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Track Saw Help Please

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Forum topic by knotscott posted 04-24-2015 12:34 PM 2755 views 0 times favorited 60 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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knotscott

7208 posts in 2836 days


04-24-2015 12:34 PM

As an owner of a circular saw and some DIY straight edges, but having never used a true track saw system, can someone explain how they justify $500-$600 for what looks like a good circular saw and a proprietary aluminum track? I can buy a really nice circular saw for a bit over $100. Can aluminum track really be that expensive? There must be more to it than what I see….



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


60 replies so far

View todd4390's profile

todd4390

130 posts in 928 days


#1 posted 04-24-2015 12:52 PM

I use to think the same thing until I found a used Festool tracksaw on CL and decided to give it a try. Things that I think make it worth the extra money are you lay the track down directly on your layout mark and cut instead of offsetting a guide, very clean cuts on plywood, easy to plunge cut, dust control exceptional and very little chance of saw getting off the cut line from guide shifting during the cut. It’s probably in the top 3 of my favorite tools in my shop.

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hotbyte

841 posts in 2436 days


#2 posted 04-24-2015 01:11 PM

I think it is tool envy :-) You see another person with one and just have to have one yourself. Anytime a new tool concept (or any type of concept) comes to market it happens.

That said, I would like the dust collection capabilities of a track saw.

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mramseyISU

419 posts in 1006 days


#3 posted 04-24-2015 01:22 PM

This set-up looks like an interesting alternative to a tracksaw assuming you already have a circular saw.
http://www.rockler.com/ezsmart

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

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Robin1

128 posts in 951 days


#4 posted 04-24-2015 01:27 PM

I just sold my Makita Track saw and got enough to pay off my new Hybrid table saw. While the track saws are nice, I found I used my DeWalt circ saw and homemade zero clearance guide just as much and didnt have any noticeable difference. So I decided the expense wasn’t worth it. Haven’t looked back.

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2227 posts in 1907 days


#5 posted 04-24-2015 01:29 PM

I would like to buy a Festool or even a Dewalt track saw but can not justify the cost for the amount of use it’ll get in my hobby shop, I have made my own track and use a regular circular saw with it, takes longer to set up when compared to a track saw, other than that it gets the job done just the same .

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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crank49

3980 posts in 2431 days


#6 posted 04-24-2015 01:45 PM


Things that I think make it worth the extra money are you lay the track down directly on your layout mark and cut instead of offsetting a guide
- todd4390

A proper homemade guide does not have to be offset at all. Your saw rides on top of the guide’s base and the guide provides a backing for the cut to help reduce tear out. Like having half of a zero clearance insert.


While the track saws are nice, I found I used my DeWalt circ saw and homemade zero clearance guide just as much and didnt have any noticeable difference. So I decided the expense wasn t worth it. Haven t looked back.

- Robin1


Like Robin says. Same system I use, works great..

But I fully agree with the reference to the golden aluminum.

I have the same problem justifying the cost of quality router tables.
How can a flat router mounting surface with a fence and legs cost more than a table saw complete with motor, blade, tilt and lift mechanism.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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paxorion

1100 posts in 1506 days


#7 posted 04-24-2015 02:10 PM


A proper homemade guide does not have to be offset at all. Your saw rides on top of the guide s base and the guide provides a backing for the cut to help reduce tear out. Like having half of a zero clearance insert.

- crank49

I agree that a proper home made guide will account for offset and provide ZCI. However there’s three areas that I can see a track saw being better at (from experience)
  1. You have to go the extra step to create a track and channel for the saw to run on, otherwise you have the risk of the saw wandering. Not to say you can’t try and do the same for a track saw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2El5Pr75FY)
  2. Some track saws include a riving knife and anti-kickback features
  3. The open design on the circular saw makes it more of a challenge to retrofit

-- paxorion

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1419 days


#8 posted 04-24-2015 02:15 PM

Scott – great question.

You are quite the reputable guy on the forum. Great advice form you over that last year. I would have thought you had one already. I ran into my first cut 4 weeks ago where I said out loud “Now I see why people spend money on a track saw!” It would have made a cabinet project a lot easier. Tried my circular saw with a guard and ended up building a smaller cabinet section that I would manage on my table saw instead.

I think you should skim over this review if you have not seen it. Best and most complete review I have seen for a tool lineup like this.

http://www.woodworkersjournal.com/track-saw-review/

I will hold off as long as I can, but one day…

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1419 days


#9 posted 04-24-2015 02:17 PM

Also, the track saw can cut off 1/4” on a 6” piece of wood, the circular saw would not have the surface area to do that with a guide. Unless there was more involved to making it with more material.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#10 posted 04-24-2015 02:24 PM

Bora is touting this as the new track saw alternative.

I didn’t realize a track saw could make that small a cut, Brian. Even the Grizzly ones?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1141 days


#11 posted 04-24-2015 02:28 PM

The one track saw I used (Festool) felt like it was designed for that task. From the balance and handling of the saw to the way the adjustments where made and the plunge action it was all designed primarily to work on a track breaking down stock. Where most of the circular saws I have used feel like they where designed to cross cut 2X’s which is really what they where built to do even though they can be made to work as a track saw. It’s a specialty tool designed for a single task that it does really well where a circular saw is a multi tasking tool that can do several things ok but doesn’t excel at any one of them.

I still use a circular saw and straight edge but I don’t break stock down that way very often. What little plywood I do work with of late has been in sheet sizes able to cut down on a table saw.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1419 days


#12 posted 04-24-2015 02:33 PM


I didn t realize a track saw could make that small a cut, Brian. Even the Grizzly ones?

- CharlesA

Charles, for sure. And with zero ship out. The grizzly was the worst of the lineup in this review:

http://www.woodworkersjournal.com/track-saw-review/

So maybe it has a little slop to it, but it could make that cut. The track laying on your finish product, should stick to it, and make any cut you want and any depth.

A circular saw is, as Richard said, made for playground and deck projects. Not a woodworking too for fine finishing. That is the difference with a track saw that will remain straight, avoid chipping, and avoid being pinched in the material.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6565 posts in 1610 days


#13 posted 04-24-2015 02:52 PM

I have the grizzly saw. It’s not a bad saw at all, and there are ways to make it better. You can first make a scoring cut which will completely get rid of all tearout on the top face, and if you cut it on top of some rigid insulation, it gets rid of tearout on the bottom face. Additionally, the foam helps with dust collection.

There is a wobble in the track as stated. I haven’t done it yet, but others have made a foot out of ply by tapping into the aluminum housing in front of the blade. It performs dual duty by stopping the wobble, and it makes a zero clearance insert for the non-track supported side of the kerf.

Not my photo but it shows the modification.

Also, just like tablesaws and mitersaws, the stock blade isn’t really any good. Toss a good one on and it should significantly help it.

For me, there was no way I can justify spending $600 on a track saw for breaking down sheet goods. But, I can drop half that and do an hour’s worth of tinkering for sure.

For what it’s worth, I do think it’s better than a circular saw and a guide. Better dust collection, plunge cuts, depth stops, riving knife, and you don’t really need clamps for it. Additionally, the blade retracts into the housing when you aren’t using it so it won’t bang on anything when you move it around the shop. Rubber strips on the bottom are non-slip so you can cut without having to clamp and reclamp every time you need to make a cut.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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paxorion

1100 posts in 1506 days


#14 posted 04-24-2015 02:59 PM


Bora is touting this as the new track saw alternative.

I didn t realize a track saw could make that small a cut, Brian. Even the Grizzly ones?

- CharlesA

Supply for these suckers have been scarce to non-existent. I talked to BORA and they appears to have some in the US, with more shipments coming later this month I believe. I was lucky to get my 50” WTX, 50” extension, and I have this set and have mixed opinions on it. I’ll post reviews when I have a chance to use it more.
  • 50” WTX – Read my review. I love it and am on the hunt for a 24” one.
  • Saw Guide Base – The saw guide base meets several of the requirements after a large number of setup headaches to align it. I wouldn’t rate it a 5 star product. It provides a track-like experience with any clamping straight edge (HF, BORA WTX tested) and is in my book an advantage over a homemade guide. It does NOT offer zero clearance and dust is still a problem.
  • Extensions – The 50” extensions does a great job to provide extended rip capacity but have a major flaw. The screws that attach the rails sit on the bottom of the track where the material will rest. That’s screaming gouge and dent risk. Haven’t tested it with an 8’ run of sheet goods yet.

-- paxorion

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knotscott

7208 posts in 2836 days


#15 posted 04-24-2015 03:15 PM

It’s good to hear different perspectives on these things. I appreciate all the great input.

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

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