Author Topic: Tiny House build - circular saw advice for newbie - TS55 or HK55 or..  (Read 1206 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline carpenterchick

  • Posts: 14
Hi all

Got great advice on this forum a few years ago for a sander (:

Now I need to help my 11 year old build a tiny house.. and I'm thinking of getting a circular saw. Sort of veering towards the TS55 or HK55. Something fairly basic.


Requirements -

Need to cut 2 x 4, and sheets of plywood and siding... Have never built a tiny house.. so those of you who have let me know if I'm missing out some crucial saw related task!

Have a power outlet nearby, so cordless or not I don't care really. The only reason I'd go for cordless is if it's exactly as powerful as corded and costs about the same.

I'll be cutting in the garden, not on a workbench, though in a pinch I could cobble up a flat surface with some trestles and a flat bit of board for the plywood cutting...

I want the saw to be on the economical side. I built stuff max once or twice a year so can't justify something with bells and whistles. And I have little storage space..

Safety is very important as I'm a newbie, and I read the Dewalt circular saws have something that makes them safer than Festool, but that Festool has this safety thing as an additional extra. Can anyone comment on this?

Can someone compare a Dewalt and Festool with fences overall and give me a bit of advice on what they think I should get (hey I know I'm on a Festool forum..  ;)

Re rails -
I'm confused by all the rail options.... for the standard sheet of plywood.. (the only large thing will be cutting) what do I get? Can I get a shorter rail and cut from both sides..or is that stupid..

To save money i don't need a systainer if there is an option to buy the tool without. And I have the HEPA vacuum which I use with my sander.

Sorry for all the questions.. I did a ton od research.. but am not sure as a newbie what features I should actually be asking about.


And if anyone knows of any sales or repurposed tool website I'd like to know that too (:

Stay safe and thank you all for your advice - have learned a ton from this forum even though post very rarely!


Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline nvalinski

  • Posts: 124
For a project like this, depending on use, you may want to pass on Festool. You can get a very good corded circular saw for around $100. You can essentially replace a "track" with two clamps and a long rule as a straight edge. Combined with a speed square, you can cut up dimensional lumber fairly quickly as well (though a miter saw may be faster if you have the budget for that too).

If you want something better for plywood specifically, a track saw (Festool TS 55 or Makita would be my recommendations) then becomes maybe more valuable in that the straight edge is exactly on the line of the cut you want to make. A 55" rail would be the minimum I'd go.

The HK55 would be great for your type of application if you were doing it a lot, but exceptionally pricey. It does run on the longer rails that the TS does (ie: the 55" for cross cutting plywood), but also has the FSK rails that essentially act as a replacement for the normal circular saw + speed square guide. Ideally, I suppose you'd end up with a 55" FS rail and a shorter FSK rail to do both long plywood cuts and dimensional lumber cross cuts.

Essentially, you'll have to weigh if the $150 non-festool setup is acceptable vs. the HK setup for $750. Personally, for a project like this, I'd go for the cheaper option, particularly if it's not your day to day job.

Offline six-point socket II

  • Posts: 1295
  • formerly @the_black_tie_diyer
If you plan to make long, straight cut outs (think windows, door ...) a plunge/track saw will be significantly safer to use over a common circular saw.

If it has to be Festool for this project, is another question. What's the longterm outlook? More DIY? Might be an option then.

I'd probably cut the 2x4 to length with a hand saw, easier/safer than to "jig something up" for using the plunge/track saw if you're still new to the saw.

Using a plunge/track saw on the ground, think of some sacrificial board beneath the material you want to cut. Some will say a few 2x4 will do, for a beginner I'd recommend something that will support the full sheet you're going to be working on/ cutting. You can use a high dense insulation plate for example.

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

"... . Say yes to stuff, and it will take you interesting places." - Anne Richards, CEO Fidelity International

Offline carpenterchick

  • Posts: 14
Thank you Oliver and nvalinski - good points that make me also realize I made a mistake in the subject line.. Track saw not circular saw..

It definitely doesn't have to Festool as you say.. I was tempted by this one  $390 (I know it doesn't include the tracks.. which would add $160-210 because I'm also planning to make a table and a sofa out of white oak that have glued up..and with a table I care more about the precision of the cuts. I have used only hand tools (good Japanese saws) with the exception of the Festool sander..but newbie at power tools. (think Gibbs on NCIS!)

https://www.festoolproducts.com/power-tools/festool-track-saws/festool-201359-hkc-55-cordless-track-saw-basic.html

On the other hand..if you point me in the direction of a basic track saw (with track) that performs decently for much less moolah than Festool.. I might get that.

I can't tell the difference between the HK and TS series.. one poster said the HK needs to be used on a table not 'in the air' or 'foot holding 2 x 4 down'..

Thank you

Offline Sourwould

  • Posts: 110
For framing, I'd recommend a Makita 5007f. Great saw.

Offline six-point socket II

  • Posts: 1295
  • formerly @the_black_tie_diyer
The product you have linked is a cordless, bare tool. You would have to also buy batteries and a charger.

Kind regards,
Oliver

Kind regards,
Oliver

"... . Say yes to stuff, and it will take you interesting places." - Anne Richards, CEO Fidelity International

Offline FestitaMakool

  • Posts: 486
Hi,
For what you are describing, a HK is obvious.
In short the differences are:

HK acts as a circular saw, but can also be used on regular tracks as Festool’s plunge saws.
With the FSK rail, you have a handheld speed square or a miter saw built in.
HK saws can plunge, and differentiates from the plunge saws that it locks at the depth you set, so you need not to hold the saw pushed down, which are of importance for your kind of setting.
Handheld HK is the most sensible and safest, most convenient and easiest for typical construction work. But, it can do precise work to, very close to a TS saw.

TS saws main purpose is on a track, cutting sheet goods. It is a no no on freehand and cutting framing materials unless well supported stock underneath on a cutting table.

Both machines spin a blade. So the blade, material and the technique is what differs. Most would do equally well for finer work with a HK. So the HK is the go to for all round use.

Edit: Makita does also have a couple of circular saws that are track compatible, but they do not have the FSK rail advantage of cutting mitre cuts freehand. One of them is this:
https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/XSH10Z
« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 01:23 PM by FestitaMakool »
“The Stig” Yes, it is true, at least some part of it..
“If you have an old Land Rover and a fit wife, you’re most likely always busy”

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2086
Corded will always be cheaper than equivalent battery powered.

Festool HK55 would be ideal for what you are describing, but not most economical for occasional use.

Lately some manufacturers started to offer regular circular saws that can ride on Festool style tracks, for example https://www.homedepot.com/p/Evolution-Power-Tools-15-Amp-7-1-4-in-Circular-Track-Saw-Kit-with-40-in-Track-Electric-Brake-and-Multi-Material-Blade-R185CCSX/310242575 Not suggesting this one, but you get the idea. I think Dewalt has something similar.

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2086
Edit: Makita does also have a couple of circular saws that are track compatible, but they do not have the FSK rail advantage of cutting mitre cuts freehand. One of them is this:
https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/XSH10Z
That's too big!

Try this, also track compatible: https://www.amazon.com/Makita-XSH08Z-Lithium-Ion-Brushless-Compatible/dp/B07RD8BZJD/ref=psdc_552922_t1_B084H15NBL

Offline mrB

  • Posts: 712
For me the easy answer is the HK55. With one or two FS1400 rails and an FSK rail.

It is a safer and more versatile saw and the cut quality is 90-95% as good as the TS55. I wouldn’t go battery unless you really want as the power is way less (I have the battery HKC55)

As a professional carpenter and furniture maker I really appreciate my TS55, but if I was a hobbyist only, I’d happily march along with just an HK55.

Reasons the HK is a better saw:
- Free hand cutting without rails is possible
- Cross cutting FSK rails can be used
- Retractable blade guard adds safety
- With the HK55 locked at its set cutting depth the saw is safer in use than the non-locking plunge of the TS55.
- Great blade/cut visibility

Reasons the TS55 is a better saw
- less splintering along the cut line. (mostly noticeable on the waste side of the cut even without the extra green splinter guard in place)
- Better plunge action
- More accurate and quicker cut depth setting
- better dust collection (HK is only about 70-80% as good as TS)
- more stable/strong mitre adjustment (2 locking adjustment knobs vs 1 in the HK)

As others have said, a much cheaper circular saw, speed square and straight edge could do the same for much less. . . But we all know you don’t need festool. Right?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 02:13 PM by mrB »
there's nothing like the right tool for the job

Offline mrB

  • Posts: 712
Corded will always be cheaper than equivalent battery powered.

Festool HK55 would be ideal for what you are describing, but not most economical for occasional use.

Lately some manufacturers started to offer regular circular saws that can ride on Festool style tracks, for example https://www.homedepot.com/p/Evolution-Power-Tools-15-Amp-7-1-4-in-Circular-Track-Saw-Kit-with-40-in-Track-Electric-Brake-and-Multi-Material-Blade-R185CCSX/310242575 Not suggesting this one, but you get the idea. I think Dewalt has something similar.

A Metabo in the same vein (FS track compatible). . .

https://www.dtc-uk.com/metabo-circular-saw-circular-saw.html#tab-label-description

there's nothing like the right tool for the job

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 837
OP do you have ANY cordless tools already? If so what battery platform and what do you have for battery sizes? (Many happy home owners already own a cordless drill and impact.) Also good to put your country of location up so folks can better help you.

My thought would be two saws. A circular saw for building the tiny house and a tracksaw for building tables etc. You can make straight cuts with a circular saw and an edge guide if it is a one time deal, or even pay someone to make a cut or two. Paying someone will always be cheaper than a $400us+ saw.

A 6 1/2" cordless will make pretty much all the cuts necessary on a tiny house (Depending on design). This should be on the battery platform you already own, or pickup a corded version. Ebay has saws in new or as new condition for cheap, as does Craigslist. Harbor Freight in the USA has cheap saws that with a good blade will get the job done. Heck I'd give you a corded 7 1/4" saw for free if you were my neighbor, and if I actually had access to my spare saws. Few people use corded saws anymore, but a cord has the benefit of never having batteries go bad, and they are cheaper.

Some folding saw horses that you can clamp the 2x4's to will help get cutting straight safely with a speed square. A sacrificial top like 2x4 scraps on the saw horses means you can rip the plywood on them. A straight edge clamped on to the plywood gives you a way to make a perfectly straight cut. Of note most people doing rough construction just snap a line and guide their saw by hand. Perfection is not required most of the time.

I'd recommend watching some shed building videos which will give you a basic idea of the project you are wanting to undertake.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3046
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
The idea of cutting 2x4s free hand with a circular saw makes my skin crawl. I know professional carpenters do it, but not me.  I’d either use a jigsaw or a good hand saw and have the wood both supported and clamped. Circular saws can kick back really hard.

With furniture making in the future, I’d buy the Festool with the full length rail for breaking down plywood ands shorter rail for most work. It’s expensive, but you get precision and great dust collection.

I like cutting plywood of sheets of hard foam that I get at Home Depot. I use 6 foam sheets under a 4 by 8 Piece of plywood. I usually use another piece of foam to kneel on to save my knees.
Birdhunter

Offline carpenterchick

  • Posts: 14
Hi all

You guys are great! particular thanks to Peter C,  Mr B (really helpful comparison), Svar  , Festita Makool, Oliver and sourworld .

I really liked the suggestions for non Festool tools - am not brand loyal when loyalty doesn't make sense (;

Mr B, your comparison was very helpful in untangling the confusion I had in my head.

The fences are expensive.. but I dont' see how I can cut a sheet of plywood in straight line without one.

One thing that makes me veer toward Festool is resale value. Seems much higher than Dewalt and Makita and if we do move back to Europe in a few years I think someone would be happy to buy my lightly used saw and sander (;

I suffered as a kid from parents who'd always buy the cheapest thing which they ended up replacing again and again and ended up spending more than if they'd bought good quality the first time.. so that's my slightly pro Festool prejudice, although I acknowledge it's not fair to say Dewalt and Makita are worse quality, just different and am trying to be impartial and just get the tool I need.

Peter C. I'm from Europe but living in the USA so 110V for now!

Have cordless Ryobi drill, charger and a bunch of Dewalt batteries that fit the Ryobi too. Use it a lot. If you think corded track saw is not worth the hassle and I should go cordless then tell me (: 
 

Thank you all - I love this forum.. am a frequent reader unlogged in but have learned so much from the discussions..

Any more advice.. keep it coming!


Offline T. Ernsberger

  • Posts: 885
I would look at the new Makita cordless circular saw.  It’s a 36v and has the ability to be used on the guide rail.  It’s also cheaper than the hk saw and has the ability to use inexpensive circular saw blades. 

Offline carpenterchick

  • Posts: 14
Thank you Birdhunter and emsburger. Birdhunter for a very good point about safety - I may be able to get away with having the lumber hard cut the 2 x 4 (just bought the 8' length ones for the floor and they are PT.  I a terrified of kickback.. and I'll def look into the Makita emsburger - thanks for the suggestion.

I do use a chainsaw with every safety precaution I can think of - mask/goggles/muffs/ anti vibration gloves/anti cut glove on left hand, and chaps and my husband's steel toe boots (bit big on me!) . so the point being I do want to be able to use things if there is a safe way to do this. I too am a bit scared about 2 x 4 cutting 'foot on wood' as contractors do.. so I'm sure could manage it with my trusty Japanese saws.

Thanks again all



Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2086
Regarding safety.
Track saws are generally safer as movement is limited to straight line.
Some circular saws in US have riving knife (Festool, Dewalt track saw, etc.) - another safety feature, but most don't have it. On HK55 its integrated into blade guard.
Today many have blade break, also something to consider.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3046
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
I managed to have my TS55 kick back. My fault, but I’m thankful my fingers and other body parts were well out of the way.
Birdhunter

Offline mrB

  • Posts: 712
The idea of cutting 2x4s free hand with a circular saw makes my skin crawl. I know professional carpenters do it, but not me.  I’d either use a jigsaw or a good hand saw and have the wood both supported and clamped. Circular saws can kick back really hard.

With furniture making in the future, I’d buy the Festool with the full length rail for breaking down plywood ands shorter rail for most work. It’s expensive, but you get precision and great dust collection.

I like cutting plywood of sheets of hard foam that I get at Home Depot. I use 6 foam sheets under a 4 by 8 Piece of plywood. I usually use another piece of foam to kneel on to save my knees.

Valid points. It’s easy for practiced professional carpenters to shout about getting equal results with cheaper tools, but it takes experience and skill to achieve festool results with ‘inferior’ equipment. And more time (which is a big reason those who could do it just as well with cheap tools, still buy the expensive ones)
there's nothing like the right tool for the job

Offline mrB

  • Posts: 712
I managed to have my TS55 kick back. My fault, but I’m thankful my fingers and other body parts were well out of the way.

Yeah, TS saws can kick!!

Not if used well, and not often (due to the rail, like others said), but plunge too fast or with a bit of a twist, or lifting a little mid cut, and WHAM!
I’ve seen enough people’s rails with the scars of a kick back. . I was so proud mine didn’t have any - until about 5 years in. . Proving it can happen to anyone :)

It’s the ‘continually Active plunge’ that makes the plunge saws kick back so so horrendous when it happens, and why I think the HK an ultimately safer saw as it locks at the cut depth.
 I’ve been using circular saws for 30 years and no kick back worries me, but a kick back from the TS is something to be wary of.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 07:00 PM by mrB »
there's nothing like the right tool for the job

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 223
The Festool US training center just did a video going into the in’s and out’s of the HK saw, with a bit of comparison with the TS saw;


They are much nicer to work with than any saw you can get at a home center, but that comes at a fairly substantial price. If affordability is a primary issue, then there are less expensive paths to get to pretty much the same place.

I love my HK, it’s a pleasure to use, very accurate and very capable. But I do still have my cordless “yellow” saw that works quite well for times I don’t need the HK’s accuracy or when I don’t want to deal with a cord.

For safety I’d rank the HK far above any of the  common saws, because of the riving knife in the blade guard, and the placement of controls.


Offline Sourwould

  • Posts: 110
You really don't need one of these fancy saws for house framing.

I've worked with a lot of greenhorns on construction sites. Most have never used a skilsaw and most are afraid of them. By the end of the first day, they're usually banging out straight crosscuts 2x4's. It takes them a little longer to get rip cuts in sheathing, which is fine because they don't need to be that straight! I've never seen a skilsaw kick back. I've seen them stall out getting pinched in rip cuts, but not kick back. I've had more kick back from track saws. Saftey starts as a mindset. More often than not, accidents are caused by carelessness, cavalier machismo, dull blades and damaged rigged together tools. A bare bones $100 skilsaw with a cord is the most versatile saw.

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 837
Knowing you are in the USA, and possibly switching countries helps a lot. Batteries don't care what country you are in, and chargers are not that expensive. Just another thought, although you might not want to pack everything back to Europe.

Festool has two types of battery powered tracksaws with one being the HKC with a non retractable blade, and the TSC55 which retracts the blade. The HKC is the saw for framing and rough carpentry. Although it will work on a longer rail it is really the framing saw. The TS series saws are the fine carpentry saws. Both cut wood!

Dewalt and Makita also have cordless tracksaws. Milwaukee does not have a tracksaw yet. Bosch is about to release a new battery tracksaw that uses the superior Mafell rails for a whole lot of money. (The Bosch rails connect together without a straight edge and the edge strip is captured so no double stick tape to fail.) I have all Festool myself and it works excellently as a system. Makita rails are known to have issues, so it is wise to check them for straightness.

On the rail length, you can attach two 55" (1400mm) rails together. To rip an 8 foot sheet down you will need two rails. With a circular saw you can use something like a piece of steel box tubing, or an extrusion like a level. (I own a long rail, but have two 55" rails that can be connected together. A level is what I use to make sure the rails are straight.)

If you are buying cordless battery powered tools always buy "brushless" if possible. The power difference is huge, and longevity of the tool is better. Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt are what I call the big three, but people like to throw Bosch in the mix too. An impact gun is invaluable around a house. Drills just don't drive larger framing sized screws as well. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy a kit to get the batteries and charger. Other times it is cheaper to buy a bare tool that includes an extra battery, then buy the charger from Ebay. Home Depot often has decent deals on kits as do most of the bigger hardware stores. I bought a Makita saw for the 4 batteries, and still haven't used the saw.

Circular saws have a lot of options. Left and right hand blade. Being mostly right handed I prefer a left hand blade for circular saws. I have both left and right blades and use them both for different jobs. There are 6 1/2" blades and 7 1/4" blades. My preference is for the smaller 6 1/2" saw as it is easier to wield and throw around. There are times a 7 1/4" saw is required, but not for building a simple shed/tiny house. Cordless is probably for the best since you already have batteries. Hmmm...Ryobi what Ah are the batteries? Well if you have Dewalt batteries the tools tend to be a little bit better quality. Which batteries do you have and what is the Ah of them? Preferably over 4.0Ah. https://www.dewalt.com/products/power-tools/saws/circular-saws?Facet1=Power-s-Tool-s-Type%253b%253bCordless-s-%253b%253bCordless-s-%7C&pageNum=1

Not sure if you know about Restore? It is a second hand store (Lots of stuff is brand new) that is part of Habitat For Humanity. They are a non profit that builds homes for people in need. Anyhow the stores have doors, windows, and other building materials that tend to be very reasonably priced. They are not in every city though. https://www.habitat.org/restores

Seriously watch a few "shed building" videos. There are far more tools needed, but most are pretty minor things like chalk lines, etc. You will consistently see folks using nail guns, screwing things with impacts, hammering nails in the old fashioned way, and about everything in between. Universally you will see a circular saw used in every build. An HKC is perfect for shed building, but by no means required. The HKC also doesn't come with batteries nor the short FSK rail, so cheap it is not. https://www.festoolusa.com/products/sawing/portable-track-saws/201359---hkc-55-li-eb-basic-usa#Overview

Chainsaws are super dangerous. Left leg and left hand are the most common injuries. Circular saws are no where even close. Say if you wanted to cut a 2x4 you clamp it down onto a couple of saw horses, which leaves both hands free to work the speed square, and the circular saw. Of course as you know most folks just stand on the 2x4, or hand hold it while cutting. If this is a two person project, one person could hold the 2x4 down while the second person cuts it.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-28-in-Folding-Sawhorse-2-Pack-206138/305264222

These are okay for cross cuts up to 50". https://www.harborfreight.com/50-inch-clamp-and-cut-edge-guide-66581.html

Speed square use, one of hundreds on youtube.


Edit: This guy has a few videos on building sheds that seem pretty easy to understand. There are so many different ways to build a shed. You can find plans online. I would assume this is more of a play house? Not something with a bathroom, electricity, and...?

« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 02:48 AM by Peter_C »

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 590
I'm  a full time UK based site carpenter.
For years I had the old style circular saws, generally made by Hitachi and using a cord.
Then I bought a TS55, a few rails and thought it wasn't going to get much batter than that..few years later I got a HKC and nowadays I hardly ever pull my TS555 out of my van toolsafe.
I cut framing, sheet materials, solid oak beams (upto 100mm thick just with the saw and cutting from both sides to get the depth or if its bigger than 100mm I do both sides and finish it off with a handsaw.
The FSK 420 rail does most cuts (well upto 420mm across)  and I also have the old style FS 1400 rails for sheet materials.

Sometimes the blade nips up slightly in the cut but thats usually when I've not got the workpiece supoorted properly.

For me the HKC has been my most used saw for the last few years.

I'm no mindless Festool fanboi and have tools by many other manufacturers, its a mix but for me its been transformational.
I've not bothered with their drills, the routers or especially the Kapex but that HKC is a keeper.

Offline chris s

  • Posts: 120
I have a 6 1/2" Milwaukee M18 that has become my goto saw. It is light and has plenty of power. I have used it from ripping down sheets of plywood  to cutting pressure treated deck lumber. As for a track I use a piece of 1 by clamped down. ( not really a track but works)  All said it is easy on the pocketbook also.

Offline Cypren

  • Posts: 31
I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the major brands: Milwaukee, DeWalt, Makita, Bosch; all make great corded and battery-powered circular saws, and for very reasonable prices.

It's true that Festool tools do hold their value better than the others, but consider that in absolute terms, the small amount of value they do lose after a couple of years is probably going to be between 50-80% of the full retail price of a more mainstream tool. It's only a low percentage because Festool tools are so expensive by comparison.

If you have the money to burn, and you want a premium tool, it's hard to go wrong with any of the Festool saws. But it is worth keeping in mind -- as someone who doesn't intend to use it very heavily -- that getting one is a bit like buying a Rolls-Royce to use for occasional trips to the grocery store.