Canadian Woodworking

Festool cordless table saw CSC SYS 50


Feature-rich, ultra-precise.

Author: Carl Duguay
Photos: Carl Duguay

I’ve been working wood for more than 40 years and writing about woodworking techniques and tools for half that time. Occasionally a product comes by that seems to be in a class by itself. The JessEm Rout-R-Lift, Leigh FMT mortise and tenon jig, SawStop blade brake and Festool Domino come to mind. Time will tell, but Festool may well have hit one out of the park with their new compact, cordless CSC SYS 50 table saw.

Festool Table Saw CSC SYS 50
MSRP: $1,999 (“Basic” model) to $2,699 (“Set”)

Not all woodworkers need a large cabinet-style table saw. If you have a small workshop, or work primarily on small projects, a benchtop or jobsite table saw can work well. However, most of these small saws lack the precision and often the functionality found on cabinet saws. Traditionally, they’ve been designed to meet the needs of contractors cutting dimensional lumber and sheet goods. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been using a DeWALT DWE7491X jobsite saw in my small shop for quite some time. But it’s required a fair amount of TLC to deliver the accuracy I need to make furniture and cabinetry. While I’ve only had the CSC SYS 50 in my shop for the past several months, it’s quickly proven to be the most feature-rich and precise benchtop saw I’ve ever used.

Festool Cordless table saw CSC SYS 50
The Basic Model – This model comes with everything needed to get you going, as long as you’re already a Festool owner and have the batteries and charger. There are three other categories above this model. (Photo by Festool)

The CSC SYS 50 comes in a large Systainer that stores all the components and protects the saw when moved from shop to job­site. The saw features a brushless motor powered by two 5.0 Ah batteries that deliver enough energy to easily slice through 1-3/4″ hardwood. On average, I get about 60 minutes of run time before having to recharge the batteries. There is no noticeable drop in power during this time period. Recharging both batteries (using Festool’s Rapid Charger TCL 6 DUO) takes about half an hour. If I were using this saw on a jobsite I’d invest in a couple of extra batteries. I was disappointed to find that Festool doesn’t include a 120V AC corded power supply to use with this saw, similar to what is found on the DeWALT DHS790AT2 mitre saw. I can only hope Festool is considering this as a future accessory.

Ready to travel
Ready to Travel – Once folded up and strapped to the mobility cart, the saw can be easily taken to the jobsite or moved around the shop for storage.

The saw uses 168mm (6-5/8″) blades that leave a 1.8mm (1/16″) kerf. You get a decent cut height of 48mm (1-7/8″) at 90° and 34mm (1-11/32″) at 45°. Blade tilt runs from -10° to 47° — anyone who does trim work is sure to appreciate this. Changing blades is quick and simple via an access hood under the sliding table. The 42-tooth blade that comes with the saw cuts like a dream, but replacement blades are painfully expensive — Diablo/Freud, are you listening?

Ready for action
Ready for Action – Duguay tested the “Set” package, which includes everything a new Festool owner would need, including the mobility cart, which the saw is pictured on here. Notice the buttons and dials for the user to program and the digital height and angle blade adjustment settings.

In use I find the CSC SYS 50 to be noticeably quieter and with less vibration that other benchtop saws. As on all saws, there is a riving knife, plus a second one on the overhead guard. The table insert plate has a 7.9mm (5/16″) wide throat. I found narrow stock can easily slip into the blade opening. A ZCI (zero-clearance insert) plate isn’t available. And forget about cutting dadoes on this saw.

One of the major highlights of this saw is the absolutely precise programmable digital height and angle blade adjustment. You can save up to four commonly used combinations of cutting height and angle settings. At the turn of a dial you can raise or lower the blade in 1.6mm (1/16″) or 0.4mm (1/64″) increments and set the bevel angle in 1° increments. If you require precise cutting it doesn’t get any better than this.

The 280mm (11″) rip capacity won’t be to everyone’s liking, but if you use a track saw to process all your sheet goods and wide pan­els, as I do, it’s not much of an issue. The fence can be switched between high and low configurations, is easy to adjust, rock steady when locked in position, and has a handy integrated push stick. To use the rip fence and full 11″ rip capacity you need to use the fold-up extension table —most users will likely leave it in the up-position all the time. I find the rip cutting width scale a tad on the small size, making it hard to read.

Two Fence Positions
Two Fence Positions – The rigid fence is shown here in one of its two positions. This position offers higher workpiece support and a slightly wider rip capacity.

The sliding table is another highlight on this saw. A small lever on the side of the saw enables you to release the table or lock it in place, which you’ll want to do when ripping stock. I find the sliding table makes repetitive crosscutting a lot easier. The table runs per­fectly smooth and vibration-free along its full length. The mini-mitre gauge is definitely one of the best I’ve used. It can be pivoted up to 70°, has six detents on the left and right side, and the fence is later­ally adjustable. You can easily crosscut stock up to 450mm (17-3/4″). With a shop-made support stand or the optional Festool mobility cart (UG-CSC-SYS) you can safely crosscut extra-long stock. The fence is only 300mm (11-13/16″) long and doesn’t include a flip-stop. As a work-around, you can switch the rip fence onto the mitre gauge or just clamp a longer board onto the mitre fence, but that’s a bit of a nuisance. There is a lever on the side of the table that enables you to lock the mitre gauge in place when crosscutting.

Flip-Up Support
Flip-Up Support – The fold-down table is well-supported by a pair of hinged arms. It can be quickly and easily set up so the user can make full-width rips.

Dust collection using the supplied cloth bag is unexpectedly good, though the bag fills up quickly. Connected to a dust extractor, dust extraction is great.

There are four models to choose from. The “Basic” model comes with a 42-tooth blade, rip fence, mitre gauge, dust bag, push stick, blade guard/splitter/riving knife and Systainer. It’s the one to choose if you already have Festool battery packs. The “Basic-Set” adds the UG-CSC-SYS underframe mobility cart. The “Plus” gets you two 18V 5.0Ah batteries plus dual rapid charger and Systainer (without the underframe). With the “Set” you get the complete package. Apart from blades, no other accessories are available at this time.

In my view, the positive features of the CSC SYS 50 outweigh the limitations and omissions. I feel it works best in shops that produce smaller-scale work where cutting precision is paramount, particu­larly those with limited floor space. It should also appeal to finish carpenters, flooring installers, renovators and other tradespeople for whom a portable jobsite table saw is essential and who place a high priority on precision work.

Last modified: March 3, 2024

1 comment

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  2. Carl, my experience with the CSC SYS 50 over the past 4 months matches yours. I’m a drum maker, so precisely sized and angled staves are crucial or the drum will be wrong size or won’t fit together properly. The CSC SYS 50 has proven to be very consistent and accurate, resulting in almost seamless joinery. The saw also allows for very fine adjustments of 0.1 of a degree, so an angle like 12.5 degrees is no issue. I checked the accuracy of the blade bevels in both directions before I bought the saw with several digital angle finders, and taking into consideration the error factors of each, I have found the saw consistently accurate. Interestingly, however, 10 degrees tilted left on my saw is 0.1 of a degree less than 10 degrees with the blade tilted right. Not sending it back for that. Like you, I’m chagrined there’s no plug in option, but I rarely run out of power and charge the batteries when they’re down to one bar or less. After several inquiries with Festool and conversations with dealers, my sense is that Festool is unlikely to produce an adapter but is more likely to issue a version 2.0 in the next couple of years that will address the power issue and some of the other common complaints from users, like less than robust fence mechanism. That said and despite its upfront cost, the CSC SYS 50 is perfect for my small shop and has dramatically improved my productivity and the quality of my work. Thanks for your thoughts. Look forward to hearing more. Chris Glendale Custom Drums

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