Cutting Thick Materials With A Track Saw: 5 Tips to Success

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Mastering the art of cutting thick materials with a track saw is an intricate task that demands the right techniques and tools to get precise outcomes. Skilled woodworkers need to be able to use various materials adeptly, especially when dealing with denser ones, that’s why we crafted this guidebook to assist you in mastering cutting thick products safely with a track saw.

Here are five essential tips for cutting thick materials with a track saw you’ll discover in this article:

  • Choose the right blade for the material being cut.
  • Set the depth of cut correctly to avoid overheating the blade or damaging the material.
  • Use clamps to secure the material being cut to prevent it from shifting during the process.
  • Make multiple passes to ensure the cuts are clean and accurate.
  • Take safety precautions to protect yourself from hazards.

If you’re set to upgrade your amateur abilities, these tips will assist you in cutting through even the thickest substances skilfully and precisely. Read on for more information! I also wrote an article with tips on how to cut thin materials, which you can see here.

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Essential Tools and Equipment

In order to ensure accurate and safe cuts when slicing through thick substances with a track saw, the right tools and equipment must be employed. Here is a list of indispensable tools and equipment needed:

Track Saw

Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw - My Festool TS 55 Track saw
My Festool TS 55 Track saw

Track saws are circular saws specially designed power tools providing precise straight cuts on big pieces of material. This saw runs along an extended rail that ensures stability and cutting precision while cutting through a multitude of materials, from wood to metal and plastic. To see the complete review I made for the Festool TS 55 I have in my shop, check out Festool TS 55 Track Saw Review. My Honest Thoughts.

Saw Blades

Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw - Saw Blades

The selection of the saw blade you make is dependent on the material you are slicing. A rip blade is ideal for cutting heavy wood, while a crosscut blade can handle plywood best. If you need to complete both ripping and crosscutting, then combination blades are the optimal choice.

To guarantee a precise cut, it is of utmost importance to pick an appropriate blade for the project. To dive deeper into the knowledge of track saw blades, I suggest you can start reading my article What Are the Different Types of Track Saw Blades


Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw - Clamps

It is essential to use clamps to secure the material during a cut for safety and accuracy. Different woodworking clamp types exist, like toggle, bar, and spring clamps, so it is imperative to select the appropriate fitting for the task at hand – which guarantees stability and cutting precision.

Dust Collection System

Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw - Dust Collection System
The dust collection system in my workshop: Festool dust collector + Festool cyclone

Cutting through dense substances with circular saws can generate a great deal of dirt and detritus, which could be detrimental to your well-being and create clutter in your work area.

A dust management system, such as a vacuum connection or dust sack, can capture and contain the dust during the cut, maintaining your workspace uncluttered and reducing the possibility of respiratory complications.

To gain more insight, take a look at my article Track Saw Dust Control: 7 Tips and Tricks for a Cleaner Workshop.

Tips for Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw

Cutting through dense objects can be strenuous, yet feasible with the correct track saw techniques and tools. Therefore it is important always to fine tune your track saw for perfect cuts. You can learn more about that in my article How To Fine-Tune A Track Saw For The Perfect Cut (6 Helpful Tips).

Now let’s move on and check out all the essential elements to take into account when utilizing a track saw.

Choose the Right Blade

When selecting the optimal blade for your track saw, several aspects must be taken into account. The choice of the blade will largely depend on the material to be cut and the type of cut desired.

The importance of choosing the right blade for the material being cut

Selecting the appropriate blade is crucial to accomplish desirable results. Utilizing an incorrect blade for a specific material can result in damage either to the material (track saw blade tear out) or the tool itself. For example, using a crosscut blade on wood will cause a rough and slower cut, whereas using a rip blade will generate an inaccurate outcome.

How different blade types are suited for different materials

There are a variety of types of blades accessible for track saws, all of which are crafted to achieve particular cutting objectives. A few of the most popular blade types include:

  • Rip blades: These blades are specially crafted to cut along the grain of the material. They possess fewer teeth and larger gaps between them, allowing them to remove the material rapidly and proficiently.
  • Crosscut blades: These blades are specially crafted to make cuts perpendicular to the grain of the material. They boast more teeth and shallower gullets, allowing for a polished finish, albeit at the cost of a slightly slower cutting speed.
  • Combination blades: Combination blades, aptly named, are crafted with a blend of big and small teeth to accommodate an array of cutting jobs; they are able to perform both ripping and crosscutting with proficiency.

Tips for selecting the right blade

When selecting a blade for your track saw, it’s advisable to refer to the saw’s manual to identify recommended types of blades. Do some research online to determine what blades other woodworkers are using for similar tasks, and ask experienced woodworkers in forums and social media groups for their advice.

Always ensure that the blade you select is compatible with your saw and suitable for cutting the materials you intend on using.

Achieving the best results when cutting thick materials with a track saw requires setting the depth of cut accurately next to picking the right blade for the job. More about this below.

Importance of Setting the Depth of Cut Correctly

Achieving the correct depth of cut is critical when using a track saw for thick material cutting. If the depth is insufficient, the blade will not penetrate through the entirety of the substance, leaving a jagged and uneven result. Conversely, if the depth exceeds necessary requirements, the blade may overheat and cause damage to either itself or the material.

For more information on setting the correct dept of cut when using a track saw, please visit my article What Depth Should I Set My Track Saw? The Best Tips for Safe Cuts

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

Use Clamps to Secure the Material

When operating a track saw for any project, firmly affixing and steadying the material to be cut is of utmost importance in order to guarantee a successful cut. The most reliable way to achieve this stability is by using woodworking clamps. To get the most out of your clamps when working with a track saw, here are some useful tips:

Secure the material firmly before beginning to cut. This guarantees that it won’t move while being worked on, which can affect the accuracy and may even be dangerous. Secure a firm grasp on the saw when slicing through large items to ensure that you maintain its control.
Read this article too: 6 Common Track Saw Mistakes And How To Avoid Them + Safety Tips

Choosing the Right Clamps

Choosing the right clamp for the task is extremely important. There are plenty of different types of clamps, some catered to a certain material while others are suited for general-purpose tasks. It is paramount to pick one that is sufficiently strong to sufficiently hold the material without causing damage. Highly sought-after varieties of clamps used with a track saw include:

  • F-style clamps: These clamps offer the ultimate versatility and are widely used, with a sliding jaw that alters to fit the size of the material being clamped. They come in multiple sizes which makes them suitable for small and large-scale projects.
  • Track saw guide rail clamps: These rail clamps are clamps used to attach a track saw rail to a workpiece when using a track saw. They consist of a clamp base and clamp lever, which apply a high clamping force to hold the guide rail firmly in place. Different sizes and styles are available to accommodate various types of guide tracks and workpieces. Overall, they are an essential accessory for anyone using a track saw to ensure accurate and precise cuts.
  • One-handed bar clamps: One-handed bar clamps are a handy and multipurpose tool for woodworking or metalworking, providing swift and easy adjustment with just one hand through a trigger or handle. Available in various sizes and capacities, they can firmly attach pieces together while executing different activities. People who require material clamping find these clamps indispensable.

Positioning the Clamps

Positioning the clamps correctly is integral to preserving stability when cutting, so here are some pointers on how to position the clamps effectively:

  • Position the clamps close to the edge of the material, providing enough room for the saw’s guide rail to rest on top of it.
  • Make sure the clamps are firmly attached to maintain the material’s stability and alignment, yet not so tightly that they warp or inflict harm upon the object.
  • Utilize several clamps if necessary to ensure the utmost steadiness, and avoid the material from moving while cutting.

By employing these strategies, you can firmly affix the item with clamps when cutting through solid materials using a track saw. Don’t forget to check out our article on whether you need to clamp a track saw for more in-depth information on this topic.

Make Multiple Passes for Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw

When using a track saw to cut through tough materials, it is wise to make multiple passes in order to ensure an accurate and clean cut, while also avoiding overheating the blade. By dividing the material into several pieces and taking away only small amounts of material on each pass, the strain on the motor and blade is reduced, and potential damage from heat buildup can be avoided.

Why Make Multiple Passes?

If you attempt to slice through thick materials in one stroke, the saw blade must remove a considerable quantity of material in that single cut. This overloads the motor and blade, making them hot — a heat that can adversely affect the object being cut. To lighten the load on both the saw and the object being cut, it is better to make multiple passes and take away smaller amounts of material with each cut.

For a precise result, it is best to take repeated passes at the material. If attempting to cut something thick and dense in one pass of the blade, it could easily drift and lead to an uneven cut. However, with multiple passes, you can steadily slice through the material while keeping a steady and straight edge.

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How to Set Up the Saw for Making Multiple Passes

To prepare the saw for successive cuts, adjust the depth of each one. Begin by setting the blade to the least deep and make a slight pass. Raise the blade to the next setting, cut deeper, and repeat this pattern until completely through the material. To achieve a precise, straight cut, make sure the saw is perpendicular to the material during each pass. To stay on course, use a speed square or straight edge as a guide.

Tips for Making Clean and Accurate Cuts

To ensure cutting precision, here are some pieces of advice for you:

  • Take your time when cutting; it is wiser to make deliberate, slow cuts than to try and rush the task and end up with a faulty result.
  • Examine the blade regularly: While you are cutting, inspect the blade from time to time to ensure that it hasn’t become too hot or dull. If you notice indications of wear, swap in a new blade immediately.
  • Ensure you are utilizing the correct blade for your material slicing needs. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or investigate other relevant blogs to locate the perfect blade for your project.
  • Secure the material in place with clamps or other fastening mechanisms to stop it from moving around while you are cutting.
  • Utilizing a straight edge or guide is an excellent way to ensure that your saw will remain on the correct path and provide you with precise cuts.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with the art of layering, it’s highly advisable to hone your skills on unused fabric beforehand and become adept in the practice while simultaneously refining your technique.

Take Safety Precautions

Operating a track saw can be an efficient and safe method of slicing through dense materials, however, it is essential to exercise the necessary safety precautions in order to prevent any potential harm. Here are some ideas to aid in keeping you secure while utilizing a track saw:

Wear Protective Gear

To ensure safety while operating a track saw, always use protective attire like safety glasses, earplugs, and a mask. These items can shield your eyes, ears, and lungs from any harmful material that the saw may emit such as dust particles or loud noise.
Related article: Woodworking Safety – What PPE Do You Need For Woodworking?

Keep the Work Area Clean

Keeping a tidy and organized workspace is imperative to avert any potential dangers, as well as simplify job processes. Sweep up sawdust and other debris frequently, and consider installing a dust collector so that the work area stays pristine and sawdust is not circulated through the air.

Follow Proper Cutting Techniques

For optimum results when using a track saw, make sure to use the correct track saw technique for thick material cutting. Grasp the saw firmly and keep digits away from the blade. Additionally, ensure that the saw is correctly aligned with your cut line before you start to cut.

Be Aware of Common Hazards

Be aware of the risks associated with operating a track saw – particularly kickback, which can be caused by the blade binding in the material being cut and suddenly pushing back into the user. To avoid this, it is important to use the saw correctly and adhere to manufacturer guidelines.

Be vigilant of the risk posed by a hot blade, which may lead to warping or fragmentation if not handled correctly. Cut depth should be adjusted accordingly and appropriate lubrication must be applied to the blade to protect against this danger.

More track saw safety tips can be found in my article 12 Track Saw Safety Tips You Have to Know. Don’t miss this important information!

Pro Tip

Accidents happen all the time, that is why I recommend you put a first aid kit together. Learn how to do this for a woodworking workshop in my article How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST


By adhering to the advice and strategies outlined here, you can now trustfully and securely cut through even the hardest materials utilizing a track saw. Prioritize safety above all else and select an appropriate blade, along with setting the cutting depth. Secure your material firmly with clamps, and if need be, take multiple steps to ensure accuracy. With consistent effort and devotion, in time you will become a master of adaptive cutting with the track saw.

When sawing through dense materials, the RPM of the track saw is an important component. To ensure you pick the ideal RPM for your plunge circular saw, be sure to read my other article “How To Pick The Optimal Track Saw RPM (A Simple Guide)“. With the right knowledge and hardware, you can safely and rapidly cut even the densest items with a track saw. Have a great time sawing!

Frequently asked questions

What is the maximum thickness that a track saw can cut?

The maximum thickness that a track saw blade cut depends on the model and blade size. In general, most track saws can cut up to 2-3/4 inches (70mm) in thickness when used with the appropriate blade.

Can a track saw cut metal?

Using the correct blade and settings, certain track saws can be used to cut nonferrous metals such as aluminum, brass, and copper. Nevertheless, it is not suggested to apply a track saw when cutting ferrous metals like steel.

Can a track saw replace a table saw?

While a track saw can perform many of the same tasks as a table saw, it cannot fully replace it. Table saws are better suited for cutting larger stock and making precise rip cuts, while track saws excel at making accurate crosscuts and plunge cuts on smaller stock. Additionally, a table saw can be used for other tasks such as dado cuts, rabbets, and miters.

Can I use a track saw for plunge cuts?

Yes, track saws are specifically designed for this type of cuts. The guide rail allows the saw to be plunged into the workpiece at any point along the rail, making it easy to make accurate cuts in the middle of a board or panel without the need for pre-drilling or clamping.

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