Let me get straight to the point. If you’re a man, you owe it to yourself to build things. Look around and take inventory of the things in your life. Chances are, most of it was built by other people. I realized it about five years ago when having dinner with a nieghbor, who also happened to be a heart surgeon. He took me on a tour of his home, which was phenomenally gorgeous. The millwork was intricate, ornate, and unlike anything I’d seen. The detail was just stunning. When I asked him who had done it, he told me he did.
The obvious question was “aren’t you a surgeon? Isn’t that a little risky working with tools that could potentially end your career?” He told me he never worried about it – that it kept him sharp. He then took me to his garage and workshop where he showed me his tool collection. I’d never used anything other than a few basic power tools, so needless to say most of it was new to me. A few demonstrations later, and I was hooked. The entire concept of woodworking – taking raw materials and converting them into something beautiful and precise – struck a cord with me. Over the next year, my neighbor taught me the intricacies of woodworking – showing me the tools and techniques needed to complete various projects – and helping me build a solid base on which I could expand my woodworking skills.
Five years later, and I’m still in love with woodworking. As a hobby, there’s nothing better than being able to craft something entirely yourself, and take pride in the work and effort that you put into it. And from a quality standpoint, I thoroughly believe that I can rival the work of those that do it professionally, and in most cases beat it. I’m not saying it to brag; I’m saying it to point out the fact that with patience and the right set of tools, you too can craft incredible things.
So in your quest for tools, where do you start? In a word: Festool. Festool is a German brand that crafts tools unlike anyone else. They offer a range of tools for virtually any task you need to complete, and they do it by blending cutting edge technology with impeccable German build quality. Their tools are perfectly built, incredibly precise, and their dust collection is the best in the world. Simply put, you can’t buy better tools than those offered by Festool.
I own numerous Festool products, but the two I’m going to talk about today are the perfect introduction for those of you that are either new or already enjoy woodworking: the Festool Kapex Miter Saw and Cleantex Dust Extractor. The two work together to offer an incredible amount of wood cutting functionality in the most dust-free environment possible. They’re key tools in anyone’s woodworking arsenal, which makes them the perfect introduction to the Festool brand.
Festool Kapex Miter Saw
No matter what you’re working on, whether it’s a making a picture frame, installing moldings, or building a cabinet or furniture, a miter saw is a staple in a woodworking shop, and the Festool Kapex Miter Saw offers more functionality than any other miter saw on the market. Its sliding compound design offers a 50 and 60 degree miter range (left + right) and a 47 degree bevel range (left + right). But it isn’t the range of the Festool Kapex that’s special; it’s the ease by which you can make and fine tune the cuts.
For straight cuts, a latch behind the motor locks the Kapex in fixed position, allowing simple and repetitive chop cuts up to 4 3/4-inch high. To make a miter cut, a precise and easy to read miter gauge makes it simple to select the correct angle, more so than any miter saw I’ve used. Whereas other miter gauges make it difficult to fine tune the angle, the markings on the Kapex are precise enough to let you pick an angle down to a single degree.
And for bevel cuts, the precision continues. There’s a bevel lock and adjustment on the back of the saw that lets you choose from several bevel options (45 degree left / 0 right, 45 degree both ways and 47 degrees both ways). Once you’ve picked an option, you can tilt the saw to the correct angle, and even better, you can then fine tune the angle down to a half degree with a twist knob handle on the front of the saw. It’s a completely stepless adjustment that offers incredible precision, and makes fine-tuning the Kapex bevel cuts both intuitive and simple. Add in dual laser lines that show you exactly where the cut is going to be made, and you’ve got the ultimate precision wood-cutting weapon.
I’ve owned and used several other miter saws, and nothing has come close to the ease-of-use and accuracy of the Festool. I only wish I had used the Festool first, as it would have saved me from many of the problems caused by using inferior tools.
Another area the Festool Kapex excels at is in the area of dust collection. Woodworking is inherently dusty, but all Festool tools including the Kapex are designed with dust collection in mind. When used with the Cleantex (which I’ll discuss shortly) and a dust hood, the Kapex can capture up to 91 percent of the sawdust generated. For anyone working indoors, it’s a lifesaver.
So what does all this mean in real world use? Simply put, it means the Kapex is the perfect miter saw, no matter what your skill level. When I started woodworking, I started with a relatively inexpensive 10-inch miter saw, then switched to two different 12-inch sliding compound miter saws. Each had a different set of advantages. My first saw was easy to carry, but lacked power and functionality. The 12-inch saws had a larger cut capacity, but also suffered from inaccuracy and blade deflection (not to mention, they weighed as much as a small car). With the Festool, you’re getting the best of everything. The real world cut quality is brilliant, to the point I don’t think you can get any better. Because it notes a 10-inch blade design and magnesium alloy base, the Kapex is lightweight enough to be easily carried, but its intelligent design gives it a larger cut capacity than when compared to other 10-inch miter saws. And as already noted, the precision by which you can adjust the Kapex is unlike any other saw available, eliminating any worry that saw is to blame for any inaccuracies in your work. With my other saws, it was common to have to re-cut pieces due to the saws’ inaccuracy; with the Kapex, any problems can be directly attributed to me. I’ve learned that tools should be accurate enough to do exactly what I want them to do, down to even the most minute details. And with the Kapex, that’s exactly what you get.
Whether you’re a new or finely aged woodworker, once you’ve tried and grown comfortable with the Festool Kapex Miter Saw, you’ll never switch to anything else.
Festool Cleantex Dust Extractor
The Festool Cleantex Dust Extractor is the perfect companion to the Kapex Miter Saw (and any other Festool tools), as the entire Festool tool lineup is built with dust collection in mind. The Cleantex family is available in numerous sizes (I opted for the Cleantex 26, which notes a 6.9 gallon capacity), but there are five size options in total ranging from 2.6 to 12.7 gallons. As already noted, when used with the Kapex Miter Saw and dust hood, the Cleantex captures up to 91 percent of sawdust.
In all honesty, however, the Cleantex is one of those things you buy and don’t have to think about, as it works so well. Once you’ve plugged in the Cleantex, you then plug your Kapex into the Cleantex and attach the dust collection hose. Set the Cleantex to auto, and dust collection is automatic from the second your Kapex miter saw is turned on to a few seconds after it shuts off. The self-cleaning bag and Hepa filter ensure an ample amount of suction, and the variable suction ensures efficiency no matter which Festool tools you’re using.
If you’re using the Cleantex in a work environment, the top of the Cleantex can also hold Festool Systainers (the company’s tool storage containers) as well as keep the cord and dust collection hose neatly managed, creating a cleaner, less cluttered workspace. Finally, if you use the Cleantex in a wet environment, the CT will shut off automatically when full thanks to Level Stop technology. I personally haven’t tried it for water clean up, but for dust collection with the Kapex, it’s worked wonderfully.
My advice: if you’re purchasing any Festool products, add a Cleantex to the order. You’ll get a deal when you bundle the tool, and more importantly, you’ll get a cleaner, healthier work environment.