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To Track or not to Track


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To Track or not to Track

 

I know that some of you are thinking I would really like to have a track saw but, do I want to spend my hard earn cash on such a luxury item. Before I start this is not a comparison or review of anyone Track Saw it is just an article on the benefits of having and using a Track Saw.

 

For some clamping a straight edge down works just fine or using a table saw is all that they need. For someone like myself that works alone most of the time it is a major time saver. One of the biggest negatives I hear all the time is the cost. It is true cost is a factor. You can spend a few bucks for a straight edge up to seven hundred plus dollars for a top of a line Track saw. The second negative is “I already have a circular saw so why would I buy another one.” That is a good point but they make kits that you can use your saw for around two hundred dollars and get ninety percent of the benefits of a true Track Saw. You will notice that I did not say one hundred percent because the design of a Track Saw adds to the benefits. Dust collection and cross cut splintering are a plus of a true Track Saw.

 

There a few players in the Track Saw market DeWalt DWS520SKH comes with a 59” track $459 or the DWS520CK comes with a 59” and a 102” track $600. The Makita SP6000J1 comes with a 55” track $420. Bosch makes the GKT-55-GCE but it is not available in the US market. Festool Has the TS 55 REQ 6 ¼ blade 1 15/16th cut depth $615 comes with a 55” track and the TS 75 EQ 8 ¼ blade and a 2 ¾ cut depth $725. Fox Shop and Grizzly track saws same manufacture (they are injection molded in different colors). The Grizzly T25552 comes with a 55” track $245 and the Shop Fox W1835 $192 Track sold as an accessory. Now with all of that said I personally have the Festool 55 REQ and the TS 75 EQ. My first Track Saw was the DeWalt and I had issues with it. It may because it was their first attempt at a track saw. The saw was at their repair center more than I had it but that was many years ago and now from what I hear they are much better.

 

                        Now let me tell you what I see as the biggest benefits to owning a track saw are.

 

 1. It is not just a fancy circular saw with a straightedge. A lot of engineering has gone it to the plunge mechanism, riving knife for kick back protection and blade pinching and dust collection. It may look like a framing saw but it is not.

 

2. Mark your pieces set your track and make your cut. Rubber like strips on the bottom of the track holds it in place. You can use clamps but it is not necessary.

 

3. Portability easy to carry and set up and it is good for tight spaces. If you do not have room for a table saw and it takes up very little room in your vehicle.

 

4. Dust collection. The shroud just does not protect you for the blade it makes for an effective dust channel. If you cut a lot of MDF you will love this one benefit alone.

 

5. Long cuts, long miters and, odd angles there are no limits on what you can do. The only limit is the length of track you have. You can overcome this with a coupling system that each track has. However, there is one downside. Unlike those other saws, a track saw does not have a built-in miter gauge, so setting up miter cuts can be slow. If you do many long miters, you might want to spend $50 to $100 on a miter gauge that locks onto the track.

 

6. Clean cuts. You will be hard pressed to get a smoother, cleaner cut from a circular saw or table saw. I am not saying that this will replace a table saw because it will not. You can do more with a table saw but a track saw will make your life easier. These are just a few of the benefits that I see that can make your work more time effective and safer. You will no longer have to wrestle sheet goods on to your table.

 

I hope this helps those that are on the fence. If you take your time and do your research, you will find the answer that is wright for you. Good luck

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My tracksaw is invaluable.  I do most of my craft alone and cutting a 4x8 sheet of 3/4" MDF on my DW745 is impossible.  So much easier and safer to set the sheet on the sawhorses with a sacrificial top and just start cutting.  The only thing I need to worry about is that the sawhorses are in the right position to support the cut portions.

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Excellent write up Carrol!!

Track saws really are game changers.. it's incredible how simple the can make otherwise impossible cuts.

Yes with a well setup out feed or a two person team you can rip full sheets of ply on a table saw but for most people this isn't doable especially with small portable table saws. With a track saw one guy can breakdown full sheets of plywood, quickly, safely and accurately.

A little trick is to get a 4x8 piece of rigid foam board insulation to use as a sacrificial cut surface. You can just lay that on a saw horse setup of some sort or even right on the ground and lay your sheets of plywood right on top

I use the festool ts55 so that is what I would reccomend. Dust collection is exceptional, tons of blades, accessories and rails avaliable, excellent build quality and top notch service make it a no brainer for me.

As Regopit said, it's not a replacement for a table saw. Things like repetitive narrow rips are much faster on a table saw. Also ripping Irregular shaped items like door casings or other moldings would be very difficult with a track saw

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