One of the benefits of operating Toolmonger is that I get to hear what a whole lot of people think about tools — especially the tools that people want as opposed to simply need. And one of the most drool-worthy tools for years was — if my email box was to be believed — Festool’s Kapex KS 120 sliding compound mitre saw. (No, I didn’t misspell that. They’re a European company, so they like to spell miter a little differently than we do in the States.) Recently, however, it seems to me that Bosch has stolen a lot of Festool’s thunder.
I think it’s important to mention that if all you’re going to do is miter a few pieces of trim for a home project or occasionally chop-saw a few 2x4s, you simply do not need to spend the asking price of either of these saws to get the job done. You can just as easily pick up the store-brand model from the local big box and go along your merry way. Hell, lesser saws would probably handle most pro jobs, too. Outside of shops with space issues or very, very special needs, either of these saws would pretty much qualify as a luxury item. That’s just it, though. The Festool saw was the kind of thing people put on their when-I-win-the-lottery lists.
So my question to you is: if you had lotto-style cash, would you buy the Bosch or the Festool? I realize that the Festool runs about
$1,700 ($1,300, see update below) vs. the Bosch’s $800, so please don’t answer with “I’d buy two Bosch Glides.” I would, too. I’m interested in how they compare in your mind as cost-is-no-object saws.
My take? I’d go for the Bosch. Having put a little time in with one, I’m pretty sold on the almost infinitely-adjustable, smooth-flowing arm mechanism, and I don’t see a whole lot of additional features on the Festool. I admittedly have little or no experience seeking support from Festool in the U.S., but I wonder if I’d have the same kind of luck getting parts and service here that I would with Bosch. (I do have experience with Bosch, and I’d rank them at least as reasonable as other manufacturers when it comes to parts and repair.)
Let me know what you think in comments. I’m definitely interested to hear from you, and I’m betting the folks at Bosch and Festool are as well.
Update: I received a rather short email from a Festool employee this morning pointing out that the catalog price for the Kapex is actually $1,300 and firmly requesting a correction. I pulled my number (as I always do, incidentally) from a rough, eyeballed average of prices obtained via a Google shopping search. (We do this because so often the MSRP isn’t representative of true street prince — hence our chosen use of the phrase “street price” and our search method. Incidentally, it’s also our internal policy to round up to the nearest dollar, avoiding all the 99 cent mess.) With the Kapex, I missed, however, that most of the returned results include packaged equipment like a stand and/or work clamp, blades, etc. I should also point out though that I went back and looked again at the Bosch’s price and discovered that it’s often sold in packaged deals, too, and can be had for (today, at least) as little as $625 and somewhat regularly for $700.
Update 2: This got me thinking about tool companies and PR in general.