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table saw vs track/plunge saw

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Forum topic by fiddlebanshee posted 05-29-2010 01:04 PM 12465 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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fiddlebanshee

195 posts in 2411 days


05-29-2010 01:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw plunge saw question

I’m contemplating that I need something to cut larger pieces of wood that is a bit better than a handheld circular saw. I was at woodcraft yesterday and they have the festool plunge saw TS55 for sale at $450. So I was thinking whether this piece of equipment could replace a table saw. I have a dewalt circular saw and a shopmade masonite straightedge. I’m still having problems keeping the thing straight when I saw mainly, I think because it is rather heavy.

Can you do everything you can do on a tablesaw with a plungesaw? I’d think that with the portability of the plunge saw it’d be more convenient (you carry the saw, not the sheetgoods). But then perhaps the plunge saw is more limited in its use.

What say you?

I’m not terribly interested in a debate regarding the different brands, I know that dewalt, makita and festool all make this thing and that they are more or less comparable in quality and price. The festool is on sale now, making it actually cheaper than the other two brands, so that would be my deciding factor.

-- As if I needed another hobby!


34 replies so far

View Rey's profile

Rey

7 posts in 3289 days


#1 posted 05-29-2010 01:22 PM

Hi fiddlebanshee,

I haven’t posted much here on LJ, but I use the Festool TS55 and MFT quite a bit. I wrote a retrospective article about the TS55 and MFT from Festool a few years ago. My current shop is built around the TS55 and MFT. I don’t have a tablesaw and have not been limited in my work without one.

I would not argue against having a tablesaw though. They are GREAT tools! But the plunge saw systems are great as well.

If you are interested, here is a link my Festool article. It is hosted by Adobe.
https://acrobat.com/#d=tQsY7fBWT1mHNeg7F5gE4Q

Regards
Rey

-- Fine sawdust maker and Festool enthusiast

View JBoss's profile

JBoss

37 posts in 2514 days


#2 posted 05-29-2010 01:31 PM

Assuming you anouther way to make dados, grooves, and rabbets such as a router or plow plane, then it should work out fine. While I would like to get a plunge saw for breaking down full sheets, it would not replace the table saw in my shop simply because it is so easy to get make the cut on the Table saw versus the plunge saw (slide my fence over vs aligning and clamping everytime i need to make a cut)

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fiddlebanshee

195 posts in 2411 days


#3 posted 05-29-2010 01:43 PM

Yes, I have a router, router table and a plunge base for the router so I am pretty well setup I think for dados, grooves, rabbets and the like.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View Sailor's profile

Sailor

543 posts in 2731 days


#4 posted 05-29-2010 01:50 PM

I just recently purchased the Festool TS55 and I really like, I think everyone does which is why I bought one. I also got it for the $450 price and I think it was well worth the money.

As for “replaceing” a tablesaw completely I say no. There are so many things you can do easily on a table saw that can’t be done as easily on a router table or with a plunge saw. I just recently built my first cut off sled for my table saw and it really makes cutting small to moderate size pieces so quick and easy. Like JBoss said you really need a way to cut rabbets and dados and a table saw is probably best suited for that job since you can usually cut them the correct size in one pass.

I disagree somewhat with the fact that JBoss makes it sound a bit difficult to use the plunge saw due to having to clamp it down. I haven’t even tried using my TS55 with clamps. I have found that like everyone who has one says, you really don’t need to clamp it down for most cuts.

If you do go with the plunge saw for ripping down plywood then I would suggest getting the longer track that is capable of cutting down the 8’ length of the plywood. I didn’t and I think I will end up buying one in the future. I do however think that it’s nice to have the shorter one also since it’s not as difficult to move around as the long one.

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! http://woodworkingtrip.blogspot.com/ Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SailingAndSuch

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Sailor

543 posts in 2731 days


#5 posted 05-29-2010 01:53 PM

We both posted at the same time. Well if you are satisfued with your router then I say go for it!

The only bad thing about Festool products is that when you buy one and you see how great of a tool they make it will make you want to see how their other tools are compared to the rest. But then they are much higher priced and you will be wanting to spend some big bucks on some tools, but I am sure they would be worth it.

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! http://woodworkingtrip.blogspot.com/ Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SailingAndSuch

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2540 days


#6 posted 05-29-2010 02:11 PM

I have both a plunge saw (ts 55) and a table saw as well as a miter saw. Each one serves a purpose and there is a lot of overlap (i.e. there are lots of cuts I could make on at least 2 of the 3 different saws). However, if I could only have one saw it would be the plunge saw.

It’s been noted elsewhere that the plunge saw does not do dados and that’s true but you can make multiple passes with the regular saw blade to create a dado. Further, there are other options for making dados.

A cut that the plunge saw is weak at is cutting small pieces of wood. If I were doing work that required cutting a lot of small pieces (which I hate to do) I would elect the TS over a plunge saw. Otherwise, a plunge saw is the most versatile.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View fiddlebanshee's profile

fiddlebanshee

195 posts in 2411 days


#7 posted 05-29-2010 02:28 PM

@Richgreer: “A cut that the plunge saw is weak at is cutting small pieces of wood. If I were doing work that required cutting a lot of small pieces (which I hate to do) I would elect the TS over a plunge saw. Otherwise, a plunge saw is the most versatile.”

But that you could do safely on a miter saw, no? I also have a mitersaw. I actually thought it was not very safe to cut small pieces on a TS but since I don’t own one, this is pure hearsay.

So far I see the advantages of a plunge saw over a table saw in order of importance to me:

1. safety (seems to me that a plunge saw is less accident prone)
2. accuracy
3. portability and takes up less space in shop
4. versatility (less important as I have a router and a miter saw)

The woodcraft sale lasts till Monday, so I’ll have to pretty much decide by then.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View Tim Lawson's profile

Tim Lawson

17 posts in 2417 days


#8 posted 05-29-2010 02:34 PM

I think that the track & plunge saw vs tablesaw is not a question of which is better but a question of what do you plan to do and how much space do you have in your shop. A good and and safe table saw setup requires space, an out feed table (for working with longer pieces or sheet goods) and dust collection. A table saw excels when you have to make lots of small pieces very consistently or ripping long narrow stock. A plunge saw with a track (go for the 8’ track)) is a much safer way to cut sheet goods than a table saw.

When we teach homeshop cabinetmaking we use a plunge saw and track with the plywood supported by two sheets of pink insulating foam. We set up two low sawhorses supporting a sheet of shop ply; on that we lay the foam and then the sheet goods you’re going to cut. The pink foam is sacrificial but can be used for a long time – if the blade plunges into it just doesn’t matter.

Rereading the thread I think I’m amplifying Rich’s answer.

Good luck

Tim

-- Tim Lawson http://www.ptwoodschool.com http://www.timlawson.net

View Rey's profile

Rey

7 posts in 3289 days


#9 posted 05-29-2010 02:36 PM

You can indeed make grooves, dadoes, rebates, cove and lap cuts with the Festool TS55 saw. I do it all the time. I also cut small pieces with it safely and accurately.

There is much that can be done with the TS55 and table. There can be overlap with other tools, depending on what you have in your shop. Take for example, making a groove. It can be done with the Festool setup, but it can also be done with a router or a TS, if you have it. But, the Festool setup can do it.

Take making coves, you probably wouldn’t think of the Festool plunge saw for this type of cut. But, sure enough, it can do it. Though, if you had a TS, you’d likely go with that to make the cove cut.

Rey

-- Fine sawdust maker and Festool enthusiast

View ,'s profile

,

2387 posts in 3012 days


#10 posted 05-29-2010 03:47 PM

I love our table saw and have given track saws a thought or two in the past. I have a hard time believing I could get the same out of the track saw as I do the table saw. When I build a kitchen, I can break down 5 or 10 sheets of plywood in a jiffy with no issues with our set up.

But, I love new toys and who knows, maybe some day.

-- .

View fiddlebanshee's profile

fiddlebanshee

195 posts in 2411 days


#11 posted 05-29-2010 04:09 PM

Skeezics: Leesburg is in the northern most part of VA. It’s probably a 6 hour drive. Don’t think so for a couple of tracks. The issue I have with the circ saw is the weight, it’s not just having a track for it. I lifted the festool at Woodcraft and it was much lighter than my heavy duty dewalt circ saw.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3043 days


#12 posted 05-29-2010 05:03 PM

I don’t have a track saw and don’t feel the need for one so If in doubt buy a table saw first it can do more than cut sheet goods and with a good outfeed table you may not ever need a track saw. To each there own if a track saw works for others I say enjoy.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 2752 days


#13 posted 05-29-2010 06:36 PM

Here is my opinion, for what it’s worth. I have done woodworking for about 45 years, so obviously I started in a era when there were no track saws. Since I am a Festool dealer, my first inclination is to push the track saw.
I use the TS55 and absolutely love it. My wife uses it some, and I’m much more comfortable with her using it rather than my table saw. Everyone has pointed out the versatiliy of plunge saws and I would agree.

However —-Your question was basically—-which one—Table saw or Plunge saw? If you told me I had to make a choice based on my woodworking, I would have to stick with a table saw. I realize you can get by with only a plunge saw, and depending on what you do that might work well. As much as I like using my TS55, I would not give up my table saws. If all I did was sheet goods my answer might be different. Most of my work is solid lumber so the table saw makes more since to me. Ripping multiple pieces is faster. Mitered boxes—again easier, especially smaller pieces (Use a sled) Dados, unless you do them with a router, are easier and more practical with a table saw.

In a perfect world, you could have both. We rarely have that luxury. Your are asking a very valid question. I hope all of the answers together will help you find what’s right for you.

-- http://shepherdtoolandsupply.com/

View fiddlebanshee's profile

fiddlebanshee

195 posts in 2411 days


#14 posted 05-29-2010 06:43 PM

@Kent: “Most of my work is solid lumber so the table saw makes more since to me. “

Can you or someone else elaborate on this? Why does the TS make more sense when cutting solid lumber? Is it the depth of the cut? The narrowness of the stock? The horsepowers?

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View Sailor's profile

Sailor

543 posts in 2731 days


#15 posted 05-29-2010 06:54 PM

The track saw best probably for cutting up large sheet good accurately. If you are using alot of solid lumber it will most often be in sizes that are managable on a table saw.

It’s just that a full sheet of plywood can be difficult to handle safely on a table saw. MDF is the worst it HEAVY!

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! http://woodworkingtrip.blogspot.com/ Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SailingAndSuch

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