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Track saw analysis paralysis - help!

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Forum topic by Bob5700 posted 05-12-2022 12:41 AM 889 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob5700

5 posts in 65 days


05-12-2022 12:41 AM

I want to get a track saw to break down large sheet goods, but I want to do so as accurately as possible since sometimes cut lists are tight and don’t leave a lot of room for panel refinement on a table saw.

I have mildly invested in the Milwaukee M18 system and I’m hoping someday Milwaukee comes out with a cordless track saw. Until that day comes, I have a few options:

1. Go cheap with the 6.5” Wen and get a decent track (Powertec) and some accessories from TSO to ensure square and repeatable cuts. I like the price, but every video I’ve seen with the Wen makes it seem like the anti-kickback feature actually makes it hard to push the tool through the track.

2. Go mid-grade with a Kreg, but then get locked into their proprietary track system and (IMO) junky add-ons (square, guides etc). But I could maybe substitute that with their table to ensure accurate cuts, but the table suffers from the same problem that a table saw does – too small to adequately support full sheet goods.

3. Go slightly higher mid-grade with a Makita which has a more common track design and can be used with better quality accessories like those from TSO.

Festool is a bit rich for my blood.

I think given the size of sheet goods, I’m most likely to cut them on the floor on some sacrificial foam.

Anyone have any success or horror stories when it comes to track saw decisions?


28 replies so far

View pottz's profile

pottz

26507 posts in 2474 days


#1 posted 05-12-2022 12:55 AM

well im a believer in buy the best you can afford.when i went with one i went with dewalt.i got the saw and their 4’ and 8’ tracks.i love the saw,it’s been flawless,has a riving knife and anti kick back.i hook it up to my dc and dust collection is good,not perfect.at the time,about 8 years ago the dewalt was much cheaper than the festool,and i felt a bigger bang for my buck.and i still feel so and wouldn’t change even today.the wen,id pass on.the kreg i couldn’t say.the makita from what ive read a good bet.good luck in picking what is best for you.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

2410 posts in 1929 days


#2 posted 05-12-2022 01:59 AM

+1 ⌃ but, haven’t looked lately so I don’t know what brands are available these days.

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

View EdDantes's profile

EdDantes

90 posts in 1400 days


#3 posted 05-12-2022 02:24 AM

I bought the larger WEN and powertec tracks. Honestly, I don’t have any complaints 6 months in. I don’t find the antikickback feature to be all that bothersome (though I can’t compare it to anything else). However it’s strictly used to breakdown sheet goods which I then make finish cuts on the table saw. I’ve thought about getting a TSO square, but a 12” aluminum framing square does the job well enough for now. I actually just bought a Chinese knockoff of track square off Banggood for $60, so we’ll see how that goes.

I was considering getting the cordless Makita, however I don’t really do much outside my shop/house so I didn’t think the cordless was going to be that useful. And if I was going to switch over to a a mor tracksaw-centric workflow with an MFT, etc. I probably would have got something nicer.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

10168 posts in 2063 days


#4 posted 05-12-2022 04:15 AM



well im a believer in buy the best you can afford.when i went with one i went with dewalt.i got the saw and their 4 and 8 tracks.i love the saw,it s been flawless,has a riving knife and anti kick back.i hook it up to my dc and dust collection is good,not perfect.at the time,about 8 years ago the dewalt was much cheaper than the festool,and i felt a bigger bang for my buck.and i still feel so and wouldn t change even today.the wen,id pass on.the kreg i couldn t say.the makita from what ive read a good bet.good luck in picking what is best for you.

- pottz

++++1

I’ve owned several of the DeWalt saws with long, and short rails, and each time I get a new one, I have the opportunity to get something else, still using a DeWalt, still loving it.

All the research says Festool, Makita, and Dewalt. I’ve not really seen the Kreg studied by anyone except Kreg, but I haven’t been looking either.

I agree mostly with Pottz saying buy the best you can afford, if it’s something you know will get frequent use. If it’s just gonna be a here and there use, do you really NEED a tracksaw, or maybe just kinda WANT one?

The same cuts can be done, albeit slower, with a circular saw of 1960 vintage, and a cutting shoe. I know this to be true because PLYWOOD has been around a long time, and track saws have not, so that is how we used to do it.

-- Think safe, be safe

View xedos's profile

xedos

557 posts in 790 days


#5 posted 05-12-2022 05:08 AM

Get the Festool.

When you get a Milwaukee replacement and go to sell it , it’ll bring a high percentage of the purchase cost making your time with it a cheap rental in essence.

If the Milwaukee never materializes , you’ve had the best (arguably) for the entire time and not wasted time and money on inferior tools.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

629 posts in 1086 days


#6 posted 05-12-2022 01:28 PM

Get the one that’s in stock.

Wish I was kidding, but this was my experience. I had done some research and the way it seemed to me, the Festool was number one, the Dewalt number two, Makita, etc feel behind that (Why not the Maffel you ask? Because I’ve never had one of their tools in my hands, ever. Never even seen one in a store… Not sure even where to buy one).

Thinking the Rockler near me had a TS55 in stock, we counted our pennies and head din to buy it. They had it, it was the cordless version… But, they had no batteries.

The Dewalt was in stock. To order any others it was going to take about two months (Bad timing on supply chain shortages). So, we bought the Dewalt. The corded version (I’m a cabinet maker and the jobsites I work on ALWAYS have power, plus I already have a really good battery operated saw, the Dewalt Worm Drive style).

Why was timing important? Well, I do this for a living. I recognized the need and decided it was important we had it sooner than later. I was correct, and it has saved hours and hours or work, struggling to set up things, etc.

We did buy Festool track and I am glad I did. More on that later.

The things I like better wit the Festool (Although, I’ve never actually used one):

- two step indicator on the depth of cut
- how you adjust the depth of cut
- opposite side zero clearance insert

Are they worth the extra one or two hundred bucks? Dunno, I will say, I love my Dwelt. It’s changed my life.

The depth of cut adjustment on the Dewalt is a wheel, it works fine, as long as you don’t crush it into place. The depth of cut indicator is a little annoying, b ut I just add a little extra and the cuts work out just fine. Take a split second to adjust, really.

I do like the idea of the zero clearance and there are times, when materials are tight, when that other side cut does matter.

I an 100% convinced I will buy another track saw, and it will probably be the cordless Festool. But, I use it almost every day… The Dewalt would have the same batteries as the most of the rest of my other battery stuff… But, I think I want the Festool next time around.

Would I buy another Dewalt? In a heartbeat, actually. I think the Maffel (by the reviews I’ve read and seen), the Makita and the Dewalt are probably all pretty comparable. If I were a serious hobbyist, these would be on my short list.

Wen? I dunno. I own two Wen tools. One is a power planer I bought of Craigslist. I don’t use one very often, so this is good enough. The other is a little 6” buffer I bought off Amazon for 17 bucks. Again. not something I use all the time… But, it works. I may chase down a more expensive buffer one of these days? I just bought it a couple months ago and have used it two or three times. $17 sounds about right for that. But, it doesn’t really have to be accurate. Not sure I’d go Wen for something like a track saw? I dunno…

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

629 posts in 1086 days


#7 posted 05-12-2022 01:37 PM

Oh, why the Festool track (Makita and Muffle, I think are exact copies… But, yeah, none in stock, locally or online).

I bought the TSO parallel guides, and 90 deg future, the PRS16 something or other… they fit on the Festool (and the two Ms?). I do not believe they fit on the Dewalt track.

We did have to modify the Dewalt to work 100% with the accessories (We had to trim the base to fit past them on the track)

But, the larger number of accessories available of the Festool pattern track make it much more flexible, of course.

I found the TSO parallel guide system to be an excellent addition to the investment into the track saw system… But, good googley moogley, it’s starting to get expensive! LOL

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

2410 posts in 1929 days


#8 posted 05-12-2022 02:53 PM

Just my opinion but, I think it would be nice to have a thread that archived all the info on Track Saws and all things related

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

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

330 posts in 874 days


#9 posted 05-12-2022 03:30 PM

I use this-
https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/414564

along with a Porter Cable Saw Boss, and it works great for all sheet goods.

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

3862 posts in 1091 days


#10 posted 05-12-2022 05:25 PM

I bought the Grizzly track and saw combo and it does fine. I wouldn’t mind having a 8’ track which I don’t have but it gets me by. I don’t use it much but it is there when I do. If I had to do it over I would probably do Dewalt based on reviews, I am just not going to spend Festool $$$ on something I rarely use. Something to consider is battery power it might be nice to break down a sheet in the big box parking lot. I have trouble carrying anything big and heavy now.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

10168 posts in 2063 days


#11 posted 05-12-2022 05:46 PM



I use this-
https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/414564

along with a Porter Cable Saw Boss, and it works great for all sheet goods.

- Jeff

Jeff as I stated earlier if you wanted crisp cuts on plywood, away from a TS, not too many years ago this is your best bet. In all likelihood due to your framed table, you could attain cuts better than a Festool, not on a ridgid, and flat surface. Just the saw doesn’t tell the entire story of the cut quality. Blade, where and how you are making the cut, so many factors. Overall slower than a Track saw, yeah by a little bit, but unless every second is making you money, or losing it, that is a moot point. For a hobbiest, for the most part tracksaws are overkill, but the “I wants” need to be fed. :-)

Nice build

-- Think safe, be safe

View Knockonit's profile

Knockonit

1278 posts in 1691 days


#12 posted 05-12-2022 05:48 PM

oh my me brain hurts from all the analysis of buying a dang saw, my goodness.
rj in az

-- Living the dream

View sepeck's profile

sepeck

527 posts in 3630 days


#13 posted 05-12-2022 06:15 PM

While I haven’t used it, I will toss in one more to complicate your choices. Ryobi came out with a track saw thatr is reasonably reviewed. Just an additional consideration.
https://www.ryobitools.com/products/details/33287211418

Since I am using Ryobi already, I will probably go for it since I am a hobbyist and all the reviews seem to fit my use cases, but until I actually need to use it I will hold off on buying. Granted I owe my wife a table with th etwo slabs drying in the garage, they are probably dry enough so this year most likely for me.

-- -Steven Peck, http://www.blkmtn.org

View Bob5700's profile

Bob5700

5 posts in 65 days


#14 posted 05-12-2022 07:26 PM

++++1

I ve owned several of the DeWalt saws with long, and short rails, and each time I get a new one, I have the opportunity to get something else, still using a DeWalt, still loving it.

All the research says Festool, Makita, and Dewalt. I ve not really seen the Kreg studied by anyone except Kreg, but I haven t been looking either.

I agree mostly with Pottz saying buy the best you can afford, if it s something you know will get frequent use. If it s just gonna be a here and there use, do you really NEED a tracksaw, or maybe just kinda WANT one?

The same cuts can be done, albeit slower, with a circular saw of 1960 vintage, and a cutting shoe. I know this to be true because PLYWOOD has been around a long time, and track saws have not, so that is how we used to do it.

- therealSteveN

I definitely thought about going this route since I have a circular saw, but I absolutely hate that saw and have more negative experiences with keeping a tool registered to a straight-edge, than positive ones (be it jig saws, routers, etc…)

Straight-edge registration requires lateral force, which can waver as you walk/move with the tool, or the jig can shift on the work piece. The circular saw I have (Craftsman) is… junk to say the least. The plate flexes, the bottom is kinda rounded so it’s literally impossible to determine if the saw blade is in fact 90 degrees perpendicular to the plate, and the blade guard is so stiff it requires considerable force to push it open, which then causes the saw to lurch forward once the blade guard clears the edge of the work piece, making edge registration difficult (and ironically, also makes the saw the most dangerous tool I own).

If I were going to go the circular saw route, I’d be buying a new saw anyway, so I figured I might as well go with a track saw.

At this point I’ve decided against Kreg and it’s now a choice between a $97 Wen and a $399 Makita. The Ryobi looks interesting but I’m not sure how I feel about adding another battery system to my shop. I wish it was corded (I plan on getting a corded saw, since hooking up a dust collector hose defeats the purpose of a battery powered tool).

View Robert's profile

Robert

5005 posts in 2970 days


#15 posted 05-12-2022 07:33 PM

That’s not much of a choice, now, is it?

Cordless track saws no advantage if you’re using dust collection.

You need a good dust extractor to go with it – not a screaming shop vac -.

Its not a cheap investment.

And oh, yeah, get up off the floor!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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