LumberJocks

All Replies on Do I want a track saw or do I need a track saw?

  • Advertise with us
View BentheViking's profile

Do I want a track saw or do I need a track saw?

by BentheViking
posted 03-30-2014 02:16 AM


1 2 next »
57 replies

57 replies so far

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

386 posts in 1838 days


#1 posted 03-30-2014 02:51 AM

You can bevel just fine with a track saw. It will work about anyplace as a regular circular saw but it’s real worth is in breaking down sheet goods. I have the Makita and it does a very good job, I am very happy with it.

-- Earl

View felkadelic's profile

felkadelic

218 posts in 2709 days


#2 posted 03-30-2014 02:52 AM

I have the Festool TS55 and LOVE it. If you ever do any flooring work it’s nice because it cuts very close to a wall. And yes, it bevels

View realcowtown_eric's profile

realcowtown_eric

617 posts in 2106 days


#3 posted 03-30-2014 03:25 AM

A lot of saws bevel right at the sawplate.

I’d be concerned that with the thickness of a track saw guide, methinks you might be be chewing up the track, making it potentially useless . Better check that

For bevels, buy a sheet of 3/4 shop grade birch (35$) tack on a strip of 3/8” ply real straight and set yer saw at desired bevel and cut off the overage. Cheap, or if from scrap, free.

Voila…a guide strip that you can actually set on the line you want to cut without any fuss, and i also functions as a “zero clearance” TS plate…ie little or no tear out. (but I use high tooth count blades in my skill saws-mostly used for finishing work.)

With the added thickness, most of my skill saws are 8 1/4” just for the added depth capability for thicker material.

If it’s shorter stuff you gotta cut, I use 5’ lengths of baltic birch, You can pick up 1/4” “protection plates” for free from yer local wholesaler so if the gods are willing, and your needs aren’t great, you could cobble up the whole scenario for almost free..

Eric
who has about a dozen saw low cost precision saw guids hanging around the shop..

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

915 posts in 2262 days


#4 posted 03-30-2014 03:39 AM

Ok, I feel stupid but I’ve got to ask: What is a track saw? I did a quick Google search and all I came up with was ads.

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

386 posts in 1838 days


#5 posted 03-30-2014 03:46 AM

It’s a plunge type of circular saw that has a base plate designed to slide along in a track. You lay the track on the plywood and it allows you to cut a perfectly straight line. It gives precision cuts for cutting down plywood and other sheet goods much more safely then trying to do it on the table saw.

-- Earl

View Paul's profile

Paul

721 posts in 1734 days


#6 posted 03-30-2014 03:46 AM

For free straight edges I use granite cut offs from one of three local granite companies local to me in chicago. They are a bit heavy (15 ish pounds for the 6’ section I use ) but FREE and very straight.

If you already have a reliable circular saw contact your local granite counter company and see if they have any free cut offs. 3 companies locally to me have their cutoffs on pallets in the back of their warehouses that they list on craigslist for free so they don’t have to pay the throw them away.

Paul

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8473 posts in 2746 days


#7 posted 03-30-2014 03:52 AM

How about a Mafell PSS 3100e?
Let the saw do the walking. LOL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn8npDkfKCo

View felkadelic's profile

felkadelic

218 posts in 2709 days


#8 posted 03-30-2014 04:03 AM

Regarding Eric’s concern about bevel cuts chewing up the guide rail: The Festool (and I presume others) have a replaceable plastic splinter guide that adheres to the edge of the rail, exactly to prevent from cutting into the rail itself.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#9 posted 03-30-2014 12:42 PM

The only saw I’ve used before is the Festool which was great. It had that plastic edge that was how you line up to the cut lines. I worry that if you bevel the blade will you cut the plastic edge so that every time you set the blade to a bevel you’d have to replace that piece. Doesn’t seem like a great idea I’d obviously call them first, but I don’t see a replacement edge available on the Grizzly site. Would the festool one work?

What else have people found track saws useful for besides cutting sheet goods and doors. As I am a home owner not a professional I am really wondering about its long term utility for me.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Fish22's profile

Fish22

83 posts in 3282 days


#10 posted 03-30-2014 12:53 PM

I can only speak to the Festool, when you set the bevel in the saw, it rotates/tilts around the splinter guard so you still have the splinter guard to align your cut. As for other uses, a lot of people use it for cutting drywall. The biggest thing is space saving in my opinion, you don’t need infeed or outfeed like a table saw.

-- Bryan, South River, NJ

View lateralus819's profile

lateralus819

2241 posts in 2059 days


#11 posted 03-30-2014 01:19 PM

I 2nd Cowtown eric, i make them for routers as well, they’re cheap and highly accurate as long as the “Guide” piece is straight.

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4863 posts in 3217 days


#12 posted 03-30-2014 01:43 PM

For years I have been suing a simple $28.00 Skill Saw bought at Walmart and a simple plywood edge guide.
They have been working just fine for me.
The other side of my guide is for my router with a 1/2 bit.
I have three such guides of different length for different use.
I do not see the need for a track saw.

-- Bert

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8473 posts in 2746 days


#13 posted 03-30-2014 01:47 PM


Anywhere one can securely set a track a straight and or compound angle can be made.

One can build a cabinet with adjustable shelves quickly and accurately
after one becomes accustomed with Festools’ system.
http://www.festoolusa.com/ for further knowledge check it out.

View kdc68's profile

kdc68

2689 posts in 2446 days


#14 posted 03-30-2014 02:00 PM

I seen this article a few years ago in Popular Mechanics. I made these jigs and have used them ever since to break down sheet goods. I cut the sheet goods to a manageable size and slightly oversized, then use the table saw to cut to final dimensions. Works well and easy to make

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/4283497

Edit…forgot to mention before…. the “good” side faces down when cutting with a circular saw and use a sharp 40 tooth or more circular saw blade to minimize splintering of the veneer on your plywood sheet goods

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1685 posts in 2793 days


#15 posted 03-30-2014 02:15 PM

I use the set up kdc68 showed. I have made several of these. I keep two in the shop, an 8’er and a 4’er. Never even considered a track saw. I have gone right from this devise to the build they are that accurate.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

5246 posts in 1890 days


#16 posted 03-30-2014 02:42 PM

I know that I would like a track saw, but not sure I really need one. The way I have my shop currently set up I have no problem breaking down sheet goods on my table saw. That said the track saw concept does look like it would be convenient on occasion. Given the additional cost over a circular saw, it doesn’t represent enough of a value for me to justify. I just can’t see a ~ $100 circular saw and another $400 or so for $15 worth of extruded aluminum.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View bbc557ci's profile

bbc557ci

595 posts in 2243 days


#17 posted 03-30-2014 02:57 PM

I have almost 500 BF of rough cut Ash that I’ve been putting a straight edge on one side, so I can rip it to proper widths on the table saw. I have a schit load of 8s, 10s, and 12s that all needed one straight edge. So, I made a 12 foot straight edge, similar to the ones in the link kdc68 put up. It works perfectly. Is it fancy??... no. Did it cost allot??...no. Does it git’r done??... hell yeah :o)

As far as breaking down 4×8 sheet goods an 8 foot or 4 foot home made straight edge will work just fine.

-- Bill, central NY...no where near the "big apple"

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4863 posts in 3217 days


#18 posted 03-30-2014 03:04 PM

It seems that the conclusion is : you do not need a track saw.
You might want one and end up buying one but you do not really need one.

-- Bert

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

386 posts in 1838 days


#19 posted 03-30-2014 04:00 PM

True you don’t really need a track saw, as there are other methods that will work. The track setup just makes it more convenient. I have a circular saw and was using it and a straight edge to break down my plywood sheets. It worked ok but when they put the Makita on sale I decided to get one and I haven’t regretted the decision. With the Makita I don’t need to cut oversize and then trim it on my table saw. The Makita is accurate enough and leaves a good enough edge to just cut to size, when I want to.

-- Earl

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2252 posts in 2615 days


#20 posted 03-30-2014 05:55 PM

b2rtch,jumbojack,kdc68,I,m with you guys, use the same diy track kdc mentioned and never found a need fto buy a track saw but I’m sure if I had to cut 4’x8’ sheet goods often(2-3 times a week) I would consider buying one.
I would put a track saw in the ”would be nice to have” list just above a moisture meter.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Bieser's profile

Bieser

176 posts in 2204 days


#21 posted 03-31-2014 12:56 AM

I bought a Festool TS55 last year. Expensive stuff but not sure what I did before I had it.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#22 posted 03-31-2014 01:55 AM

I am surprised that so many of you are so happy with the traditional style of cutting guide. I have had that style as well as these. I find that the clamps to hold the track down get in the way on the first style and on both types I find I can’t hold the saw tight enough to the fence and the cut wanders. I know on my limited Festool experience that the track kept the saw from wandering and gave good cuts. Maybe a more more powerful saw than the one= that I have would help?

People that saw they can’t live without it, what specifically have you found it great for?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

3180 posts in 3400 days


#23 posted 03-31-2014 02:17 AM

I use mine to cut down sheet goods and to rip a straight edge on rough lumber.
Mine is the Scheppach ($119 from Woot!). I also bought a 55 inch straight track from Grizzly. They are the same, just different paint scheme.

I bought a pair of Dewalt track clamps. They are working very well. I will be using it either tomorrow or the next day to do more of the same (plywood and rough 4/4 maple).

Cross cutting two sides for a cabinet. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Whiskers's profile

Whiskers

389 posts in 2196 days


#24 posted 03-31-2014 03:11 AM

I thought about a track saw but they are just so expensive, and I couldn’t see justification for the cost. Than over time I sort of developed my own way of doing things and now see no reason for one. When I need to break down sheet goods I wrestle it over to my utility trailer, which I keep blocked up level. Toss a board with a good straight edge onto the proper point, and attach it down with C clamps. I also have roller stands for supporting the overhanging side of the wood. Than I just slice it with my circular saw. Never a problem and I get a perfect cut every time. The utility trailer puts it at a perfect height to work and is heavy enough that I know it not getting tipped over or going to shift like saw horses.

View lanwater's profile

lanwater

3111 posts in 3103 days


#25 posted 03-31-2014 05:33 AM

I have a festool and I wish I never bought.
Let me say it’s a great product. however I seldom use it. I now think I can just use a cheapo circular saw to break plywood sheet and finish it on my cabinet saw.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4863 posts in 3217 days


#26 posted 03-31-2014 09:43 AM

BentheViking, I use big spring clamps and I hold the saw tight to the guide as I cut and I works just fine.
I have a good Freud blade on my cheap Skill saw ,I cut on the top of a piece of rigid insulation on an old door and saw horses.
It works just fine.

-- Bert

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1107 posts in 2215 days


#27 posted 03-31-2014 02:17 PM

The going trend on this topic is much of the same thoughts repeating. Since I’m also contemplating a track saw, let me try to summarize:
  • A track saw is engineered to serve a specific type of job, cutting in a straight line and it does a good job at that
  • The cost of a track saw can be really high, and it’s possible to make your own guide for less
  • Given that a track is engineered for a specific purpose, reproducing the function and tolerances for it would warrant a cost benefit analysis of your time vs. the cost
  • The engineering of a track saw could (not would) make it more user friendly, and versatile in different situations where the track isn’t put down on a semi-parallel plane to level (a-la post 13)
  • Some say the cost of a track saw is not justifiable, whereas others tout the merits being justifiable. One can only conclude that YMMV
  • The brand plays a role in how creative the manufacturer applies the straight line mentality of a track (e.g. Festool is very creative)

So if I were to conclude anything, it sounds like Ben has liked his experience with a Festool track saw before, and given his intended use for a track saw, the question is more a “do I want a track saw BECAUSE it would make my life easier in scenarios x, y, and z”

-- paxorion

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1685 posts in 2793 days


#28 posted 03-31-2014 02:31 PM

I use a big Mag 77 worm drive Skil saw on my DIY ‘track’. I dont have a wander problem. I keep my blades sharp and use 2×4s on saw horses. Everything is solid and stable, the off cut is supported. The 2×4s are stored on the top rail of my backyard fence, only one is sacrificial, so they last a long time.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View roofner's profile

roofner

124 posts in 2452 days


#29 posted 04-01-2014 01:33 AM

The grizzly tracksaw works good with a couple of modifications.

Here is the link Your talking about a tracksaw with 8 ft capacity for $300.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqqcmC5UY5E

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#30 posted 04-01-2014 03:31 PM

Thanks for all the responses. Unfortunately for me I still haven’t decided.

I know I’d like it. I know of some projects I could definitely use it for (I’m redoing all 13 interior doors in the house). But when I weigh a $300 saw system to do a project that only costs about $400 (were using inexpensive molded hollow doors) it makes me question do I really want it.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3817 days


#31 posted 04-01-2014 04:08 PM

EZ smart track saw systems are what I prefer. This is
mostly because there are a lot of good accessories
available for it and they aren’t nearly as pricey as
the comparable Festool accessories. Makita, Dewalt
and others have rudimentary accessories available only.

The rubber wear strip on the Festool track does not
get chewed up every time you bevel. The saw is
designed so that’s not an issue. The strip does lose
that “pencil line” accuracy pretty quick though. The
plunging of the saw is what does it I think… the strip
becomes uneven. While the strip still locates the cut
well enough, the anti-chip function deteriorates.
Replacement strips are about $12 each as I recall.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#32 posted 04-01-2014 04:10 PM

loren what do you mean ez smart track saw system?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1107 posts in 2215 days


#33 posted 04-01-2014 07:21 PM

I believe Loren is referring to the Eureka Zone (http://www.eurekazone.com/)

-- paxorion

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1107 posts in 2215 days


#34 posted 04-01-2014 07:34 PM

I couldn’t find this video earlier, but this just about sums up how a (Festool?) tracksaw can change the way you do things. I especially like the use beginning at 1:10. http://vimeo.com/77708014

It’s not a Festool it’s a dead tool!

-- paxorion

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4488 posts in 3911 days


#35 posted 04-01-2014 07:40 PM

If you have a circular saw already – - it is a want… but a really smooth pretty one, that doesnt encourage/promote swearing when cutting down sheet stock.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#36 posted 04-01-2014 08:53 PM

how narrow of a board can you cut using a track saw?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

386 posts in 1838 days


#37 posted 04-01-2014 09:49 PM

I don’t know how small a board you could use it for but I routinely use mine to cut down long pieces of 6 to 12 inch wide boards. It’s just easier to throw the board down, measure off the length, lay the track across it and cut it, then to use another method.

-- Earl

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

4004 posts in 1937 days


#38 posted 04-01-2014 09:57 PM

Can a track saw handle a 16-3/8” saw?

-- earthartandfoods.com

View carver1942's profile

carver1942

93 posts in 1873 days


#39 posted 04-01-2014 10:33 PM

I use the TrueTrac track saw system. Works with your circular saw. I use it to break down plywood for building cabinets. If your’re careful with your layout marks it cuts good enough to not need a table saw. For me the $250 was well spent. It’s sold by a family owned company and they’re great to do business with.
This is their site. http://www.insighttoolworks.com/

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3817 days


#40 posted 04-01-2014 10:37 PM

People use the EZsmart tracks with Makita beam saws for cutting
slabs, beams and SIPs. So that track system at least can
be adapted to take a beam saw.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#41 posted 04-02-2014 12:31 AM

I just checked out the truetrac and ezsmart systems. Both seem like great systems, but to do a 8’+ systems is more or less the same price as the grizzly which you get a saw with. Those other kits seem very expensive for some plastic and aluminum components

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#42 posted 04-02-2014 12:34 AM

and after the video paxorion posted my new #1 requirement is a saw that can cut a sandwich in half perfectly

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3817 days


#43 posted 04-02-2014 12:41 AM

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8473 posts in 2746 days


#44 posted 04-02-2014 01:00 AM

Another advantage of a track saw is the dust extraction that

keeps the work place clean, reduces clean up time and keeps

your customers happy because you keep the dust out

of their homes.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#45 posted 04-02-2014 01:23 AM

loren have you used that doortrimguide? it seems similar to ones that others have posted in this thread that are made out of plywood but a heck of a lot cheaper?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3817 days


#46 posted 04-02-2014 01:30 AM

I have not used it. I don’t hang many doors.

I do use a track saw though. I invested in the first imported
generation of the the Festool. I liked it fine but the accessories
didn’t work that well. Then they introduced another version
but none of the accessories were backwards compatible.

I sold it and bought the Eurekazone. I build cabinets and
furniture. I like it better than the Festool for what I do,
though the Festool does have superior dust collection.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#47 posted 04-13-2014 01:29 AM

I finally pulled the trigger on the Grizzly yesterday…then I find out that its backordered to July. Guess I’m gonna have to wait a bit longer to find out all the projects i can do with a track saw

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1107 posts in 2215 days


#48 posted 04-13-2014 03:11 AM

Looking forward to hear your impression on it.

-- paxorion

View Whiskers's profile

Whiskers

389 posts in 2196 days


#49 posted 04-13-2014 03:17 AM

Ben, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Grizzly’s performance on backorders is atrocious. I would cancel that order to keep your options open, put some watches on other track saws from Amazon etc so you can leap on them if they have a good deal show up, and watch your local craigslist etc. July is a long way away, and with Grizzly’s reputation for finally getting stock in on things they backorder, it may be July 2016 before they get it in.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1782 posts in 2733 days


#50 posted 04-16-2014 01:16 AM

Well apparently the guy I ordered from is named Maurice Ron (Mo Ron) for short. Saw shipped Friday afternoon (within a few hours of ordering) and it arrived today. Can’t wait until Thursday when I’m off to test it out!!!

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

1 2 next »
57 replies


DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com