Given that the track saw and circular saw are quite similar in appearance, and many woodworkers, contractors, and DIYers will use them for similar applications, it is easy to confuse them.
However, the track saw will include a track and is design for applications that requires more accurate cuts while the circular saw is for ripping and free cutting. Also, tracks saws tend to be more expensive that the circular saws.
1. Application: Both Are Versatile in a Different Way
Also, track saws will not have a retractable blade guard like the circular saw as the blade is concealed within the machine. This design makes it possible to plunge the saw into any part of the material, and hence allows for even more cut types.
Track saws will have a flat and smooth side, which makes it possible to guide it flush against a floor or wall for increased cutting options. Overall, these saws can be used to make a variety of cuts in place of others like the miter, table, panel, and circular saws.
Circular saws, on the other hand, are a little limited when it comes to the cuts they can make as they will not make miter or plunge cuts because the blade design restricts them to rip cut and crosscuts.
However, circular saws are more versatile when it comes to materials you can cut. While the track saws will only cut wood and other softer materials, circular saws can cut a wide variety of materials provided you have the right blade. Furthermore, they are also available in different types such as hypoid, sidewinder, and worm driver circular saws for different uses.
2. Accuracy: Track Saw is a Way More Accurate Power Saw
When it comes to accuracy, the track saw is always the better choice between these two similar power sources. Unlike the conventional circular saw, it has been built to deliver precise and accurate cuts and will be more useful for projects where accuracy is a big concern.
The accuracy mostly stems from the track that will act as a guide for the blade to ensure it follows a precise cut line. And because the track often has a non-slip bottom, it will remain steady on your workpiece to ensure maximum cut precision.
Track saws will deliver a clean cut with no rough edges, which minimizes the need to do further sanding. Circular saws, on the other hand, will cut roughly, and hence you will end up with a rougher edge that will need more sanding to clean.
3. Price: Track Saws are Generally Pricier
Although both track and circular saw manufactures will try to cater to all segments of the market with products in different price ranges, the circular saws tend to be more affordable. Circular saws are available in budget models that will retail for even under $100.
However, the cheapest track saws in the market will still retail for at least $150, and this price will be for the bare tool, and so you will still need to spend more cash to buy a track. Also, these inexpensive track saws will be typically less powerful and might not include features like a built-in dust blower.
It is All Up to How You Intend to Use the Saw and Your Budget
The track saw and circular saw will perform different roles in the workshop, and so there is a place for each of these tools in your tool arsenal. Hence, if you are a serious DIYer, woodworker, or contractor it is a good idea to have both if you can afford it.
That said, when you have to choose between the two, how you intend to use the tool and your budget should help you make an informed choice.
However, if you are looking for something for rip cuts and basic crosscuts and do not mind rough cuts, you can go for the circular saw as it will be enough and will save you cash. But, if you are looking for clean and precise cuts and a saw that cuts a wide variety of cuts with ease, the track saw will be your best bet.