The Festool PSB 300 Trion jig saw is one of the new generation jig saws offering improved blade guides, greater cutting capacities, dust collection, no-tool quick-change blade systems, all in a smaller package.
I have been using a Bosch 1581 since 1987. It is a great jig saw--perhaps the best jig saw of its time. However, it does not take more than a few minutes of use to realize that Festool and Bosch have significantly improved the performance and ease-of-use of their respective jig saws in recent years!
Tooltechnic Systems, LLC
140 S. Los Carneros Way
Goleta, CA 93117
From Canada: (805)685-3757 Fax:
Special thanks to Christian Oltzscher (President and CEO of Festool USA) and Bob Marino (Festool Sales Rep) of Festool USA for providing the Festool PSB 300 EQ pendulum (jig) saw for our use and review.
Will That Be Pendulum or Orbital?
Festool names this platform of saw, a pendulum saw rather than a jig saw. Evidently, the term pendulum describes the orbital motion of the blade when you set the "pendulum" setting to 1, 2, or 3 (setting 0 turns off the pendulum motion). Pendulum or jig saw, a rose by any other name is still a rose.
The saw is also known in Festool vernacular as a "Trion". I asked Christian Oltzscher, CEO of Festool USA to comment on the name choice of Trion:
Trion as a product name is easier to remember than the German Abbreviations used for previous Festool products.
After having the PS1 jigsaw, the PS2 jigsaw, the PS300 (technical name for the Trion) is the third generation,
therefore Trion signifies the third generation of pendulum saw.
The Trion employs a patented three-way blade guide system; again Trion = three.
Okay, enough of the vocabulary lesson...let's checkout the features of the Trion PSB 300 Pendulum saw.
Three-Way Blade Guide System
One of the major changes to the Trion Festool jig saw is its three-way blade guide system to overcome the inherent design problems of a jig saw--its blade is:
Thin and long.
Supported (connected) at only one end.
Pushed then pulled in and out of the work piece.
Cutting tight curves with a jig saw can cause the blade to skew, bend, burn, or worse. And even straight cuts in hardwoods or thick work pieces often result in beveled edges and poor cut quality.
Our Bosch 1581 was a great improvement over our aging Sears jig saw (thin universal blades with no blade guides). The Bosch employs thick, hardened blades and a roller guide is positioned behind the blade. The Bosch 1581 performs well, but tight turns can still cause the blade to twist and skew resulting in a beveled cut. The single roller blade guide reduces blade breakage, but it is too far up the blade to actually "guide" the blade.
The Festool Trion's blade guide system employs the typical roller blade guide behind the blade, but also adds an adjustable pair of carbide guides on each side of the blade, nearer the cut line. These guides work similar to those of a bandsaw. You can adjust them with the provided hex wrench to just touch the blade, which in theory, should prevent the blade from skewing/twisting when cutting radiuses.
Out of the box, the blade guides were located too far from the blade. I nearly ruined a commissioned project when the saw did not react as I expected while negotiating a tight curve. Festool recommended that I adjust the guides to slightly touch the blade. But with the guides touching the blade, the blade froze up during tight, blade burning cuts. Consequently, I now run the saw with the guides backed off of the blade several thousandths of an inch. With the ceramic guides properly adjusted, the blade tracks well but I still get a slightly beveled cut on tight radiuses in 3/4" hardwoods.
Motor, Electronics, and Speed Control
The Trion motor provides plenty of power for my needs. Since our Trion was shipped with a 4-3/4" blade, my father and I decided to cut a 4" x 4" beam right out of the box. It cut through the beam with no problem (a straight cut). I then used the long blade to cut through a 4-1/2" deep oak box. Again, no problem. If you're careful (correct speed, correct feed rate, correct blade), you can easily scroll cut multiple boards at one time (think: decks, trellis and pergola beams/rafters). Thanks to the power of the motor and the speed control, with the right blade, you can cut wood to a depth of 4-3/4", cut 3/4" aluminum, and 3/8" mild steel.
The Trion's electronic motor control maintains constant motor speeds while cutting and avoids overheating the tool. It also offers a continuous variable speed control dial that adjusts the 1" stroke rate between 1000 SPM (strokes-per-minute) to 2900 SPM.
I have one complaint and one observation. The location of the speed dial makes it very awkward to adjust the dial setting while using the saw. The motor housing gets hot after extensive use. The unit never "overheated" to the point of shutting down, but...
The saw is light and compact. As you can see in the animated image to the right, the Trion is significantly shorter than our Bosch 1581, and can be operated in much tighter areas than most top-of-the-line jig saws. Note: The newer Bosch 1590/1591 jig saws are shorter than my Bosch 1581.
The Trion is easy to control, the handle is near-perfect in size and location relative to the rest of the saw. Vibration, though present (in any jig saw) is not annoying or tiring. I have used this saw for an hour straight with no discomfort.
I have two complaints regarding the trigger lock. One, the location of the lock button on the Trion (and virtually all jig saws) makes it too easy to accidentally lock the trigger. Two, the lock sticks. At least half the time, I have to fiddle with the trigger lock to release the trigger to stop the saw.
Fast Fix Blade Changing System
The best blade changing system available in a jig saw. Period. The system is not only a "no-tool" system, but it actually ejects the blade. There is no reason, in most cases, to touch the blade during removal--a great feature when removing a hot blade.
To change a blade, simply swing and hold the Fast Fix lever to the right (left facing the saw front) and allow the blade to eject. Insert the blade and close the lever. It is just that easy.
The Trion employs a chip deflector that encloses the cutting area at the front of the saw, and footplate ports to extract and collect dust. Festool is committed to dust-free work, both in the shop, and at the client's location. This commitment shows in the design of every Festool product I have used.
However, due to the chip deflector, it is hard to watch the blade cut on a marked line. With that said, the chip deflector provides a centerline notch that is perfectly in line with the blade. Consequently, you can cut a marked line in half by lining up the notch with the line. It took a little getting used to as I tend to follow a line by looking beyond the jig saw and its blade, but the alignment notch works.
The footplate provides a stable surface/base for the saw. It includes a non-mar (replaceable) shoe and dust ports (largely ineffective). The whole plate slides forward approximately 3/8" to perform plunge cuts. A hex wrench is required to adjust the footplate forward/aft and for bevel cuts. The wrench is provided and
snaps neatly onto the footplate.
Though the bevel lock screw location is easy-to-access and functions perfectly well, I prefer the no-tool, lever lock/release system of the Bosch 1590.
Removable Power Cord
The power cord twist-locks to the rear of the Trion. This allows you to easily replace the cord if damaged or to quickly switch between tools (using just one cord) in a production environment. The cord length is perfect at approximately four meters.
Systainer Carrying Case
The Trion is shipped in a fitted Festool Systainer. The Systainer's latches and design allow you to connect it to other Systainers and to the CT line of Festool dust extractors. The Trion Systainer provides storage for the jig saw and an assortment of blades.
Ease of Use and General Operation
I like the easy-fix blade changing system, the best I have used. Jig saw users are more likely to change to the correct blades when it is so easy to change them. The footplate is easy to adjust with the provided hex wrench, though I prefer the Bosch 1590's no-tool system. I appreciate that the saw uses the high-quality T-Shank, Bosch-style blades. Both Bosch and Festool offer an extensive variety of blades. The longest Festool blade allows an extraordinary cutting depth (4-3/4").
The saw is easy and comfortable to handle. Despite its almost class-leading power and construction, the saw feels very light. Runs with minimal vibration and noise.
Dust extraction is excellent. The chip deflector and extraction port eliminate approximately 80% of the chips and dust produced while cutting. Furthermore, the Festool hose connects easily to the adapter at the rear of the saw. The small diameter of the hose and its swivel design help to prevent the hose from getting in the way while cutting. The dust port has multiple ribs to ensure a good seal and to keep the hose locked on.
Typical Festool Nice Touches
You will find that the Festool product designers think of just about everything. For instance:
The plastic chip deflector is notched and the adjustment screw is set on an angle to facilitate adjusting the ceramic blade guides.
The power cord is longer than average and is removable.
The dust port has multiple ribs to ensure a good seal and to keep the hose locked on.
Love the stack able Systainer case. Most of my Systainers are stacked together on a wheeled base I made. Nice, neat, organized, and easy to transport.
Inherent Jig Saw Cutting Problems
As I described above, jig saw designers fight an uphill battle in their attempt to support jig saw blades. The Trion blade guide system is great, but it does not completely prevent the blade from twisting and skewing. If you're careful while cutting, it perform as well as other high-end jig saws. However, when I push the feed rate, or don't use the correct blade, the cutting results are no better than my 20 year-old Bosch.
Following a Cut Line - Precision Curves
I have a hard time following a line with the Trion chip deflector installed. The blade is simply hidden from view. The chip deflector alignment notch is accurate, but I still had problems with cutting precision curves. Perhaps it's a question of using one saw for 20 years and the Trion for a year. With the Bosch, I instinctively look just ahead of where the saw is cutting. With the Trion, I feel like I need to "watch" it, and not the line. Does this make sense?
Frequently, I have difficulty with the trigger lock. It locks too easily accidentally and it stays locked after I try to unlock it. As far as I am concerned, jig saws don't need a trigger lock.
The Festool Trion performs well and matches the performance of its high-end competitors. Given its quality construction and three year warranty (30-day money back), it may be the last jig saw you will ever NEED to purchase. If you're a Festool owner, the Trion will fit right in. Value-conscience woodworkers won't go wrong with the Festool given its performance, features, and long-life--but will inevitably be tempted by the lower price of the Bosch 1590EVSK.
So how does the Festool Trion match up to the venerable Bosch 1590EVSK/1591EVSK? Contrary to every Festool Trion review I have read, I see no difference in cut performance or precision between these two tools. I'm firmly seated on the Festool bandwagon because their tools generally clearly outperform other brands when competing head-to-head. Not this time.
These two saws perform equally well when it comes to cutting straight and curved lines. Design-wise, both saws employ similar precision blade guide systems, variable speed, and electronic motor/load control. For ease-of-use, the Bosch gets the nod. Both have an excellent no-tool blade change feature, but the Bosch also has a no-tool footplate bevel lock/release.
Build Quality and Warranty
The build quality of the tools appears to be equal. Both tools have been redesigned recently. The Bosch had farther to go to match the Festool's features--but they did it. Both tools will last the average woodworker 20+ years, if not his/her lifetime. Both saws are covered by a 3-year warranty. The Festool warranty provides free shipping to/from their service center for the first year. Festool also includes a 30-day money back guarantee. The Bosch warranty backs the 1590EVS (purchased new) by their 3-year Provantage Protection plan. The Provantage plan provides replacement for the first 90 days and free repairs for the remaining time. The Bosch warranty covers a reconditioned 1590EVS for 1-year.
Ergonomics and Features
Ergonomically the Trion gets the nod. It has better dust collection capability and it feels lighter and easier to control. Furthermore, the Festool's Systainer case is hard to beat and has the advantage of attaching to other Systainer cases for owners of multiple Festool products. Also, the Trion mates to the Festool Guide Rail system with an $8 accessory.
Price is a key issue with most North American woodworkers. Simply said, the Bosch 1590 retails for $100 less than the Festool Trion. This probably explains why the Bosch is considered a best-seller by many retailers.
So which one should I purchase?
Given price, similar performance and build quality, the Bosch is an incredible value. If price is no object, the Trion is a great choice, especially if you value: ergonomics, longevity, dust collection, and the Systainer case. The following table summarizes my Festool vs Bosch comparison. (Click the text in the "Winner" column for further explanation.)
Due to their aggressive blades and up and down cutting action, jig saws are notorious for chipout. I have read reviews stating that the Festool Trion produced less chipout than comparable saws. As much as I like the Festool Trion, my experience comparing saws was that the brand of saw had almost nothing to do with the quality of the cut, at least in regards to chipout. To prevent or lessen chipout:
Employ a zero-clearance blade plate. These are generally small snap-in plates available from the manufacturer.
Choose the right blade for the job. Since changing blades is a snap with the latest saws, don't hesitate to use the right blade. Most wood-cutting blades for jigsaws are designed so the teeth cut on the upstroke. For fine work demanding minimal chipping, choose a “downstroke-cutting” blade.
Don't use the orbital setting. The orbital setting with the rear roller blade guide has been a great boon to aggressive cutting with less blade breakage. However, the orbital action tends to chip more than the conventional up/down action.
Generally big-box home centers do not carry Festool products. So, where can you purchase Festool tools and accessories? A number of Woodworking Tool mail order and chain retail stores are starting to carry them. You can also order Festool products online, direct from the Festool-USA web site or from Bob Marino's Festool retail web site. I purchase my Festool accessories and parts from Bob Marino.....
Festool Online Sales - Bob Marino
Bob Marino is an Independent Sales Agent for Festool, an avid woodworker, a regular and familiar contributor to on-line woodworking forums and all-around good guy. Not bad for someone from NJ (just kidding of course). Bob has opened an on-line retail store to sell Festool products. Because of his service and accessibility, I purchase my Festool accessories through Bob. You can also contact Bob at Bob Marino's Email Account.