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Forum topic by Jim posted 02-15-2011 09:14 AM 5173 views 1 time favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jim's profile


10 posts in 2625 days

02-15-2011 09:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tracksaw track saw newbie table saw

Been lurking for awhile and have decided to jump into the fray due to some good fortune.

I’ve been tinkering with limited tools on small projects and have recently been given $700 in Sears gift cards which my wife is allowing me to use to upgrade. At this point the only power tools I have are a Dremel and a pretty nice DeWalt cordless drill/driver.

I’ve been wanting to put together a small workbench and a reloading bench for awhile now but don’t want to keep having to go to the in-laws to use their saw and router so this is my opportunity to get my own setup.

My question is what do I get? I initially thought about getting a Craftsman router and a DeWalt tracksaw – Both of which can be had within my budget. I’ve done a lot of research on the tracksaw vs table saw debate and based on what I can find (and being limited to what Sears offers) the tracksaw/router route would seem to give me the most flexibility.

What do you guys think?

29 replies so far

View cabs4less's profile


235 posts in 2729 days

#1 posted 02-16-2011 01:35 AM

track saw sure but I will never buy a craftsman router I bought one two days later it siezed up the replacemnet one did also in three hours of being turned on. O own several dewalt routers and I put them through the ringer with no problems.

-- As Best I Can

View Jim's profile


10 posts in 2625 days

#2 posted 02-16-2011 04:21 AM

Thanks for the feedback cabs.

I should share my plan B – Although it would likely involve Craftsman tools depending on what I can find on

I think I could get the following for around my budget which may provide more versatility:
- Router ($150)
- Circ Saw ($150)
- Miter Saw ($175)
- Straight Edge System ($60)
- Jig Saw ($100)

But will I get the quality of cuts needed from a straight edge/circ saw combo?

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 02-16-2011 05:26 AM


Somewhat unorthodox but let me suggest selling the gift card for cash and buying used or other brand tools with proven track record…just a thought…

If you go the used route, you can count on getting about twice the amount of tools you would otherwise. Craig’s list has been an invaluable source for me. Just make sure you know what you are looking for when you go looking at used tools :).

You will find many threads here on what first tools to buy and brands to consider and stay away from. The reviews section may come in handy as well.

I would consider a table saw (at least a cast iron top contractor’s saw with a decent fence), router, jointer and planer, in that order, in terms of power tools.

One recommendation I see frequently is not to rush into buying all the tools at once and let your needs and too good to pass up deals dictate the tools you buy. I have found this to be valuable advice.

Good luck.

-- Tampa-FL

View WoodLe's profile


155 posts in 2763 days

#4 posted 02-16-2011 05:57 AM

#1 Buy a good tablesaw.

-- Wooster, Ohio

View Dandog's profile


250 posts in 2741 days

#5 posted 02-16-2011 06:24 AM

Table saw ,best one you can buy and don’t spend 60 bucks on a straight edge.Get a good 4’ T square.

-- life an woodworking is one big experiment

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2854 days

#6 posted 02-16-2011 11:19 PM

Table saw. I have routers, miter saws, drum sander, jointer, thickness plainer ect but I use the table saw most of the time. I also agree with Dandog about a good T square.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5623 posts in 2780 days

#7 posted 02-16-2011 11:26 PM

Spend it all on the tablesaw. Too bad it’s a sears card, and not Rockler or Woodcraft!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Jim's profile


10 posts in 2625 days

#8 posted 02-17-2011 12:08 AM

Seems like nearly a unanimous vote to go the table saw route….I’m surprised the tracksaw gets no love.

Maybe I’ll wait and try to get the Craftsman 22116 on sale for around $700….It would seem to be my best option.

View Mojo1's profile


265 posts in 2657 days

#9 posted 02-17-2011 01:18 AM

I would say table saw too, mine, a craftsman, is about to give up, it is 20 years old though and I hope to upgrade in the not to near future.

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3343 days

#10 posted 02-17-2011 01:50 AM

I can’t imagine life without my TS, but in fairness, I’ve never tried a Tracksaw.

The 22116 is a successor to the very popular and well regarded 22124…both made by Steel City/Orion, both have true yoke style cabinet mounted trunnions. The 22124 was a very good saw with a great track record. The 22116 adds a riving knife, one piece cast arbor carriage, and granite top. $700 is a nice deal on it. If you decide to go that route, I’d put the bulk of the gift cards towards the saw….router money is easier to come by than TS money! LOL. If you don’t find a sale price anytime soon, you can always start talking with managers and tell them you’d buy it for $700, and explain that you’ve seen on sale at that price on more than one occasion….it only takes one to say “yes”. :-)

The current Craftsman routers typically get very high praise from owners for offering very good performance and excellent value, and they have nothing in common with the Ryobi made routers from 5, 10 or 20 years ago.

A TS and router are my top two tools, and I rarely use my CMS or circ saw….YMMV.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Jim's profile


10 posts in 2625 days

#11 posted 02-17-2011 02:08 AM

Thanks again for all the feedback – I’ll give talking the sears manager down a go! I think if I add a sled to this setup I should be in good shape…..I’ll just track down a used router on Craiglist then start posting my projects.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2959 days

#12 posted 02-17-2011 05:44 AM

+1 to Camper’s suggestion. You can readily find people to buy giftcards at >90% face value on Craigslist. eBay is easier, but then you’re losing more of your cash to eBay fees. That gives you $630 cash that you can spend anywhere.

I’m not an expert, but this forum has plenty of them so you’ll get a lot of good advice. A circular saw and a straightedge can give you acceptable cuts, but I think most would agree with me that you’ll get better cuts and more accuracy on a table saw, not to mention you can work much faster on a table saw. I’ve never used a track saw but from what I’ve read the cut quality is excellent, but I think they’re geared more towards mobility and or people who need to do a lot as far as breaking down sheet goods. Not to mention, you can’t dado, rabbet, or work with small workpieces using a track saw.

As for routers, I have an $80 Craftsman router than I picked up secondhand for 30 or 40 bucks and am happy with it. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but I don’t think they’re as horrible as some people make them out to be.

I guess a lot of your decision depends on how much you see yourself using the tools, and what if any budget you think you’ll have available to spend on new tools in the coming months/years. If it’s a one time deal and you’ll never spend any money on tools for the next few years, then I’d say it makes sense to get the tools that let you do as much as possible. On the other hand, if you can throw 100 or 200 bucks a month at tools, then it may make more sense to spend all of your money now on one really good tool and slowly build up your inventory. I started getting into woodworking about a year ago and have probably spent > 5k on related stuff since then. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. No matter how much stuff you accumulate, there’s always more cool stuff to buy. It’s an addicting, expensive, hobby. :)

View joshtank's profile


224 posts in 2940 days

#13 posted 02-17-2011 06:12 AM

Tablesaw / sears card to cash for Craigslist is the jam. I have a phone app and CL is a daily quick check. The rss feeds are nice too for having it search specific items.

-- Josh - Jacksonville, FL -

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3351 days

#14 posted 02-17-2011 06:15 AM

I have two Craftsman routers that have never failed through years of use, but the depth adjustment on the older one I got as a hand-me-down was always difficult to control with any precision. Personally, I have no need for a table saw because I have a bandsaw, sliding miter saw, circular saw, jigsaw and a few handsaws, plus the routers for dado cuts. If you add them all up, they would cost more than a table saw, but each of these can do other things that a table saw can’t. A table saw can do a lot of things, and do them well, but I don’t have the space, money, or really a need for a good one. I would be careful before sinking all my money into just one tool, especially if you have a need to cut curves. I also have a jointer and planer, the planer being most important of the two, for me, since I enjoy using my handplanes for flattening. I agree with Vrtigo 1, above. It depends on what you are going to do, for how long, and how much you have or are willing to spend.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Blue Mountain Woods's profile

Blue Mountain Woods

110 posts in 2901 days

#15 posted 02-17-2011 08:24 AM

If you’re new to woodworking, remember that the #1 consideration is safety, best supported by experienced training of some sort. I say this because I agree with the tablesaw folks, and I get concerned with new folks around them. Respect them and keep the guards and riving knife on, but don’t fear them because that can be a dangerous distraction.
I’ve heard a bit of tablesaw vs. tracksaw stuff here, and my experience is that they are entirely different tools, with some crossover of function. I have the standard stuff: a Festool TS75 and a Unisaw. My tracksaw handles sheet (including angle cuts) and straightlining solid roughstock a lot easier than my tablesaw; but it won’t cut dados or do quick, small rips as easily.
Just remember that there’s a lot to choose from out there, you came to the best place to get answers, and SAFETY FIRST.

-- Pete -----

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