The circular saw and the track saw both use a circular saw blade and can make quick cuts. But what are the distinctions between a track saw vs circular saw, and which is better for your workshop?
Well, in short, the big difference between track saw vs circular saw is in the accuracy. Track saws for woodworking will make much more precise cuts that are not only faster but also straighter and with fewer splinters.
In this article, I will discuss both tools in detail so that you can properly recognize the differences and make a choice between the track saw vs circular saw for your workshop much more easily.
- Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: a Detailed Review
- Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: Similarities
- Plunge Saw Vs Circular Saw: Differences
- Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: Which One Is Better?
Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: a Detailed Review
In this section, I will first go over these two tools in detail so that you can understand them properly. I’ll highlight the key points and explain how they work . I’ll also go over the benefits and drawbacks of each one. It is critical that you read this section so that you have a clear picture of them. That will make the decision easier .
What Is a Track Saw?
A track saw is actually an improved version of the circular saw we already know. The principle is essentially the same, only the track saw runs on a long rail (saw track) that is attached to the workpiece. As a result, the saw will move along the rail during the working process and be able to make long, perfectly straight , and precise cuts.
The saw track has features that can make work much easier and safer, such as a rubber strip on the bottom to keep the saw track in place , or a rail where clamps can be attached. This tool will be preferred by woodworkers who value the accuracy and quality of cuts.
Recommended article: 12 Track Saw Safety Tips You Have to Know
When to Use a Track Saw?
The application of a track saw is slightly more diverse than that of a circular saw. It is useful when cutting large pieces of wood, such as breaking down a sheet of plywood. In terms of performance, this tool outperforms the circular saw and produces cleaner, straighter cuts.
Track saws for woodworking are ideal for making furniture or cabinets that require greater accuracy and smoothness of cuts. The track saw costs more than the circular saw, but it is a more versatile tool with a high return on investment. I own the Festool TS 55 and couldn’t live without it. A TS 55 review can be found here.
Advantages of the Track Saw
- The track saw makes clean cuts with smooth edges. This type of saw is used by the better hobbyist and professionals to make long cuts or cuts at angles up to 45 degrees.
- It plunges into the workpiece to a predetermined depth, after which you can make a cut, so it is safer than its counterpart.
- The track saw is known for much better dust collection, and will help keep your work area clean and free of floating dust.
- Because the saw runs on a rail, it is a lot safer to work with than the circular saw.
- Easy and fast changing of the saw blade. check the step by step instructions in my article How to Change the Blade on a Festool Ts55 (Quick & Easy Guide)
Disadvantages of Track Saw
- The track saw is more expensive than a circular saw. But, as I said before , you can get your money back in no time.
- Setting up a track saw needs some time before you can start working . Keep this in mind.
- A track saw needs more storage space because of the length of the rails.
If you have read this but still ask yourself, is a track saw worth it, this article will help you answer this question for sure.
What Is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw has a circular saw blade that rapidly rotates around the saw’s axis. The powerful motor, whether corded or cordless, spins the blade and quickly cuts the wood .
The circular saw slides with the soleplate over the surface, making relatively accurate cuts. However, these are not as accurate as the cuts made by a track saw.
Circular saw types
There are several types of circular saws on the market, the most important of which I will go over in detail below.
Sidewinder circular saw
When adjusting the motor position, a sidewinder circular saw is suggested for left-handed users . It works quickly and efficiently. It works with a high RPM.
Worm driven circular saw
It has more torque and the motor is located behind the circular saw. To reduce speed, a worm drive is used. It facilitates work.
Hypoid circular saw
Behind the saw of a hypoid circular saw is a smaller motor. It makes a soft noise, and does not require lubrication.
When to Use a Circular Saw?
The primary benefit of a circular saw is its speed. Regrettably, the precision of the cuts must be compromised. A circular saw is a versatile tool for working with coarser materials, such as those used in structural work or roof construction.
A circular saw is excellent for cutting softwood, hardwood, and plywood. Soft metals are also acceptable! It is a slightly smaller and lighter tool than the track saw.
Advantages of a Circular Saw
- Thanks to the different types of blades, a wide range of materials can be cut with this tool.
- The circular saw has a compact design and is easy to handle.
- In general, circular saws are more powerful than track saws for woodworking.
- While the track saw generally changes little between different brands, the circular saw has different type options to choose from, with each type of circular saw specializing in different cuts.
- It is best for larger projects as it is extremely fast and easy to operate . High speed can significantly reduce the time you spend at work.
Disadvantages of a Circular Saw
- The cuts are less precise and smooth than cuts with a track saw. Also, the saw cannot make a splinter-free cut.
- A circular saw will produce a lot more dust than the track saw
- You can’t plunge the saw. so you are actually forced to start cutting from the end of a piece of material.
- The risk of kickback is greater with circular saws
Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: Similarities
In this section, I will go over the similarities between the track saw and the circular saw to give you a better understanding of the differences between these two tools. Then, later in this article, I go over the differences in detail so that we can determine which option is best for you and your workshop.
Handheld and transportable
Track saws and circular saws are both hand-held tools that are roughly the same size depending on the tool brand. You can easily transport them anywhere, though the track saw is slightly more cumbersome due to the rails.
Both are safer than a table saw.
When using a track saw or circular saw, you let the tool slide over the wood, and the saw blade is mostly inaccessible, except at the bottom where it goes through the wood . That is why I personally believe this is a safer method of cutting than using a table saw. If you want to see more comparisons between the table saw and the track saw, I recommend reading this article.
There are corded and cordless versions available.
Both corded and battery-powered circular saws and rail saws are available. This increases the versatility and portability of these two handheld electric saws.
Both saws use circular saw blades to cut material, but the cutting blades used by a rail saw and a standard circular saw are not the same. When choosing the right saw blade , the size of the saw blade must be taken into account (which this article will undoubtedly assist you with). Depending on the application, the tooth count per inch and blade size may differ .
They Cut on the upward stroke
Circular and track saw blades rotate counterclockwise and thus cut on the upward stroke. Because the blade rotates clockwise, this differs from a table saw, which cuts on the down stroke.
Both can make precise cuts
With proper setup and operation, a circular saw can cut just as well as a plunge saw. you just have to ensure a perfectly straight line along which you can slide the circular saw. However, once you’ve worked with a tracksaw you don’t want to go back to the circular saw with rail, take it from me.
They can make the same standard cuts
Both a plunge saw vs circular saw can make all standard cuts in wood and sheet metal. These standard types of cuts include:
- Miter cuts to an angle of 45 degrees
- Crosscut, where a cut is made right through the grain.
- Rip Cut, where a cut is made along the grain.
- Plunge cut, where you can start in the middle of the piece of wood. However , with the circular saw this will be a lot more difficult than with the track saw.
Plunge Saw Vs Circular Saw: Differences
The track saw moves along a track or rail, preventing it from drifting sideways while cutting. This enables you to cut perfectly straight lines.
A circular saw, on the other hand, requires a circular saw track against which the saw can be pushed to keep it in a straight line. As a result, when using the circular saw track, you must push the circular saw down and forward to make a cut while also pushing against the fence to keep it straight. You only use the track saw to push the saw down and forward. The rail effortlessly maintains the plunge saw’s straight line.
A circular saw is easier to set up than a track saw for freehand cutting. When the accuracy of the cut does not have to be absolutely precise. All that is left is to determine the depth, potential cutting angle, and, of course, mark the workpiece.
To use a track saw, place the saw track on the workpiece and, if necessary, join two or more tracks together to make a longer cut than the track. Furthermore, clamping the rails is preferable. The advantage is that a rail saw always produces precise cuts.
However, if you want to cut just as accurately with a circular saw as with a track saw, setting up the circular saw track becomes very complicated. You will need to set up the guide rail and clamp it in place with some clamps to keep it from shifting. with the circular saw, setting it up will take longer, so you will lose a lot of time.
Speed in use
Once the track saw is set up, you can make long cuts through the material in seconds. When cutting a straight line with a circular saw, however, you must move slowly to keep the saw on the line.
Circular saws and track saws for woodworking are capable of making precise cuts. A track saw, on the other hand, is inherently accurate, whereas a circular saw requires a great deal of effort ( setting up the circular saw track) to achieve the same level of accuracy.
The blade of a track saw is sheathed, making it much better at collecting wood dust. The port on this casing can be used to connect a vacuum cleaner hose.
The dust collection system on circular saws is very basic. That means the working area of the circular saw is dusty, and you should wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling wood dust.
Circular saws are thus better suited for outdoor use, whereas track saws for woodworking are better suited for indoor use.
Track saws outperform circular saws in terms of splinter-free cutting. A rubber strip along the saw path supports the wood grain along the cut line, reducing splintering and breakout. Festool even has an anti-splinter guard that supports both sides to prevent splintering.
To avoid splintering when using a circular saw, cut right side down so that any splintering occurs on the opposite side. However, splinters remain, which is inconvenient when both sides of the wood are visible.
Track saws cost more than circular saws, sometimes significantly more. You must also consider the cost of the track saw rails. They are not inexpensive, but as previously stated, they are well worth the investment and pay for themselves fairly quickly.
Track Saw Vs Circular Saw: Which One Is Better?
Thanks to this plunge saw vs circular saw comparison, you should now have a good view of what both machines are and what jobs they are suitable for. Now the only question left to answer is which one is the best?
If you want speed and the saw is only for coarser work, then the circular saw is the better choice.
However, if precision is essential, a track saw is the way to go. I converted from a circular saw to a track saw on my own, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Both in terms of speed and precision, the difference is enormous. If you believe a track saw is right for you but aren’t sure how to compare track saws fro woodworking, I recommend reading my article, What to Look for When Buying a Track Saw. There are numerous suggestions there that will undoubtedly help you in your quest for the best track saw for your workshop.
If you want to see the best track saws available at this moment, I recommend reading my track saw comparison article, What Is the Best Track Saw? (My Honest Opinion).
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