If you do, or intend to do woodworking, no one should ever tell you that cutting wood is the most common task. There are several choices to do this, with the table saw being one of the most used. In many circumstances, however, a table saw is not an option; consider small workshops or activities that must be completed on a building site. The track saw (plunge saw, plunge cut saw), on the other hand, is a good but pricey option. So, Is a track saw worth it? That is a question that is commonly asked.
When it comes to making long and accurate cuts, a track saw is well worth it. It is a great alternative to the table and circular saw, with as an added plus that the track saw is more compact and portable. Better yet, if you want to break down large sheets of plywood, it’s a much safer alternative.
In this in-depth article, I will get deeper into what the track saw is and the track saw advantages AND track saw disadvantages. With the knowledge gathered in this article, you can decide for yourself whether the track saw is worth it for your workshop. So, let’s find out, is a track saw worth it, or not?
- What is a track saw
- Track Saw Vs. Table Saw
- Track saw alternative
- Track saw advantages
- So much better than a regular circular saw.
- Clean, smooth cuts.
- Fast and accurate installation.
- Light and portable.
- Good for small workshops.
- You don't have to clamp ( in most cases)!
- There are Many Accessories available
- You can easily cut large sheets of plywood with it.
- You can make longer miters than with the table saw.
- You can connect different tracks together for longer cuts.
- A good dust collection system.
- Track saw disadvantages
- Is a track saw worth it?
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What is a track saw
In fact, a track saw, also called the plunge saw or plunge cut saw, is very similar to a circular saw that you would place on the wood with guide rails. It is a power tool used to make absolutely straight cuts. If you compared a track saw with a circular saw, you will soon see that it can offer better quality and ease of use, but more about that later.
Placing the straight reference edge of the rail on the wood along the mark you have made, the plunge saw will be able to give you perfect cuts over long lengths. It is a device that can save you time when you want to break many sheets of plywood into smaller pieces.
A track saw is a flexible tool that can cut in both straight and oblique directions. It’s a small, light tool that takes up little room in the workshop, making it suitable for small workshops or taking on the road. The rail is comprised of a thin aluminum sheet with a non-slip covering on the bottom. During sawing, its anti-slip coating maintains the rail firmly in place.
Check this main article about the track saw to learn all the details about this great tool.
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw
The table saw is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wood cutting in the workshop, and I must admit that I am the same way. The table saw, on the other hand, has some limitations, particularly when it comes to cutting large sheets of plywood.
As a result, when setting up the workshop, consider the difference between a track saw and a table saw. Each of these tools has advantages when it comes to cutting certain types of wood.
Table saws are fantastic at making quick, repetitive cuts. If you repeatedly have to cut the same parts with the same sizes, you will quickly become frustrated using a plunge cut saw because you have to measure each board and position the rail perfectly for every cut you make. By adjusting the fence of the table saw once, this problem completely disappears with the table saw. The table saw is also better at cutting smaller pieces.
On the other hand, it is challenging to run a full sheet of plywood over a table saw, plus it’s not that safe either. At that point, the track saw is the better choice. With a track saw, you can easily slide the saw over the plywood without struggling with the table saw and creating unsafe situations.
In my article, Track Saw Vs Table Saw Which One Is Best for You?, I go deeper into this comparison and provide all the information you need to make a choice about which is the best option for your workshop. also know that they are complementary to each other and having both can help you in your tasks.
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Track saw alternative
Ok, here you immediately know one of the main downsides of the plunge cut saw, which I will discuss later in this article, and that is the price of the track saw. The price tag on that shiny new track saw can add up, just take a look at the suggested tools at the bottom of this page. There you can see current prices on Amazon by clicking on the button.
The high price can be a big turn-off for some buyers. But if you really need the functions of a plunge saw, there is a track saw alternative option. You can convert your circular saw into a (not quite equivalent) crawler saw. The results of this DIY track saw alternative will be close to what you can achieve with the plunge cut saw, but don’t expect the same results here. So, the answer to the question, is a plunge saw worth it, will be absolutely yes!
If you’re a bit handy, you can make your own rail with simple tools and materials that can guide your circular saw in a straight path. I did this myself, and you can see the track saw alternative result in my YouTube video. If you want to make this rail yourself, you can also check out my article, “Make THIS Low Costs DIY Circular Saw Guide!” FREE PLANS are also available on this page to help you with this.
Track saw advantages
So much better than a regular circular saw.
Although a plunge saw and a circular saw are very similar, there are some differences. You can find more info about this in my article, Track Saw Vs Circular Saw, How Do They Differ? a Clear Guide. In contrast to the circular saw, the plunge cut saw does not have a clumsy blade protector that you struggle with when cutting. You put the track saw on the rail and simply lower it.
Also compared to the table saw, the track saw has some advantages, which you could already read above. So if you already own a table saw and are wondering why the hell you should spend a few hundred, think again! Check the many track saw advantages described earlier in this article again, and you’ll find that purchasing a plunge saw is a smart move.
In other words, comparing a plunge cut saw to a circular saw is the same as comparing pallet wood and beautiful walnut wood, they are both types of wood, but the quality is completely different. A plunge saw is designed to be smooth and precise. The circular saw is a robust saw with which you will not make rougher cuts.
Clean, smooth cuts.
The second track saw advantage is that the track saw makes much cleaner cuts compared to a circular saw and table saw. Whether the material is solid wood, plywood or MDF, the cuts are all smooth. The plunge cut saw will make near-perfect cuts, with only a few small tear-out chips on the top, which will always show up on the side of the scrap.
Fast and accurate installation.
Installing the plunge saw is a breeze. You’re ready to cut once you line the track with the marks you placed on the wood. The edge of the rail reveals exactly where the blade will cut. There will be no test cuts, double-checking, or guesswork.
Light and portable.
When it comes to cutting wood, a plunge saw can do most of the tasks you do with a table saw. The only difference here is that this is a much smaller and lighter tool than the table saw. This makes it a lot easier to move it or take it with you to another workshop. So if you have to move often, I think you will opt for a light track saw instead of that heavy and clunky table saw.
Good for small workshops.
You could also read this in the previous track saw advantage, the track saw is light and small. That makes it a worthy replacement for the table saw if you don’t have enough space in your workshop. The plunge cut saw is easily and quickly stored under your workbench. So you don’t have to buy a table saw that only fills your workshop and hinders the rotation of your workflow.
You don’t have to clamp ( in most cases)!
Saw rails in most cases have rubber strips on the bottom. This will keep the rail nicely in place during sawing without having to clamp on most materials.
Because of these rubber strips, you don’t have to lose time clamping the rails in most situations. If you don’t feel so safe with it, it’s always possible to use clamps. These slide easily into the slots on the bottom, so they are never in the way. You can find more information in my article, Do You Need to Clamp a Track Saw? a Clear Guide
There are Many Accessories available
The great thing about track saws is that they can be expanded with all kinds of accessories to make this powerful tool even better. To inspire you I wrote my guide 10 Must-Have Track Saw Accessories to Enhance Your Cutting Experience. Be sure to visit this article and browse through the many options to make your track saw even better.
You can easily cut large sheets of plywood with it.
To avoid wrestling with heavy sheets over a table saw, you can use the plunge saw to break a sheet of plywood into smaller pieces and then do the finer finish on a table saw. Breaking large sheets of plywood into pieces with a track saw is not only much easier, it is also a lot safer. To ensure your safety while working with your track saw, be sure to read my article, 12 Track Saw Safety Tips You Have to Know
You can make longer miters than with the table saw.
With a table saw, the length and angle of the cut are limited. That is not the case with a track saw. With the plunge cut saw, you get an accurate miter every time, no matter how long or how steep the angle is. Just place the rail next to the mark you made and off you go!
You can connect different tracks together for longer cuts.
Is your rail too short? Then you simply attach a second rail to it. The ends of the tracks are square, so you can lock them together for super tight, super long cuts. All you need is a connector and a second rail. Please note, the rails are rather on the pricey side. So if you only occasionally have to make long cuts, I think moving your rail and making a second cut can be a money-saving tip.
A good dust collection system.
As a last one in the track saw advantages, I will discuss the dust collection system. The dust extraction of a plunge cut saw is phenomenal! The shroud that encloses the blade also creates an effective dust collector. You just need to connect the vacuum hose, switch on the dust extraction and practically all dust will disappear while cutting.
Track saw disadvantages
As good as the track saw is, unfortunately, there are also some drawbacks. The biggest drawback of the plunge cut saw is undoubtedly the price tag. If you want to buy a track saw, it is good to compare the prices of different brands (you can do this below). However, comparing prices alone is not always the right method to find the right tool for you. Make a balanced comparison between features and price before making a decision.
Although a track saw installs quickly, it can also be a disadvantage. If you have to make a lot of repetitive cuts, you will have to measure, mark and adjust again and again before you can make a new cut. You don’t have that problem with the table saw. Once the fence is set, make as many equal parts as you need.
A final disadvantage is one compared to the circular saw. With the track saw, you need extra space for storing the rail. Although it is light, it does require some space, and you must also be careful not to damage it. It is, therefore, best to hang this rail against the wall.
Is a track saw worth it?
You should know that plunge cut saws have many advantages, but are also expensive at the same time. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives to do about the same job, such as the DIY track saw for the circular saw. However, these can never match the quality of a plunge saw, I can tell you that from my own experience? So if you ask me, is a track saw worth it? Then I will answer you wholeheartedly: absolutely!
A track saw really is the best when it comes to making perfect long cuts. It is a worthy alternative to the table saw and circular saw due to its size and portability. In fact, for some tasks, such as breaking plywood, this is a much safer tool.
Even though woodworking is a hobby where you use larger sheets of plywood to build smaller items like cabinets, you will really benefit from having a track saw. If you have no idea how to find the perfect plunge cut saw for your shop, I can recommend you to check out my article, what to look for when buying a track saw.
The circular track saw jig that I referred to a few times is great, but once you have worked with a plunge saw you will notice that these jigs have their limitations. Some of these limitations will stop you from building better and more detailed projects.
If you are new to woodworking and have yet to build up your workshop, then I recommend getting a track saw instead of a circular saw. Once you’re used to a track saw’s benefits, you don’t want to go back. So if people ask me as a track saw user, is a plunge saw worth it, I say from my experience, yes, a track saw is for sure worth buying!
However, a track saw can be very expensive, so be sure to assess whether it is the right tool for your needs before purchasing one. To help you with that, I have made a comparison article with the best track saws on the market. By comparing their pros and cons based on their features, you can find the best track saw for your workshop. Go to my article What Is the Best Track Saw? (My Honest Opinion), compare them carefully, view their properties and make the best choice for your workshop.
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That’s how I could spend my money more wisely and save big bucks.
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I hope this information with all the track saw advantages an track saw disadvantages will answer your question, is a track saw worth it, and that this blog inspires you.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration