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Sawing panels and CS recommendations

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cambournepete

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Summary:

What (hand-held) circular saw do people recommend for panel cutting?

Detail:

I know this has been done to death already, but I also want to be able to cut up plywood panels, initially to make bookcases.

I've looked at the catalogues for Festool, Mafell and even Hilti, and if I can't think of a better option I might buy one of these. I also investigated the guide rails you can get for Metabo, Dewalt, Bosch and makita circular saws, but these, together with a new saw come close to the price of a Mafell. I've already got a 9" Makita, but it's attached to my Triton, and a bit big for panel cutting (not to mention the fact that the makita "customer Services" line was somewhat unhelpful when I phoned them).

I've considered the after-market guide rails but these don't line up with the cut, which to me is almost essential for this application to avoid costly errors.

I've looked at the jigs in other threads and on FWW and they look good, but how easy are they to use - does the saw tend to wander away from the guide?

I cut up some ply freehand yesterday with my B&D CS and it was scary, the cut line was nowhere near the marker on the saw, the saw sort of meandered its way across the ply, the blade wobbled all over the place and I ended up almost deaf in one ear. This at least convinced me I need a jig or proper saw.

So however I do it I need a good saw - what do people recommend ?
If money wasn't an issue I buy a Festool.

Thanks for reading this far,

Pete

PS I looked in the Ikea catalogue last night, the number of "Billy" bookcases I'd need for one wall is about the same price as a Mafell with 1400mm track. By the time you've factored in the cost of the plywood and the tools, DIY almost seems the expensive option!
 

Chris Knight

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Pete,

Don't overlook the wastage factor. I made some bookcases in cherry veneered MDF with my Festool and the ability to cut a precise clean edge meant I did not need to leave ANY trim allowance. This saved me a full sheet of the stuff (£65 per sheet) in that one job.
 

johnelliott

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I've just been reading Chris's review of his Festool saw and rail system, and I now know that I am going to have to have one of these, even though I already have the Trend 8' pro clamp guide and Makita saw mounted to the Trend saw base plate. Sometimes paying the extra is the right thing to do.
I also have the Trend router plate which I will continue to use with the Trend clamp guide when necessary (such as cutting a long straight edge on a 40mm worktop
Read Chris's review here http://chrisknight.info/woodwork/tools.htm
John
 

Neil

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Hi Pete,

Well, this is something I've been considering for a while now. At the moment I use a FWW-style guide rail and I do have some problems with the saw wandering away from the guide - I suspect that this is the fault of my extremely cheap and nasty CS. In an ideal world I would get the Festool - I think you have to think of it as a completely different tool to the rest and if you can justify the cost, I don't think you would regret it. There are so many elements to it which make it stand out from the rest - the plunge action so you don't have the blade guard getting in the way and you can stop and reposition yourself during a long cut, the guide rail with the rubber strip to give a perfect edge for lining-up the cut and to prevent tearout, the rubber strips under the rail to prevent it slipping, the very neat clamp system, the excellent dust extraction, the superb blade included, etc. etc.

Chris' comment about the cost of wastage is very significant I think...

The Mafell has a very limited depth of cut I think, and also I don't really like the idea of the roll-up guide rail - I would take some convincing that this will remain perfectly straight when it has been rolled and unrolled a few times.

I share your reservations about after-market guide rails - even though it is fairly easy to mark up with the offset, it does take a bit longer, which could add up to a lot of time with a load of bookcases to make. Also you are bound to get some tearout.

The other option I'm considering is to make a homemade version of the Festool rail, with the CS riding on a little carriage restrained by a bar riding in a slot, with a rubber strip set into the edge to resist tearout. I would then add a decent circular saw (probably a Hitachi) and, of course, a decent blade.

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear what you decide to do, seeing as the Festool is a pipedream for me until finances have recovered from my wedding :roll:

NeilCFD
 

Adam

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cambournepete":1nfuqqyd said:
PS I looked in the Ikea catalogue last night, the number of "Billy" bookcases I'd need for one wall is about the same price as a Mafell with 1400mm track. By the time you've factored in the cost of the plywood and the tools, DIY almost seems the expensive option!
I take it for granted now that making things is more expensive than buying something that is "functionally" equivalent.

I find:

A) Buying good (e.g. hardwood etc) quality materials and tools is almost always more expensive than buying something "similar"

B) Buying just materials, and not factoring your own time makes projects about the same compared to buying something "similar"

By "similar" I mean something that does approximately the same job i.e. a bookshelf, but invariably it's veneered chipboard and is neither strong enough, or sturdy enough to survive moving house for example.

On the other hand, something you made yourself, using good materials and well made will last a list time and give lasting enjoyment. Given Ikea has approx a "5-year" lifespan, before it's knackered, sagged, or gone out of fashion means if you look at it over a lifetime, homemade, quality goods do work out cheaper.

Besides, you get to justify a new tool :D , and maybe pass on something to your children - which has a price tag which cannot be measured. 8)

Adam
 

Adam

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johnelliott":26et4v2d said:
I've just been reading Chris's review of his Festool saw and rail system, and I now know that I am going to have to have one of these, even though I already have the Trend 8' pro clamp guide and Makita saw mounted to the Trend saw base plate. Sometimes paying the extra is the right thing to do.
I also have the Trend router plate which I will continue to use with the Trend clamp guide when necessary (such as cutting a long straight edge on a 40mm worktop
John
John,

I'm interested in your comments, as it was your original posting that has pushed me away from the Festool, and towards the Trend-pro clamps. Are you not finding them up to scratch? I've not bought either, but they are on my list of "purchases" - it takes me months and months of head-scratching before actually putting my money where me mouth is!

Adam
 

Neil

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Pete":1oaxebhy said:
Has anyone tried joining the shorter guide rails - a second 1400mm rail is much much cheaper than than the 3m rail?
I was having a look on Rolf's website at his cabinet, and came across this comment:
My guide rail for the portable circular saw is compound from 2 parts and I had to state that the edges of the guide rails are not angular, so that no straight lip can develop on the entire length. For FESTO an evidence of incapacity....
I'm not sure how good a job Google has done on the translation, but it does sound as though Rolf had problems with joined guide rails - maybe it would be worth asking him?

Re: the Mafell - it it were me, I would pay the extra £60 to have the plunge action on the Festool...

NeilCFD
 

Alf

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Oh deary me. There I was finally back on the "I really don't need the Festool" plateau, and then along comes this thread and the desire starts up all over again. :roll:

The guides I use do a jolly good job, with a reasonably decent saw (I use a Hitachi C7BU - not too heavy, and I love the blade brake). You do have to concentrate to keep the saw against the fence, but it's not brain surgery. Would I like a Festool in the w'shop? Damn right. Can I justify the additional cost for the amount of use I'd give it? Alas, no. In the meantime the 'shop made guides do a fine job, and I wouldn't be without them.

As an aside, before getting the Hitachi, I order the Bosch with the guiderail. It had to go back though, 'cos it was so heavy and unwieldy I couldn't see how I'd be able to use it in the middle of an 8x4 sheet with any control. Or without busting my back. :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 

Steve Maskery

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Have you considered getting a cordless CS? I have a DeWalt 14.4V jobbie (can't remember the number) and it is great. You don't get cables wrapped round your ankles and it is not too heavy. I regularly cut 18mm MDF and the like with it.

Yes you do have to make sure you keep it tight to the jig.

The best bit is I can take it to B&Q or the timberyard, with a couple of pairs of trestles, and cut it up in the car park to fit it on my roof, whether or not their saw is operating.

Cheers
Steve
 

Adam

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Neil":3u8lb15q said:
[Re: the Mafell - it it were me, I would pay the extra £60 to have the plunge action on the Festool...NeilCFD
I thought the Mafell was plunging too? Given it's the same "chassis" as the Festool (just different finishing touches/stickers)

Adam
 

johnelliott

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Neil":3opydnvt said:
Thanks for those, Neil. I didn't need further convincing but it was nice to have it anyway. Also, the first of those reviews lead on to a review of the Festool MFT (multi function table) which I have simple got to have. Haven't found anyone in the UK who sells it, yet, Google wasn't much help. Anyone know who sells it? Not in the Rutlands catalogue either

At first glance it looks as if with the MFT I will hardly need my sliding table saw

John
 

cambournepete

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johnelliott":25oq6bsj said:
...At first glance it looks as if with the MFT I will hardly need my sliding table saw...
A thought that also crossed my mind, confusing the saw purchase even more - "I can't afford it (the MFT) yet, but I might get it one day, in which case the TS55 is the obvious choice..."

OTOH, Alf's hitachi suggestion is far more sensible money-wise, and I can make up an FWW style guide fairly easily for it to run on (I'm thinking 2 sheets of melamine faced chipboard, perhaps with some slippy tape.)

+---------+
|.............| SAW HERE
+---------+---------------+
|..................................|
+--------------------------+

Currently at Axminster the c7bu is either £130 (http://www.axminster.co.uk/default.asp?part=C7BU240X) or £134 (http://www.axminster.co.uk/default.asp?part=HITC7BU)

Alf":25oq6bsj said:
The guides I use do a jolly good job, You do have to concentrate to keep the saw against the fence, but it's not brain surgery. In the meantime the 'shop made guides do a fine job, and I wouldn't be without them.
What style guides do you use Alf ?

Alf":25oq6bsj said:
Would I like a Festool in the w'shop? Damn right. Can I justify the additional cost for the amount of use I'd give it? Alas, no.
That's my concern as well, especially with an 18 month toddler who seems to love playing on a piano... :shock:
 

Alf

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cambournepete":1q96tjho said:
What style guides do you use Alf ?
The very FWW ones you demonstrate (excellent ASCII art btw; I always foul it up when I try :roll: )

cambournepete":1q96tjho said:
+---------+
|.............| SAW HERE
+---------+---------------+
|..................................|
+--------------------------+
It's worth keeping them as light as possible though; especially if you use an 8' one. :shock: And remember to leave enough width in the fence bit for the clamps to clear the body of the saw. DAMHIKT... :oops:

Cheers, Alf
 

Neil

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asleitch":vns51dvu said:
I thought the Mafell was plunging too? Given it's the same "chassis" as the Festool (just different finishing touches/stickers)
Well, I'm not 100% on this, Adam (when am I ever? :lol: ), but the Mafell that Pete pointed out which works with the stiff guide rail looks to me like it has a regular blade guard, and no plunging ability:



whereas the one with the bendy guide rail is definitely a plunger:



NeilCFD

Edited as I screwed up the quote :roll:
 

Adam

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Neil":8egf5g5k said:
asleitch":8egf5g5k said:
I thought the Mafell was plunging too? Given it's the same "chassis" as the Festool (just different finishing touches/stickers)
Well, I'm not 100% on this, Adam (when am I ever? :lol: ), but the Mafell that Pete pointed out which works with the stiff guide rail looks to me like it has a regular blade guard, and no plunging ability:

[image 1]

whereas the one with the bendy guide rail is definitely a plunger:

[image 2]

NeilCFD
Where are the chaps at NMA? They could set us straight surely? I thought both saws looked like they had the "plunging handle", although it is more diffiult to see on the "fexed fence" version.

Adam
 

Jake

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I thought the Mafell was plunging too? Given it's the same "chassis" as the Festool (just different finishing touches/stickers)
It is a plunge saw http://www.mafell.com/produkte/prod_saegen_kst55_i.html

but I'm not at all convinced that it is the same as the Festo, they have different specs and they look totally different, too

http://www.mafell.de/images/produktbild ... st55se.jpg
http://www.ellistools.co.uk/TS55%20SAW.htm

obviously Mafell copied the idea, but they managed not to copy the detail.

Jake
 

Neil

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Ah, well done Jake, so they do make bigger plunge saws, but the one Pete showed on DM-tools is a different model (KSP55F) to the one you found on Mafell's site, the KST55, and isn't a plunger, hence the confusion.
You're right that none of them look like the Festool TS55 though - they look more like some of the older Festool saws I've seen.

NeilCFD
 

cambournepete

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Neil":1hpx6sj4 said:
Ah, well done Jake, so they do make bigger plunge saws, but the one Pete showed on DM-tools is a different model (KSP55F) to the one you found on Mafell's site, the KST55, and isn't a plunger, hence the confusion.
Apologies for the confusion - I was going to check the Mafell catalogue and point out which are plunge and which not, but that's been done now.

The Hitachi's looking like the right answer for now - £130 from Axminster includeing a 25m extension reel and "spare" 40 tooth blade. But they are also selling the Hitachi C6DD 18v cordless for £200 (nearly £100 off normal price)...
 
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