As the most expensive sliding compound miter saw on the market, the Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120 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 extra safety features. Don’t let the price tag scare you away, between the incredible accuracy, cut quality, and customer service package, you will certainly get your moneys worth.
Our Festool Kapex KS 120 Review
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.
This saw might just make the most accurate cuts out of any saw out there. It is certainly the quietest high powered sliding compound miter saw available. 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. There are other miter saws with more torque that do a better job keeping their blade speed up when cutting through harder materials, but the Kapex does a decent job.
The mechanism for adjusting miter angles on the Kapex KS 120 is easy to use and sturdy. Over-sized angle indicators allow you to eyeball your angles to a half or even a quarter of a degree. It’s worth mentioning 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 Kapex 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. Most woodworkers know how useful a good clamp is, and the one included with the machine meets the high quality standard set by Festool. 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 will be explained in detail down below.
Ease of Use
At only 47 pounds, it is portable beyond belief and the unique forward rail design lets it fit into tight spaces and directly against walls. With all of the bells and whistles on this machine, it is very important to read the manual before you get to work. 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 read the manual.
The bevel angle indicators are also over-sized and easy to read. 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. Some people could argue that this is a little overkill, those people are welcome to keep it at full range at all time and will have no problem doing so.
This nifty power tool helps you find and replicate angles with the greatest ease. The only consistent and heavy use practicality it offers, is with finishing details. It certainly won’t get daily use for the average contractor. However, its ability to measure angles on the outside and convert them to the inside can be very helpful depending on your project. One criticism is the storage for the accessory gets in the way when trying to miter beyond 40° on either side. The good news is you can remove it and just leave the miter finder itself nearby if you plan on using it.
Festool is a German company and in Europe there are more stringent safety regulations. Many aspects of the Kapex design seem to be geared toward keeping small hands from being able to operate it. For standard use, some of these safety precautions went past overkill and on to fairly annoying. For example, the safety handle would only slow down a busy work crew. But you could imagine the reassurance it could provide for a hobbyist with a family or client having their 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.
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.
Much of the woodworking world considers laser sights to be a gimmick. Although a poor quality laser certainly provides little to no value, this isn’t necessarily true of high quality lasers. Generally, people don’t understand that lasers (as well as other accuracy focused parts) need adjusting before you ever use them. As far as the Festool Kapex goes, once adjusted, the lasers are extremely useful. They are on both sides of the blade and are among the crispest and most accurate lasers imaginable. They require no batteries and you can turn them on without turning on the saw itself.
This miter saw 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 their 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.
It is unreal how well the dust collection system works if you use a Festool Dust Extractor with a 36mm hose. The 91% dust extraction advertised seems about right (with the 36mm hose and a Kapex Dust Extractor). All you’d need is a decent sized drop cloth to work in a lived in house. Keep in mind dust collection isn’t quite so great with the 27mm hose. Also keep in mind these are all add ons, and expensive ones at that. Festool is the only tool manufacturer in the world who develops and produces its own extractors, so you know they mean business.
Another common criticism of this saw is that the rail forward design puts the fence in the way when trying to bevel past 30°, thus making it necessary to slide it out or completely remove the fence. The mechanism for doing this is easy enough but it would be nice to get the full bevel while receiving the full support of the fence.
It seems unlikely that this particular machine could really endure heavy everyday use on a job site or even in a D.I.Y. workshop. This hypothesis is supported by a number of reviews from dissatisfied buyers reporting issues with the motor burning out after substantial use.
This miter saw is not designed to be the construction site workhorse. It’s more appropriate use is as a high-end precision tool brought out for detail and finishing touches.
Fortunately, the process of having your Festool miter saw repaired and the customer service therein meets and surpasses what you would expect from such a high-end company. Customer service, warranty, and repair are all areas where the high cost of the saw starts not only making sense, but looking like a deal.
Festool offers a program called SERVICE all-inclusive with all of their tools (not accessories). This outstanding customer service package is free of charge. SERVICE all-inclusive starts out with a 3 year warranty and a 30 day no-strings-attached return policy. On top of the almost bulletproof warranty, Festool throws in some other unheard-of offerings. One of which is that Festool will cover the cost of shipping tools to the nearest repair center and back to the customer for the first three years of ownership. Another is a 10 year spare part guarantee. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Festool guarantees that they will keep spare parts for your tool in stock for at least 10 years once the production of those parts has ended. The only caveat is that you must register your saw with the SERVICE all-inclusive program within 30 days of purchase.
Included in the box:
Hold down clamp
Between the industry leading engineering design, high quality construction, and unmatched customer service package it’s hard to make the argument that this saw isn’t worth every penny. The one criticism this miter saw receives is about the longevity of the motor. Although a valid point, and certainly an important criticism to note, the exceptional SERVICE all-inclusive package should be enough to remove any fear or doubt about the lifespan of the Kapex.
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. Or compare it against the best saws on the market with our comparison chart.