We recently wrote an article on track saws vs. table saws to help you decide which is right for you. I'm a sculptor and my studio space should actually be my living room. Obviously, space is very limited. I have a table saw but try not to use it because it gets dusty everywhere and I can't easily manipulate the material without taking the saw outside. Enter the Festool TSC 55 KEB Track Saw. This tool replaces the TSC 55 REB for the same price, but has an optimized thin-kerf blade and kickback stop. This seemed like the perfect solution for my needs – I didn't have to figure out how to slip it into my front door!
TSC 55 KEB track saw in my living room
I immediately made some adjustments to my layout to accommodate the new Festool TSC 55 KEB track saw. I have a 2' x 7' workbench in the center of my garage sized studio. After cutting 2'x4's for the top and then covering with 1″ rigid foam, I'm ready to start cutting full 4×8 plywood in my workshop. I'll never be able to do this on a table saw.
K is for Kickback Stop Technology
The TSC 55 KEB does something we don't like but love. First, they dropped the integrated riving knife. This means you can grip the blade more easily. It also means that blade cut is not as important as it used to be when it comes to your choice of blade (although it certainly affects performance). We love the cleaver and it's puzzling to see it gone.
However, instead of a riving knife, Festool has added an innovative Kickback stop technology. By design, it reduces the chance of kickback by using a spring-loaded piece of metal that looks like a cleaver, but isn't, because it's not in the cut. Instead, it follows on the workpiece. The kickback stop senses the moment the blade or saw lifts off the material.
I tested this a few times by causing kickbacks on purpose – please don't try this at home! The saw jumped up and down about 1/4" to 1/2" and the blade stopped completely – almost instantly. Once the kickback event is triggered, the chainsaw resets immediately so it can resume working as if nothing had happened. This is a very impressive and welcome safety feature.
Kickback stops also work without damaging the blade — and usually not the material you're working with.
amazing dust collection
According to Festool, the Festool TSC 55 KEB Track Saw Dust Bag collects 90% of dust. With the Festool dust collector, the saw can be cleaned up to 98%. A small duster remains attached to the saw for most of my cuts. I pulled out the dust bag when my hose was too short to make a diagonal cut on the 4×8 plywood. I can honestly say that after the first dozen or so cuts, I put the TSC 55 track saw back in its case with more dust than I did in the entire time I used it!
Reviewers' Note on Dust Bags: Dust bags are not without their flaws. It comes with a lid to keep dust out when you're not using it. It also attaches to the bag so you won't lose it. This is all good except that my cover got stuck between the workpiece and the saw (see picture) so it prevented the saw from moving forward. However, you can flip the hanging cover over. This leaves the cap unaffected. Festool simply adds a clip to the bag to hold the lid in place.
One of the only real complaints people had with the older Festool TSC 55 REB track saw was the lack of power. After watching many hours of official Festool training videos with Brian "Sedge" Sedgeley, I can say that Festool will tell you what you are doing wrong. The problem comes from most people trying to use the blade on the saw. This blade is for cutting 3/4" plywood, MDF or OSB. To cut thicker stock, you should use a blade with fewer teeth, such as Festool's 12-tooth tearing blade.
Having said that, Festool has upped the power of the TSC 55 KEB track saw and designed a new range of thin-toothed saw blades specifically for this tool. I use plywood blades on MDF and MDO, and even cut nine 2×4's at a time. This saw cut as fast as I could push it through. It also has super clean, chip-free edges. The edges didn't burn either.
TSC 55 KEB Controller
Most of the TSC 55's controls are easy to use and well laid out. My saw has imperial sizes on the depth gauge. Festool tools also include a metric scale, which can be applied later if the user wishes.
The only issue I had with the controls involved the cams that lock the saw to the track. The former works fine, but the saw body blocks the latter. In the official Festool training video for other track saws, Sedge tilts the saw to 45 degrees to lock it on the track, then returns it to 90 degrees. I found it easier to simply remove the battery underneath. Apparently this is still a long standing problem with Festool track saws!
The tracks on the Festool TSC 55 KEB track saw are well made and run very smoothly. I want the saw to lock when tilted at a 45 degree angle. Instead, you have to hold it in place with one hand while controlling the saw with the other. You can lock the track together with two rail connectors (or on Amazon). I bought a second 55" track that would allow me to cut 4×8 sheets of plywood diagonally.
I also bought a Festool bag to protect my tracks but was disappointed with this one as it was only padded on one side of the bag. There are better bags available for half the price.
Build Quality and Ergonomics
Like most Festool tools, this saw is well made. It doesn't feel refined (I still don't want to drop it off the roof!) If you love your tools, the TS 55 KEB track saw should last a lifetime. It lacks the solid feel of some industrial tools. Instead, the tool has a refined feel that would be appropriate for a cabinet shop. It also means it's easier to remove sawdust than rubbery overmolding tools. It has great ergonomics and is comfortable for all-day use. I didn't feel any strain on my wrist no matter what angle I held it at.
In my opinion, the Festool TSC 55 KEB track saw is one of the premier track saws on the market today, aimed directly at users of Mafell track saws. With 36V and a redesigned line of blades, it has enough power to get through any job quickly. Festool has always been a leader in dust removal and this new track saw is no exception. Whether this is your first track saw, you're looking to upgrade your current model or want to switch to a cordless model, the Festool TSC 55 KEB Track Saw is sure to serve you well and stand up to the rigors of daily heavy use. Cabinet and furniture makers should take this saw seriously.
You can choose the Festool TS 55 KEB in the following configurations:
- TSC 55 KEB Basic (no battery, charger or rails): $499
- Festool TSC 55 KEB Plus (with 2 batteries and charger, no rails): $699
- TSC 55 KEB PLUS FS (2 batteries, charger, rails): $799
- Model: Festool TSC 55 KEB Track Saw
- Battery Voltage: 18 or 18 X 2 Volts
- Cutting angle: -1 to 47 degrees
- Maximum depth of cut (0/45 degrees): 2-1/8″ (55mm) / 1-11/16″ (43mm)
- Saw Blade: 6-1/4 x 1/16 inches (160 x 1.8 mm)
- Speed (no load) 1 battery: 2650 – 3800 minutes
- Speed (no load) 2 batteries: 2650 – 5200 minutes
- Weight with 2 batteries: 12 lbs (5.3 kg)
- Warranty: 3 years