Track saws are like circular saw upgrades.
They provide smooth, high-quality cuts, are easily portable and make it easier to cut accurately, be it miter cuts, rip cuts, crosscuts or bevel cuts.
That said, the main differentiating factor from a circular saw is the track.
What is a Track Saw?
A track saw is a woodworking tool that consists of a saw and a precision metal track.
The combination simplifies the cutting process because it enables you to set up instantly and make accurate cuts without requiring test cuts or double-checking.
This is because the track’s edge shows you exactly where the blade will cut.
Therefore, all you have to do is to measure and mark the cutline then align the track with this marking before running the saw.
What is a Track Saw Used For?
Track saws are used for:
1) Cutting Plywood
Cutting long plywood is usually reserved for table saws, but this tool cannot be easily moved from the workshop. If you are working on-site, a track saw is probably the best option to use.
Apart from being easily portable, the tracks that these saws run on can be connected and interlocked with other track extensions, which enables you to make long rip cuts accurately.
Additionally, the tracks have sticky bottoms that prevent unwanted movement, which results in high accuracy.
2) Cutting Drywall Boards
Drywalls can produce lots of dust if cut using a power tool. However, track saws feature efficient dust collecting mechanisms that redirect all the debris to a collection bag.
Some advanced models are fitted with an overhead hose that vacuums the surface as you cut. This leaves you with clean air and a clear line of sight to the cutline.
3) Cutting Studs
It is not a must to use the track saw with its track. At times, you can use it as a circular saw when cutting studs for your walls or frame structures.
This is a very simple process that requires you to measure and cut one stock then use it to mark the cutline on all other studs.
In the end, you will get pieces with the exact same length and the process is more accurate than measuring and marking each piece individually.
4) Cutting Long and Straight Miters
Just like when cutting plywood, the track in this saw comes in very handy when making long and accurate miter cuts.
Miter cuts are cuts made along the width of the board at any angle other than 90˚ (crosscut).
5) Cutting Bevels
Other than miter cuts, track saws can also be used to make bevel cuts because they have pivoting shoes.
Coupled with an angle scale, the shoe can be accurately adjusted to the required angle within a 0-45˚ range, then used with the track to make long and accurate bevel cuts.
6) Making Plunge Cuts
Plunge cuts are cuts made in the middle of the workpiece when making cut-outs for electrical, sink or faucet fittings.
A track saw can help you achieve this, but there are a few steps you need to follow.
- First, you need to clamp the board then mark the cutline using a pencil.
- Measure the blade depth at the edge of the board and ensure it exceeds the board’s width by a few millimeters.
- To drill the first hole, you don’t need the track. Place the saw over the cutline then raise the blade guard. Lift the saw and pivot it using the front section of the shoe. This should expose the cutline under the blade.
- Make sure the blade is directly over the cutline then run it at full speed before plunging it into the wood. Once plunged, use the track to align to the cutline for enhanced accuracy.
It is worth noting that once you get to a corner of the cutline, you will have to repeat the steps above from number 3 to make another plunge. Also, if the plunge cutline has some curves in it, a track saw is not the best tool to use. Go for a jigsaw instead.
Track Saw FAQs
It is a fact that track saws are costlier than circular saws but they have the features to show for it. Apart from the track, you get an efficient dust collection system and clean, high-quality cuts with few chips protruding from the surface.
As stated earlier, the main difference between these two is the track. This allows for instant setup and accurate cutting because the edge marks the cutline and the non-slip base grounds it in place. However, you need to note that the track works best on smooth and flat surfaces.