Woodworking Tools and Supplies Lie Nielsen Planes

Which Festool Track Saw Is Right For You?
by Steve Johnson, The Down To Earth Woodworker
and Jim Randolph, of Sticks-in-the-Mud Woodshop
Our Sticks In The Mud (SITM) tipster Jim Randolph and our Down To Earth Woodworker (DTEW) Steve Johnson recently got into a discussion over which is the best Festool Track Saw, the TS-55 or the TS-75. We're not sure who won the argument, but they both scored some pretty good shots. We just hope they're still friends after this!

Jim Randolph, Sticks in The Mud Tips (SITM): Steve, why did you get the TS-55 when the TS-75 is only $120 more? I'm supposed to be the cheapskate, not you.

Steve Johnson, Down to Earth Woodworker (DTEW): The TS-55 cuts 1-15/16" deep. That's almost 2 inches! I can't imagine cutting anything thicker with a track saw. Jim, why would you spend the extra money to get a little more capacity?

SITM: I like to be prepared. The TS-75 will cut material up to 2-3/4". That's not a "little more" capacity, it's 41.9% bigger!

DTEW: Did you do that in your head? Are you kidding? Look, I can cut 2 sheets of 3/4" plywood at the same time with room to spare.

SITM: And I can cut three sheets of 3/4" plywood at the same time, or a 10/4 timber, with lots of room to spare.

DTEW: So you're saying that the extra 3/4" is worth $120? That's like $14.18 per sixteenth of an inch. And what about the extra weight?

SITM: I think I heard you pecking away on your calculator...smart Alec! And actually it's 13/16", not 3/4", since we're talking about details. The TS-75 is only 13.4 pounds and the TS-55 is 9.92 pounds. That's almost 10 pounds. An extra 3.4 pounds is nothing for me. I hefted and cut with both models at a Festool Connect event, so I was already sure before I committed to the larger saw that the weight difference wasn't a problem. Besides, most of the time the track and workpiece are carrying the weight. And both saws glide on the track, don't they?

DTEW: Are you saying I'm weak? Maybe I don't get as much exercise as you do jumping out of your car all the time to grab buckets off the side of the road!

SITM: That's a cheap shot, Steve...at least I'm recycling. And I'll tell you something else, I run across big timbers all the time and the TS-75 can resaw those timbers down to usable size real quick.

DTEW: Alright, I'll give you that, but you could do that on the band saw, too.

SITM: But then I'd have to heave those big beams up onto the band saw. With the TS-75 I can cut those big beams on the ground.

DTEW: Okay, okay...I'll give you that. But what about the size of the thing?

SITM: My TS-75 measures 15" long X 7" wide X 10-7/8" high". How big is the TS-55?

DTEW: It measures 12" long by 8-1/4" wide at its widest point, and 9-1/2" high...so it's a little smaller. You sure about that width? I measured the '55 at its widest point...the motor...you're '75 has a motor, right?

SITM: If you include the motor, it's 8-3/4" wide.

DTEW: Do these come in the same size Systainer? The TS-55 is in a Systainer 4, I think...it's a little over 12" tall.

SITM: The TS-75 is in a Systainer 5. It's about 16-7/8" tall.

DTEW: So the bigger Systainer requires more storage space in your shop. I'm going to win that point. And I'm sure the blades cost more. The '75 uses an 8-1/4" blade. My TS-55 only needs a 6-1/4" blade. My replacement blades are $50 apiece.

SITM: Storage is no problem. I put it under the side table of the table saw. And, I won't forget where I put it, because the TS-75 is the only competition the table saw has. The blades for the TS-75 are $83.

DTEW: So if you don't use the extra cutting capacity all the time, aren't you paying more for replacement blades?

SITM: I don't think so. I think it's like running a 16" tire on a car, compared to a 14" tire. The little tire, or blade, wears out faster because it's taking more revolutions. But, I can't prove that. I'm guessing it's a wash in the long run.

DTEW: The TS-55 draws 1200 watts and your big TS-75 draws 1600 watts...what about your electricity bill?

SITM: You're kidding, right? Do you think I leave it running between cuts? I've got more power, too.

DTEW: Hey, you're taking shots at me about recycling, you're wasting electricity.

SITM: The extra power is fantastic.

[Editor: this may degenerate into "tastes great," "less filling."]

DTEW: My TS-55 has never bogged down, not even a little.

SITM: Did you know the '75 has a slip clutch that protects the blade and the motor if it ever binds? Your TS-55 doesn't have that.

DTEW: I had a '64 Ford and the clutch slipped all the time…

SITM: This is getting out of hand. Why don't you just admit you should have bought the TS-75?

DTEW: How often do you use the full cutting capacity of the TS-75?

SITM: I don't know.

DTEW: Yes you do...you know I'm about to make a point and you don't want to tell me.

SITM: Okay, I guess I use the full depth maybe 10% of the time...but when I need it, it's there.

DTEW: Fair enough...and if I ever needed to cut something that thick I'd be off to the band saw. But still, after working all day, the lighter weight of the TS-55 is nice for me.

SITM And for me, when I need the extra capacity, I'm glad to have it.

DTEW: I forgot to ask...did you get the new model with the Imperial depth-of-cut scale?

SITM: Yes. It is great!

DTEW: It would be nice to have, but mine doesn't have it...Guess I got my saw a little too soon.

SITM: It's easy to just set the saw on the track and adjust the blade height to what you need.

DTEW: Agreed. I probably wouldn't use the scale that much anyway. I guess we are going to have to call this argument a draw. Maybe we can just agree that we each got the saw that is best for us?

SITM Yeah, I guess so, but I still need to talk to you about the 2x2s, 3/4" plywood and hedge trimmers I found on the side of the road last week. I have plans for the mattress I picked up, too.

DTEW: Why do I think I'll be sleeping on that mattress when I visit?

Steve Johnson is retired (though you’d never know it by the volume of his woodworking and content output) from the business world. Steve writes and creates videos for Wood News Online as the Down-To-Earth-Woodworker. Jim Randolph is a veterinarian who works wood every chance he gets and writes and blogs for us from his coastal Mississippi shop, Sticks-In-The-Mud. Both are native Texans, and their friendship is a natural outcome of their shared affinities for all things Texas, woodworking, pets, family and the arts.
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