If you’ve done any woodwork, you’ve no doubt heard about one of the most powerful woodworking tools ever created: the track saw.
While the table saw has typically been the go-to choice for many woodworking amateurs and professionals alike, the track saw offers some unique benefits that table and circular saws can’t offer.
Track saws are designed to be the most effective option to create long and specific cuts on a wide variety of materials. They’re also more portable than your standard table saw. A table saw can be effectively used to cut wood for doors or even tables.
In this quick guide, we’ll explore the many benefits of a track saw and why it might be a better option than a table saw or circular saw.
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How does a track saw work?
A track saw, sometimes referred to as a plunge saw, is similar to a table saw but slightly different in the overall functionality, appearance, and feel.
Unique in its ability to attach to a long guiding rail, the track saw can accurately and effectively create professional-grade cuts with very little effort.
To make a cut, you first position the rail across the wood (or other material). This track will show you the saw’s exact path through the material, and its sticky base ensures that it won’t slip. The saw then rides on the rail the way cars ride on a rollercoaster, creating a perfectly straight, smooth cut every time.
Benefits of using a track saw
One of the most obvious benefits of track saws is that that are designed to be a lot more portable – unlike a table saw,
Instead bringing the object you need to cut to your workshop, you can bring the track saw to the object, which as you can imagine means much more flexibility.
Another benefit of the track saw is its incredible accuracy due to its ability to attach to a straight rail, which will help guide the cut. With this too, there’s no more worrying about making a mistake with an off-center or jagged cut. Track saws are also known to deliver some of the finest cuts of all saws available on the market today.
Because of its portability, the track saw can be used on a larger range of projects than the table saw, making it a great option to add to your cutting arsenal. Some woodworkers find that a track saw can also serve the needs of circular, panel, and miter saw, as well, meaning you’ll save on both money and storage space.
What’s the difference between a track saw and circular saw?
Circular saws have long been the portable saw of choice for woodworking needs; however, for many craftspeople, a track saw provides a much more accurate and smooth cut overall. Both types of saw use circular blades, but in the track saw, the blade is less exposed.
The main differences between a track saw and circular saw are that a circular saw provides a line of sight cut, which certain types of individuals prefer if they like being in full control of every movement. Additionally, circular saws tend to create much more dust compared to the track saw, as the track saw has a built-in dust collector and a hooded blade. In a small shop with poor ventilation, this can make a world of difference.
One area in which circular saws still remain the best option is construction projects. Circular saws offer a little more flexibility in terms of portability, as opposed to a track saw, which is slightly more limited. If you’re sawing wood on a roof, for example, a track saw would not be the best option for that kind of job.
Track Saw vs. Table Saw
When it comes to choosing between a track saw and a table saw, as with most tools, it really comes down to your specific projects. Both the track saw and table saw have their unique benefits as well as disadvantages, largely dependent on what you’ll use them for.
The main reason you should consider a track saw over a table saw is portability. A track saw is much easier to carry – making it the better option if you’re always on the go. That being said, if portability isn’t that big of a concern for you, table saws can offer a little more power to cut through some of the more thick and difficult materials. Table saws are traditionally used in production workshops where a reliable and sturdy saw is needed on a regular basis.
While a track saw does provide extra portability than a table saw, it does take a little longer to set up each cut, since you need to position the track. This could prove to be a hassle for some individuals, though it’s important to note the setup time is generally pretty quick, and the track usually doesn’t require clamps to hold it in place. With a track saw, it’s also possible to break down larger pieces of wood and bring them to the table saw for greater precision.
For repetitive cuts, a table saw is a consistent and powerful option that allows you to know exactly what you’ll get every single cut. Because it is stationary, there is no need to move the table saw, around which allows for consistency in your cuts. A table saw is also the better tool if the material you’re cutting is thinner than 1/8”. The downside of a table saw is that it obviously requires much more space than a track saw, which can be an issue for those with limited workspace.
Overall, track saws continue to receive rave reviews for those who are looking for a high-quality, powerful, portable saw. A table saw is also a great investment if you have the room for one in your workspace. Given the benefits of having a track saw, it would certainly be wise to consider adding one to your toolkit.