Track saw question

BKHam

Bradley
User
even with a nice large cross cut sled on the table saw, i got no joy out of those large workpiece crosscuts. zipping thru a crosscut with the tracksaw, using pretty decent dust collection is sweet. i don't do this for a living, just for fun. the tracksaw adds to my fun.
 

UncleJoe

Joe
Senior User
When I bought a track saw everything changed. Much easier breaking down plywood. Great dust collection, Safer all around. It is not for everyone but if you can afford to add one to your shop I think you will find it a valuable tool. I would not give mine up.
 

Tarhead

Mark
Corporate Member
I've had my track saw since the '90s. After getting a great band saw I've not used my table saw except as a place to collect junk.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Bob,

I sincerely think you are underestimating the usefulness of a track saw but I am unfamilar with your projects. If you only make small things out of small pieces of wood I guess 5% could be right. Tracksaws can be challenging to use on small pieces of wood where table saws work great. But table saws are difficult to use for anything other than possibly ripping large pieces of wood. And even for that, I think a track saw is preferable.

Another item not mentioned in this thread is using a router on the track saw track. That is a great way to make long dados, especially on big pieces.

In addition, track saws are safer.

But we all have to decide what tools we need, and which ones we do not.

Jim
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Bob,

I sincerely think you are underestimating the usefulness of a track saw but I am unfamilar with your projects. If you only make small things out of small pieces of wood I guess 5% could be right.
My projects are indeed somewhat small when considering the boxes that one makes from sheet goods. I also use mostly solid hardwood lumber. I quickly made up three pages of samples to give you an idea of the scale of work I get into and why I figured 5%. I used to have a saw on my back porch dedicated for plywood with a big outfeed table. I was doing a lot of work back then, but that was then and somehow my driver's license now shows I'm 75, not 35.

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JimD

Jim
Senior User
Bob,

Your projects look great and not really that small. I don't think solid wood versus sheet goods is a determining factor in which saw is easiest. I use my track saw as much on solid wood as I do sheet goods.

Maybe an example would help you or somebody else. A friend from church stopped by recently mainly so we could plane some cedar boards he is using to make a corn hole set. He was going to glue them up so I offered to also rip the edges for him with my track saw. He had cut them to about 50 inch length. So I quickly gave him two good edges on each board and he said the glue up went great. I could have used my table saw for this - it was sitting there - but I used the track saw because in my experience the long guide rail works better than the rip fence in giving me a straight edge. I also have a jointer but it is pretty short bedded and my skill level with it isn't that great so the track saw works best for me.

I also used to have a table saw with much greater rip capacity but since I got the track saw I see no need for that. But I would not want to be without a table saw either, to me the best setup is to have both and use the one you are the most comfortable with for each cut.

Jim
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I also have a jointer but it is pretty short bedded
That comment made me think. No two people have the same experience in woodworking and no two people have the same workshop equipment acquisition history.
A lot of the perspective will come from what there is and is not to work with. For my situation, I'll stick with the 5% use but that 5% is getting more and more important as the years go on.
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
That comment made me think. No two people have the same experience in woodworking and no two people have the same workshop equipment acquisition history.
A lot of the perspective will come from what there is and is not to work with. For my situation, I'll stick with the 5% use but that 5% is getting more and more important as the years go on.
very true statement, I have and use the tracksaw and has been a godsend to my woodworking, but I have no table saw because I have no room for one, and no budget for a Sawstop!
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
At school we added a track saw a several years ago because I didn't trust the jobsite saw in the wrong hands.
It has been a real god-send especially with students. I can trust them to use it under supervision rather than me doing the work with them as helpers. More recently we added a Sawstop contractor model saw and it is wonderful. We still use the tracksaw to bust up full sheets and saw big panels to size. Its good for the kids to see there's more than one way to skin a cat.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I've only had a pickup since December and I don't think I've purchased any sheet goods since then. But I used it go bring 10 sheets of drywall home and it worked great for that. But I saw a video on youtube from a guy who was finding full sheets of sheet goods more than he could deal with until he got a track saw. I looked for it just now and didn't find it. But his point was he could get the sheets into the bed of his pickup with help when he picked them up. Then he set up a cut table he could slide the sheets onto without lifting them and cut them up. So it restored his ability to use sheet goods. I've also exchanged comments with people who had what I think is elaborate ways to move sheet goods where they could get them through their table saw easily. My plan is to slide them from the bed of my truck onto my outfeed/work table to cut them up. I can still lift and carry full sheets of 3/4, or MDF, but it's easier to slide rather than lift. And as my kids remind me, I am getting older (I'm 64).

In the end a track saw is just a tool but for years I underestimated the difference between a guided circular saw and a track saw.
 
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charlessenf

New User
Charles
. . . or cut bevels . . .
Actually, I thought a trac saw could cut bevels nicely. Think I saw it done on Ask This Old House recently.

For cutting along the 96" dimension of a three quarter inch sheet of plywood, a six hundred dollar track saw makes things look so easy. But, when you've gotten along without one for sixty years or so . . .

Then again, some folks have that kind of disposable income or a vocation that pays that sort of freight making it a small investment (they may be able to write off in the year of acquisition effectively letting the rest of us chip in to pay for it).

I recently built two kitchen counters that ran 78" x 54" and 111" x 57" respectively. They were 25" deep and took a ninety degree turn to fit the respective corners. I used a Craftsman C-3 'skill saw' and a home made jig for a saw guide clamped to the work piece. As I 'turned' the inside 'corner' at a forty-five degree angle (matching the shape of the corner base cabinets), I had to make plunge cuts with the little saw.

Given the cost of a factory made 'formica' countertop, I saved more than a plunge saw would have cost and might have justified the expense instead of pocketing the difference in case of a pandemic.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I see where Festool makes the STM 1800 mobile sawing table for only $995.00.

A grand for the track saw and a grand for the table and I'm up to 2/3 the value of my table saw. This stuff gets salty.
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
The track saw I use is the Grizzly model. I'm sure the higher priced ones earn their keep but for my purposes and budget the Grizzly works fine. One issue I have is not finding an upgrade for the blade. I watched the review on Wood Whisperer a few times before I made the purchase. If you are considering taking the plunge its worth a look.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
smallboat,

The blade of the Grizzly track saw is 160mm in diameter with a 20mm hole for the arbor, same as the Festool. The Makita and DeWalt are 165mm with a 20mm arbor and their blades probably will not fit. But a blade that will fit the Festool will fit the Grizzly. Amazon has an Oshlun for about $30 or a Freud for about $50. I have one of the Oshlun and it cuts well. I prefer the 165mm on my DeWalt to get a little more depth of cut but 160mm works fine for most cuts.

I think on of the "secrets" to track saws is the 20mm arbor. That keeps cheapskates like me from putting any old cheap blade we find on our tracksaws and messing up the quality of cut. The Oshlun is the cheapest I have seen and it is a pretty good blade.

Jim
 

Tarhead

Mark
Corporate Member
I see where Festool makes the STM 1800 mobile sawing table for only $995.00.

A grand for the track saw and a grand for the table and I'm up to 2/3 the value of my table saw. This stuff gets salty.
I got by with a sheet of 1" styrofoam insulation on the driveway/garage floor for a very long time. A "special" cutting table is very unnecessary.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
I bought a 2" 4 X * sheet of foamboard and had it cut into quarters at the BORG. Fits in the car and I use whatever combination of the 4 pieces for a particular situation. Had it for over 10 years!
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I got by with a sheet of 1" styrofoam insulation on the driveway/garage floor for a very long time. A "special" cutting table is very unnecessary.
The Styrofoam works well. One step up is to use one of these folding tables (which can be used for many other things) and put the Styrofoam on top. Easier on your back, and the table is big enough to support the wood and small enough to not interfere with any clamps you might want to use.



Cutting a sheet of plywood on the floor does eliminate the need to wrestle it on the table, that's always tricky, especially with such a light table that tends to slide around.
 

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