Whether you’re ripping sheet goods or cutting long lengths of lumber to width, a track saw is often the way to go. Track saws operate on top of a workpiece instead of manipulating a wide sheet of wood through a table saw, making them a safe and accurate option for your next project.
Track saws have been around for a long time, but only in the past decade or so have they grown in popularity thanks to the DIY movement. These handy tools are a convenient way to make fast, accurate, repeatable cuts on types of products like plywood, lumber, and medium-density fiberboard. In many ways, the best track saw can take the place of a miter saw, table saw, and radial arm saw in one package.
Selecting the best track saw for DIYers and professionals is an uphill task, especially if you are purchasing for the first time. This guide comprises the best track saws to enable you to choose the best without much hassle.
What Are The Advantages Of A Track Saw?
Compared to table saws, a track saw is much lighter, and therefore more mobile. A track saw’s capacity is virtually unlimited, unlike the table saw, and a circular saw makes the cuts much less precise, two factors that the track saw corrects. If you need more cutting room, all it takes is to purchase track add-ons or a longer track.
They are easy to use and require minimal setup and cleans up after themselves as well. The tools are multi-purpose and work with various materials thanks to the strong blades, blade size options, and blade change support.
Aside from cutting through multiple materials, the variety of cuts it can make also surpasses other models. Whether it’s ripping, miter cuts, or bevel cuts of at least 45 degrees, the track saw can accommodate you.
Then there is the quality of cut you end up with. The track saw boasts clean cuts without any splinters. You will only get crisp edges made with exceptional speed thanks to the powerful motor.
What to Consider When Buying a Track Saw
Before preparing this best track saw review, I used and compared different track saws to understand what each saw brings to the table. Every time I took up a track saw certain considerations were always in the back of my mind. You can think of it as the “golden features.” If you want to get a top-notch track saw, some research (actually a lot of) is necessary. And this buying guide I’ve compiled can be an excellent starting point.
The first thing that you want to know is the speed of the track saw. The speed determines how fast you can complete your work irrespective of the amount of work that you have to clear up.
It is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM) and will be higher depending on the power and the motor capacity. Higher speed means faster cutting time. The standard motor power is 12-Amp, and the RPM rating is around 3500+.
It’s not like you can’t handle heavy-duty projects with a low RPM rating. You just need some hands-on experience to get it done.
Besides, compared to a circular saw, track saws have variable speed settings. You can adjust between different speeds to get optimum results.
Another thing that you need to know is the ability of the saw to make deep and bevelled (angled cuts). If you want to become a seasoned woodworker (even if you’re a DIY), knowing and understanding the ins and outs of bevel cuts are essential.
Each track saw has a different set of bevel ranges. The standard range you should look into is 1-47 degrees. This range will allow the right amount of flexibility for a wide range of cuts.
Also, look for multi-sided bevel adjustments. It means- the bevel can be adjusted and the final adjustment clamped from both sides of the track saw. The two-side adjustment-and-lock system will give you a cleaner cut.
Corded or Cordless
A cordless track saw comes with a battery pack to store charge. Corded models get their power right from the power outlet. The best thing about cordless models is that you have more freedom of movement. However, their power will reduce as the battery capacity goes down.
The corded model, on the other hand, guarantees continuous power supply and constant cutting power. However, their freedom of movement is limited to the length of the cord. Make a choice on your ideal model.
It’s a similar dilemma you face when choosing between a corded or a cordless circular saw model. You either choose constant power or movement liberty. There is no right or wrong answer here. It depends on what project you have in hand and whether a cordless or a corded variant will be better for the task.
Dust Blower/Extraction System
When you’re out with your track saw or circular saw on your first day, sawdust won’t faze you. Like the brave young warrior, you would march into the job site shrouded with thick dust.
Anyways, that hopeful glimmer will die after a few weeks of living and breathing in the sawdust. That’s why a track saw with a proper dust blower/extraction system is important. If you get a shop vac to boot, your worksite will remain dust-free.
This feature is not a big concern for users who want to use the track saw occasionally. However, if you want constant performance from the track saw and yourself, the environment you work in needs to be clean.
So, think about the frequency with which you’re going to use the track saw, and choose accordingly.
Track Saw Blades
What is the size of your saw blade? How easy is it to fit or to remove? Is your saw blade forged from durable or substandard materials? You should ask yourself these questions when you think about track saw blades.
I would suggest you look for carbide blades. They will last longer. In addition to that, having a larger blade ensures that you get faster cuts and save time. That’s why I prefer the 6.5-inch blade over the 4-inch blade.
The blade length will also determine the depth of cut you get from the track saw. Just remember this rule of thumb- the bigger the blade, the better the cut depth.
I’ve briefly touched on the subject of safety in the kickback protection section. Still, safety is a key concern when power tools come into play. That’s why I’ve decided to revisit safety features once again.
Apart from the anti-kickback mechanism, there are other safety features you should look into as well. To name a few- a solid blade guard, a trigger lock, dust extraction, and track saw clamps (more on clamps later).
All these features will make sure that your track saw is safe to use. However, you need to take necessary precautions as well. Never forget to use the recommended safety gears. Always use both hands when operating the saw. Finally, do not use the saw when you feel tired or dizzy.
Track Saw vs. Circular Saw
Since they look so similar, it’s easy to confuse a track saw with a circular saw. But just because they look alike, it doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. These tools are actually designed quite differently. A track saw tackles projects and tasks that a conventional circular model simply can’t handle. The track saw is also called a plunge saw. It’s one of the most popular tools among DIYers, professional woodworkers, and tradesmen.
They cost considerably more than conventional circular saws but for a very good reason. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two kinds of power tools so that you can better understand why the plunge saw is such a versatile and impressive addition to any workshop.
Circular saws are built with a motor, blade, base, and blade guard. When it’s time to cut a workpiece, you bring the blade close to the end of the object and turn a knob that adjusts the tool’s base. This also adjusts the depth of your cut.
When you cut, the guard retracts back out of the way, allowing the blade to perform the cutting. Unfortunately, circular saws present several disadvantages. The first issue is that you’re forced to cut from the end of the workpiece, limiting the applications you can use it for. Also, since the blade side is open, these tools produce a significant amount of dust and debris. The final major drawback of circular saws is that they can’t create a smooth, splinter-free cut. Making long, perfectly straight cuts is practically impossible.
5 Best Track Saws of 2021:
Makita, like Festool and all the rest, has a reputation for creating one of the best track saws, and their SP6000J1 saw kit model is no exception. Its optional but advantageous 55″ guide rail system comes from robust anodized aluminum.
Plus, its maximum speed 12 amp motor has electric variable speed control. At 2,000 or 5,200 rpm, you can maintain the best speed for a smooth, precise cut.
The best part of the Makita SP6000J1 track saw is its portability. Although the Makita SP6000J1 can cut plenty of heavy materials, it works best for cutting large wood panels.
The Makita SP6000J1 has a large cutting capacity (2-3/16″ at 90 degrees and 1-9/16″ at 45 degrees) and a good bevel capacity (-1 to 48 degrees, with positive stops at 22 5 and 45 degrees). The plunge release level is also in an easy-to-reach place for better operator comfort.
Make straight splinter-free cuts through hardwoods as thick as 2-1/8 inch with ease using the Dewalt DCS520ST1 60 Volts cordless track saw.
Equipped with a powerful brushless motor backed by Dewalts 60 Volts Flexvolt battery system, you get a powerful cordless plunge-cutting machine with enough run-time to complete heaps of cuts in one charge.
The zero clearance track or guide rail that comes with it ensures every cut you make is straight, precise and free of splinters.
Not limited to 90 degree cuts, you can also make bevel cuts up to 45 degrees at a max depth of 1-5/8 inches.
Wide materials tends to bind with the blade when being ripped with any saw, that’s why this one is fitted with a riving knife to prevent binding and ultimately kickbacks from happening when making a cut.
Even if you are on a tight budget, you can get yourself a great track saw. This Wen track saw is one of such high-quality ensured saw that offers high performance but comes at a very affordable price. Hardly you can find a competition coming near its capabilities.
The first thing that you can notice on this wen track saw is its colorful adjustment settings. The settings are very distinctive from its main body. They can be easily traced and used. A simple wingnut facility is used in this for keeping it simple to use. You can adjust the measurements on the go for having the right cut you want.
One cool feature of this affordable track saw is its blade tuning setting. It has a single dial for providing 3 different options. The first two are for adjusting the depth of the cut. You are going to make a score cut or a deep cut, you can choose from this simple dial. And the third option is for blade changing. You get all the 3 options in one place and close by the hand to select the option fast.
Depth is a significant issue for a plunge saw. It needs to penetrate to a certain depth inside the material for making successful cuts. for different projects, you need different depths.
It is better to have a higher penetration capability for getting a wide range. And this cheap track saw ensures just the thing you require. It can go as deep as 2.33 inches inside the material you are cutting without causing any splinter or chipping. You get the right cut in every attempt.
Grizzly’s track saw is a relative newcomer to this tool category. Compared to its competition, what’s immediately compelling is the sub-$250 pricing. That buys you the saw, a 55″ track, two track clamps, a connector bar for securing tracks end-for-end and a rail stop for plunge-cutting. You can also buy the saw without the track or extra accoutrements as the T10687 instead, for $179.95.
But, saving hundreds of dollars over other track saws will require some compromise. It has a single-speed motor without soft start.
I like the overmolded primary grip and spacious trigger, but the plunge release above the grip is too far up and back to reach easily. The ergonomics of engaging that plunge release became tiring after 50 repetitive cuts. Plunge action, however, was very smooth.
The saw’s depth-of-cut control sets solidly, and you’ll read it in inches rather than millimeters. Its bevel tilt knob locks the upper carriage securely at angles up to 45°. There’s a riving knife to make ripping safer, and the 9-amp motor was powerful enough, despite its seeming lack of feedback circuitry, to help keep torque output constant.
In terms of cutting quality, though, this rail saw fell behind its competition. A regular pattern of chipping occurred on the top face of melamine, despite the guide rail’s rubber edge strip, and there was sporadic chipout on the bottom face, too.
With unmatched precision, the Festool 575387 Plunge Cut Track Saw works on a wide range of projects and materials. You actually will be able to do more with less equipment, space, and time thanks to the track saw system’s efficiency. And, with the precision you get from its guide rail, you will get a perfect cut each time that are splinter-free and straight.
Depth indicator controls are micro-adjustable with two cursor lines that give you precise cuts on or off the guide rail. The Guide Rail Splinter guard also reduces rework and waste of material while giving you no tear-out cuts.
The integrated riving knife is spring-loaded and keeps the cut kerf open as well as the material away from the back of the blade giving you more control.
This also helps to reduce the risk of kickback. With the ability to handle any surface, the Festool 575387 comes in two sizes with nine types of blades available.
Track saws are one of the most useful power tools for woodworking in existence. Not only do they help you make lengthier and precise cuts on wood, but they are also portable. This means that wherever you go, even if there is no suitable outlet there, you can use your track saw. They are also pretty light, and so are not a hassle to lug around.
These saws cut pretty precisely and without splinters, which saves you the time you would have spent on perfecting the cut. As you can see above, there are also a lot of options to choose from in the current market when it comes to track saws.
This is both a blessing and also a dilemma. You may become overwhelmed by the number of choices and struggle to pick the “best” one. Your pick from the list of the best track saws and track saws with reviews will depend solely on your own particular woodworking needs and also on your budget.