5 Best Tips for Cutting Thin Materials with a Track Saw

Cutting thin materials is always a challenge when it comes to woodworking. The same applies when you do this with a track saw. Using the correct tool and technique, you can achieve exquisite, seamless cuts every time. With that in mind, in this article, I’ll delve into the art of Cutting Thin Materials with a Track Saw.

In short, you can start cutting thin materials with a track saw following these steps, which I will discuss more in detail in this article:

  • Tip 1: Choose the Right Blade
  • Tip 2: Set the Depth of Cut Properly
  • Tip 3: Secure the Material
  • Tip 4: Make the Cut Slowly and Steadily
  • Tip 5: Prevent Tear-out

Acquiring the skill to precisely cut thin materials with a track saw necessitates knowledge, experience, and diligence. Fortunately, our achievable tips and tactics will make this task effortless. Therefore, if you want to know how to rip narrow boards with a track saw, continue reading in order to maximize your track saw potential and achieve faultless results each time.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

Before You Start: Safety Considerations

Harnessing the strength and speed of track saws can be highly effective when it comes to woodworking, but taking the necessary safety precautions is imperative. By following certain security protocols, like proper dust control, we can safeguard ourselves against potential accidents or injuries while using this tool.

Some of the potential hazards associated with using a track saw include kickback, noise and sawdust, electrical shock, and material movement, just like with regular circular saws. Kickback is when the saw blade gets caught in the material, causing it to spring back towards the operator. This can result in severe injury or damage to the saw. To avoid kickback, make sure the blade is sharp, and don’t force the saw through the material. To learn more about working with a track saw in a safe way, it is highly recommended that you read my article 12 Track Saw Safety Tips You Have to Know

Taking adequate safety measures when using a track saw can prevent accidents and injuries in the workshop. We can ensure a safe and efficient work environment by following proper handling techniques, wearing protective equipment, and working mindfully.

Pro Tip

Having a first aid kit is an absolute must in a woodworking workshop. In the event of an accident, you can act quickly and sometimes prevent worse. To learn how to put together a first aid kit adapted to the woodworking workshop, check out my article How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST

5 Tips on Cutting Thin Materials with a Track Saw

Cutting Thin Materials with a Track Saw - Using my Festool TS55 in my workshop (Tool review here)
Using my Festool TS55 in my workshop (Tool review here)

Tip 1: Choose the Right Blade

The blade you choose for your track saw has a significant impact on the quality of the cut. When selecting a blade suitable for cutting through thin materials, there are various factors to consider.

  • Blade diameter: When cutting thin materials, a 160mm blade is ideal due to its ability to reduce heat and friction.
  • Blade teeth: Look for a blade with a high tooth count, such as 48 teeth, to make a cleaner cut on thin materials.
  • Blade material: A carbide-tipped blade is an excellent option because it’s sharp and durable.

Tip 2: Set the Depth of Cut Properly

The depth of cut is another critical factor in achieving a clean cut. Here’s how to set the depth of cut properly:

  • Set the saw on a flat surface with the blade guard retracted.
  • Place the workpiece on the saw bed, and adjust the saw’s height until the blade is hovering approximately 2mm above the workpiece.
  • Secure the depth adjustment knob, and then test the depth by cutting a narrow strip. Adjust the depth as needed until you achieve the desired depth cut. Learn more in my in-depth article What Depth Should I Set My Track Saw? The Best Tips for Safe Cuts

Tip 3: Secure the Material

If your workpiece moves during cutting, it can cause inaccurate cuts, or worse, damage to you or the saw. Therefore, it’s crucial to secure the material. Several possible choices are available.

  • Clamps: Secure the material in place with clamps. A clamp can hold the material securely (also when making cuts in awkward positions), which can help you make perfect straight cuts.
  • Track saw guide rail: A guide rail will guide the saw blade in a straight line, making cuts smooth and accurate.
  • Double-sided tape: Secure the material to the workbench with double-sided tape, an intelligent solution when handling tiny fragments or narrow strips.

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Tip 4: Make the Cut Slowly and Steadily

Cutting too fast can result in poor-quality cuts or even put you at risk of saw damage or personal injury. Follow these suggestions to achieve a steady, meticulous reduction:

  • Keeping a steady pace will help you achieve a precise cut; accelerate or decelerate at your own peril.
  • Ensure the saw blade is accurately aligned to the workpiece, guaranteeing a precise cut that follows the line without veering off course.
  • Use a slow feed rate: Let the saw do the work. Don’t force the saw, use a slow feed rate and set the right RPM to avoid binding the blade.

Tip 5: Prevent Tear-out

Tear-out is when the saw blade splits the wood fibers, leaving a rough and uneven edge. This is a common problem when cutting thin materials. Take precautionary measures to avoid tear-out by following these helpful tips:

  • Use the right blade: Opting for a blade with increased teeth density will minimize the likelihood of tear-out.
  • Masking tape: Apply masking tape to the cut line to prevent tear-out. The tape will help the saw blade cut through smoothly and reduce the chance of splintering.
  • Score the cut line: Use a utility knife to score the cut line before cutting with the saw. This technique will break the wood fibers, preventing the saw blade from ripping them out.

By following these tips and techniques, you can make clean, accurate cuts with a track saw. Always prioritize safety, choose the right blade, set the depth of cut correctly, and secure the material before cutting. To avoid mistakes made when working with a track saw, It is recommended that you check out my article 6 Common Track Saw Mistakes And How To Avoid Them + Safety Tips.

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In conclusion, cutting thin materials with a track saw can be a breeze with the right blade, depth of cut, and steady approach. Remember to prioritize safety by following all recommended precautions and securing your material adequately. By taking the necessary steps, you can achieve clean, precise rip cuts, crosscuts, or plunge cuts that add a professional touch to your woodworking projects.

If you’ve mastered cutting thin materials and want to take on thicker projects, check out my article “Cutting Thick Materials with a Track Saw: 5 Tips for Perfect Results.” Click through for more information and take your track saw woodworking skills to the next level!

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