Festool TS 55 REQ Track Saw Review
Festool Plunge Cut Track Saw – When Quality Matters
Festool TS 55 REQ Plunge Cut Track Saw
Model number: TS 55 REQ
Power source: 115V AC
Motor size: 10 Amps
Weight: 9.92 lbs
The all new Festool TS 55 REQ Plunge Cut Track Saw has created quite a stir in the renovation/remodel/woodworking communities. This new model is an update to the ever popular Festool TS 55 EQ. We recently had a chance to test it out on several jobsites and projects. This review is based on my own thoughts and input from Assistant Editors Rob Robillard and Brad Staggs.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the TS 55 REQ, check out a short video that we produced to highlight the features and benefits of this new track saw.
- Guide Rail Guidance – Track saws are are quickly becoming a great alternative to a table saw and more users are buying them every day. The heart of the performance comes from the ability to use a guide rail for perfectly straight cuts.
- Scribe Line = Cut Line – As with most track saws the scribe line is the same as the cut line. Once you start cutting sheet goods with this type of accuracy you’ll likely never use a table saw again if you have a choice.
- Plunge Cut Action – Track saws are quite different than circular saws because of the plunge action. This allows a depth of cut to be set, the user pushes the saw blade down into the work piece allowing for easy starts and stops and very accurate depth of cuts.
- Riving Knife – Much like a table saw this track saw comes with a riving knife. The riving knife keeps the work piece from pinching and it goes up and down with the blade.
- Rotating Dust Port – This is such a simple feature but one that’s extremely useful for track saws. This greatly improves the ability to keep the hose away from the user for safer operation.
- Splinter Guard – Track saws typically produce almost splinter free cuts. Festool has stepped it up a notch and included a splinter guard that virtually eliminates splinters all together.
- FastFix Blade Change – Blade changes are super easy with this feature. It locks the power switch off, the arbor is locked from rotating, and the blade is locked in a position that makes it easy to remove and install.
I’ve been using track saws for quite a few years and find myself turning to them more often because they offer near perfect precision. In fact, I have far more confidence in a perfectly straight cut using this track saw compared to my $4000 table saw. Why you ask? Because the saw guide and material won’t move during the cut. With a table saw you hold the piece and feed it through the saw, even with a great fence there’s no guarantee that you’ll hold the wood against the fence perfectly.
The TS 55 REQ is well suited to critical cuts like cutting sheet goods for cabinet building, trimming doors, cutting out false fronts on oven cabinets ,and any cutting task that requires extreme precision. Need to cut a sheet of cabinet plywood on a critical angle? Not a problem with the Festool Track Saw. Basically this tool will do the cuts that are normally done with a circular saw or table saw in a far more precise way.
When asked about the precision of this tool, Robert Robillard (assistant editor) had this to say:
“The Festool Ts55 REQ allows me to provide shop quality in the field. I can make panel saw precision cuts with the TS55 REQ. Its lightweight and super portable and can be applied to stationary objects like decks, bookcases and flooring. The TS 55 does things circular and table saws can’t, and does some things they can, but more quickly and more safely. Plus the cuts are incredibly clean.”
I have to agree with Rob’s statement. The ability to get table saw precision on a jobsite isn’t a new thing. However, the ability to get table saw precision from a tool that’s so portable is another thing all together. This is especially true when you consider situations where you’re working two stories above grade level or in a space that’s not easily accessible by a large, heavy tablesaw on a mobile base. The TS 55 REQ can be carried easily in one hand while you handle the track in the other.
Quality is a feature I’ve come to expect from the Festool lineup. Their tools are always very well built with precision fit and finish, resulting in very smooth, easy to operate power tools. I asked Brad Staggs (contributing editor) what he thought of the quality of this new track saw.
“I love the obvious thought, planning, ad engineering that went into the saw. Nothing feels like an afterthought or an add-on simply because everyone else was doing it. It’s a precision tool that does one thing – cuts straight lines – and does it nearly perfectly.”
I also agree with Brad. Festool has really planned every aspect of this tool. The storage box contains a picture showing how to pack the tool (wouldn’t it be nice if more tool companies did that? ). The user manual is not only well written but it has decent diagrams that actually accurately portray the tool!
Innovative Design Features
The TS 55 REQ offers features that other track saws do not. Many of them appear to be quite small in nature but result in impressive advantages over the competition. Some of the features that I found very innovative are the splinter guard, clear viewing window, the FastFix blade changing system, and even small features like the Limit Stop for the track. Festool has really responded to the everyday needs of track saw users.
One slight improvement I’d love to suggest to Festool is figuring out a way to make the splinter guard transparent (clear) like the viewing window. I really love having the splinter guard in place to ensure the smoothest possible cut edges, yet I find myself really enjoying the ability to see through the window at the edge of the cut. Something small that might be great for the next version!
With power tools that are this portable it’s extremely important that they offer a dust collection feature that’s extremely effective. Setting up a track saw up in a finished home requires really good dust collection so dust doesn’t get all over the house. Once again the TS 55 REQ really shines in this department.
First of all I love the swivel dust port. Track saws are great but I often find myself struggling with a dust hose that seems to be in the way. With the swivel port it’s much easier to keep the hose out of the way.
When the viewing window or the splinter guard are in place, the TS 55 REQ does a very good job collecting dust when connected to a proper vacuum system. Festool claims more than 90% collection and I found similar results. They also offer an additional accessory (cover plate) that allows you to further close off the blade housing to increase dust collection even further.
You can also buy the track saw in a combo pack with their dust collection vacuums and save some money vs buying them separately.
Power and Control
While some track saws offer a larger motor, the Festool 10 amp motor provides more than enough power for a saw like this. I tested the saw cutting cabinet grade plywood and also a 1-3/4″ thick oak countertop and the TS 55 REQ cut through the materials with ease.
The built-in electronics for the motor (Multiple Material Control -MMC) allows the speed of the saw to be adjusted from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm. This is very important as it allows much more precise cuts in a wide range of materials from wood to laminate and even soft metals like aluminum. The electronics also ensure that the motor holds a constant blade speed even under load which results in much smoother cuts.
Another reason that the Festool TS 55 REQ is at the top of my list of track saws is the quality and number of accessories that are offered for this saw. When you buy a Festool track saw you’re buying a tool that’s parter of a larger system. They offer different tracks, a miter gauge, various clamps, parallel guide extension kit, and even a multi-function table that takes the track saw to the next level. You can check out more accessories here.
Final Thoughts – Top Rated
The Festool TS 55 REQ is nearly a perfect power tool in my opinion. It offers near perfectly straight line cuts in an very portable platform. It’s the perfect saw for remodelers and woodworkers looking to improve their overall quality with a tool that offers an endless amount of uses.
If I had one slight gripe it might be the depth of cut. Both DEWALT and Makita offer slightly deeper cut depths. However, the reality is, it’s not often than I cut materials thicker than 1-1/2″ and if you need a deeper cut they do sell the larger TS 75. Again this is a very small issue and not one important enough to change my mind about this tool.
Priced at $585 for the basic kit it sounds a bit pricey. However, it’s not much more than the DEWALT and it offers more features and more accessories. The quality and precision make it worth every dollar when the quality of your work depends on precise cutting.
I can easily say that the Festool TS 55 REQ is one of the best tools I’ve reviewed. The quality, precision, and versatility of this product makes it a must have for carpenters that expect the best. If you don’t own a track saw or you’re looking to take your skill to a new level, then I highly recommend this track saw.
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