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Track saw - T55 or Mafell MT55

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hugov

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One other difference – Festool uses 2.2mm blades whereas Mafell blades are 1.8mm. In theory, the thicker blade should give cleaner results when cutting along the grain as in a deep rip cut in hardwood as the blade is stiffer and will better resist flexing to follow the grain. Not sure it makes much of a difference in reality though, especially as Festool seem to have moved to 1.8mm blades in the latest "F" generation too.
 

Raymien

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Mafell user here - thoroughly recommend it. I've no experience with the TS55, but I have got a KS60 mitre saw and the Festool quality is superb. In truth I don't think you'll go wrong with either option, they're both at the top of the track saw game. Both excellently built and will last.

When I was in your situation this time last year, I decided to go with the Mafell for the reasons outlined above, but what tipped me over the edge was the track joining method. I use sheet goods 99% of the time and I'd been an Erbauer user before. Whilst a much lower spec machine, it did use the same track platform as the Festool and I just didn't get on with them. I couldn't get tracks to line up nicely, found it a bit of a chore sliding the connectors top and bottom. Just didn't like or have much trust in the tracks, and I didn't want to fork out a huge price for the single 3m track. So I listened to the advice about how the Mafell/Bosch tracks were better/easier and I'm so glad I did. The Mafell platform is excellent. I bought the kit with 2 x 1.6m rails and I regularly cut full sheets down lengthways. The connector is quick, easy and produces an accurate 3.2m track. I never made those cuts with the Erbauer through fear of inaccuracy, but with the Mafell I never even think about it. I just crack on. The dust collection is superb and the blade change very easy.

Only downside is the price, but you're paying that whichever option you go with, so I'd advise the Mafell. Enjoy whichever you decide (y)
 

JobandKnock

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The reality is surely that all the "professional" offerings (e.g. Bosch, Festool, Mafell, Makita, Metabo, Virutex, deWalt, etc) are competent tools and will do what most users ask of them. I had a about ten thousand square feet of cement fibre board flooring to get installed this summer where about one board in three needed to be crosscut and needing a corded tool (for the power). Not wishing to wreck either of my Festools (original TS55 and TS75) cutting a highly aggressive material, I bought a secondhand Bosch GKT55CE and some Evolution rails. The rails were OK, well straight, but not a patch on the Makita or Festool rails I have, however the saw was surprisingly good. I'd rate it as good as the original TS55 and better in some areas. I doubt there is much between it and the TS55R (my boss had one of those at the time).

A minor point, but an important one for volume users - with the Makita and Festool rails it is possible to refresh the anti-splinter strip edge several times. in the field if necessary, by unpeeling the strip and reattaching it a few millimetres across (might need a bit of isopropyl alcohol to clean the rails, and a roll of double sided tape to reattach the anti-splinter strip) the retrimming. This can't be done with the Bosch/Mafell rail design and their anti-splinter strips are decidedly more expensive.

As to rail joiner straightness, Festool now have an improved rail joiner, the FSV/2 rail connector although the TSO GRC-12 Self-Aligning Guide Rail Connectors are a great improvement over the Festool products at a price (when you consider they cost $50 in the USA).
 
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sometimewoodworker

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As to rail joiner straightness, Festool now have an improved rail joiner, the FSV/2 rail connector although the TSO GRC-12 Self-Aligning Guide Rail Connectors are a great improvement over the Festool products at a price (when you consider they cost $50 in the USA).
Since I had to solve the problem of getting perfectly aligned rails long before either of those were available I bought the Betterley SLC23 StraightLine Connector for Aligning Track Saw Rail it works perfectly every time and just takes about 30 seconds extra it isn’t a cheap as a pair of the other self aligning joiners but less than 2 pairs
C19254AF-394B-4C35-9B58-D0799D0138D3.jpeg
 

JobandKnock

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I had wondered about that Betterley jig but TBH they weren't around for the first 15 or so years I was using guide rails, so maybe I'll just keep trucking alomg using my spirit levels as straight edges
 

Hornbeam

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There seems to be huge amount of really good advice but I am struggling to make the choice between the Festool and the Mafell. If I was just doing sheet work on site the mafell seems to be the better option and works out about £100 cheaper, but
No riving knife on mafell which could be an issue with ripping solid timber
The mafell guide rail joint and clamp position seems much better but does the saw base overhang the edge of the rail and if so I assume you cant line the rail up against parf dogs
Festool rail joint nowhere near as good but you can buy longer rails
The t slot on the top of the festool rail allows stops etc to be clamped to the rail. Can you do this with the mafell
 

Spectric

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Maybe you are limiting your choices by looking just at the most expensive saws on the market, as J&K has said

The reality is surely that all the "professional" offerings (e.g. Bosch, Festool, Mafell, Makita, Metabo, Virutex, deWalt, etc) are competent tools and will do what most users ask of them.
All these saws will deliver, just that some have extra bells attached to attract your attention. I use the corded 110 volt Makita and with sheet goods it does exactly what any of the others can do for just £320. Makita also do a 3 metre rail, Makita 194367-7 3m Guide Rail For Use With Sp6000k1 Saw, MAK1943677 at D&M Tools
 

Bojam

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There seems to be huge amount of really good advice but I am struggling to make the choice between the Festool and the Mafell. If I was just doing sheet work on site the mafell seems to be the better option and works out about £100 cheaper, but
No riving knife on mafell which could be an issue with ripping solid timber
I think I already mentioned upthread that I use the Bosch GKT55 all the time for ripping and crosscutting dense tropical hardwoods (I live in the tropics so these woods are all that is locally available - I'm not complaining!).

The GKT55 does not have a riving knife but I have only once had any sort of kickback and that was user error induced - plunging while accidentally moving the saw backwards. It kicked a bit but wasn't out of control. EDIT: Bosch make an anti-kickback support for their rail system.

Otherwise it sails through the cuts I make, even on thicker timbers. Switching between high quality blades from Freud - 24T rip blade and 48T crosscut blade - helps and leaves a nice finish. The Bosch uses the same rail system as Mafell and it is excellent. I have three 800mm tracks and join them without issue when needing to make long cuts (I don't need to rip full sheets of ply but do make long rip cuts on hardwood from time to time, less now I have a quality bandsaw).

You're probably overthinking this problem and I agree with others who have suggested that the saws from Bosch, Makita, etc. are definitely worth considering. The quality is there and I'm not convinced paying the premium for the very top of the range is worth it. Maybe I'm wrong but I am very satisfied with the GKT55.
 
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sometimewoodworker

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I had wondered about that Betterley jig but TBH they weren't around for the first 15 or so years I was using guide rails, so maybe I'll just keep trucking alomg using my spirit levels as straight edges
That means that you must have been using your tracksaw for about 5 year/s before it was on general release. :unsure: Since the TS55 was introduced in 2003 and the Betterley jig in 2012? I got mine shipped to Japan sometime before 2014 so maybe 2012 or 2013.

however whichever way gets you aligned rails always is the best one to use. Since I bought the jig already and it guarantees aligned rails every time fast, it’s the way I use
 
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JobandKnock

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That means that you must have been using your tracksaw for about 5 year/s before it was on general release. Since the TS55 was introduced in 2003 and the Betterley jig in 2012? I got mine shipped to Japan sometime before 2014 so maybe 2012 or 2013.
Just when do you think Festo (later Festool) saws and rails appeared in the UK? Festo patented the guide rail in 1962 according to their web site, but it wasn't until the 1980s that they introduced a plunging saw running on a guide rail - the ATF55. I actually went to a distributor demo of one of those in West Bromwich in 1985 and I recall that the saw which was offered with a "single hump" rail (like the Excel guide rails referred to in a post further up) but no systainers back then. At the time I owned a Holz-Her Mosquito plunge saw which I'd picked up in Germany in the early 1980s, but that didn't run on guide rails:

Holz-Her Mosquito RH.png
Holz-Her Mosquito LH.png

(Mine was like that, but dark grey and silver in colour, photos from the 'net). I passed on the Festo on the grounds that I simply couldn't afford it - I recall that the price was eye watering. In any case, with the Mosquito and a small Elu MH25 I'd also bought in Germany I thought I had sheet material cutting taped:

Elu MH25 Saw.jpg

(photo from the 'net) But neither of them were rail saws, so I made do with home-made guides or battens for years. I do recall Elu/deWalt offering rails and conversion sub bases for some of their saws in the 1990s (like the MH265) and Holz-Her also offered kits for some of their saws, but still I didn't bite.

In 2001, however, I was contracted to replace an entire mill floor with a 22mm verola plywood floor and at that point I bought a Hilti 255 plunge saw and two guide rails. So that was actually my first saw/guide rail set and it was bought in part because I needed a 110 volt saw. That Hilti saw used the same guide rail profile as the mk.1 rail from Festool (only one joiner, like the Excel rails referenced in an earlier post) and it really speeded up the job no end. In about 2004 or '05 the Hilti WSC255 was sold and replaced by a WSC265 (more depth of cut - deep enough to cut 50mm exterior doors), which I still own:

Hilti WSC265 Saw Mine.jpg

and I also bought myself three Festool FS1400/2 guide rails (which were cheaper than the Hilti rails and had the double joiners). That's where my experience of the current generation of Festool rails starts, in 2004/05. I was very tempted at the time to buy the Festool ATF55, but Festool were rumoured to have a new model in the works and in any case the Hilti rep offered me a really good deal on "old stock", so...

The Festool ATF55 I refer to was no less than the same model I had seen demonstrated in the mid-1980s (video clip here) which was the model prior to the TS55. In the meantime I had also bought a less than stellar Bosch GKS68B plunge saw and rails which was a great disappointment (who says Bosch never make lemons? The withdrew the model within a year of launch) - it still lurks in the attic somewhere to this day.

The WSC265 was subsequently replaced by a TS55 in 2010 which I still use periodically, although for the last 3 or 4 years I've been mainly using either a Makita DSP600 for sheet stock or for the bigger stuff a Festool TS75. This year I also purchased a second hand Bosch GKT55CE and some cheap Evolution guide rails to finish a cement fibre board project (no point in wrecking the Festools)

So yes, by the time the TS55 was on the market in 2006/07 (? replacing the 20+ year old ATF55) I had been using Festool rails about 5 or 6 years, a few years of that on the mk.2 guide rails, and was on my third plunging rail guided saw. I never said I had a TS55 in 2005, though...
 
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Jake

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Hey Job, did you ever meet Scrit ex of this and prior regions,? Sadly missed oracle of cast iron and other things in an encyclopaedic way.

Almost twins in many ways, albeit with different focus.
 

JobandKnock

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No. In fact that previous post took a fair bit of head scratching to get my dates right, so not encyclopedic in any way - the only way I got some dates was to look back in my old project diaries to see where I was working at the time! (now keeping those for decades is a bit sad, but I'm currently bagging up a load of old stuff to go to the tip including more than 40 years worth of journals and diaries). I did lurk around in here from time to time maybe 10 years ago but was too conservative to take part (why I don't know - as a foreman I am generally quite outspoken because often I need to be). I do recall one or two names who don't appear to be here any more, though, like Alf (and was Alf a lass?) and Bugbear. What happend to them?
 

Lefley

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There seems to be huge amount of really good advice but I am struggling to make the choice between the Festool and the Mafell. If I was just doing sheet work on site the mafell seems to be the better option and works out about £100 cheaper, but
No riving knife on mafell which could be an issue with ripping solid timber
The mafell guide rail joint and clamp position seems much better but does the saw base overhang the edge of the rail and if so I assume you cant line the rail up against parf dogs
Festool rail joint nowhere near as good but you can buy longer rails
The t slot on the top of the festool rail allows stops etc to be clamped to the rail. Can you do this with the mafell
I think if you read Mafell literature it was designed not to need a riving knife and has anti kickback stops.
 

Spectric

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If you go back in time there was a point when I believe tools were sold just on merit and reputation with no fan clubs or excessive hype.
 

Noho12C

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I think I already mentioned upthread that I use the Bosch GKT55 all the time for ripping and crosscutting dense tropical hardwoods (I live in the tropics so these woods are all that is locally available - I'm not complaining!).

The GKT55 does not have a riving knife but I have only once had any sort of kickback and that was user error induced - plunging while accidentally moving the saw backwards. It kicked a bit but wasn't out of control. EDIT: Bosch make an anti-kickback support for their rail system.
I agree the Bosch seems to be a good offer worth a look.

You're probably overthinking this problem and I agree with others who have suggested that the saws from Bosch, Makita, etc. are definitely worth considering. The quality is there and I'm not convinced paying the premium for the very top of the range is worth it. Maybe I'm wrong but I am very satisfied with the GKT55.
Well, this sub-channel is all about buying tools and getting advices. The offer nowadays is quite vast and it can be hard to know what to pick. Each tool will have a small difference vs its competitors than can be a pro or a con for the user.
 

Bojam

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Well, this sub-channel is all about buying tools and getting advices. The offer nowadays is quite vast and it can be hard to know what to pick. Each tool will have a small difference vs its competitors than can be a pro or a con for the user.
Sorry Noho, please don't interpret my comment (actually directed to Hornbeam not you) as a suggestion not to ask for advice. I just think that that all the higher end track saws including not only the Festool and Mafell but also the Bosch, Makita, Metabo, etc. are all pro tools and will do the job. Sure there are some small differences but my advice would be to not overthink it.

For me price was a key consideration. I watched some reviews (including this) that were very positive about the Bosch GKT55 and, since it was considerably cheaper than the Festool or Mafell versions, that was a determining factor in my choice. I also liked the GMF1600 router (as it comes with both a plunge base for handheld routing and a fixed base which I have permanently mounted under the table) and it is compatible with the Bosch rail system with an adaptor plate. It made sense for me to buy into the Bosch system (I also have the jigsaw with an adaptor plate for the track).

I'm not a Bosch fanboy. But I have been happy with their kit. I think whichever of these higher end saws you choose, you can't really go wrong.
 

sometimewoodworker

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I think if you read Mafell literature it was designed not to need a riving knife and has anti kickback stops.
The reason for Mafell not to have a riving knife on the MT55 is less than clear. Mafell have riving knives on saws the KSP55F has one.

My theory is that the MT55 was designed to be used on sheet goods with a rail in that scenario a riving knife is almost never needed, very few sheets have the tension to close the kerf and those that do don’t grip much and the rail keeps the blade perfectly in the kerf. How effective the auto stop function is on the MT55 I don’t know as I’ve never used one, what the anti kickback stops are and how they function I would be interested to know, more knowledge is always good.

Is the Mafell literature a marketing explanation to give a different interpretation of a design choice made for different reasons? Maybe. Marketing literature was almost always written after the product design is finished. Is it accurate? Mostly.

I don’t know If there have been any like for like tests done on the MT55 vs TS55 that tested the reaction to binding that should cause kickback. If there have I would be interested

Saws that may reasonably often be cutting timber will sometimes get the wood pinching the blade if there’s no riving knife so you are in kickback territory.
 

h-magic

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I bought the MT55 instead of the T55

- power difference even though I’ve never used the T55 there was a lot of mention of it been underpowered. Since using the MT55 sometimes I think it’s under powered so I hate to think how underpower the T55 is. Mmm

-The way the rails link up to each other and how simple it is to do compared to the festool one.

- I looked at the price difference of attachments and you can get the Bosch FSN OFA 32 Kit for around £120 when there on offer.
Gives you 2x clamps
800mm rail with 32mm holes spacing
Router attachement for rails

- you can use Bosch rail which is much cheaper than the mafell.
i bought two 16

- dust extraction was better than the festool. The only time I get a lot of dust is when I’ve forgotten to put the from guard down or near the end of the cut.

- Blade change is so simple and there’s a Allen key holder on the machine itself.

- loads of people have the MT55 and I have yet to see that they want to see a riving knife added.
people look at the option while buying but once they bought it there’s no issue using it without.

- the scoring function - I’ve done some nice cuts with the scoring function especially on laminates where people have said it will chip and that’s using standard blade.

- There’s more accessory for the Mafell/Bosch now compared to when I first bought it.
Like rail square, measuring system great for ripping boards and of course bench dogs for the rail.

If you wish to try out the MT55 and your near Essex your most welcome to pop over and try it
 

Jacob

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Edited - it's OK i've sussed it
 
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sometimewoodworker

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- power difference even though I’ve never used the T55 there was a lot of mention of it been underpowered. Since using the MT55 sometimes I think it’s under powered so I hate to think how underpower the T55 is. Mmm

- dust extraction was better than the festool. The only time I get a lot of dust is when I’ve forgotten to put the from guard down or near the end of the cut.

- Blade change is so simple and there’s a Allen key holder on the machine itself.

- loads of people have the MT55 and I have yet to see that they want to see a riving knife added.
people look at the option while buying but once they bought it there’s no issue using it without.

- the scoring function - I’ve done some nice cuts with the scoring function especially on laminates where people have said it will chip and that’s using standard blade.


If you wish to try out the MT55 and your near Essex your most welcome to pop over and try it
1) My TS55 has never felt underpowered to me, so I can’t comment as to if the MT55 would be better.
2) As dust extraction is virtually perfect on my TS55 unless I don’t hook up the vacuum or the bag is full, so I don’t quite see how much better the MT55 could be, unless it empties the vacuum :ROFLMAO:
3) the same for the TS55
4) as I mentioned unless you make a habit of cutting gnarley wood there are probably few occasions where it’s useful
5) A definite plus for the MT55
6) That is appreciated though a a little bit of a long way, only 19,000km round trip ;)
 

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