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  Festool Kapex:
a new approach to miter saws
 
 
 

The first thing you'll notice about the new Kapex from Festool is that you can back your saw stand right up to a wall--or even a window! The dual, stationary rails extend over the front of the saw base. Unlike the Hitachi version, the Kapex rails do not slide to the back of the saw. Because the rails are stationary and set wide apart, I found the saw cut smoother and straighter than any 10 in. miter saw I've ever used, and much better than a 12 in. saw.

 

 

Though it looks heavy, with a honeycomb magnesium-alloy base, the Kapex weighs only 47 lbs., making it the lightest 10-in. sliding compound saw on the market.

The switch and safety trigger are also unusual. First, the handle is centered on the machine to keep feed pressure in line with the cut, which minimizes deflection or racking on the rails. Also, until the safety trigger is squeezed, the saw can not be lowered, or the guard retracted. The motor will not start unless the safety trigger is completely engaged and the safety switch is also depressed. I found the combination of switch and trigger, plus their position high on the handle, cumbersome compared to other saws with T-handles.

 

The bevel lock is at the top rear of the rails and easy to reach. Flip the lock lever up to release the guide-rail assembly. Like the Bosch miter saw, you can set the stop knob so the saw swings 45degrees to the left and stops vertically at 0 in the center. A second position on the stop knob allows the saw to swing 45 degrees in both directions. The last position allows the saw to swing 47 degrees, plus or minus.

 

  You can dial a bevel angle to within 1/2 degree on the Kapex because the radius of the bevel gauge is about 7 in. No other saw has such a large bevel gauge. Only the digital gauge on the Hitachi is more accurate.Gauge pointers are on both sides of the saw.
 
  Best of all, the right-hand rail is equipped with a gear-driven twist knob that allows precise bevel-angle control, without having to support the weight of the motor with your hand or shoulder. Bevel-angle adjustment is stepless, without troublesome detents--for the first time, real micro-fine adjustment is possible on a miter saw. This saw is exceptional when cutting material on the flat.
 
  A unique latch behind the motor locks the saw in the ideal position for cutting vertically (the 'chop' position). The green lever beneath my thumb lowers the latch. The green lever to the right releases the latch. On Festool tools, the color green denotes a functional part.
 
 
Locking the motor in the chop position makes it much easier to cut baseboard standing up, with a maximum height of 4 5/8 in. Like other miter saws today, the Kapex cuts tall material behind the arbor.

But there's very little wiggle room back there, so the saw must be locked in the chop position; installing an accessory wooden fence isn't possible. When mitering 45 degrees to the right, the space between the miter fence and the motor housing is approximately 7/8; thicker 1- in. baseboard will not fit.

 

Dust collection is also better on the Kapex than any other miter saw I've used. The two-piece collection port works best when cutting on-the-flat. When cutting material vertically, like baseboard, the lower rubber dust scoop hangs up on baseboard taller than 3 1/2 in. But a convenient spring clamp makes it easy to remove the rubber scoop.

 

 

This saw also does a great job of cutting dados--with excellent depth-of-cut control. Like most saws, the work piece must be positioned and supported by an accessory fence or blocking, beneath the center of the blade. Pulling the green lever forward (above right) locks the depth of cut; twisting the knob on top of the lever reliably adjusts the depth of cut.

 

The Kapex is also equipped with an accurate dual-line adjustable laser that casts extremely thin lines. I found that when cutting tall baseboard (over 3 1/2 in.), the laser wasn't able to cast a line on both sides of the blade at the measurement mark on top of the material, something related to the forward position of the saw motor and a minor inconvenience. On shorter material, especially crown molding, the lines are perfect.

 

For cutting on-the-flat, these laser lines are better than all the other lasers I've 'tried' and abandoned. In fact, the lines are so crisp that they don't interfere with my sharp 2 1/2- lead pencil lines. And, for precise cuts, the laser is so reliable that I found myself making only one false cut.

 

Though both lasers are adjustable, mine were almost spot on right out of the box. I was able to cut self-return caps, and even a four-sided pendent, with perfectly parallel opposing miters, something I've never been able to do on any other saw. Because of the stationary forward rails, and the wide spread of the rails, the saw has no deflection when cutting bevels on the flat; even compound miters are easy to cut smooth and straight, without applying pressure to counter the blade's torque.

 

  Adjusting the laser lines is a snap. Both the right and the left laser can be adjusted individually, so that the lines are right on the tips of your blade teeth, and both can be adjusted so the 'toe' of each line is perfectly parallel to the cut.
     
 

 

 

Another great innovation on this saw is the design of the base. Both ends of the Kapex are die cast with a V-Shape
 
  Festool offers short crown-stop extensions that clamp to the sides of the base and are perfectly flush. My first thought was: "Couldn't Sawhelper make a coupler like that?"
 

Personally, I prefer to cut crown using a continuous sacrificial stop. I find that long pieces tend to move around a bit if the material is secured with individual short stops. But these stops are super handy and they're easy to set up. I'll probably use them for small jobs. Beneath the left-hand crown stop, notice the angle finder slid into it's nest in the saw base.

 

 

The Festool angle finder is another handy tool. You won't need a protractor for bisecting a miter again.

Extend the two metal arms out beyond the pivot point, and read the angle of a corner. Then slide the metal arms back into their stored positions.

  With the metal arms slid back into position, place the angle finder on the bed of the saw and adjust the saw's miter angle until one of the laser lines falls on the center line.
 
Festool still doesn't have a firm availability date or price for this saw, but like most Festool tools, expect it will be available a few months later than expected, and probably double the price of any other slide saw. I've been told the saw should be available by early/mid-summer.
 
 
 
     
     
   
     
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