Are you looking for a good quality woodcut and can’t decide between a track saw and a table saw? We cover the basics of both and settle the debate of track saw VS table saw once and for all. Keep reading to find out which saw will suit your needs best!
What is a Track Saw?
A track saw is also known as a plunge saw or plunge-cut saw and helps make precise cuts along a straight line. The track saw is portable and runs along a predetermined track that is placed on the wood. When you need to start cutting, all you need to do is mark your line of cut on the board, and place the metal track along those lines onto the workpiece. Now you can simply affix the saw onto the track and start cutting along the set line.
What is a Track Saw good for?
A track saw is considered a highly accurate tool for the precise cutting of wooden boards. Since these boards include MDF, OSB, plywood, particle boards, and even hardwood, it is considered a highly versatile sawing tool.
It’s not just accuracy but also the cleanliness of the cut that matters to the woodworking professionals. A simple comparison between a track saw, table saw and circular saw cut will have you believe the preciseness of the track saw. Conventional wood cutting includes a rough cut with a circular saw followed by a finish cut with a table saw. You’ll be surprised to know that you can simply skip the second act of the finish cuts with a track saw.
Track saws are highly easy to use since they do not take up much space as a table saw. With a track saw, it becomes easy to cut down larger wood boards into smaller pieces. If you’re looking for something to fit your small garage workshop, track saws are also space-saving. You could cut large boards in an 8×10 feet room.
The portability is also a major advantage that a table saw won’t give you and that’s what makes it a good choice for carpenters and contractors alike. You can easily carry an extension cord with you for added ease and check out our resource on extension cords by length here.
And if you’re fussy about cleanliness, the track saw shroud comes with a trap for dust collection like no other. So you no longer have to worry about all those pesky wooden bits flying off to the corners of your garage workshop.
Now let’s take a good look at table saws and how they work.
What is a Table Saw?
A table saw, also known as a bench saw or saw bench, is comprised of a table with a protruding circular saw attached for easy cutting. The purpose of the table is to provide adequate support for the workpiece. The circular saw can be adjusted for deeper cuts – the longer the protruding blade, the deeper the cut will be. To adjust the angle of the cut, you can maneuver the angle of the blade accordingly.
A table is great for deeper cuts and milling operations which can’t be performed on a track saw otherwise. Rabbets and dados are some of the complex woodworking operations a track saw won’t be able to keep up with.
A table saw comes in many types for every kind of woodworker – the hobbyist and the professional. Benchtop, compact, contractor, cabinet, job site, hybrid, and sliding are only some of the few types of table saws available in the market.
Track Saw Vs Table Saw
Now that you know what both track and table saws are good for, let’s take a look at the individual factors where one excels more than the other.
Accuracy of cuts
On the scale of accuracy, both track and table saws have their strong points. A table saw’s fence system is great for repeated cuts and can even help you make cuts like rabbets and dados accurately. On the other hand, a track saw will help make accurate cuts with the help of its track and the cuts will be cleaner than the table saw.
Angled cuts are something the track saw is capable of handling easily since the track makes the alignment a piece of cake. This likely saves a lot of material and makes for quick cutting of various-shaped boards for a shelf or cupboards.
Table saws on the other hand are more useful for straight, repeated cuts and might not be the best choice for a project requiring a lot of angled cutting.
Now here’s something where the winner is clear – the track saw. Since there’s no table attached, you can have the setting of your choice and work on huge pieces within a small setting.
Table saws on the other hand are only good for large workshops and factory floors where there is no space restriction.
A track saw is the clear portable option while a table saw is highly stationary and immobile. You could simply carry the track in one hand the saw in the other. This feature makes it highly popular in the contractor and carpenter community where the job can be anywhere from a garage to inside a home. The Kreg circular saw has been rated the best option for portability in the market.
If you’re both short on space and looking for portability because the storage cabinet is a long way from the workshop and the nearest electrical outlet, maybe it’s time to go cordless. The DeWalt Flexvolt Cordless Track Saw Kit is a popular choice and among the top 5 track saw options for its ease of use and mobility.
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Whether you’re a hobbyist working on a Sunday or a professional on a tight deadline, time will be a major consideration for wood cutting. Traditional cutting makes for a two-act play – that is cutting roughly with a circular saw followed by a finish cut with a table saw. But this time gets cut in half with a track saw where only one cut is involved. The plastic edge on the track saw marks where the final cut will be made. All you need to do is simply align the markers on the board with the plastic edge and start sawing! Now you can make it to that Sunday brunch on time! Or you can take that extra time to get cleaning your workshop for pesky gnats, drain flies, and fruit flies.
While prices might vary depending on the type of model and size you want to order, we can take a look at the general price ranges of both table and track saws.
Track saws with saw length around 55” or above might fall in the bracket of $70-$300 while a medium to long saw will fall in the wide price range of $575 to $1150.
Table saws are more costly and will keep getting pricier depending on the number of features offered. Table saws will generally start around $500 and go up to a cost of $1100.
Additional features make it a tough choice to choose between a track and a table saw. For example, the Festool TS 55 REQ Plunge Cut Saw with T-Loc and Rail has a tooth blade that can cut through almost anything. Its thoughtful mechanisms like prevention of kickback and slow start motor to avoid any jump start make it a good deal. Let’s not forget the adjustable speed control between 1350 and 3550 RPM.
But other features in table saws might give track saws a run for their money too. The Blade guard system in the DeWalt DWE7485 and the optional Dado set up to 13/ 16 inches in the DeWalt DWE7491RS 10 inch job site table saw are some of the standouts.
If you’re confused between inches and centimeters, it might be time to check out this resource to clear your doubts on all types of units.
Using a table saw requires the right technique and posture. Without this, the table saw can prove dangerous. Experts can help you out on the correct way to push the blade into the wood rather than the other way around. Speaking of safety, if you want the safest driving experience you might want to check out this article on idle air control valves, one of the key yet most neglected parts of a vehicle.
Coming back to saws, however, thanks to its designated tracks with covered blades the track saw proves better in avoiding injuries. The lightweight design and portability of the track saw means that you can carry the track saw and won’t need to break your back moving the heavy machine. There is also a sticking feature to make sure tracks are affixed to the workstation for added safety. If you’re looking to do some welding at your workshop too, take a look at this resource.
Which is better?
Now that you’ve gone through the pros and cons of each, let’s take a look at the verdict. If you’re a DIY enthusiast looking to spend a couple of hours in the garage for a simple woodworking project, a track saw might be the best, safest, and most space-saving option for you.
If you’re a carpenter or woodworking professional moving from house to house on call, a track saw will suit you better. But if you have your designated workshop with plenty of space and a lot of repetitive work where you’re constantly cutting for hours, the table saw is your best bet.
Of course, the price range is still a factor, but you can usually find a model that suits your needs in your price range thanks to the wide variety of brands like DeWalt, Makita, Wen, Bosch, Kreg, and Grizzly to name a few. There’s something for everyone!
Can I use my circular saw as a track saw?
When you’re on a budget but the ease of using a track saw instead of your regular circular saw tempts you, you can get started on making your own. To do this you need a relative amount of DIY experience. All you need is measuring tape, a drill machine, a combination square, and aluminum flat bars. We recommend seeking the help of a professional in case you’re still in the learning process.
Do I really need a Track saw?
Owners of circular saws and traditional table saws often ask if they need to convert to a track saw. Experts and novices are turning more and more to the trend of keeping a track saw handy. This might be simply because you either never know when you’re going to need a portable option outside your workshop and also because of the accuracy of the cuts. You can even simply invest in a track saw when you want to save on space or just make a change to a safer option. The preparation stage for cutting is much longer with a circular and table saw, while in the track saw you can simply align the markers with the plastic edge and get going. So if you’re still thinking, you might as well make the shift to track saws sooner rather than later.
Top choices of table and track saws
Take a look at our best picks for each!
Top track saws
- Festool 575387 Plunge Cut Track Saw rates highly in the track saw market. Festool is considered a premium brand in the market and it’s no surprise its track saw has raving reviews. The RPM ranges from 1350 to 3550 RPM and is powered by a 10 amp motor. Its micro-adjustable depth control also makes it a favorite of the professionals. Festool is sure of its product’s durability and thus offers a nice three-year warranty period for its buyers.
- Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2 in. Plunge Circular Saw Kit
This is on the pricier side of track saws but the 12amp motor makes it worth the price. Thanks to the high-powered motor the RPM ranges between 2000 and 5200 but still keeps the sound level to a minimal. The warranty period is only one year but Makita boasts of durability.
Top table saws
- DeWalt DWE7491RS 10- inch Table Saw is the stuff of dreams especially for those working largely with hardwoods. The 24 teeth 10 –inch blade will not let anything get in its way of cutting. The motor is a whopping 15 amp and the saw comes with a dust-collection port that genuinely works. Now isn’t that a great deal?
- The Bosch 4100-10 table saw is a great option if you’re looking for a gravity-rise table saw. You can adjust the height and the motor isn’t compromised due to the small size either! The 15 amp motor can spin at 3650 RPM and the frame can be folded easily and save a ton of space!
That’s all folks! The verdict is out and you can make your choice between a table saw and track saw depending on what fits your requirements best. Make sure to consult a professional if you’re a beginner starting on your first DIY project. If you need information on other things such as circular saws, we also have information on those.