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Festool Miter Saw Review of the following model : 561287 Kapex KS 120. Truly one of the most impressive miter saws you can buy today. This Festool miter saw is a woodworkers dream. We give you a full breakdown of its features to help you understand what makes the Kapex KS 120 so special, and more importantly, worth the cost.
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Intro | Festool Miter Saw
Of the many great power tool brands, few stand out like Festool. This has a lot to do with the fact that they manufacture specialized tools. Festool doesn’t make tools for every application. Their tools are primarily aimed at the woodworker, but many of their orbital sanding tools are the first choice for discerning auto body shops. When it comes to the miter saws, Festool certainly holds the title for the ultimate cutting machines.
Make no mistake, Festool miter saws aren’t cheap. They’re outright expensive. Though, most professionals will agree, these are tools worth paying for. Festool is one of the few remaining German tool brands that actually make their tools in Germany. I’m not too sure if this actually makes a huge difference.
Tools from international brands that are manufactured in regions other than their country of origin have very strict quality control standards. Though let’s face it, German engineering and their obsession with precision is legendary. There must be a good reason why Festool boasts a 90% customer loyalty rate. This means that 90% of people who have bought Festool products stick with the brand. So there are a lot of people who see the logic in paying extra for a brand that’s insisted on maintaining the highest quality standards since 1925.
VIDEO OVERVIEW | Festool Miter Saw : Kapex KS 120 (561287)
So, if you’re looking for the ultimate compound miter saw, we have a fantastic model from the world’s leading brand in circular saws. The Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120 is the main topic for this review and we’ll look at the special offer Festool PD561287 which is basically a combo deal for the same miter saw, including a mobile dust extractor. This extraordinary miter saw is the first choice for professionals and serious DIY woodworkers. That is, for those who can afford it. If Festool miter saws cost more than you’re prepared to pay, we’ve included a more affordable option, the Hitachi C15FB.
The Hitachi has a large 15” blade but doesn’t have the sliding action of the Festool. I would never try to claim that the Hitachi is in the same the class as the Festool, it’s a lot cheaper and this makes it an excellent alternative for those buying on a budget. When we review the products, the Hitachi will present itself as the better option for large pieces of wood and moldings.
My first impression when using any Festool saw is the smoothness with which they operate and they keep doing so for cut after cut, year after year. Although both DeWalt and Makita make great compound miter saws (a lot cheaper than Festool), they’ll never be the same. I’ll admit that I have never owned a Festool saw, I’m not that serious about woodworking projects to spend that much on a saw. Though I have had many opportunities to use these saws when working in shops belonging to my friends who are serious professional woodworkers. I’m always jealous when using these saws and am completely in awe of the accuracy and smooth, clean cuts that you get from a Festool miter saw (or any of their saws). If I used a miter saw more often, I would seriously consider paying more for the Festool.
Festool Miter Saw — 561287 : Kapex KS 120
- Trimming baseboards and cornices up to 120mm (4-23/32″) in height – no calculations
- Can cut boards and panels up to 305mm x 88mm (12″ x 3-15/32″)
- Can trim crown moldings up to 168mm (6-5/8″) in their original wall position
- Can trim square timber and beams up to 88mm (3-15/32″) thick
- The Kapex features a rail forward design which increases precision and creates a compact footprint while preventing head play for accurate cuts.
- Easily align cuts from the left or right side using the dual lasers. The lasers clearly define the material which will be removed during the cut.
- Micro-adjustable bevel angle with up-front rotary knob. Large bevel scale and fine pointers make it easy to set precise bevel angles.
- Dust extraction : up to 91% with behind the cut dust hood and pivoting 36 mm hose.
- Twin-column guide for accurate cuts
- Compact, lightweight design for convenient transportation
- Precision angle transfer via bevel and integral dual-line laser
- Fine adjuster for convenient angle adjustment
- Safety brake
- Attaches to dust-extraction system
- Multi Material Control (MMC) electronics adapt to the working material
- Special cutting position allows users to cut strip material
As always, the people at Festool have really thought of everything. This is the fantastic thing about buying a miter saw from a manufacturer who’s serious about developing the best woodworking tools. This is a really lightweight (47 LBS) compact miter saw. Even though it only has a 10¼” blade, a unique feature allows it to reach the cutting depth that you’d expect to find on 12” miter saw. I’ll go into this and all the other fantastic features that make the Festool miter saw (Kapex KS 120) the most advanced miter saw you’ll find.
Video Overview on this Festool Miter Saw
Some of you might be put off by the small 10¼” blade, I’m not. If you use the Festool Kapex KS120, you’ll soon see why. Firstly, it has all the power you’ll ever need, supplied by an incredible 1600W (13A) motor with a variable speed of 1400 – 3400 RPM. Having a variable speed dial is great. On the side of the blade head, Festool provides a simple color-coded diagram, suggesting which speed to use for a particular blade type and what material it is suited to. I would think that the biggest benefit of using the really slow 1400 RPM setting is when you’re cutting small delicate pieces. It’s really easy for a thin piece of wood to go flying off when the blade is moving at high speed. Slow the blade down, and you can work really easily with these small pieces.
The forward rail is great, especially if you’re working against a wall. Instead of having rails that push out of the back of the saw, the blade head moves forward along the rails. As one would expect from Festool, the rails provide a super smooth action and it remains 100% accurate for the lifetime of the miter saw – which is going to be a long time. If you’re not going to use the sliding action, there’s a simple pin that slots into the back of the saw head. This locks the saw into a single position (it won’t slide). But what it does is give you a much greater cutting depth. This is why I say that the Festool Kapex KS 120 gives a cutting depth that you’d expect from a 12” miter saw. The cutting depth at 90°/90° is 12” X 3¹⁵⁄₃₂” (using the sliding action) and the special cutting depth (without using the slide rail) is 4²³⁄₃₂” X ¾”.
You’re obviously interested in the miter capabilities of this machine. After all, it is a miter saw. Again, this is excellent. In my opinion, the best. You can set the miter angle up to 50° to the left and 60° to the right. There’s an oversized miter adjustment at the front of the saw for easy access and perfect visibility without straining your neck. The markings are really big and a separate view guide allows you to make accurate angle settings up to a fraction of a degree. The cam-lock lever means that you can set your miter angle with 100% accuracy in no time at all. Positive stops lock at 15°; 22.5°; 40° and 45°.
You get a really handy Miter Fast Angle Transfer Device that stores into a slot at the front of the saw, just under the table. This tool allows you to measure the inside or outside angle of a surface and transfer this to the saw. If you’ve ever cut ceiling moldings for walls that meet at an unconventional angle, you’ll know how much time and material wastage this can save. I’m sure I’m not the only guy who’s had to discard a piece several times before getting the miter angle perfect when it’s not a commonly used setting.
The Festool Kapex KS120 has a dual laser guidance system that can be set to perfectly match the blade that you’re using. It will show you the cutting line with the width of the blade accounted for. This laser system also makes it really easy and fool-proof to use the angle transfer device. You place the angle transfer tool into or around the corner that you’re measuring and lock it into position. Then place the edge of the tool against your fence and a large surface will lie where the blade comes down. You then tilt the blade down and press the laser guidance button, this will give you the exact line with which to adjust your miter angle.
Setting your bevel angle is just as easy and you have a lot of versatility when it comes to bevel angles. You can adjust the bevel angle up to 47° to either the left or right. The spring balanced saw head makes this perfectly easy and accurate. The bevel angle markings are also oversized, so you can accurately set your angle within a fraction of a degree. A twist dial that directly faces you at the front of the saw, makes setting the bevel angle as easy as possible – really fast and perfectly accurate.
Another superbly made accessory is the hold down clamp that also stores on the saw. All too often, clamping your wood down takes up so much time that it’s hardly worth the trouble. The Clamp that comes with the Festool Kapex KS120 fits into a slot just behind the fence, with a clamp reaching over the fence. There is a slot on either side of the blade into which the clamp base fits. The single hand operation of the cam lever at the top of the clamp means that it only takes a second to clamp your piece down and it releases just as easily. Of course, the fence is perfectly machined, as are the guide slots in the table.
The FastFix blade change is also going to make your life much easier, reducing the time it takes to remove and replace the blade. Basically, this is a button at the side of the motor that locks the blade. So you only need one wrench to loosen the outer nut holding the blade. Naturally, there’s a perfect storage slot for the wrench so it won’t go missing. The FastFix knob can also be used as a safety measure, with the blade locked it’s impossible to start the saw. The blade also has a fantastic brake and you won’t have to wait long for it stop when you release the trigger – a great time-saver when making multiple cuts.
The dust extraction port works better than just about any other. This is because of a very simple rubber boot that fits around the blade at the bottom, collecting almost all of the sawdust. Festool claim that 91% of the dust is removed using a 36mm hose. This is a German miter saw so the pipe connection for the dust extraction is metric. It can accommodate a 36MM pipe fitted over the extraction port or a 27mm pipe will fit inside the port. You’ll always get better dust extraction with a wider pipe, so the 36mm pipe is going to work the best.
The table isn’t very wide. While this makes the miter saw much more compact for transporting, it doesn’t give you much support for longer pieces. Though in true Festool form, there are the familiar “V” slots on either side of the table. These slots allow you attach any Festool extensions to the sides of the table. You can get an optional stand with really wide extensions for this miter saw. The stand places the table height at the exact same height as the Festool Kapex Multi-Function table, so all their products work together for the perfect shop solution. Probably another reason why so many woodworkers stick with Festool products.
After taking such a detailed look at the Festool Kapex KS120, I’m wondering if it isn’t time to make the change. I really like my DeWalt miter saw and it costs about a third of what I’d be paying for the Festool. But having seen what this miter saw has to offer, it’s difficult to look at any other in the same way. Anyone who knows these tools will tell you that Festool miter saws don’t break too easily and their service is great when you need any kind of repairs or want to buy accessories. Their 3-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee are as good as the best.
Festool PD561287 | Complete Kit
Includes : Festool KS 120 : 561287 + Festool (574787) CT MIDI 3.3 Gallon Mobile Dust Extractor
Dust Extractor (574787) — Features:
- HEPA Certified Filter
- Tool-triggered auto-on operation
- Self-cleaning filter bag
- Anti-static 11-1/2 foot hose
- Variable speed suction
- Hose garage for hose storage and organization
- Fully integrated with stackable Systainer storage system
- Compact, lightweight design at 19.8 lbs
- 130 CFM of high-performance suction
- 3.9 gallon container capacity
**Purchase the Festool (574787) Dust Extractor separately, but it will cost more if you buy them individually.
One of the things that makes the Festool Kapex KS120 so great is its portability. Most of the time, you want a miter saw to be in the room where you’re working. If you’re fixing moldings to walls or fitting a kitchen, you’re going to be making a lot of miter cuts. When you’re joining a short piece of crown molding to two longer pieces at an unconventional angle, you want to make sure that all the pieces join perfectly before you install them. This means walking back and forth to the miter saw several times – you may need to remove ¼” or less here and there before you get it right. If your miter saw is far away, you’ll be spending more time walking to the saw than you would doing the actual job.
The problem with using a miter saw inside the house is all the dust. You can quickly fill a room with sawdust when using a miter saw. Leaving you with an epic cleaning job when you’re done. So a portable dust extractor that can compare to a large shop dust extractor is just what you need. If you’re buying the best miter saw, why not buy the best dust extractor to go with it?
VIDEO REVIEW | Festool CT MIDI 3.3 dust extractor
The Festool CT MIDI dust extractor is what you’re going to want. It’s extremely compact and light, 17.5” long; 13.5” wide and 18.5” tall, it weighs only 21.4 LBS. Tough wheels and locking front casters make it convenient and easy to move. Even though this is a small dust extractor, it has the working capacity to meet even the toughest job site working conditions. The large capacity (3.3-gallons) and great suction (137 CFM) means that it will outperform just about any job site vacuum or portable dust extraction system. The power can be adjusted from 400W to 1200W. So it can be set to a low suction with a very low 62dB noise level if needs be.
Air filtration is fantastic, HEPA filters mean that over 99% of all particles are removed from the air. It can also handle wet and dry extraction. Like all Festool products, the MIDI dust extractor (574787) is designed for ultimate convenience. This means it has tool-triggered or manual smooth starting with a shut-off delay to make sure that all residual dust is removed. The hose stores perfectly on the machine and it is designed for Festool Sys-Dock Systainer stacking for space-saving storage and vehicle transportation.
VIDEO | Festool Dust Extractors
If you’re planning on buying both the Festool Kapex KS120 and the CT MIDI dust extractor, it makes sense to take advantage of this combo-deal. You’ll save by buying the two together.
Hitachi C15FB | Miter Saw
- 15 Amp motor, forcible power for the toughest cutting jobs
- Electric brake feature, halts the rotation of the blade within seconds preventing unintended cuts
- 11 positive stops on miter index, for easy to read measurements and quick setting
- Positive miter detents : 0, 15, 22.5, 30, 45, and 57 degrees to the left or right.
- Gear case center beam support, provides longer tool life and better cutting accuracy
- Extension guide, supports longer stock without warping
- Depth of cut at 4-3/4″ x 7-9/32″, allows molding to be cut standing vertically
- Dust collector attachment, to minimize airborne particles
- Carbon brush access, allows user to replace brush as needed to greatly prolong the life of the tool
- Debris deflection guard, safely diverts debris away from the work area
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Hitachi C15FB.
The Hitachi C15FB is much larger than the Festool miter saw (Kapex KS 120). It has a 15” blade powered by a 15A motor. This means that it’s a bit heavier – weighing 55 LBS. Although the larger blade does offer a depth of cut advantage, the lack of sliding rails doesn’t give it any extra cutting width. So it’s a simpler and cheaper machine.
Another drawback is that the Hitachi is not a compound miter saw. It has excellent miter capabilities, 57° to both the left and right with 11 positive stops, but you won’t be able to make bevel cuts at the same time. Of course, the 15” blade does give you the extra depth for thick pieces – 4¾” X 7⁹⁄₃₂”. The table extensions also make it easier to cut longer pieces.
The vice assembly gives you the ability to clamp your piece into position. The vice slots conveniently into the front of the table so you have easy access. Though this is a threaded screw handle, so you don’t have the quick locking and release of the cam lock clamp that comes with the Festool Kapex KS120.
The table and fence are solid and perfectly machined. The miter angle adjustment is large with easy to read markings, making it easy to get the perfect setting. Like the vice clamp, locking the miter setting is done with screw-type handle, so you don’t have the quick operation of a cam lock system. Though the handle is large, well-positioned and easy to use. The electric blade brake is quite efficient and will stop the blade within a few seconds.
There’s a dust extraction port at the black of the blade housing and it has a dust collection bag. So if you don’t have a dust extractor, it will do a reasonable job of collecting most of the sawdust coming off the blade. Though you can never expect a bag to do the same job as an extractor – you don’t have that extra suction.
So the Hitachi C15B isn’t the most sophisticated miter saw. What it has going for it are its large blade and built-in table extensions. This is a seriously tough machine and the fact that it doesn’t have sliding rails and bevel angle adjustments means that there’s less to go wrong. When a miter saw is cheaper, I prefer not to see the sophistication of beveling or sliding action. In order to make these functions durable and ensure that they remain accurate, requires some expensive components. So cheap miter saws with these features, leave me uncertain as to their long-term durability. The Hitachi C15B offers you an accurate and extremely well-built miter saw at a very affordable price. You’re not paying for expensive extras.
Tech Specs (Hitachi C15FB):
- Amps : 15
- No-Load Speed : 3,400rpm
- Blade Diameter : 15″
- Arbor Size : 1″
- Miter Angle Range: Left and Right 0-57 Degrees
- Miter Detent Stops: Right and Left 0, 15, 22.5 ,30 ,45 and 57
- Tool Height : 29-3/4″
- Weight : 55lbs
What is a compound miter saw?
When reviewing these two miter saws, one of the differences is that the Festool is a compound miter saw, whereas the Hitachi is not. If you’re wondering what that means, here’s the answer.
A compound miter saw has a blade assembly that can tilt, which allows you to make bevel and miter cuts at the same time. Some blades tilt to only one side, while others will allow the blade to tilt either to the left or right.
The bevel adjustment will have the angles marked on a plate that moves with the blade assembly, this makes it easy to set the exact angle that you need. Many will have positive stops that will allow you to easily select the most common bevel angles.
Sliding rail miter saws vs fixed blade miter saws
Having a miter saw with rails to move saw blade assembly backward and forward gives you the advantage of a cutting width that’s greater than the saw blade will normally do. This is an obvious advantage. Though you need to be careful before deciding whether to buy a sliding miter saw.
Some are designed so that the blade and motor move along the rail, this means that the rail remains in a fixed position – like the Festool Kapex that we’ve just reviewed. The advantage of this design is that the rails don’t have to move out the back of the miter saw. You can place the saw directly against a wall. On a busy job site, having rails extending out the back of the saw can be easily be knocked.
The most common rail design is to have the saw blade assembly attached to the rail. This means that the rails have to move back and forth with the blade. So the rails end up using more space to move.
The main consideration here, needs to be quality. A sliding miter saw needs to have really strong rails with perfect attachment to the blade assembly. The slightest movement between the blade and the rail will make the saw inaccurate. Many cheaper miter saws will begin to wobble on the rails over time. If you’re not going to buy one of the more expensive miter saws, stick to the basics and don’t choose one with a sliding rail.