Am I a Track Saw Candidate?

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Forum topic by NeophyteGrant posted 05-02-2020 06:18 PM 728 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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147 posts in 1758 days

05-02-2020 06:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: track saw lumber

So, I’m in an interesting situation. I have been using fir and syp for a number of projects (cost, as I hone my skill—the syp for a bench). I’ll almost always buy it in 2×10 or 12 at 10 plus foot lengths.

Usually I need to rip these in half or so and for that I have a a G771z 2hp underpowered TS and with non true lumber…well even with a riving knife and stock guides for kickback it’s a worrisome hassle OR the blade will completely bog on me. Compounding things, even with a generous outfeed table I find going to the TS cumbersome to maneuver the length in my small shop. I have an ample resaw bandsaw that would solve kickback fears but table height and size—its a nightmare to guide something that length. Even more dangerous as a one man job.
I know track saws are more for the sheet goods category, but could one be the answer to ripping these long, wide 2x stock (or hardwoods) more comfortably (and making them easier on a jointer?)
. I absolutely loathe my circ saw and have never been happy with my jigs for it…Im worried the width of track and balance might limit this application. Just want to work in comfort.

Woods too long in Chicago

10 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7243 posts in 3742 days

#1 posted 05-02-2020 06:38 PM

One of the biggest uses mine gets is straight edging rough sawn lumber so i can rip it on the TS. I did (once when we moved to a new house) use to rip a lot of 2X stock to finish up the building that would become my shop. The way I worked around stock being to narrow to support the track was sister another board (or sometimes 2) next to the work piece to support the track. Wasn’t ideal, but even so I got the job(s) done. the biggest problem is when the boards aren’t completely flat, like 2x stock. So you might have to swap boards a couple of time to some that are close to being in plane.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View therealSteveN's profile


8923 posts in 1823 days

#2 posted 05-02-2020 08:14 PM

Yes, as Fred said padding out the base of the track is the only issue if the board isn’t wide enough to support the entire track, AND allow enough overhang for what you want to cut off. A flat, stable work base is needed. 2 sawhorses can do that. Next I like to have a sacrificial sheet of foam to cut into. You always set the saw to completely cut through what you are cutting + about a 1/32. Cutting into the foam doesn’t destroy your sawhorses..

Lay down 2 or 3 wide of the board thickness you are using, lay the track down, set it to your marks, and start sawing.

I have the DeWalt track saw, and one of the reasons I bought it was back then I was still doing trade work, and I cut a LOT of pine, fir, spruce, essentially pitchy, and gummy, often pretty moist wood. I noticed with my circular saw an occasional cah-thunk, as I was redirected by some wet wood. My DeWalt has a Riving Knife, and there is no kickback. Not sure on other track saws. Plus when the saw is running the DeWalt will not move backward on the track. Both go a long way to helping with construction grade wood.

So because you cut a lot of 2 x material for width, YES you are the perfect track saw owner. Otherwise you can get essentially the same end result if $$$$$ is a factor. You can easily make a plywood shoe to run a circular saw on, or a router for that matter.

Cut a piece of 14” wide 3/4” plywood as long as you want the shoe to be. Center a narrower, maybe 3” wide strip in the center. The other side can be used just to clamp it in place, or make a run with a router on it. Just know, once you make it for a router, it’s for that diameter bit. First pass of either the circular saw blade, or the router bit will cut the wider board exactly the width from your saw/router base, to the edge of the board.

-- Think safe, be safe

View BlasterStumps's profile


2134 posts in 1689 days

#3 posted 05-02-2020 08:39 PM

When I rip cut on the table saw, sometimes I will set the blade height so that it doesn’t cut completely through on the first pass. Then I flip the board end for end and run it thru a second time to finish the cut. Seems to lessen the chance of pinching.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#4 posted 05-03-2020 01:12 AM

Thanks guys. Good idea with the plywood shoe. I bought a long aluminum track at the very beginning and the offset measuring—-well that got annoying quick. Then tried some kreg stuff but carrier didn’t fit well or firm for me. That shoe seems like a viable option, kicking myself for not figuring it out earlier. I might just have to do the jig-no matter how much that shiny appeal of a new tool rings in my ear.

I have enough to sell that I don’t use t cover the cost of the new tool, but in Illinois we’re on lockdown and am unsure about how quick I could move it. Though, Amazon does offer me a 0% payment plan…the allure never ends.

View xedos's profile


433 posts in 550 days

#5 posted 05-04-2020 02:03 AM

I think you ARE NOT a good candidate for a track saw.

Something is bad wrong with your setup if your saw is struggling with 2x material. An induction motor of that rating should have no problem ripping 2x SYP with a rip blade. Either you’re using the wrong blade, the drive belt(s) are loose, and or the blade and fence are out of alignment. Starting out I ripped plenty of 2x SYP and even pressure treated on a 1.5hp craftsman tablesaw. Not exactly the king of heavy duty.

I understand muscling a board that big is a hassle, but you’ll have to muscle it to your cut station with a tracksaw too.

In order to cut 10+ ft. lengths you’ll need two plus guide rails and connectors. These will run roughly $500 hundred dollars by themselves if you want any kind of accuracy and repeatability. Then, there’s going to be the performance dropoff. You just cant get the same hp and torque your grizzly offers from a handheld tracksaw. This isn’t opinion or anecdote , it’s fact. So if your tablesaw struggles, so will the tracksaw you buy. And most don’t have a riving knife, so you’ll probably have to pucker when using those too.

If you decided to go homebrew, a worm drive saw would be about as beefy as you can get but where are you going to find 10ft. + material that is straight enough and will remain that way over time to cover your cut length ??? Then there’d be the size and weight of that rig – not easy to maneuver.

I suggest first checking your saw’s setup , then building infeed and outfeed supports that allow you cut easier than you do now.

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#6 posted 05-04-2020 03:29 AM

These are good points xedos. In my case, the setup is good: I have a stout and 4×8 outfeed table, its coplanar (leveling feet, straightedge test, passing boards over test), 24T rip blade, thin-kerf even—the main problem is that the 2x is warped.

When I run trued stock of any type on it—cuts like butter. Its a beaut.

I sourced all this super wet SYP last year from an outdoor Menards yard with the intention of building a bench, and although its been stickered and sat for a year, this stuff still warped pretty good—more than framing lumber usually.

When I run long, wide lengths of this stuff—which often seems cupped, bowed, and twisted all at once—thats when I have issues. I have a riving knife on the TS and stock feeds so it doesn’t kickback, just bogs. Ordinarilly i’d cut the length off it, make it easier to rough run it through a bandsaw to rough width, joint it—do whatever to get smaller true pieces, but in this case i need the length.

My story is probably why framing lumber for projects is a far second cry from hardwoods. But you’re right, if its bad on the table top, inverting is probably won’t make it better.

My thinking is I’ll take the Kreg Accu-Rip jig I have (circ saw take some time to mount, which is my main issue with it) and perhaps rip it with the circ saw on top of some foam insulation—maybe clamp the board down? Though when I say that out loud it sounds…precarious.

If I had a large shop I would just set up work stands in-feed and outfeed on my large bandsaw and have a two person team pass it through. I don’t need a perfect cut, just roughed and the BS makes short work of it.

View therealSteveN's profile


8923 posts in 1823 days

#7 posted 05-04-2020 05:19 AM

The shoe works well because you cut the line you will use on that first cut. However now that you have mentioned a big bandsaw, That is the safest way to rip anything. The only possible issue is easily overcome with some height adjustable saw horses, or work supports due to the smallish tables on most bandsaws. Tippy cuts aren’t usually the best cuts, nor the safest. using infeed, and outfeed supports will do the holding, and all you need to do is steer.

-- Think safe, be safe

View tvrgeek's profile


2292 posts in 2898 days

#8 posted 05-04-2020 09:49 AM

I have begun to see the virtues of the band saw for getting rough lumber to size before jointing and planing.

I had a lot of trouble with my contractor saw ripping framing lumber until I switched to the correct rip blade. One may still need a handful of wedges to handle pinching post splitter. A circ saw in a track is just as susceptible to pinch as is the TS.

View xedos's profile


433 posts in 550 days

#9 posted 05-04-2020 01:35 PM

Ah, guess i missed the “nontrue” part.

You’re talking about a straight lining operation. Slider or gang saw would be ideal – except with the wet wood.

Do you have a jointer already ? I think I’d invest in that before a tracksaw setup, but in that light I’ll change my stance to you are a candidate for a tracksaw but not a front runner. The jointer offers more possibilities and economies of scale unless you also do a lot of sheetgoods too.

But , one thing you mention is you want to work in comfort. Taking the tool to the work is often better and I think this might be the case for what you’re asking about. Comfort usually comes at a cost, and this is no exception. You might very well decide it’s worth the added expense to setup a tracksaw system for this.

Only you can answer that.

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#10 posted 05-06-2020 03:19 AM

I do—but its a 6 inch. It is the 56” (I believe? JJ-CDSX ) deluxe tho so its got a decent in and outfeed. But width is the problem.

I’m thinking I might set up some good infeed and outfeed at the Bandsaw to do it. That’s my current thinking lol. I’m about a week out, and will let you guys know how it goes.


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