the TSC 55 KEB is a masterclass in fitting as much as you can into a small space and still being able to close the lid once packed. If the lid don’t close, you’ve done something wrong! 

festool plunge saw in box

The saw is quite bulky, so it takes most of the space, but there is still room for two batteries, a charger, a dust extraction adapter nozzle, a dust bag and a couple of spare blades – if you take them out of their packaging, which maybe isn’t such a great idea.

Another great accessory that I acquired is the clip-on right-angle guide that slides onto the rail and provides an accurate way of ensuring that right-angled cuts are actually right angles. It seemed to be expensive when I saw it demonstrated, but it was one impulse buy that I have never regretted, and it fits into the rail bag quite easily too.

Newer Model Temptation

Last year, when the new, improved version of the TS55 came out I weighed up the pros and cons, then sold my old one and bought the new one without a backward glance.

It is that much better than the old version with its anti-kickback action and thin-kerf blade (faster cuts!) that I feel perfectly justified in my investment. I also bought a couple of the Bluetooth battery packs that, when teamed with a Bluetooth dust extractor, make life just so much easier – I suppose that’s why Festool has its system, they know what they’re doing.

Some Hints

The blade is the most important part of getting regular smooth cuts so make sure that you have a pair of sharp rip and crosscut blades in the box if you are regularly cutting timber.

festool plunge saw controls

The standard blade is good enough for ply, MDF, and all those sorts of materials. It is so easy to change blades safely with the system that it is actually possible to change a blade for the right result without wasting time.

Festool is on the top of the pricing range for power tools, but, in this particular case, I have certainly had value for money, especially when measured against time, hassle, accuracy and ease of use.

Are you a Festool devotee, too? Why not get in touch in the comments below and let us know what you think the company’s best tool is?

To view more about Festool visit their site: festool.co.uk

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