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Track Saws


Coop
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Not to distract from or hj the previous thread by @KoDean, I thought I would start my own. Over the years there have been many threads about the track saw and at the time, I had no interest and paid no attention but now I think this needs to be my next purchase. But before spending my grandkids inheritance, I thought I better do some research. Right now, I use an aluminum track that is in two 4’ sections and can be joined together. There are two screw type clamps that hold it to the ply on each end. The foot of the circ saw rides against the edge. Due to the clamps, the ply can’t be laid flat on a piece of styrofoam on the floor so saw horses or other type of support is required. Questions:

1) How does the track attach to the sheet goods? 

2) Festool seems to be the King here but are there others almost just as good

3) corded or dc powered

I have done some research but trust opinions here as apposed to some yahoo that gets paid by a sponsor. 

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Coop, the tracks have a strips that keep the track from moving.  With that said, I still clamp my tracks.  I also don’t cut on the floor or a solid surface.  I use the 2 inch pink foam, it comes in 2’x8’ sheets and I lay them on saw horses.  As for brands, the Makita gets good reviews.  If I was to buy new, I would go cordless.  I would still probably go with the festool.

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I have the Festool TS 55 the smaller of the two corded saws.  I think I would want to use a cordless version before committing to it.  I would like to see how it felt balance wise compared to the one I have.  

Its probably just because I have the Festool but recently my neighbor bought a Mikita track saw and it seemed nice enough but it just felt different in the plunging action.  I would imagine that if that was the only one you ever used it would be fine but I like my Festool.

Just if you are interested I like having a 55 inch track and a 75 inch track instead of a long single track.  I have the two bars that allow me to join then together if needed.  They slide in on the bottom side with set screws to tighten them in place.  There is no performance lose with this set up, you don't even feel the saw going over the joint of the two tracks.  Its easier to find storage for two short tracks in my garage shop as apposed to one long one.

The TS 55 has a depth of cut of 1-15/16" at 90° when using the track.

I clamp the track on critical cuts but the track does a good job by itself.

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“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  John Wooden

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For starters, I'm going to 100% agree with the above posts.  I do however want to add a few things..

1.  You really need to know if this tool is purely only for breaking down sheet goods or if you want it for other things as well.  One of the good things about a good track saw is getting a glue ready cut right off of the saw.  This becomes important when doing 45s for a thick table top as @Chet can attest.  Chet mentioned the depth of cut of the TS55 at 90, it's significantly less at 45.  Maybe this is important to you and maybe it's not?  If it is important to you then, you need to be verifying the depth of cut at 45 to ensure your saw will handle that cut regardless of brand.  Also, if these cuts are in your future, I wouldn't want cordless for this cut.  For the record, these cuts are one of my favorite feature of the track saw and have been used in at-least a couple of my videos.

2. Corded vs Cordless - In all honesty, I want to add a cordless smaller version to my collection strictly for breaking down sheet goods.  I have the 75 which will certainly get the job done but, it's a bit large and bulky for sheet goods. - Certainly one of the "cons" to going with a larger option suggested in item 1!

3. Tracks - Putting shorter tracks together works just fine and they're easier to store that way!  However, I have no regrets in buying the long track.  Like @Woodenskye (Bryan), I still clamp mine down.  IMO, this is one of the most overlooked uses for a split top bench is a track for the track saw blade.

4.  Brand - If I remember correctly, the Makita will run on the Festool tracks.  If you have more green stuff in your future, this might be a good option since the Festool stuff is really set up to work as a system.  I know the Makita gets the best reviews other than the Festool and Mafell but, those two have some hefty price tags.  For the record, I've never tried the Mafell.  One more note on brand...  I know that Kreig has come out with one and you might do some homework on that one.  I haven't looked at reviews on them but, the guy that got my old bandsaw has one and he said he liked it.

To close this long winded post, what would Kev do?  I'd buy a cordless small Festool.  But, that's because that's what I need in my shop and I have the bigger one.  Which one should @Coop get?  Only you can answer that question.

 

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just to add some to this ... as a makita track saw owner ... 

1) The stock cord is short, at least I thought so and so having ply on saw horses and plugged into my shop vac, I always felt like I barely had enough cord to finish the 4' cross cut. With that, I did make my own cord and added another 5' to the orginal length ... I think it puts it somewhere like 15-17' now or something like that. I would have to go measure it. 

2) I have never ran into anything it couldnt handle ... with some real hard woods, I normally just take 2 cuts anyways on things in the 6-8/4 range. 

3) would I buy it again? possibly, but I would really want to look hard into cordless, I think it would be easier without the cords. As I know nothing else than the makita, I like it and have no complaints, minus the cord length. 

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Appreciate all of the advice! The strips you mention on the track to hold it in place, are these some type of high friction rubber strips? 

Yes, the biggest majority of my use would be for breaking down sheet goods so regardless of whether I use my setup or a track saw, clamps are required in my case and suggested with the track saw. My biggest bitch now is that to use mine with the clamps, a set of saw horses are required. I was hoping that with a track saw, that wouldn’t be the case. 

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22 minutes ago, Coop said:

Appreciate all of the advice! The strips you mention on the track to hold it in place, are these some type of high friction rubber strips? 

Yes, the biggest majority of my use would be for breaking down sheet goods so regardless of whether I use my setup or a track saw, clamps are required in my case and suggested with the track saw. My biggest bitch now is that to use mine with the clamps, a set of saw horses are required. I was hoping that with a track saw, that wouldn’t be the case. 

You can run the Festool tracks without the clamps on sheet goods but, I just don't trust them to stay in place.  If I run without the clamps then I cut over size and then do final at the table saw.  Just as easy to toss the clamps on as do it twice.

Yes, they are a rubberized strip that holds fairly well.

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I guess, as saw horses are required either way when working with ply, I might as well just stick with the setup I have. As is, I can pull the ply from my truck or trailer onto the 1” pink foam board laying on the grass or driveway. I cut the foam board to be just shy of 96” to accommodate the clamps for my guide. 

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Coop, you don’t need saw horses, Marc puts foam on his concrete floor, I know others who put 2x4 sleepers and others like Kev uses his bench.  I use saw horses cause most of my cutting full sized sheets are in my driveway, cause shop is small, and I’m to damn fat to be crawling on the concrete driveway.  Smaller pieces I can use my bench or MFT. 

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42 minutes ago, Woodenskye (Bryan) said:

Coop, you don’t need saw horses, Marc puts foam on his concrete floor, I know others who put 2x4 sleepers and others like Kev uses his bench.  I use saw horses cause most of my cutting full sized sheets are in my driveway, cause shop is small, and I’m to damn fat to be crawling on the concrete driveway.  Smaller pieces I can use my bench or MFT. 

I've used 2x4 sleepers for years as well when the piece is too big to get the cut in the right place on my table.  Works well and the sleepers last forever.

 

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I've got a Makita and a ts75 I probably use the Makita more because of weight. I also have a Festool 55" and 75" tracks plus a Makita 118" track. I use the 55" for cross cuts on 4 x 8 sheets 55" on 5x5 and the 118" on 8' sheets. I have no real desire for a battery saw because I always use a vac so I have a hose anyway 

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4 hours ago, Larry Moore said:

because I always use a vac so I have a hose anyway 

Good thought, didn't think of that.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  John Wooden

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Late to the party here but I have recently used the kreg version where you use your existing saw. Have to say that the rubber strips on the bottom of the track kept it in place. The track on the other hand had some play in it. It worked fir the few cuts I made with better than expected accuracy. 

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