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First Power saw: Radial vs Compound Miter vs Table vs Plunge?

by m88k
posted 04-27-2010 05:05 AM

45 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4480 days

#1 posted 04-27-2010 05:20 AM

Oh, man – you’re opening up a can of worms with this question! Most guys either love or hate their RAS!

Radial arm saws generally aren’t very accurate, but they have a really wide cross-cut and the ability to be set up for ripping when necessary. They tend to be underpowered and can jump at you when the blade grabs.

A miter saw just makes cross-cuts, but most are much more accurate than an RAS.

-- -- --

View Brandon Hintz's profile

Brandon Hintz

53 posts in 3614 days

#2 posted 04-27-2010 05:33 AM

If you are just starting out and the last time you used a RAS was middle school I would reccommend going with the miter saw or even a sliding miter saw, while the RAS is more versitale it can be one of the most dangerous tools in the shop, especially for someone not familiar with it, its capabilities or its limitations, however if you have someone to assist you in properly learning how to use it, it may make you time in the shop much more enjoyable

-- Potential is limited only by imagination

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#3 posted 04-27-2010 05:35 AM

I once had an RAS and I got rid of it when I got a sliding compound miter saw (SCMS). I also have a table saw, a band saw and a track saw so, in my opinion, I have everything covered quite well.

There are a few woodworkers that really like their RAS but, in general, they are out of favor. They are considered to be a more dangerous tool than most other saws.

Your case is interesting because, apparently, you do not have other saws. You’re looking for the best all purpose saw. This may surprise you but if I had to get by with only one saw, it would be a track saw. They are amazingly versatile. The best known is the Festool but other brands are now offering track saws.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4278 days

#4 posted 04-27-2010 05:36 AM

I pefer miter saw, I have miter saw and I love my.

View Wintersedge's profile


83 posts in 3579 days

#5 posted 04-27-2010 05:42 AM

I would have to go with Rich and second the track saw. The dewalt or festool. If not I would consider a contractor table saw. I go with those two because you can rip, cross cut, hand miters and also have a blade that can cut on an angle. You get ever cut you need.

-- Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3876 days

#6 posted 04-27-2010 05:47 AM

I second the notion of being very knowledgeable with a radial or they can be extremely dangerous. I would recommend that you get a sliding compound mitre. They are immensely easier to setup and use. They dont have all RAS capabilites. But I would recommend a better table saw then trying to use a RAS.

I have the Bosch 5412 12” and it has served well. I also have a Makita LS1016L 10” that I take out for jobsites (very light…very versatile). The Makita is not as easy to use, but a heck of a lot lighter. The Bosch is a better shop tool.

The best made (I think) is the Festool Kapex (it is around $1300 though and out of most hobyist budgets…but I would say worth every dime)...I would love to have a Kapex as they are very accurate and precise (I am hoping to replace my ageing Bosch with a Kapex when the Bosch goes to the big toolland in the sky). There are also good models from Hitachi, the Bosch above and Makita. Dewalt is another possiblity but I have heard a few rumours that the quality is slipping?

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4379 days

#7 posted 04-27-2010 06:02 AM

I have a Makita 12” sliding compound miter saw and would highly recommend it over a radial arm saw. I did a tool review on it, if you care to look. I feel a miter saw is more accurate and safer. Good luck on picking a saw. A lot depends on what you are cutting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#8 posted 04-27-2010 06:03 AM

The track saw is a surprising suggestion; I’d never heard of it. However, it’s looking expensive. How does it compare to Panel Saw conversion kits? It looks like these things are meant for cutting large stock, and not my regular small cuts….

I’m somewhat familiar with the radial’s dangers. We had pretty extensive written and practical tests to get approved for each tool; I was one of the only middle school students that was cleared for the thing.

I also remember Doc demonstrating what happens when the thing kicks; he set the saw perpendicular to it’s axis and started ripping a chunk of 2×4, which quickly flew 100 feet across the shop, denting the back wall of the welding station. What else do you need to watch out for on the radial arm saw. I keep my hands FAR away from the blade on any power saw…

I have other saws, they just require a reciprocating arm!

-- ~Mark

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3589 days

#9 posted 04-27-2010 06:11 AM

Space is limited meaning you have decided to make one or the other your main saw right? Since most of your cuts will be cross, mitered or compound mitered cuts my suggestion would be to go with the SCMS. Its more portable and is quicker to set up angled cuts, with repeatable accuracy quickly. Being a college student this also allows you to move things by yourself if need be. If you were setting up a permanent shop I would suggest the RAS. I love my RAS, but as mentioned they can be a bit temperamental when it comes to setting them up for angled cuts. That’s not to say they’re not accurate because if set up right they are. They’re also quite heavy for a college student to move around by himself. I have a 12” SCMS that handles about as much as my RAS can. What you can’t do with the SCMS you can do with other power tools if needed. Ya the RAS can do dado’s but so can a router. Save the Ras for when you can set up a permanent shop.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#10 posted 04-27-2010 02:29 PM

I’ll respond to the question about track saws. I have a Festool TS55. It is on sale through the end of April for $450 (have to hurry). Most SCMSs cost this much or more.

When one compares the track saw to the panel saw conversion kit the first thing to note is precise depth control and the plunge feature. I put my stock on top of a piece of cheap OSB and set the depth to just barely go through the width of the board. I leave a shallow scratch on the OSB. Note that you have a micro adjustment capability that lets to adjust the depth to the nearest 1/10 mm. You can control depth of cut with any circular saw but it is very difficult (impossible) to make micro adjustments. The same is true for the tilt function.

The track is amazing because I don’t need to clamp it down. I just set it in place and it stays.

All of the adjustments on the Festool are very accurate and percise and easy to change.

Most people will tell you that you should buy any Festool tool with a dust extractor. I think that is true with some of their tools, but not the track saw. Without dust collection you will sent sawdust flying (but you can control the direction of the exhaust). Or you, with a little ingenuity hook it up to a shop vac.

Since I own the track saw, I am finding that I am using it instead of my table saw more and more. A track saw can do just about everything a table saw or a miter saw does except handle a dado stack.

One accessory you will want – the saw comes with a 55 inch track. For smaller cuts the 55 inch track can be a bit awkward to handle. I have ordered a shorter additional track (32”).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3806 days

#11 posted 04-27-2010 02:50 PM

Sorry guys, I have a 10” CSMS, RAS, TS and I love them all. However, the versatility of the RAS puts it ahead of the CSMS. There are certain jobs that just call for the RAS. You just have to respect it and practice safe use. I mean, there are times when certain tasks with a CSMS are pretty dangerous to our phalanges but we make the cut anyway.

Remember, most injuries are caused by operator error. The machine did not set out to intentionally injure YOU.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Jesse's profile


66 posts in 3824 days

#12 posted 04-27-2010 04:02 PM

My vote would be for the RAS, BUT, it must be setup properly. Eakes and Mr. Sawdust have great books on the subject. The quickest and easiest answer would be the CSMS.

If setup properly, with a dead-flat table, proper roller-head bearing drag, and the right blade, I think the RAS is quite safe. You can always see what you are doing.

But many people do not like RASs, for whatever reason they may have, which keeps a steady supply of nice cheap used Dewalts. I would keep an eye out for a Dewalt 7790 which can run on 110 but has about 1.75HP and is a good all around saw.

-- Jesse, Hopewell Jct., NY

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3919 days

#13 posted 04-27-2010 08:17 PM

Many good points have been made here—the best of which I think was
“It depends a lot on what you want to cut”
I would add to that—Your personal work style.
No one tool is best for every application – or for everyone’s approach.

I can only speak to what I do – cabinets, bookcases etc, the occassional picture frame and some trim work.
For this type of work I think my little Ryobi miter saw is one of the best investments I have ever made.
I love the simplicity, accuracy, repeatability of cut and portabllity (so I can put it out of the way when not needed)
It IS a bit limited as to width—making me wish at times i had gone with a sliding miter

When I need to do dados – it is usually on large side panels and it is much easier (for me) to take my router to the workpiece than to jockey the workpiece up onto a saw. I do have a table saw I use for that task when it seems appropriate. —Again – different tools for different needs – and workstyles.

Admittedly—I’ve never used an RAS, though, so I may just not know what i am missing.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3876 days

#14 posted 04-27-2010 09:19 PM

I also have the Festool Ts55 and consider it one of the best buys I have made in a circular saw. I originally bought it to break down larger panels. I now find that I use it alot in place of setting up my table saw. It is easy to make dados by just moving the track. I have made a few mitre cuts using a protractor or mitre fence to set up the track.

One thing though, I sometimes wish I had gone with the Ts75 when I am cutting thicker stock (the Ts55’s limit is 1 and 15/16” in depth where the 75 is near 3”). But as a replacement for a mitre or RAS…I had not considered it as such (I have a mitre and the TS), but if I only had one choice….I would go with the Track.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4191 days

#15 posted 04-27-2010 09:26 PM

I have a larger 12 inch blade dewalt ras and don’t find it a problem to use.However I only ever us it for straight crosscutting depending on mitres from 2 mitre saws I own when I get the space I intend to set the miter saws up for left and right mitreing with 2 sliding roller tables underneath so that will take care of all my sawing work apart from my bandsaw which I have 3 one set up the big one for bookmatching and cutting larger pieces it can do 18.5 inches under the guides the other is for fine work and the other I intend to move to my metal shop for cutting metal only..Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4527 days

#16 posted 04-28-2010 12:00 AM

I got a Dewalt sliding miter saw and an old 1950’s dewalt RAS. Use them both and am keeping them both. 12 in. sliding miter gets more use because its fast and easy though.

-- mike & judy western md. www. [email protected]

View Raymond's profile


683 posts in 4333 days

#17 posted 04-28-2010 12:00 AM

I will put in my two cents here. My vote is for the Radial Arm Saw. When set up correctly, which takes some time. Once they are set up though they are a wonderful tool. Just keep in mind that you are pulling the saw over the wood. KEEP your fingers out of the way…

-- Ray

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3919 days

#18 posted 04-28-2010 12:59 AM

Add my vote to the Track Saw list—- even though I admit to never having used one.
Didn’t even recognize the term at first.
When it dawned on me I remembered a demo of the Festool at Rocker – and I loved it.
I work solo in a very small shop so –
For all those times it is easier/better to take the saw to the wood rather than the wood to the saw I’ve had my trusty Craftsman circular saw, a 1×4 and some clamps.
I see the Track Saw as superior to this for all the reasons Rich mentioned.

I think you should ALL go out and buy one and tell all your friends to—and they should tell their friends.
So—eventually the price point will get down to where pofolks like me can justify the purchase.
(My Craftsman/1x/clamp setup costs about $100) Get the price down to under $200 and you have a convert.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#19 posted 04-28-2010 05:28 AM

Another point on track saws – - I have a project coming up where I would ordinarily need a TS onsite. Moving my shop TS is out of the question. I would have to rent or borrow a contractor saw. It’s my expectation that a couple of saw horses, a sheet of OSB (and some 2×4s to keep it rigid) and my track saw will do everything I would have done with a TS and probably do it better.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4480 days

#20 posted 04-28-2010 06:58 AM

Take it from the radial arm saw guy himself… I would go for a table saw first. It is actually more versatile. Don’t get me wrong. I love my RAS baby. But you will need to be able to rip. And it is not very safe or practical on a RAS. Cross cuts are easy, safe and accurate on a table saw if you build a simple cross cut sled.

Sorry to burst your bubble. You can still look forward to getting a RAS in the future. But if you don’t have a table saw yet you really need to start with that in my opinion.

I’m glad you liked my saw!

-- Happy woodworking!

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4598 days

#21 posted 04-28-2010 07:31 AM

i would like to add that a good job site table saw is like the most versatile saw you could get your hands on you can do all the of your miter saw using the miter gauge. and most of your small job site saws are very portable

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#22 posted 04-28-2010 11:22 AM

Rich, rushing me with artificial deadlines is just mean. :-P Festool’s 10% off sale ends May 31st!

The track saw is a really tempting option; it seems like it makes the claims of miter or table saw portability laughable. I’d just have to talk myself into the cost. Those who are suggesting other options, do you have a reason not to go with the plunge-cut circular saw (track or rail guide saw whatever you wanna call the thing)?

Something I stumbled across is the Bosch guide-rail setup for jigsaws. Safe to assume this would be underpowered for most uses? Or has it just escaped notice on these forums? Then again, it’d really be a silly choice; I think I’d be better off with the plunge-cut and getting a cheap jigsaw if I need one, rather than having an expensive jigsaw and a cheap circular.

My big question with the Bosch is whether it’s compatible with the Festool; one of the reviews says the track is identical, and the Bosch accessories dirt cheap compared to Festool or Makita’s offerings. Is it true that all the guide clamps are interchangeable?

On the subject of the ts55 vs 75; correct me if I’m wrong, but the ts75 only adds the ability to handle 3 inch hardwood with two surfaced sides. All other lumber dimensions are either bigger or smaller than both saw’s capacity.

Oh well, time to sleep; it’s five AM, I’ve written 10 pages in english, with another 12 in complex numbers, and I’m just babbling on at this point.

The concept of a saw that will produce large, accurate cuts and then return to a small plastic box in my room is really appealing. Any of the bigger toys would require storage

-- ~Mark

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4611 days

#23 posted 04-28-2010 12:18 PM

Radial arm saws are like pool tables. They take up lots of room and you end up piling crap on em. Get the table saw.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3627 days

#24 posted 04-28-2010 12:27 PM

Their size isn’t the only reason that a table saw is the center of most wood shops. With jigs and sleds you can build yourself there are few cuts that can’t be made on a table saw. They aren’t just for ripping.

If I were all alone on a desert island and could only have one power saw, it would be either a table saw or a band saw (I know, first I have to build the Gilligan’s Island generator but you get the idea).

-- Greg, Severn MD

View cbMerlin's profile


100 posts in 4026 days

#25 posted 04-28-2010 02:19 PM

My vote is for the Radial Arm. I’ve had mine for 25 years. Take care of it, learn all you can, get the right blade, respect it and understand how to tune it up for accuracy. I have ripped sheet goods with it (about 25” capacity on mine) as well as 1x material with no problem. I can get perfect miters with it. Beautiful for cross cutting. It’s a very versitile tool. I do understand why many don’t like them as I now have several other tools in the shop that get as good of result with perhaps easier/safer set up. To this day, I’m still very careful setting up cuts with it. It can hurt you! Remember:
My worst injury in the shop was with a hand held razor blade knife, lost focus for a split second and 23 stitches later the hospital got the bleeding stopped!

-- Sawdust looks better in the garage than cars, explain that to your wife!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#26 posted 04-28-2010 02:22 PM

First, I apologize for saying the Festool sale ends April 30th. For some reason, I really believed that when I wrote it.

Second on ts55 vs. ts75 – I’m not aware of any differences in features other than the ts75 is bigger, has a little more power and is heavier. Oh, and it costs more.

Third – If you check ebay you will used (and some new) Festool tools available. However, from my observations, the final selling prices are usually quite close to the official retail price.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#27 posted 04-28-2010 07:19 PM

No problem Rich, I just thought I’d tease you. The date is in big letters all over the website, so I was pretty sure you had the wrong date before I even checked.

My point with the ts75 comment was the bigger size adds very little cutting ability; maybe it adds speed and slightly easier cutting due to the longer blade length, but I can’t see any reason I’d need it.

The track saw is really sounding better and better; it wouldn’t even count as one saw size-wise. The track is the only storage issue, and it looks far more travel friendly than any custom jig. Is the small blade on these things to increase the effective torque of the motor for plunge cuts?

I’ll be stoping by the local Woodcraft and try to check out the ts55, probably next Thursday. Website says they carry the Makita too. I have to be moved out of my current place and into the new one by Saturday, and next week is finals.

Are there any third party Festool accessories? (unofficial) Or if I buy a ts55 am I trapped in the Festool system for consumables/add-ons?

I’d also like to ask again; Why shouldn’t I get a plunge cut saw?

EDIT Just realized why you’d want the ts75; the extra size adds utility to the bevel feature. With the ts55 set to 45 degrees, you’d only be able to cut through a maximum of 1.3 inches or so.

-- ~Mark

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3876 days

#28 posted 04-28-2010 07:33 PM

Just wanted to mention that the Festool tracks are great with routers and jig saws….I have the festool jig saw (another buy I am totally satisfied with – even though the price is more then double most other mfg’s jigs) with a track guide. It saved me the other day when my Ts55 would not plunge deep enough to cut a thick walnut/maple cutting board tabletop I am making. The Jig finished up the cut so cleanly that I was able to finish sand with 320 grit. I used to gag on the costs of the Festools…but after biting the bit and taking the “plunge” (pun intended) there is no looking back. These tools are made for the long run…and the accuracy is second to none…I do not regret any of them and plan on replacing any of my older tools (when they die) with Festool models if available – It is alot nicer to buy something this well made…the systainers are great and the way they work in tandem is awesome….enough Festool

m88k – there are 3rd party supplies for Festool items….but the Festool originals last a lot longer and really work better with the Festools.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View knotscott's profile


8355 posts in 3981 days

#29 posted 04-28-2010 07:50 PM

Everyone’s preferences and situations are different Mark. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and no real wrong answer to your question.

The table saw is the heart and soul of my shop, and it sees more action than any of my saws. A CMS and sliding CMS are limited to crosscuts. I rip, crosscut, bevel cut, dado, groove, rabbet, and even cove with my TS. I don’t own a RAS or a SCMS, and the only time my CMS sees action is for really long molding that’s unwieldy on the TS. I consider my TS to be more accurate and more versatile than my CMS, but it weighs over 500# and the CMS is definitely easier to store and take places!

Good luck with your decision.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 4005 days

#30 posted 04-28-2010 07:55 PM

You can make you own “track” system for a circular saw if that’s the route you might take for very little money. I made one by using a aluminum straight edge, and ripped various width(12” and 1”) strips out of a sheet of 1/2 plywood. I then marked a line from one edge of the 12” strip about a 1/4” more than what my saw could cut measuring from the blade to the outside of the base plate. I then screwed down the 1” strip against the line, I actually countersunk the screws a little deeper so the tips would stick out the back side so I wouldn’t have to clamp it down, all I do is press down and it stays aligned I then just riped against the 1” strip and wa-la a 8’ zero clearance straight edge. I also use it for my router, but one can also be made for a jig saw.

As far as which saw to choose, I would saw hold off and get a variety of hand held power tools like a plunge router, circular saw, jig saw, etc. But if not then I would say get a radial arm and a circular saw since space is limited.

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4254 days

#31 posted 04-28-2010 08:09 PM

I was always fascinated by Miter saws, and always wanted one before I started woodworking.

when I started woodworking , I basically used whatever I had at hand = circular saw with an aluminum straight edge (which I still use to this very day for cutting down plywood to size – it’s very accurate). I soon discovered that although a circular saw is great for panels – it lacks repeatability, and accuracy for hardwood parts – I soon researched and my solution was a TS – which has worked great for me ever since – for ripping, cross cutting, angle cuts, bevels, joinery, etc – things that a miter saw just CAN’T do…and things that are easy not to think about at first.

looking back – I still don’t have a miter saw, and don’t really see a need for it, since my TS can do any cut I can think of – and safely (when used with proper jigs/fixtures/sleds). on the other hand, I can see that if I first bought a miter saw – I’d be very very very limited.

Table saw should be your first – and if not- a circular saw with straight edge or track saw if you can afford one.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#32 posted 04-28-2010 09:31 PM

FWIW – I have had a conventional circular saw for over 20 years. I’ve used it many times with a straight edge. The difference between a conventional circular saw and a track saw (like Festool) is dramatic and it all has to do with precision. The depth setting and the tilt setting can be set very precisely (micro adjusted) very easily.

With a conventional circular saw I would never set a piece down flat on some OSB and cut it. It would take forever (via trial and error) to set the depth to just go through the piece and not penetrate into the OSB below. There is a great convenience to laying your work down on a flat piece of OSB (or MDF or whatever) and cutting it. There are no concerns about support.

In response to the question about 3rd party suppliers of accessories. Festool ROSs require a special sandpaper and I know there is a 3rd party distributor for that. I know of no other 3rd party products. Interesting, with the 3rd party alternative available, Festool has dropped the price on their sandpaper to below the 3rd party’s price. Festool is still a relative new concept and I suspect we will see more 3rd party options in the years ahead. With some tools (routers in particular) I see a need for lots of accessories. With a saw I really don’t see a need for any accessories other than a new blade when I need it. Festool saw blades are reasonably priced.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#33 posted 04-29-2010 04:22 AM

Fortunately, I can afford to at least consider the plunge-cut option. I’d have to cancel my planned lens purchase, but I’m quite willing to consider doing so. I also find the ease of long-range transport appealing

As far as 3rd party supplies go, my main curiosity was on the potential to use the Bosch track accessories. A Bosch jigsaw+track adapter would be significantly cheaper than the Festool equivelent at some point in the future. Also, the Bosch tracks and clamps are cheaper. The clamps are only slightly cheaper, but the track and track connectors are about 2/3s the price of the Festool models.

Plunge cut has an added bonus in my situation too; unlike larger tools or diy jigs, it’d be easy to store in the safety of my own room, and thus wouldn’t be exposed to the potential destructive nature of my new housemates. I was over there doing the pre-move-in cleaning today, and I feel far less comfortable about the prospect of storing a contractor saw or RAS in the garage. I’m trying to justify the expense with my new landlord’s expressed desire to trade rent for “handyman” projects on occasion…

Rich, is there a good way to make repeated small rips from dimensional lumber with the Festool system? The Makita has a cheap edge guide for the sp6000, but I can’t find anything similar for the ts55. I’m curious about strip-building, not that it’s really a priority. It wasn’t even on my mind as a possibility when I asked about the RAS.

And thanks for all the input; you all seem far more helpful than the average members in photography or computer forums. Maybe it’s the extra barriers to entering the world of woodworking…

-- ~Mark

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#34 posted 04-29-2010 03:12 PM

You have got me thinking about how I would make repeated small rips with a plunge saw. I am not aware of an edge guide and when I look at the saw I don’t see an obvious way to attach an edge guide. I would attack this challenge by using a spacer set-up on the left side of the track. I can envision it but it is hard to explain it in this format. The bottom line is the track is set up against something on the left side. After a cut, a spacer is removed and the track is moved to the left a precise amount (equal to the thickness of the strip plus the kerf of the blade). With the track in its new position, set up to do it again after the next cut.

The problem will be that there may not be any board under the left side of the track. The solution is to place a “buddy board” against the board you are cutting and secure it to the board you are cutting (pocket holes maybe).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#35 posted 04-29-2010 10:44 PM

For the record I know the table saw is THE way to make repeated rips; it just seems like a nice bonus if the Festool can do it.

Makita has an accessory they call a rip fence available, part 165447-6. Can’t seem to find it though. Unlike these guys, it appears to have two support rods leading back to the saw. One of the reviews I read of the Makita raved about that and the scoring mode. The main reason the Festool is more attractive to me is the 3 year warranty and those with more experience make a big deal about the built-in riving knife. (Never used one myself)

Actually, the way to rip small strips just occurred to me; clamp the track to the “buddy board”, leaving the desired rip width as the distance between the buddy and the blade. Then you just butt the workpiece against the buddy, and saw away.

Several posters in the forms comment on how things would be different if they had started out with Festool; I’m going try exactly that, and see how things go.

-- ~Mark

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3919 days

#36 posted 04-30-2010 12:55 AM

Well—I “started out” with an ‘entry level’ Craftsman circular saw and whatever I could find handy for a straightedge—and that was all I had for years until I bought an equally basic benchtop table saw.
And there are still plenty of times I opt for the circular saw to save awkward handling.
I thought that was just fine—-
Like the old folks say—It’s as good as butter – if you never had butter.

Point of all that—the track saw (of which the Festool appears to be the prime example) is the embodiment of exactly what I want/need/use a circular saw for.
NOW—if someone will just order a room full of bookcases so I can justify (and recoup) the cost. :-)
I’m sold.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View JohnStevens's profile


22 posts in 3563 days

#37 posted 04-30-2010 01:36 AM

I, too, vote for the TS55 by Festool. I got this saw about 2 years ago and have found that it can, in most cases, replace the table saw, CMS and RAS. The only draw back that I’ve found is very thin cuts. Hard to get the rail to sit just right. I’m sure if I talked with a Festool guy they’d show me the error of my ways.

Also, just back from my local woodworking store. The Festool saws are still on sale through May 31st. Even the extra tracks, connectors, etc… (What? Festool on sale? Has the earth stopped moving?)

-- "I'll show you my tenon if you show me your mortise!"

View JohnStevens's profile


22 posts in 3563 days

#38 posted 04-30-2010 01:39 AM

Oh, also, when buying tools my rule of thumb is “Buy for the rule, not the exception.” If 90+% of your cuts are less than 1 15/16”, get the TS55. If you cut exterior doors all day, get the TS75. The weight of the 75 is about the only draw back. (You do get a 75” rail with the TS75 though)...

-- "I'll show you my tenon if you show me your mortise!"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#39 posted 04-30-2010 01:42 AM

The Festool warranty is very strong. In the first year they will pay shipping both ways and guarantee to have your tool, or a replacement, back in 48 hours. In years 2 and 3 you pay the shipping one way and they still guarantee to have your tool, or a replacement, back in 48 hours.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#40 posted 04-30-2010 06:08 AM

What sort of dust extractor are you guys using with the ts55? Straight shopvac or something more specifically designed for the purpose? The vacuums look like a great tool, but they also look like a huge expense for something I don’t really need yet; I’ll be using the saw outside most likely, but I’m considering rigging up a dust extractor. Just curious if other (non-festool) vacuum pieces fit well…

John, what do you mean by very thin cuts? Are you cutting narrow stock, or cutting small pieces off? I have every intention with going for the ts55 now, but I don’t think it’ll be able to compound miter 2” stock. Unless Festool spec’d the maximum depth at an angle, which I find Highly unlikely.

-- ~Mark

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3680 days

#41 posted 04-30-2010 03:21 PM

Initially, I just bought the saw. I had never had a dust collector connected to any circular saw in the past. However, in the past, I did most of my circular saw work outside. I’ll be using the ts-55 inside.

I rigged up a small shop vac to my ts55 and found it unacceptable. I would rathe clean up the dust from the floor.

Then I gave in and bought the Festool midi dust extractor. As expected it is a great tool. It comes on and off automatically with the saw and it is quiet. I cannot hear the vac when the saw is running.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View JohnStevens's profile


22 posts in 3563 days

#42 posted 05-01-2010 07:58 AM


I use the CT22. Works perfectly, obviously, with the TS55. But, if you want to save some $$’s, buy a Festool GRAY 3.5 meter hose and use it with your regular shop vac (the green hoses are anti-static, but need to be used with the Festool vac to take advantage of that feature). Their end fitting fits most shop vacs out there. The only real issue then is that you have to turn on and off the vac, rather than it being an auto function.

Regarding thin cuts, what I mean is that if you have, let’s say, a 1” wide board and you want to cut 1/4” off, the rail needs to be supported by another piece and it’s also a little more difficult to keep the thin board from moving around.

Also, you absolutely cannot cut 2” stock in a compound cut with a TS55 (let alone a straight up cut – only can cut 1 15/16”). The angle shortens the depth of cut. You would need a TS75 to do cuts like that.

Remember, buy for the rule, not the exception…

-- "I'll show you my tenon if you show me your mortise!"

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3557 days

#43 posted 05-01-2010 02:48 PM

When I said 2”, I meant like a 2×4 or 2×6; actually 1 1/2” deep. Like I said though, if the 31/16” is straight cut depth, the ts55 can cut through up to 1.3” with a 45 degree compound.

Thanks for all the advice!

-- ~Mark

View Ger21's profile


1089 posts in 3736 days

#44 posted 05-01-2010 05:55 PM

I’d recommend a good tablesaw. The only thing I use my miter saw for is crown moulding and rough cutting rough lumber. With a crosscut sled and a good miter gauge, the tablsaw is far more accurate, and can do lots of other stuff as well.

-- Gerry,

View Medickep's profile


574 posts in 2344 days

#45 posted 08-25-2013 05:20 AM

I was intrigued by the idea of the track saw, which seemed very nice for ripping plywood. They seem to be a little high in price, but I suppose you’re paying a premium price for less space being occupied and it’s portable.

I did hear the Festool was the standard over the Dewalt version (which I just heard is made by Black and Decker??) but when I called a local “woodcraft” store they said the TS55 was on some kind of recall and the TS75 was around 500$ dollars I think.

It seems a little steep and hard to use for smaller pieces of stock, but I’ve never used one!

-- Keith

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