Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Festool Cordless Carvex PSC-420 Review and Demo

I've been playing with a Festool cordless Carvex PSC-420 jigsaw for over a month now; a very nice saw made nicer with the accessory kit.

The corded model will be released September 1st, 2013.  The cordless model I use here does not yet have a release date in North America.

In this review, we'll start with a high-speed demo of a number of cuts in wood and other materials.  We'll then go over the saw in more detail pointing out any special features of the saw as well as each of the accessories in the accessory kit.

If you are familiar with the Festool PS-300 Trion, some of this saw's anatomy will be familiar, but there are a number of improvements and differences.  We'll also discuss any appreciable difference between the Carvex and the Trion so you can decide between the two if you are looking at Festool jigsaws.  Note that this means the Trion is not being discontinued.  The Carvex is an addition to the jigsaw line.

There's also a video discussion of the pendulum action of the Carvex and Trion.  I captured some good slo-mo video to better demonstrate the differences in pendulum settings and discuss why certain settings are better than others for different materials.

So the question is: why get a cordless jigsaw?  In my case, I have a corded Trion and was curious about a cordless version.  If I need to use a corded jigsaw, the Trion will work well.  If I want to breakdown stock in the driveway, I'd prefer the cordless Carvex.  Of course a cordless saw can be more convenient in the shop, although it is diminished by the lack of a "hose-less" dust extractor.  In fact, I found that I'm so trained to see the extractor hose on the tool and think the extractor will start when I start the tool that I often started a demo with the extractor off.  Fortunately, you can't read my lips in high-speed video :)  So, please, someone invent a hoseless dust-extractor!

28 minutes for a jigsaw review?!? By now you know I'm detailed; if you just want to see the saw in action, that's the first 5 minutes.

Popcorn-ex ready?  Okay!

I left a joke unfinished in the video... feel free to finish it in the comments :)

Festool-USA provided the Cordless Carvex PSC-420 and accessory kit for pre-release feedback and review.  And that said, I wrote the product manager with a number of questions and got excellent detailed replies, some directly from the engineers in Germany!


  • Len said...

    Paul, thanks for yet another great review. You're the best.


  • ChrisHasFlair said...


    Your demo and explanation of the orbital feature was worth watching the video. I now better understand how it works and when to use it.

    To change the lights, I believe that you need to hold the switches for 10 seconds because Metric is all about increments of 10.


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Len!

    Good call on the Metric, Chris!

    Have to admit I liked the orbital/pendulum demo, too, as it made it clearer exactly what happens.

  • TMcWoodworks said...

    Hi Paul, a slick informative review.


  • Anonymous said...

    Paul - nice review - just wanted to say I miss the "what paul is reading" section of your site. Really exposed me to a lot of blogs i hadn't seen.

  • Carl O. said...

    As always Paul Marcel, you do a great video. I am debating getting rid of my Bosch jig saw and buying the Festool Carvex instead--a corded version. The Bosch has been a reliable, cheap tool, so it is a little hard to dismiss it from my workshop.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Terry, Carl, and Anonymous :) Sorry for the late reply; I was away on vacation (constantly interrupted by work :-/

    Sorry about the blog list, Anonymous; there was a change in my account that required updating the template. When I looked at the blog list, many were now changed or pretty dead so I removed it for now. Need to update it someday; it may end up on a separate page. I used to use that list for my reading list, too.

    Hmm, Carl, if the Bosch works... ? The Carvex is nice, definitely, but at least find the Bosch a good home before getting a new toy :)

  • James said...

    Thanks for the video Paul. Great explanation of how the pendulum action worked. Was the base of the jigsaw riding against the rail or was it actually attached to the rail?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, James...

    The base of the Carvex when guided is the guide base you snap on. That base has long slots on either side that will hook over the back of the guide rail. The Carvex then runs on its own base only using the rail for guidance.

  • James said...

    That's what I thought but I wasn't sure! I thought, oh its just a jig saw how cool can it really be? Pretty freaking cool!

    Try to stay cool!

  • Unknown said...

    One of the, if not, THE best tool presentation and explanation of functions and accessories I have ever seen, in video OR in person.

    I have some Festool tools and love all of them, but alas, my Bosch still works great and probably will for years to come. But it's good to know which jigsaw I'm buying if/when my Bosch does crap out.

    Thanks for the Demo


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks for the compliment, Frank!

  • RONWEN said...

    Nice job Paul! I was all set to order the barrel grip battery model but then found from the dealer it wouldn't be available until "maybe next year". I'll probably wait until I return from down south next summer.
    It sounds like you may even lean toward the D handle model? For my purposes only one of the battery models make sense.
    Thanks for a very informative review.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Ron! I haven't tried the D-handle model. I generally don't like the D-handle style for a jigsaw since I use it upside-down so much. But the claim is the Carvex barrel grip and D-handle have the same body except that the D-handle adds the handle. So I'd be able to use it like a barrel grip as well. Try it out in the store.

  • Anonymous said...

    Hi Paul, I wish I could finish the joke you started But I'm not that funny, but all joking aside.. what do you think of the cordless jigsaw? should I wait for it or get the corded? I currently have a cordless Dwalt and its easy to make scrolls without the cord getting on the way I guess.. what do you advice? Thanks in advice ,keep those videos coming..

  • HalfInchShy said...

    I like the cordless model. I will say it throws me off to think about turning on the extractor manually when I have the hose on the saw since I'm used to the power switch automatically turning it on. If you were doing cuts without a vac, you'd have great mobility.

    If the cordless model you currently have is the style you like (that being cordless...) stick with the cordless model. Corded are now available, but cordless will be likely available before the end of the year.

    The surprising thing is that the cordless and corded have the same power so you aren't sacrificing power going to battery, just run-time.

    hmm, nobody went to finish the joke. I'm disappointed! Here's an easy ending: Bartender turns to them, "what? is this some kind of joke?"

  • Dave Pitman said...

    Hi Paul, thanks for the great review, top notch as always.

    The idea of a cordless jigsaw seams great (I'm a finish carpenter), although if you're going to use dust extraction, it kind of defeats the "freedom", no?

    Also, I've already read reviews by Festool users that it just doesn't quite match up to a Bosch. A fellow carpenter I know has the Trion, and tells me that having had both, would go back to (2) Bosch saws instead of the Festool. My old Bosch is ready to become 2nd string, and am not sure which way I am going to go.

    I was wondering if you have experience with Bosch jig saws and would be willing to comment.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Dave,

    Since I don't do finish carpentry much, it is difficult for me to judge how well it works for, say, cabinet scribing or crown coping. I know some people on FOG who are and they are upset that the bevel base only gives half support and no dust extraction. Whether or not it bothers you, you'd likely have to bring a stick of crown to a store and demo the saw to see.

    Yes a cordless jigsaw... that is still tethered by a power cable is odd. I mentioned it on one of my posts that it does seem odd, but I also will use it to breakdown stock in the driveway before hauling into the shop. There I don't care for the dust extraction as I won't have the extractor out there anyway. Also true, though, for simple breakdown, I wouldn't need this fancy a saw. All depends on your needs.

    When I installed a couple floors recently, I used the jigsaw for the cutting since the chips simply fall instead of using a miter saw in the garage (so, run down stairs for each cut?!? no) Using a miter saw in this guy's house also wasn't practical since he's a neat freak and honestly who wants a layer of dust everywhere (I didn't have the Kapex at the time, but also... jigsaw or Kapex plus extractor? easy choice). On that job, I would have loved the cordless Carvex as I could have cut right where I was at without stringing an extension around.

    Blade visibility is much better on the Carvex vs Trion. No comparison. I think though you'd have to try it out at the store simply because my limited finish carpentry of the past isn't up to judging for a pro.

    I would like to hear back your thoughts, though.

  • Marc said...

    This is a fantastic review, thanks!

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Marc!