Cutting 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood can be a challenge—especially if your workspace isn’t large enough to accommodate a table saw with a large outfeed table. But even if you have a table saw, you still might be breaking down sheet goods with your circular saw and then making precise cuts with your table saw, a process that can waste valuable time and material. A plunge-cut track saw combines the maneuverability of a circular saw with the precision and stability of a table saw, allowing you to make clean, super-straight cuts on a single pass.
What can a plunge-cut track saw do?
A plunge-cut track saw will make your work more efficient. You simply mark your material, place the edge of the track on your mark and make your cut. The saw travels along the track, which stabilizes the tool and delivers precise results. You can place the track at any angle for versatile, precise cutting when installing custom countertops or making cabinets. And the saw—motor, handles, trigger, arbour—is hinged and spring loaded, so you can make accurate plunge cuts when repairing hardwood flooring or cutting out a countertop. Because their low-profile blade guards have few moving parts, most plunge-cut track saws can cut close to walls, some within half an inch. These saws also allow you to control the bevel angle and cutting depth. Makita’s track saw features a preset scoring setting that can further limit splintering.
The plunge-cut track saws we sell at KMS are made for professional users. They are variable speed, have electric brakes and, with the right blade, can handle plastic, aluminum, hardwood plywood and solid planks. The Festool TS 75 will cut steel.
On time and on track
Sure, you could make your own circular saw cutting guide out of wood, but a track saw’s aluminum tracks are lighter, more secure, and can be set to any length. The track has a replaceable edge that supports the bottom of the saw and virtually eliminates the clearance between blade and wood. This zero-clearance edge protects the surface of your work and delivers an ultra-clean finish—with less splintering and chipping than a jobsite table saw or circular saw. This is an important consideration when cutting Melamine, veneers or hardwood plywood. On its underside, the track features non-marring, non-stick strips that secure the track to the work surface while you cut.
Compared to a circular saw, a track saw
- is more accurate
- delivers cleaner cuts
- makes all the same cuts—rip cuts, cross cuts, bevel cuts, mitre cuts—and plunge cuts
- offers excellent depth control
- offers better dust collection
Compared to a table saw, a track saw
- is lighter and more portable
- safer and more efficient when cutting large, bulky panels of plywood single handedly without an outfeed table
- can cut close to walls or other obstacles
Clamps and accessories
If you need additional stability, most manufacturers make various clamps designed to fit their tracks. Festool has an interesting selection that includes everything from standard F-style clamps and quick-release clamps to suction clamps that hold the tracks to non-porous surfaces.
Most track saws have a 20 mm arbor—this adds stability to the blade and contributes to the saw’s cutting prowess. Out of the box, both Makita and Festool saws are equipped with an all-purpose blade that is suitable for many applications. Makita’s track saw uses a 6-1/2″ (165 mm) blade and Festool’s uses a 6-1/4″ (160 mm) blade.
Whether you are a furniture maker or a carpenter who installs custom trim and cabinetry in customers’ homes, a plunge-cut track saw will help you do your job faster and make your day more productive. For tasks like trimming and back-bevelling doors, breaking down sheet goods, and repairing hardwood flooring and subfloors, a track saw brings the accuracy and efficiency of a production shop to the jobsite.