DeWalt's new cordless track saw option
Nate Sitz of Park Rapids Hardwood Flooring in Park Rapids, Minn., tried the new DeWalt cordless Flexvolt 60V Max 6 1/2-inch track saw (DCS520):
As soon as I took the saw and its track out of the box, I grabbed a piece of six-quarter hard maple in my shop and ripped it. The saw comes with a 42-tooth blade, which is way too high of a tooth count for ripping hard maple, particularly when it's that thick, but it went through the board like butter and didn't leave any burn marks.
The second time I used the saw I was doing a job in an old building that's now a coffee shop. I needed to remove a section of old fir flooring that ran under the walls after new walls were put up so I could replace it with matching old maple. I cut along the walls in sections of 19 feet, 3 feet and 16 feet, and I wasn't quite able to finish all of that cutting on one charge, so I wasn't terribly impressed with how long the battery lasted. I did cut through quite a few nails I wasn't able to see, and it cut right through them without bogging down. I also accidentally dinged the concrete between the sleepers at the end of that job and destroyed the blade, so the next time I used the saw I tried my Festool blade, which fit but is 5 mm smaller in diameter.
On my next job I used it to cut a 45 where the tile was going to butt up against the wood floor. The saw was accurate, but it took a little bit of time to set it up to cut perfectly plumb (it needed a minor adjustment to the 90-degree stop out of the box).
One thing I liked is that, unlike the track saw I usually use, which has a pivot point in the back, this one plunges in a forward direction, so the angle of your wrist doesn't change. If you're making a ton of repeat cuts, I think this would be easier on your wrist joint over time (I confirmed this with my sister, who is an occupational therapist). Another good feature is that this track has a center guide, so you can cut on both sides. I did notice that the track wasn't very stiff—when I cut that solid piece of maple and backed the saw up to start cutting, I had to hold the track down on the board so it didn't bend up in the middle.
This saw is part of DeWalt's 60-volt line, which also has a circular saw, miter saw and table saw. Something that's cool is that their 60-volt battery is a smart battery—you can plug it into a DeWalt 20-volt tool like a drill and it automatically converts. When it's 60-volt it's only a 2-amp-hour battery, but when it's 20-volt it's 6 amp hours.
Overall I was impressed with the power of this saw; it has about the same power as a corded tool. The issue for me is that if I'm using a track saw in a customer's home, I want to have a dust bag or a vac connected to it; there has to be a way to capture that dust. It kind of defeats the purpose of going cordless if you still have to have a vacuum hose attached. If you're using it outside for cutting plywood subfloor repairs or something like that, it wouldn't be as big of a deal.
Retail price: $579.00
See Sitz running the saw on that piece of maple he mentioned:
Festool's cordless hybrid orbital sander
David Merrill of Totallywood Flooring in Spring Grove, Ill., reviewed the new Festool 5-inch ETSC "hybrid" orbital sander:
When I got the sander I immediately put the battery and the bag on and started sanding a tread in my shop just to see what it's like … and it's great. It's lightweight but powerful, and not having the cord connected just makes it that much more maneuverable. The dust collection with the bag is decent—not as good as hooking it up to the vacuum, but you can easily take the bag off and hook it right up to the vac.
I find the quality of this sander is the same as the corded Festool versions I have—they are super high-quality with very low vibration and very little scratch pattern. I noticed that this sander is not as low-profile as the newest corded Festool sander, so I would say that's its only downfall compared with the corded versions.
This one could easily replace any of your random orbital sanders because while it does come with two batteries (which each last about a half hour) it also comes with another adapter you can plug in for AC voltage. I have a ton of cordless tools, and sometimes it can be frustrating running out of battery power—then you're dead in the water and you have to go get a corded version anyway. With this one, you can plug in the adapter and the cord that comes with it and keep going.
We used the sander after we had to replace a couple boards to sand them flat and abrade a taped-off area to do a finish repair. With this sander, we didn't have to bring in the edger and go through that whole setup process—we wouldn't have had to even plug anything in. The back of the battery pack has an indicator light showing how full or empty the battery is.
Like everything Festool, this tool comes with its own "Systainer" for storing the tool, and this sander's Systainer comes with a drawer on the bottom, which I haven't seen before and is a nice feature. Like all other Systainers, it can latch onto other Systainers or Festool vacuums, keeping things organized and not getting beat up in your work vehicle. The sandpaper that came with the demo unit is the company's Granat abrasive, which is fantastic—long-lasting and sharp-cutting.
Overall this is a great little tool in the arsenal; I like it a lot. Like everything Festool makes, it's top-notch.
Retail price: Basic $195 (no charger or adapter), Plus (no charger) $400, Set $535.00
Durable work pants from Walls
Patrick Dymora of Plus Hardwood Flooring in Glenview, Ill., reviewed the Walls 833 Original Outdoor Work Pant:
I've been wearing these pants on my job sites, and I think they are really good quality; they feel like regular jeans and are really flexible (they are made of 11-ounce "cotton duck" fabric). I like the color; I think it's nice to get work pants in a color like this because it doesn't show stains that much. I have been wondering why they have the squares on the knees; other pants of similar quality sometimes have cut-ins where you can slide knee pads in there. It looks like maybe on these the company just used more aggressive fabric here to help prevent tearing. Regardless I'm going to keep using these and would definitely order another set.
Retail price: $44.99
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