View Amazon.com's Price
|Our Rating: 9.8/10
Type: Sliding Compound Miter Saw
RPM: Adjustable: 1,400 - 3,400
Compare Specs. With Other Miter Saws
As one of, if not the, most expensive Sliding Compound Miter Saws on the market the Kapex ks 120 by Festool (Amazon.com Link) upholds the company’s reputation for making high quality tools that work well with the brand’s other equipment. This saw is loaded with many different easy-to-use-and-switch-between features as well as some for safety. The manufacturer boasts that they have packed ‘the cutting capacity of a 12” saw into a small and lightweight footprint’. Indeed, it does rival some 12” saws in cutting range, though not necessarily beating the best ones.
At only 47 pounds, it is quite portable and the unique forward rail design lets it fit into tight spaces and directly against walls. With all of the whizbangs and doohickeys on this thing, it is very important to read the manual before you begin pulling and pushing away at the machine. If you get frustrated, remember they probably didn’t mess it up or forget it, you probably just don’t understand or see it. Take your time and look it up.
This is the first miter saw that offers variable speeds, and unlike some other saws, it needs to slow down for cutting through smaller trim or scrap pieces. I have used others with more torque that do a better job keeping their blade speed up when cutting through harder materials but it does do a decent job. That being said, this saw might just make the most accurate cuts of any saw I’ve ever used. And this is certainly the quietest high powered SCMS I’ve ever used or seen in use. Finally, it is backed by a 3 year warranty and a 30 day no-strings-attached return policy. And don’t underestimate the Festool’s well reputed Customer Service either.
Miter Sliding & Angling
The mechanism for adjusting miter angles on the Kapex ks 120 is easy to use and sturdy. Oversized angle indicators allow you to eyeball your angles to a half or even a quarter of a degree. Worth mentioning (or perhaps maybe not), is that in bright daylight you might wish the miter angle indicator were red instead of the light green that matches the color scheme. As far as range goes, the ks 120 will go as far as 50° to the left and 60° to the right and has 4 detents on each side as well as one at 0°.
Festool increased the cutting capacity to 12” with only a 10” blade by applying a setting that allows the carpenter to lower the depth of the cut to the extent that the barely used back of the blade finally gets to play a role. It is easy to switch on and off and it is a very clever way of gaining width in cuts.
The company did a great job of adding extras to make your cuts faster and more accurate. We all know how useful a good clamp is, and the one included with the machine is the only one I’ve ever kept that came with my saw. It locks down simply and solidly and gets out of your way quickly when you don’t need it. Festool also included what they call an Angle Transfer Device that I’ll be going into further detail about in the Features & Accessories section.
Oversized and easy to read also are the bevel angle indicators. This is a dual bevel saw and of course Festool included the angle graphics on both sides. A simple knob and lock operates either side and the arm is counter-balanced so it doesn’t move even before you lock it in. They included 3 settings, left side from 0° to 45°, left and right to 45°, and then the max bevel range of 47° either way. To me, this is a little overkill and I keep it at full range almost all of the time.
Here I should mention though that the rail forward design puts the fence in the way when trying to bevel past 30° and they have to be slid out or completely removed. The mechanism for doing this is easy enough but it could be nice to get the full bevel and have the full support of the fence.
Features & Accessories
This SMCS is the Inspector Gadget of its class. Not only does it have several unique features, but just as you would expect from Festool, it is designed to work in harmony with so many other of the manufacturer’s products. In addition to the add-ons, the ks 120 features several spins on the usual components of a compound miter that allow you to switch between different tasks more easily. This is the type of saw that can make an amateur look like a professional.
Festool is a German company and in Europe there are more stringent safety regulations and many aspects of its design seem to be geared toward keeping small hands from being able to operate it. For my uses, some things went past overkill and on to fairly annoying. For example, the safety handle would only slow down a busy work crew. But I could imagine the reassurance it could provide for a hobbyist with a family or client having her kitchen remodeled. For the uses of experienced contractors though, it is more likely to slow things down or get broken and really cause a problem. It seems to me unlikely that that particular mechanism could really endure heavy everyday use. For this reason I am the only person allowed to use my Kapex.
MiterFast Angle Transfer Device
This nifty tool helps you find and replicate angles with the greatest ease. The only real practicality it offers is with finishing details and it certainly won’t get daily use for the average contractor but its ability to measure angles on the outside and convert them to the inside can be very helpful depending on your project. The storage for the accessory gets in the way though when trying to miter beyond 40° either way, but you can remove it and just leave the miter finder itself nearby if you plan on using it.
Dual Laser Design
Many of my peers consider laser sights to be a gimmick and I am on the fence about most of them. Generally, people don’t understand that they need adjusting before you ever use them. As far as the Kapex goes, once adjusted, the lasers are extremely useful. They are on both sides of the blade and are the crispest and most accurate ones I’ve seen. They require no batteries and you can turn them on without turning on the saw itself.
It is unreal how well this works if you use the 36mm hose. It isn’t quite so great with the 27mm hose and for me, the extra price wasn’t really worth the utility but you have to be strong to hold out against a demonstration: the 91% dust extraction they advertise seems about right. All you’d need is a decent sized drop cloth to work in a lived in house.
Dado Cut Tool
While not the greatest depth adjusting tool in the world, the dado cut attachment is certainly serviceable. It is sturdy and quick so you can be sure that trench cuts won’t cost you any extra time or frustration. It’s to be expected that Festool took their time with every attachment no matter how much use it is likely to or not to get.
FastFix Blade Change
The last of the really significant quarks that make this tool special is the FastFix blade change system. It’s literally like ‘turn, click, pop,’ and you’ve got the blade out and putting a new one in is just as easy. Like the whole blade housing, it is safe and simple to operate.
This saw clearly has two best uses. The first is the serious finisher looking for the highest quality on trim work and indoor jobs. The second is for DIYers who either take their hobby very seriously or are new to home improvement and really want their tools that will help them develop quality. Check out Amazon.com’s price on this Festool.