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 any one 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 and 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 $200 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 the DeWalt DWS520SKH comes with a 59” track for roughly $459 or the DWS520CK comes with a 59” and a 102” track for $600. The Makita SP6000J1 comes with a 55” track for $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 with a 1 15/16″ cut depth for $615. It comes with a 55” track and the TS 75 EQ 8 ¼” blade and a 2 ¾” cut depth for $725. Fox Shop and Grizzly track saws are the same manufacture (they are injection molded in different colors). The Grizzly T25552 comes with a 55” track for $245 and the Shop Fox W1835 is $192 with the track sold as an accessory.
Now with all of that said, I personally have the Festool 55 REQ and the TS 55 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.
Let me tell you what I see as the biggest benefits to owning a track saw are.
- 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, blade pinching and dust collection. It may look like a framing saw but it is not.
- 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.
- Portability, easy to carry, fast setup and it is good for tight spaces. If you do not have room for a table saw a track saw will fit even in the smallest vehicle.
- 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.
- Long cuts, long miters and odd angles. There are almost 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.
- 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 benefitsI 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 right for you. Good luck