TIM Uhler

I am a framer, concrete former, and sider by trade, but since I was a little kid watching the New Yankee Workshop, I’ve always dreamed of being a finish carpenter. For whatever reason, finish carpentry didn’t become my vocation. Maybe it’s out of nostalgia for my childhood, but for the last few years, I’ve read a lot of reviews and forum posts about Festool products that were geared towards finish work. Most of the technical info goes over my head because working outside and to rougher tolerances, I don’t need these products.

A few months back I was asked to review the new (to the U.S.) Festool HKC cordless circular saw and cross-cut guide. I said yes, not really understanding what this saw was or how a Festool product might find a place on a framing site.

Is It Worth Buying?

As a rough framer, I initially thought: I really don’t need this saw. However, after using this saw and the rail it came with and a 118-inch FS track, it occurred to me that I will never need my table saw and stand nor my DeWalt 12-inch sliding compound miter saw and stand on site again. I also tend to rip faster using this saw and guide because I’m not watching the line.

We have a Rosseau table set up with outfeed tables for our Bosch table saw and a 12-inch DeWalt sliding compound miter saw with the Saw Helper stand (no longer available). Now, they stay tucked away in our shop. These tools and stands total up to between $1,500 and $2,000. I could get the HKC 55 Cordless kit plus the 420 FSK guide rail (16 ½ inches) for $690 plus the FS 118-inch guide rail for $355 and still save money.

When I do the math, add the convenience of taking my saw to the material instead of the material to the saw, and consider the fact that I get shop-quality cuts on a rough jobsite, then I absolutely recommend this tool. Another advantage is that everything but the track fits in the Systainer box and is easy to roll out and put away, and it doesn’t clutter the van. I would suggest that you invest in one or two more batteries, though, or consider the corded version. Even with a good blade, cutting through 2x6 up to 2x12 wears out the batteries faster than they recharge.

This is a tool I think we’ll continue to find uses for in the coming months. I know we’ll have it out most days we are siding and installing exterior trim.

If you’re a carpenter or a remodeling contractor and you've been waiting to take the plunge into Festool, I think this is the place to start.

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