Be it cutting lengthy lumber or ripping cupboards, a track saw is the best tool for doing these tasks. Track saws are basically used on top of the wood piece rather than installing a table saw to cut thick wood sheets. Track saw is a safer option for such heavy woodworking projects. Not just that, the track saw, over the past few decades, have earned popularity for its DIY utility, thereby increasing its demand among the woodworking enthusiasts.
However, in this article, we will only focus on the professional utility of the track saw. Although having this tool is not a necessity, it can ease your woodworking task to considerable extent. This handy device makes wood cutting faster, convenient, and accurate. The tool is appropriate for repeatable precision cuts on different wood types including, lumber, medium-density fiberboard, and plywood. It is an all-in-one versatile saw which can replace the requirement of a table saw, radial arm saw as well as a miter saw. You just have to clamp the track saw on a detachable track, which will guide the saw to make the cuts accurately.
Having learnt so much about the primary details and utility of a track saw, it's time to check out some of the best track saws trending on the market now. Additionally, we will discuss the buyer's guide to understand what type of track saw would be right for you. This will help you make the right selection and purchase. Lastly, you will find the top three product recommendations (from the review list) keeping the buyer's guide into account.
Review of 5 Best Track Saws
DEWALT DCS520T1 is a cordless track saw kit that delivers splinter-free, straight, and precise cuts in both directions. This track saw has a 12 AMP motor. The brushless motor effortlessly powers through hardwoods up to 2 to ⅛ inch thick. The low profile guard provides a dust extraction capacity. The straight plunge mechanism is used for optimal ergonomics. It contains a bevel capacity of 47 degree.
Shop Fox W1835 is an ideal portable option for precisely cutting sheet goods without a table saw or a panel saw. The features include a bevel gauge with lock for performing bevel cuts up to 45 degree, a 1to ½ inch adjustable dust collection port, and primary and secondary handles for stability while cutting.
Additionally, it provides a continuous cutting depth limiter and spring-loaded riving knife to reduce the risk of kickback or pinching. It facilitates precise and quick cuts. The blade rim speed is 9070 feet per minute.
Bosch Tools GKT13-225L Plunge Track Saw operates in such a mechanism that allows for intricate plunge cuts with detailed depth of cut. The plunge action caters to an easy, speedy setup for one-step clean finish cuts equally good in wood and other wood-based materials such as plywood.
The overload protection protects the motor from overheating. The speed varies from 3600 to 6250 RPM. The swiveling hose port keeps the optional vacuum cleaner hose out of the way and constant electronics help maintain speed.
If you are into heavy machinery work, the Festool TS 55 corded track saw is the perfect choice for you. The bigger MMC motor facilitates a synchronized rhythm that adjusts the RPM of the blade and offers you a smoother and deeper cut into the wood.
Regarding your safety, the track saw is preloaded with overload protection that automatically shuts off the machine in case it gets heated up.
Dewalt DCS52 Cordless TrackSaw provides wireless service with the power of a corded tool. This track saw has a continuous anti-kickback mechanism and riving knife which prevents kickback when engaged. The straight plunge mechanism provides optimal ergonomics.
The brushless motor effortlessly powers through hardwoods up to 2 to ⅛ inch thick. The zero-clearance track saw (TM) delivers accurate, splinter-free, and straight cuts. The enclosed low profile guards provide 90% dust extraction capability. This saw has a maximum initial battery voltage.
Buyer's Guide: How to Choose the Best Track Saw
Now that you have some of the top track saw products listed, at your fingertips, it might be hard for you to decide among them and pick only one. So, we have mentioned all the primary factors that you must check on while selecting any track saw; be it from the above list or elsewhere.
Here are they:
Blade size is determined by the type and thickness of the wood that the track saw blade can cut through. Almost every track saw model preferably uses the blade sizing 6 and a ½ inch; this blade is suitable for sawing any workpiece of 2 inches width. Whereas, for thicker woods (sizing about 2 and ¾ inches), the blade size will be 8 and ¼ inch. The mini track saws use a blade of only 4 and a ½ inch and can cut through any material that is thicker than 1 inch.
Some reputed track saw models feature adjustable speed control system that function as a differentiator in comparison to the circular saw counterparts. This speed settings feature prevents you from burning the wood piece, making accidental splinters, and blunting out the saw blade. The speed range of the track saws (featuring the speed adjustment system) lie typically within 2,000 RPM (the lower limit) to 5,000 RPM (the higher limit).
If your task includes a softer workpiece, like pine plywood, or framing lumber, then adjusting track saw to high-speed is the best. Whereas, for denser wood pieces like walnut, or locust, dialling the speed down to the lower speed limit is preferable. Keeping the track saw at lower speed reduces chances of burning the woods, plus, it keeps the sawing blade in good condition for functioning.
The track saw models with flexible bevels makes the tool more adjustable and versatile compared to other track saws. The duty of most track saws includes making square cuts at 90-degree. However, the bevel cutting capacity of the track saw reduces user effort during the production process.
Beveled cuts of wood sheets or wood boards at 45-degree help in constructing furniture, cabinets, and bookshelves, as you get maximum surface area for gluing the joints. Plus, the plywood joints are cleaner without requiring edge-banding (which is otherwise required to cover the uneven edges) of the plywood.
Wired track saws must have to be sufficiently powerful to get the task done. However, it is hard to quantify the magnitude of the power in a practical way that the buyer can understand. Most manufacturers label the amperage on the product package to help the shopper understand the motor power requirement.
Note: Amperage basically indicates the value of the electric current that the saw motor can draw from the power source without getting short-circuit. You don't get a direct value of the required power flow on the package label.
Considering the cordless track saws, the power requirement is comparatively easier to determine in terms of the voltage rating of the device battery. For example, an 18 Volt battery driven track saw is less powerful than a 20 Volt battery operated saw. This is a generalised guideline. Exceptions to this are also there.
There has always been a controversy regarding the selection of the best between a corded and a cordless track saw A corded track saw is no doubt the one with better power output, plus, there is no hassle of battery replacing requirement after every short while. This type of trai saw is typically helpful in heavy woodworking projects, where the user needs a tough cut through thick wood pieces, like walnut or oak.
On the contrary, if you use a cordless saw to do the same task and have to stop it in the middle as its battery needs replacement, then it may result in uneven sawing marks on the cut edge of the wood.
However, a cordless saw is free to move to the end width of a lengthy block of wood piece, as the saw does not include a cord. This sometimes stops the buyer to decide if it will be worthy to buy a corded saw where the cord may not be long enough to move freely during application. Or, you will be forced to stop the saw to adjust its cord, which may also result in the same uneven marks.
Both the corded and cordless track saw models have their own limitations and advantages: While you get unlimited power in a corded tool, you get unlimited portability in a cordless tool (if you have lots of spare batteries available).
This might be something simple to check on, yet the length of the cord can directly influence the usability of a track saw (typically). Framers and roofing carpenters, while using a circular saw, avoid using its standard cord and replace it with a 25 fee long cord to avoid the hassle of using a power extender (drop cord). The same case is with a track saw.
The longer the cord, the more flexibility you will get to adjust and manipulate long tracks of wood or workpieces, as desired. So, it is better choosing the saw with a lengthier cord.
Note: Having an extension cord in easy reach is safer as it may help you with the track saw having a shorter or standard cord. For instance, if your track cord is sizing only 6 feet but your work material is 8 feet long, then an extension cord is the solution to this.
Although a drop cord is a pretty good solution for shorter cords, a cord with longer range is still recommended to keep it from hanging by the sawhorse or work-table.
The saw tracks are of different lengths for definite reasons. Crosscutting a thick wood sheet of 12-inch width is easier with a track saw. But, for that, you won't need a 4 feet long track guide. Likewise, in ripping a sheet of plywood, the track guide is an inconvenience if you have to ultimately reset it in the middle of an ongoing cutting process.
Track resetting halfway through the cut also has chances of error during the cut. A little inattention may end up delivering a lengthy cut through which is not even close to that straight as you thought it would be. This nullifies your purpose of using a track saw guide in the first place.
Some track guides are perfect for professional application, typically in the industry. These modular guides let you assemble smaller lengths together, thereby making a longer guide and make the cuts accordingly. However, if you own a personal workshop, it is better to buy the track guides sizing 2, 4, and 8 feet. It helps in faster and easier track guide setup and maintains consistency in cutting.
The track saw construction varies from one brand to another. While some are manufactured to last longer, some are not. An expensive track saw won't necessarily be long lasting or an affordable one won't be short-lived. So, it is better to check on the blade quality along with the overall build of the product.
Note: Despite choosing a track saw with durable blade, it has to be regularly sharpened and at one point, the blade has to be replaced as nothing lasts for lifetime. However, make sure that the blade doesn't blunt out frequently or the rate of replacing the blade is not so often. Try sticking to a reputed brand always.
Make sure to select a track saw having a dust collection system on it. This makes the cleanup process much easier. Some track saw models come with the facility to attach a vacuum cleaner hose to it. This reduces the dust cleaning task.
Make sure your chosen track saw model has an integrated spring-loaded riving knife attached at the backside of the sawing blade. This knife helps to keep the cut slit (kerf) in position, keeping the workpiece out of the way from the blade's rear-end. Added to that, the riving knife reduces risks of kickback.
Proper maintenance of any product increases its durability than the time specified. Maintenance requirements may vary based on the blade type, product construction or durability, being a cordless or corded tool, and many others.
In a track saw, you must sharpen the blade on a regular basis. Next, if the track saw is a cordless one, make sure you have enough stock of batteries available on hand. If it is a corded track saw, then keep a spare cord of longer length, in case the existing cord gets damaged. Lastly, keep guide (track) replacements, in case the previous ones are no longer workable.
Note: Clean the track saw and empty the dust bag after every use and keep the product shine intact.
Most standard track saw models come without a user leaflet. Or, if you get any, it is either lack of detailed information or is too shallow to understand the user guide. Therefore, it is better to select a model which has an easily understandable user guide to follow.
First of all, the track saw is safer compared to circular saw in terms of making lengthy precise cuts as the former runs along a predetermined path called track or guide rail. This makes the cut safer. Secondly, there might be chances of getting kickbacks. This risk is minimized by the cam lock feature, available in certain models, which resists the saw from reverting to the user.
The circular saw often requires free-hand mastering to guide the spinning blade with fingers but it's full of risk and there is always a chance of error.
The good thing is that the track saws are free from the free-hand guid requirement, making the task way safer for both the professionals and inexperienced craftsmen.
Note: The free hand mastering in circular saw is usually conducted by experienced professionals, who did this at least a thousand times or more. So, it's recommended to follow such a technique.
Cost plays a crucial role after all the considerable factors. Fix your budget and then further compare among the ones that you have already selected to decide among. This makes the buy easier and prevents you from purchasing an inappropriate model out of impulse. Plus, it is a good way to save some amount (for later) for the product maintenance.
Though most people have a fallacy that picking a track saw which is best of its kind is a tough task, that's not true. The challenging part is to find the best from the ones that are currently trending on the market. However, that too is not so difficult, as you can easily find out the best trending out through the users reviews and ratings on the internet.
The only thing to be kept into account is from where you are buying the product. Online purchase is the best deal as online cost is lesser than the usual market price of the conventional store. Other than that, you get a warranty period with free exchange on the product defect on arrival, right at your doorstep.
No, a track saw cannot replace a circular saw completely. It can substitute in most cases if space at either the workplace or on the job site is available in plenty. In such a case convenience can take a back seat to compactness.
A track saw is good for cutting trim, ripping boards and working out splinter-free cuts on panels. The track saw can be used as a plunge saw to set as precise depth and it won't fail you.
No, the dewalt track saw won’t work with the makita track.
Although the above mentioned products are exceptionally good with their own set of pros and cons, here are our top three picks from the list:
- DEWALT DCS520T1
Fit for those looking for a durable cum cordless track saw that can deliver precision cuts at every use.
- Bosch GKT13-225L Plunge-Cut Track Saw
Fit for those looking for a track saw that comes with a dust collection system as it makes the clean up process much easier after every application.
- DEWALT DCS520B Cordless TrackSaw
The anti-kickback and availability of riving knife feature of this cordless tool that delivers precision cuts and ensures maximum dust extraction is another indubitable pick.