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Grizzly Track Saw Review

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 04-11-2013 04:15 PM 3552 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Back in January, we discussed Grizzly getting into the track saw game. Predictions were made, claims were refuted, blood was spilled. OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was very clear that lots of folks were waiting to see how this saw performs. I really don’t have much spare time in my schedule right now but I decided to fast-track (haha, get it? track?) this review so that you can hopefully make a more informed purchase decision, if you happen to be interested in this unit.

grizzly-track-saw-3The Grizzly T0687 Track Saw retails for $179.95 and the track retails for $49.95, as of April 2013. This price point is the reason why I’m doing this review. At this stage of the game, a new track saw hitting the market at the going rate of $400+ would just be white noise and probably wouldn’t catch my attention. But the fact that folks can potentially know the joys of the track saw world for only $230 is something worth talking about. And here’s a little disclaimer: This is not a complete feature by feature review. Most of you know that’s not how I do things here. I am sure there will be plenty of hardcore reviews for you to enjoy from other publishers in the near future. My goal is to simply give you my thoughts upon initial inspection and use. Nothing more.

The Inevitable Comparison
As much as I tried to evaulate this tool solely on its own merits, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons between it and other track saws on the market. As a long-time Festool user, most of my comparisons will involve the Festool TS55 and TS75. I did spent a small amount of time with DeWalt’s track saw and even did a review of it back in 2009. So while I admit to being somewhat biased toward the big green machine, I like to think most of you know that I am fair and honest when it comes to tool discussions.

I made several cuts with the saw and evaluated the attributes that are most important to me: build quality, cut quality, and dust collection.

Build Quality:
Overall, the saw feels a little “cheap” in my hands. The plastic parts and knobs are rough, square, and not ergonomically designed. This is a minor detail that does not affect performance, but it’s something to consider. While most of the parts on a Festool saw are also plastic, they are molded in such a way they they feel smooth and comfortable.

cam-adjustmentI had no trouble getting the saw to align on the track with little to no slop. The operation of the cam adjustment knobs is a little clunky, but it didn’t seem to impact setup or prevent me from attaining a slop-free ride.

wobbleSpeaking of the track, everything looked good to my eye with one exception: a little wobble. I don’t mean the kind of wobble that results from a sloppy fit between the track and the slot in the saw base. This was a wobble that results from rocking the saw back and forth using the handle. When applying downward pressure on the left side of the saw, the right side lifts up off the track, as you can see in the image. Depending on where you place your pressure while sawing, the effective cutting angle will change. This is a problem and I have to imagine this is going to impact cut quality in the long run. And just so you know, I checked both the saw base and the track and neither one is cupped.

hand-positionI also noticed that the spring is difficult to compress when plunging. Part of the problem lies in the orientation of the handle (perfectly vertical) and the thumb safety release (angled back toward the user). This is going to make it fatiguing to use use this tool for repeated cuts and almost necessitates having two hands on the saw while plunging. Now I realize in the ideal world, we would have two hands on the saw at all times. But anyone who uses a circular saw to cut plywood knows that many cuts will require you to use the saw with one hand. Part of the joy of owning a track saw is the fact that a guided cut makes one-handed operation much safer and predictable. So if you happen to have weak wrists, plunging the saw with one hand is going to range from painful to impossible. To test my assertions, I had Nicole try plunging the saw with one hand a few times. After three plunges, she said “ouch” and added a few expletives to express her displeasure with my experiment and the subsequent pain in her thumb and wrist. Oops.

Cut Quality
blade-closeupThe cut quality was acceptable. The included blade is better than what comes with any other circular saw on the market (at least from initial inspection) and competes well with my upgraded Frued blades. After the cut, the keeper piece had a mostly acceptable amount of tearout that could be sanded away. The off-cut didn’t fare quite as well but was still in decent shape. Results are way better than I usually get with my regular circular saw, but not quite the same table saw quality cuts I get from my Festool saws.

Dust Collection
dust-comparisonQuite a bit of dust escapes the saw. Fortunately, it doesn’t spew the dust all over the shop like a traditional circular saw. The dust that does escape seems to do so in a very localized way. So there was a nice pile of sawdust sitting on top of the off-cut piece after the cut was complete. Festool saws have nearly perfect dust collection in most situations.

Compatibility
Because I knew many of you would want to know, I decided to test compatibility between Festool and Grizzly components I had on-hand. While the Grizzly track takes Festool clamps and accessories just fine, it does not accept the Festool saw. Not only is the groove on the saw too small for the guide rail, the blade would wind up cutting into the aluminum track. So that’s a no-go. The Grizzly saw does, however, fit on the Festool track, but the saw blade extends out well beyond the rubber splinter guard. The Grizzly saw freely accepts the standard Festool extractor hose.

Final Thoughts
If you were hoping to get a $500 saw for $230, you will be disappointed. But if you’re looking to get a capable plunging circular saw with the advantages of a track system and somewhat decent dust collection, I think the Grizzly is an excellent buy. It isn’t going to give you perfect table saw quality cuts, at least as presented, and the low price comes at the expense of some comfort and general build quality. But it will cut plywood with greater accuracy and control than the typical circular saw setup.

The final verdit here is something that could be up for interpretation as there are two ways to look at it. If we compare this saw to the other saws on the market like the Festool, the Grizzly falls short in just about every area. Duh! An important piece of information came from Grizzly themselves when I inquired about this tool back in January. They said (paraphrasing) that comparing their saw to Festool is a little like comparing a Toyota to a Lexus. They both will get you to the store and back but there are key differences between the two brands.

In my opinion, the real comparison we need to make here is not with Festool, or even DeWalt or Makita. Instead, we need to focus on the standard circular saw market. And in that regard, this saw really kicks some butt! I can only compare the experience to my Porter Cable saw that I’ve been using for years now, and this saw and track system outperforms it in just about every way.

Want to Win This Saw?
If you’d like an opportunity to win the saw I purchased for testing purposes, simply fill out the form below. One entry per person please.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com



15 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2394 days


#1 posted 04-11-2013 04:27 PM

great review.

I concur – I noticed the same things with the Scheppach equivalent model (same saw, different color – sells for $200 with a 2-piece track). it does feel cheapy/plasticy, and the controls/knobs are low cost rough molded. While it is a track saw I don’t think it can be compared to the higher grade models (fest/makita) in terms of quality of machine, ergonomics, etc, but it does provide track saw capabilities to the rest of us at an affordable cost.

for the record – I also ordered an Oshlun 48tooth blade with it that seems to have much larger carbide teeth and a more stable blade all together.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

636 posts in 1437 days


#2 posted 04-11-2013 04:50 PM

Great review!!! I will have to look into that

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View YanktonSD's profile

YanktonSD

190 posts in 1278 days


#3 posted 04-11-2013 05:21 PM

Awesome review! I think the grizzly will put a track saw in the hands of many people who could not afford a festool or other similar brands. I myself would be very interested in this saw since I only use a cordless porter cable and get sick of bad quality cuts and loss of battery power. Hope I win your give away or that it goes to someone who will use it.
Long Live Wood Whisperer!

View Jorge Velez's profile

Jorge Velez

344 posts in 1332 days


#4 posted 04-11-2013 05:30 PM

Great Review Marc as ussual, I defenietly can use this track saw, it will be a pretty good upgrade from my current saw. the problem is that I can’t get tools like this where I leave. not available here.

-- Jorge Velez, Guadalajara, Mexico.

View Julian's profile

Julian

555 posts in 1436 days


#5 posted 04-11-2013 05:47 PM

I would guess the spring could be easily replaced so that the resistance is less but enough to push the saw back up. The wobble is something perhaps Grizzly could fix. The $230 price is much more inline with what I would be willing to pay for a track saw. Festool makes great tools but as a hobbyist I could not justify spending that much.
Thanks for the review.

-- Julian

View Timthemailman's profile

Timthemailman

301 posts in 1522 days


#6 posted 04-11-2013 05:53 PM

Thanks for the review. Nice video, lots of info.

View Nicky's profile

Nicky

636 posts in 2838 days


#7 posted 04-11-2013 06:07 PM

Excellent review.

-- Nicky

View jonsajerk's profile

jonsajerk

34 posts in 1071 days


#8 posted 04-11-2013 09:30 PM

Nice!

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

623 posts in 1526 days


#9 posted 04-11-2013 09:42 PM

An extremely fair and comprehensive review – and I envy your ability to speak without ums and ahs and still make perfect sense!

-- Don, Somerset UK, http://www.donjohnson24.co.uk

View Skylark53's profile

Skylark53

2565 posts in 1806 days


#10 posted 04-11-2013 09:46 PM

Thanks for this very fine review. I just very nearly ordered this saw last week. I’m still thinking it through.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View Roger's profile

Roger

15269 posts in 1550 days


#11 posted 04-12-2013 11:58 AM

Thnx for the review Marc

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View JT Thomas's profile

JT Thomas

14 posts in 2703 days


#12 posted 04-13-2013 12:46 AM

Great review. Thanks for sharing.

-- JT - "It only costs a nickle more to go first class!"

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1157 posts in 2745 days


#13 posted 04-13-2013 01:50 PM

Sounds like a good fair review to me. The balance between a Lexus and a Toyota is a fair one. I’ve always thought the $500+ models are waaaayyyy overpriced for the money. For $500 +, I’d be thinking of buying a table saw. The main reason to buy a tool like this is for onsite work or have limited space to manage a piece of plywood on your table saw.

At $230! I’m sure it’s fit for purpose and will have the competitors saying (Oh Shi-dust”) we are about to take a dive in sales with this new model on the market.

-- Bob A in NJ

View bluplanet's profile

bluplanet

37 posts in 1408 days


#14 posted 03-03-2014 06:26 AM

I might know where the wobble comes from. I worked for an aluminum extrusion company for years. The extrusions are pressed out of the extrusion die like toothpaste, or like one of those Play-Doh extruders, but at over 600 degrees and tons of pressure.

The aluminum emerges from the extrusion die onto a conveyor that’s moving a bit faster than the aluminum but the conveyor is a bit slippery, so it works.
But the aluminum is really soft, and the distortions in it are obvious as it lays on the conveyor table.

After the billet is fully extruded, the table walks the new 40’to 60’ extrusion sideways over to a stretcher. The stretcher clamps each end in a vise and stretches the aluminum straight.

This is a process that works fine for most shapes, but for wide flat shapes, the stretching tends to put a bow in the profile if it’s stretched too much. Shapes as wide as the track for a track saw would actually be very difficult to stretch with no bow in them. I’m not sure how other manufacturers accomplish it—maybe they use a thicker walled track which would help.

You can simulate this issue yourself. Next time you go to the produce department at the grocery, buy something that has one of those really wide rubber bands around it. When you get home, cut the rubber band and pinch it’s two ends as flat as you can in each hand. Then stretch it and see what happens to the middle of the rubber band.

I think that’s what happened.

If you buy one and it wobbles, I wonder if you can return it with a complaint. A replacement that was cut out of a different extrusion that was stretched a little less may not have a bow at all.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5119 posts in 2458 days


#15 posted 03-27-2014 09:50 PM

Good review and I applaud your rule of deleting the dupes!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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