One common complaint I hear about Festool products (besides the obvious one), is the fact that their blades have an odd arbor size. This means you will need to buy your blades specifically from Festool or have your favorite blades modified to fit their saws. Personally, I find Festool blades to be of very high quality and competitively-priced, but I can understand why people want the freedom of choice. Given the popularity of Festool’s TS-55 and TS-75 plunge cut saws, and all the buzz surrounding the recently-released Kapex miter saw, its no surprise that a leading blade manufacturer like Tenryu would begin making blades to fit these tools.
Tenryu recently sent me a few samples of their latest offerings for the Kapex and I’ve been playing with them for the last few weeks. Overall, the quality is exactly what you would expect from a high quality blade manufacturer. How does it compare with the stock Festool blade? My initial non-scientific tests showed that the Festool blade produced a smoother cut on 8/4 bubinga. I tested this by feel and by rubbing the endgrain with chalk to observe the surface imperfections. Tenryu explained the reason for this phenomenon and it has everything to do with the grind on the teeth. The Tenryu ATAF (Alternate Top/Alternate Face) grind makes a more aggressive shearing cut, while the Festool blade has an ATB (Alternate Top Bevel) grind which essentially burnishes as it cuts, resulting in a surface that feels smoother. I also noticed less tearout at the back end of the cut with the Tenryu blades. But given the fact that they have higher tooth count, this isn’t too surprising.
I honestly didn’t do enough testing to tell you one blade is better than the other. But if you are looking for an alternative to the blades Festool offers, its nice to know that these are available. Tenryu already has two on the market and you can purchase them here. I also heard from Tenryu that they will soon offer thinner kerf blades for the TS-55 plunge cut saw (.063″, 52 tooth and be supplied with its own riving knife). They hope to have the blades by the middle of October.