Professional Builder’s Lee Jones investigates the latest developments in power tools from Festool.
Even a cursory examination of Festool’s Spring product launches will demonstrate that this is a company that is not only committed to research and development but is also listening to its customers. The German manufacturer’s avowed aim is to deliver not just tools but solutions, and its new additions are a reflection of that endeavour.
The Festool Plunge Cut Saw is already a renowned machine in the marketplace, and the latest incarnation is equipped with some significant improvements. The TSC 55 K now benefits from electronic KickbackStop, for instance, which prevents the tool from jumping back at the user when it enters the material, which can cause damage to the machine, guide rail or workpiece, not to mention the potential for serious injury to the end user. It works via a sensor that detects when the saw makes any unwelcome upward movements, stopping the blade in the blink of an eye.
When it comes to performance, thanks to the latest generation of brushless EC-TEC motor technology, and the dual battery system (2 x 18 V), Festool can boast no discernible difference from the new TSC 55 K in comparison to a mains-powered tool, with the additional advantage of the extended battery run times that advanced lithium-ion technology now affords. Add to that a new generation of saw blades, together with concentrated torque, and you have unit that is worthy of following in the Festool Plunge Cut Saw tradition.
The Quadrive TPC 18 percussion drill continues the theme of enhanced safety with its own kickback technology. If the tool suddenly threatens to bind in the material – turning quickly and damaging its holder’s wrist – a sensor intervenes and stops it immediately. Along with the new Quadrive TDC 18, these tools feature four speeds, and an improved gear shift, which allows users to switch from any gear straight to any other without intermediate stages.
As with the Plunge Cut Saw, the new-generation brushless EC-TEC motor is itself Festool-built, with more torque and speed under load, whilst microprocessors monitor and control the temperature, voltage and current consumption of the motor, electronics and battery. Whether it’s screwdriving with up to 75 Nm torque in first gear or precise drilling at 3,600 rpm in fourth gear, the new TPC has all the necessary power and precision. That will be especially appreciated when inserting large screws in second gear, where a whole 40 per cent more torque compared to the previous PDC and DRC models is just a trigger’s press away.
For applications with high power needs, the 4.0 Ah Li-HighPower Compact battery pack provides a powerful, compact and lightweight solution. The 5.2 Ah battery pack is the right choice for even more power and a longer operating period for particularly difficult drilling and screwdriving applications. Multi-tasking has been made easy with the range of attachments available for both tools, all of which can be quickly added and removed without tools thanks to the FastFix system, with new additions including an angle attachment (AN-UNI).
In a further industry first, the Quadrive range has been rendered more compatible with left-handed users. If yours is a Bluetooth enabled battery pack, and you have downloaded the free-of-charge Work App (iOS and Android) on your smartphone, the App can then be used to reverse the right-hand/left-hand selector switch so that the switch now protrudes on the right-hand side in clockwise rotation, and therefore no longer presses into a left-handed user’s hand.
Sales of cordless tools are in rude health and is an indication that the market is fully embracing the advantages of mobility. Festool is facilitating that trend with a whole range of new battery and charging advances. Similarly, in the realm of safety, the manufacturer supplies accessories for dust free working with all of its cordless tools, including Bluetooth technology that pairs the tool to the vacuum, thereby auto-starting the latter.
The guiding principle is for cordless customers to experience the same level of power and comfort as for corded solutions, with reduced charging times, extended run times and longer battery life – and that’s why the company is offering a three-year warranty on all its battery packs. In order to increase the power density its lithium-ion technologies innovative cooling and charging concepts are becoming more and more important, prolonging the life of the battery in the process.
That’s not to say that Festool is not investing in new products for its corded customers, with the SYS-PowerStation a case in point. There’s no more searching for a place to plug in, running long cables, or connecting to polluting generators, because the familiar Systainer storage unit has been transformed into a handy 16kg portable power source. From a standard 230V socket, builders can access 1,500 watt-hours – the equivalent to the energy supplied by 20 battery packs. That’s a full 3,680 watts of continuous power output, and a top power output of up to 11,000 watts.
What can I do with 1,500 watt hours is probably the question you’re asking? Well, with a Kapex KS 60 sliding compound mitre saw and mobile dust extractor, you can complete 560 cross-cuts – enough for a parquet floor. With the mains operated Planex long-reach sander and connected mobile dust extractor you could sand a prodigious 200 square-metre surface, whilst it will keep a SYSLITE Duo light illuminated for up to 16 hours.
In its construction the SYS-PowerStation features all of the benefits of Festool’s existing storage system, in that it can be mounted on the manufacturer’s vacuum units, stacked on top of other Systainers and fits neatly into the Bott vehicle racking range. It takes just 3.5 hours to fully charge the battery and there’s a USB-C port for quickly charging other portable devices, such as tablets or smartphones.
For further information on any of the latest Festool power tool additions go to:
TSC 55 K Plunge Cut Saw https://www.festool.co.uk/products/sawing/circular-saws/576716—tsc55kebi-plusxl-sca-gb
Quadrive TPC 18V percussion drill https://www.festool.co.uk/products/drilling-and-screwdriving/cordless-percussion-drills/575604—tpc-184-i-basic
Quadrive TDC 18 https://www.festool.co.uk/products/drilling-and-screwdriving/cordless-drills/575601—tdc-184-i-basic