It is an addiction

A long time ago, in a workshop not so far away, I got to experience a Kapex first hand.

It was 2009, and I was in the Festool studio of Ideal Tools.  Along with getting personally acquainted with a number of other Festool products (many of which have been working their way into my workshop), I got to make good use of the Kapex sliding compound miter saw.

The future may have been inevitable at that point, but there was no telling how long it would be before that too came into the Stu’s Shed stable.

Turns out, that day was yesterday, with a special Ideal Tools is running on the Kapex package (which includes the stand and the outriggers).  I had only seen the stand in photos, and it is significantly more impressive first hand.  Looks like a basic steel tube setup, but something so apparently simple works so well, quickly turning the Kapex into a highly portable machine.

I’ll go a lot more into the details in some future posts, but as a general rule, you know what I think of good engineering design, and this whole setup more than meets that requirement.

The outriggers have changed quite a bit since I saw them in 2009, and they have really matured. The Kapex itself seems pretty much unchanged – not much else they could do to make it better!

For those that are interested, some basic specs:

Power consumption: 1600 W
No-load speed: 1400-3400 min-1
Saw blade diameter: 260 mm
Cutting capacity at 90°: 305 x 88 mm
Cutting depth at 45°/90°: 215 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 50°/90° (left): 196 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 60°/90° (right): 152 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 45°/45° (left): 215 x 55 mm
Cutting depth 45°/45° (right): 215 x 35 mm
Special cutting depth 90°/90°: 60 x 120 mm
Special cut. depth 45°/90° (left): 40 x 120 mm
Capacity in special position 90°: 20 x 120 mm
Crown moulding diagonal cut at 90°/90°: 168 mm
Crown moulding mitre cut at 45°: 168 mm
Inclination angle: 47/47 °
Mitre angle: 50/60 °
Bench height (on MFT): 923 mm
Dimensions (W x D x H): 713 x 500 x 470 mm
Connection Ø d/e: 27/36 mm
Weight: 21,5 kg

Couple of things to pick up there – normal depth of cut is 88mm.  But if you have a board no thicker than 20mm, you can achieve a 120mm depth of cut.  Funny thing is, I didn’t even know (or rather remember) what the blade size was until just now.  Turns out to be 10″ (or there-abouts)  Bore is 30mm.


The whole unit rolls very easily from place to place, and takes up minimal room when folded away.  I could have included the outrigger arms in the stand as well (held together with their custom strapping).

kapex-2Only takes a few seconds to have the saw in position, ready to go.  The handle for moving the unit around becomes the left-hand upright.

You could leave it like this, or maximise the amount of material support with the outriggers.

kapex-3This isn’t even the full extent of support available, as there is an addition support (and rule) that extends from either end of the outriggers (not shown).

One way or another, this is now a substantial work station, and something I have long been missing in my workshop.  I have had to compromise for ages, using the tablesaw (without a sliding table) to lengths of timber down – not the best practice at all.  I did have a couple of SCMSs in the past, both GMC, but sold them at different times in expectation of getting the Kapex.  It was only a few years wait!

kapex-4With the Cleantex connected up, this saw now has 91% dust extraction. Not bad for a SCMS!  In other workshops, I have seen all sorts of jury-rigged setups, boxes set up behind the SCMS to try to catch the waste.  Among other things, Festool cannot be accused of ignoring the safety aspects of their tools, in the way the guarding works with (and not against) the operator, and a highly refined dust collection system.  (And yes, I am still using the Oneida cyclone on top of my vac from Professional Woodworker Supplies).  Been a LONG time since I have had to change the dust bag in the Cleantex.  Never in fact!

kapex-5Ready for the very first test cut.  Dual laser on, hold down holding down.  It is almost disappointing how quickly and easily the Kapex does its job.  You don’t get enough time to really enjoy the quality before the job is done!

Other than the Festool blades, I will also be able to use the impressive Flai Mustang, or one of the whole host of blades from

I would have been interested if the Flai U blade would have worked well in this, but that blade was wrecked a few months ago when it hit a hidden nail, chipping a number of teeth.

May become one of the only Flai blades in the world that will meet its final end by deliberately embedding it into a SawStop brake!  Just as an aside, and not that I am going to try it, but I have wondered what would happen if the ultimate saw braking system met the ultimate cut-everything blade of the Flai Mustang!  Sure it would come to a stop, but it may also be the only blade that could legitimately survive the collision to live another day!

Where it comes to the new workshop, I already have a pretty fair idea where this tool will be (semi) permanently set up – along the western wall, parallel to the tablesaw.  It is going to be so good being able to dock timber to length easily again.  Not that I know why I say again, I have never had a permanent SCMS or drop saw setup, so this will really be a new experience.



Opinions of the Nova DVR XP

Spent about three hours out giving the DVR a solid workout, and I have come to the conclusion that the DVR XP is not a good lathe. In fact “good” and “DVR XP” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence.

The DVR is not good.  It is spectacular.  I am so sorry for turners out there (or would be turners) who read this blog: you are going to have to be seriously tempted by this machine, even if you don’t consider it in your budget. This lathe kicks some serious butt.

This lathe makes me want to be a better turner.  It inspires me to try to be a better turner.  This makes turning a particularly enjoyable exercise, and it was already fun!

Getting a hand in

I started with a couple of pens (go with what you know!), dials in the muscles – reminds them what they need to be doing for the task.  More on that later.  To the left of the head, you might notice an additional extension that has been added – the Nova Outrigger, with the bowl tool rest.

So once I had gotten the pens done, it was time to try out what really excites me about this lathe – the swinging head.

I took a bowl blank I had tried a few years ago, and quickly set aside as I found I could not do anything with it, without completely wasting it.  I have gotten better since then, progressing up the learning curve.

Outrigger and Bowl Tool Rest

The outrigger is an impressive addition, and if you ever intend to swing the head it is invaluable.  The bowl tool rest is an excellent accompaniment – a strange term perhaps for a lathe accessory, but turning and playing a musical instrument do have things in common.

Spinning Bowl

Working out just which of the degrees of freedom of the outrigger and rest to release to achieve the ideal placement is taking a bit, not that it is particularly arduous – operating the releases that are upside down I find frustrating – keep turning them the wrong way!  But the curved tool rest is exceedingly cool.  Now if only I could master the skew (chisel that is).

A Fine Finish

The timber is stunning, and it came to a very fine finish with a combination of sanding with the Ubeaut Orbital Sander, then EEE and Glow finish.

Last Time to See

A recess was cut into the base, and a dovetail cut for the pin jaws to engage.  Was going well, until the base blew out.  I just didn’t have enough timber supporting the clamping.  Sad, but not the first failure I’ve had, nor will it be the last.  I can’t think of another woodworking activity that takes timber so close to the point of failure, deliberately, consistently.  Taking timber to the point of failure tends to occasionally result in less than ideal results!  I might be able to get something out of the timber that remains, but that is an exercise for another day.

I do have some niggles with the lathe – the lockpin for the headstock needs a separate bar to operate (which is ok), but needs an on-tool storage for the bar, and it is hard to know just how tight, and loose the lockpin needs to be.  The operating bar also hits the power lead if you are not careful in its operation, which is a silly design flaw – minor and unnecessary.  The lathe starts at 500 RPM, and you can hold down the accelerate and decelerate buttons to achieve different speeds (takes a few seconds to achieve the entire speed range – it is faster with the spindle stationary), or you can go to one of your preset speeds.  However, selecting the preset speed you want requires two buttons to be pressed simultaneously, then a third one to confirm the decision – significant overkill personally.  5 single buttons, and one confirm button would have been more than sufficient.  Or toggling with one button through the preset speeds available, and a second one to then confirm.  Or something less cumbersome.  However, these are all pretty minor, and don’t distract from the lathe’s beautiful operation.  The speed thing might be negated in any case with the new wrist-mounted start/stop and speed controller that is retrofittable to other DVR lathes.

Back to the turning.

Next, I picked up a piece of Mahogany that had been sitting in a discard bin ready for burning, at a timber merchant and mounted it up.

Bowl Blank Mounted

Starting with the blank mounted and the tailstock supporting while roughing down the blank to round.

Blank Spun Up

With the blank spinning (1000RPM for this stage), it was a bit out of balance, but certainly bearable.  I decided after this photo to knock the corners off on the bandsaw – no point doing more work than I needed to.  While at this stage, I turned down a foot that would fit the 75mm jaws in contraction.  The underside of the bowl was shaped up to the foot, before reversing the bowl into the 75 chuck.  The head was then turned outboard as well to shape the interior.  Speed was increased to 2000RPM.

Raw Bowl

With the free spinning sander, the interior and exterior were sanded to 400 grit, then EEE applied, followed by Glow.


During the finishing process, I got just a little carried away, applying just a little too much pressure which generated a bit of smoke at the periphery.  Nothing too drastic, just a bit of discolouring but it immediately showed me what it could look like, so I carried on, creating significant burning, cutting through the cloth (and a bit further, unfortunately – my finger was behind that, which got a bit warm!)  But the result was perfect for the bowl.

One Surface Finished

With the inside finished, and the outside also done as far as could be reached, it was time to again reverse the bowl to complete it.

Reversed in the Cole Jaws to Finish the Base

I used mini Cole Jaws to secure the bowl, gripping tightly enough to be able to turn the foot away, without causing extra damage.  These have the optional dovetail feet, which provide a more positive retention.  The lathe was again back to 1000RPM for this – didn’t want to go too fast with the Cole Jaws.

Base Turned Away

With the base turned away, it was time for the final sanding and finishing.

Finished Base

The base felt thin – lots of flex, so I didn’t want to overdo the sanding and finishing.

Completed Bowl

The finished bowl feels amazingly light – the average thickness is about 2.5mm.  Maximum 4mm, and down to 1mm or so.  As I get more practice, I will be looking for more consistency in wall thickness, however at this stage I’m just pleased to get a result!

Testing Thickness

When you get this result holding the bowl to the light, for me to go any thinner at this stage would be rather prone to disaster!

So with the first successful result off the Nova DVR XP, I’m pretty ecstatic with the new machine.

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