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Thread: Dewalt DWS520SK vs Festool TS55EQ - long with pictures

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bloomington, IL

    Dewalt DWS520SK vs Festool TS55EQ - long with pictures

    Well here we go. This will out line some differences in the two saws for everyone. I borrowed a buddies TS55 and we compared them head to head.

    Physically they are very close in size and weight. The Dewalt is slightly taller and wider by about one inch. The Festool Systainer is much nicer than the Dewalt box but both are adequate to hold the saws and the clamps. The Dewalt power cord is about 12' long and the Festool power cord is about 10' long. The Festool has a removable plug like all their tools and the Dewalt's cord is attached. The Dewalt guard allows the saw's blade to run parallel to the floor. This is not as possible with the Festool saw. There is the same amount of metal and plastic on each saw. Fit and finish I will give to the Festool but the Dewalt looks more rugged.

    The Dewalt saw can use the Festool track with no problem. Festool saw cannot use the Dewalt track. Has to due with the guide tracks - three on the Dewalt and one on the Festool. the Dewalt saw can also use both sides of its track and only one side can be used on the Festool.

    The Dewalt clamps fit the Festool track and the Festool clamps fit the Dewalt track. The Dewalt clamps are an optional accessory.

    Both saw blades use a 20mm arbor. Blade changing is barely faster on the Festool and the controls to do it are simpler on the Festool but to get to the arbor screw both saw had tooless motions. The Festool button motion locks the blade and the Dewalt requires holding in a spring loaded lock while loosening or tightening the bolt. Both saws took about the same amount of time to change a blade and both use a keyed arbor washer and Hex Head bolt to attach the blade. Both saws have hex key storage in the handles.

    The Dewalt blade is just a few fractions/mm larger diameter wise than the Festool Blade. These fractions on the Dewalt blade conflicts with the mechanism of the riving knife on the Festool TS55 saw. So out of the box, with no saw mods, the Dewalt blades are NOT compatible with the Festool Saw.

    We found that with a very small grind (with a Dremel or whatever) the problem could be alleviated with the TS55. My buddy said if the price of the Dewalt blades is significantly lower that he would consider grinding the post - but otherwise he will stick with Festool blades.

    The Festool blade mounted just fine on the Dewalt saw.

    The Dewalt saw guided smoother on its track with all of the play removed than my buddies saw Festool saw guided on his track with all the play removed. In fact I believe my friend has been using it with some play. I think my friend just needs time to adjust his saw perfectly. The Festool saw however is easier to adjust for play and on the Dewalt that option requires a hex key wrench.

    Also the Festool saw does not have an anti reverse option. On the Dewalt saw, when anti reverse is turned on, the saw will not slide backwards on the track.

    Both saws use a 1 3/8" internal diameter dust collection port. The Fein adapters on my Porter Cable hose worked (hooked to shopvac) on both saws and the collection hose of my friends CT22 Festool vac worked on both saws.

    Startup sounds the same on both saws and you instantly realize the soft start on both models. Both saw running are about the same loudness. The lock you press to engage the plunge was smoother on the Festool. It is more of a positive click lock on the Dewalt.

    The plunge action of the Dewalt is more of a plunge action than the rocking motion of the Festool. There are two pivot points on the Dewalt saw vs. the one on the Festool. The motor assembly of the Dewalt moves more into the plunge action because of the dual pivot points than does the Festool. The Festool rocking action was smoother however than the plunge of the Dewalt. Both were easy to plunge and can be done with one hand although the manual recommends two. The Dewalt had no resistance during its plunge but resistance was felt by us both in the rocking action of the Festool and by the geometry of the round blade entering at an arc in the pivot of the Festool.

    The Dewalt saw has LESS VIBRATION than the Festool. I was shocked at that one. It is close, but that was a plus to Dewalt. Both have variable speeds and both were at max. Now the Dewalt saw spins at 1750-4000 min and the Festool spins at 2000-5200 min. That may have been the vibration difference.

    Also the cut was better with the Dewalt blade on the Dewalt Saw vs. the Festool without the splinter guard, the Dewalt does NOT have a waste side splinter guard. Now my buddies blade/guard was not new so that is a factor however the blade was clean (we cleaned the blade prior to the review). With the splinter guard on both saws cut perfect. Also note, when I say better it is only marginal - these saws both cut to a high level of quality. I can see why they say table saw cut quality.

    Cutting was done with 1/2" birch plywood and all the cuts were great (as long as Festool had the splinter guard on). We did not use the clamps much but did place anti-slip mat under the work piece.

    Another plus to the Dewalt was the setting of the blade depth. It takes into account the track. I tried to show this in the pictures below when both saws were set to zero. If you set the Dewalt to 5/8" it is 5/8" below the track on the Dewalt. That is not the case with the Festool as 20mm is 20mm thickness including the track. The Festool does have a nicer mechanism to set the depth (push in and move) vs. the screw down system on the Dewalt. Both have a nice positive lock when the plunge is returned to full upright position.

    Dewalt Pros
    1. Longer Power cord
    2. Guard can run against Floor for door trimming
    3. Dewalt can use Festool track
    4. Can use both sides of the Dewalt track (for out and back cuts or with zero clearance set for two different blades)
    5. Dewalt can use Festool Blades
    6. Dewalt can use Festool clamps
    7. Has selectable anti-reverse option
    8. Slightly slower speed setting range
    9. Dual Pivot plunge action and plunge action had no resistance
    10. Less vibration than Festool saw at max speed full power (Festool is faster though)
    11. Better no splinter guard (no option for one is bad though) cut
    12. Better blade depth measurement system that includes the track already in the measurement

    Festool Pros
    Slightly smaller footprint
    Nicer carrying case
    Nicer fit and finish (I like the Festool look though!)
    Detachable cord
    Faster Blade Change
    Arbor lock built into blade change button system
    Smoother plunge button and pivot was smooth
    Higher max blade spin rate
    Splinter Guard option
    Nicer Depth stop mechanism

    Pluses for both
    Clamps and I am assuming other track accessories will work on either brand of track
    With a slight Festool mod both saws will use each others blades

    I did not review company or customer service qualities - just the two tools in my shop. Also I still need to compare warranties of the two tools.

    Hoped you like the write-up.
    Mike Heidrick
    Last edited by Mike Heidrick; 10-12-2008 at 03:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Carlyle IL

    I think you did an excellent analysis/review of both saws.

    It looks like a pick and choose your system. DeWalt has a bit of catching up.

    For me, I am now in the Festool tool accumulation mode. looks like I will go that way.

    Did I miss it or did you do a test on the DeWalt's compatibility with the Festool vacs?

    great review!


    p.s. I found the answer in your text.
    Last edited by Joe Mioux; 10-12-2008 at 08:07 AM. Reason: found the answer

  3. #3
    Very nice review mate. The one thing that annoyed me with the festool that I had was even though I'm well used to metric, I was always having to add the +- of the flipping rail which could be hit or miss if the wood wasn't totally flat. I like the fact the the dw takes the rail into account.

    I could be tempted to buy the dw as I sold my ts55 but dw's reputation has me worried.
    daiku woodworking

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Great review, Mike. Thanks for posting it.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Odessa, Tx
    Quote Originally Posted by patrick anderson View Post

    I could be tempted to buy the dw as I sold my ts55 but dw's reputation has me worried.
    Patrick, fill me in on DW's Reputation, (I guess I've been hiding in the cellar, and have missed any bad reports). In my shop there is a DW Compound Mitre Saw, DW Biscuit Joiner, DW625 Plunge Router, DW ROS, and a 14.4V XRP Drill Driver, and they have performed flawlessly for several years, so I'm naturally curious as to whether the newer products are not as good, or what.

    note: I have seen reports that the new model Sliders did not perform as accurately as the old models did, but I have NO personal experience with those new models.

    FOR Mike: This comparison is an EXCELLENT EXAMPLE of how "I" think tool tests and comparison reports should be accomplished. If you get some of the optional accessories at a later date PLEASE Feel Free to do a write up on them too. Well Done.
    Last edited by Norman Hitt; 10-12-2008 at 04:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bloomington, IL
    One more pic to show where the saw is made and the UL pic.

    I have had zero problems with my Dewalt products. Also if enough interest comes out - after the comp - I will do a write up on the Dewalt 717 10" slider that was sent.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Great write up Mike, very fair and balanced

    I know some guys who swear by DeWalt, others would not touch the yellow stuff with a 10' cattle prod

    I wish DeWalt the best, and I hope this just ups everyone's game, so we get better tools at a better price.

    BTW, Ryobi has made a saw that has some similarities to the DeWalt saw for some time..........

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Ryobi KW-300D
    It is specifically designed to cut out old floors, but it has the same dual pivot plunge cut.
    I'm curious to see if they get into the track saw market, it would not be much of a leap from this saw to one on a track

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    As I said over on the Festool Owner's Group forum, thanks for conducting and documenting this comparison Mike. Your comparison method is very fair and believable.
    Cheers, Frank

  9. #9
    As Stuart said its love em or loathe them. Lots of moaning on the contractors forums about DW quality. I'm sure some of their stuff is good but I've never bought anything yellow.
    daiku woodworking

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bloomington, IL
    Tyler tool has some prices up on the Dewalt Tracksaw and the accessories. Still not in stock but probably a good idea of the prices we will see. Thanks to a FOG member for this heads up.

    Tyler Tool Dewalt Tracksaw link

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