Do I need a track saw / table saw?

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Stuart M

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I currently have a circular saw and a jigsaw, and I want a fairly foolproof way for cutting in straight lines.

I've seen various homemade guide rails that people have made for circular saws, and I've also come across these guide rails (photo attached) for £15 each.

Am I right in thinking that two of these guide rails clamped to my workbench would effectively turn my circular into a track saw? Obviously there'd be a bit of extra work checking measurements etc, but other than that I can't really see any problems.

Any thoughts or recommendations?

Budget for table or track saw would be around £150, so any recommendations for a specific piece of kit would be appreciated.

Screenshot 2024-04-07 at 19.05.40.png
 
To answer the question in the thread title - I'd go for a track saw as being more versatile (and it takes up virtually no space if that's an issue).

If you want a table-saw you need to spend a lot more to get anything any good.
 
A shop bought tracksaw will perform much better than a home made rail/fence system for a generic circular saw. I see a lot of them on gumtree/FB marketplace going for reasonable money secondhand.

Fitz
 
I started out with the clamp rail thingy me bob you have the photo attached. It worked really well and you will achieve what you want.

The downsides to them, is that you have to (remember!!!!) to add/subtract the distance from the edge of the saw plate to your blade each time you measure. It's easy to forgot, one guess how I know!

Track saws are in my opinion so much better and easier to use. Once the sacrificial strip on the track has been cut for the first time, all you need to do is place the track on your marks and away you go.

I'm pretty sure I gave away the old guide rails I had, but I'll have a look tomorrow, If I still do have them you would be more than welcome to them.
 
Before I went down the tracksaw route I used an older Bosch circular saw and length of angle iron that I clamped to the workpiece and it worked fine, biggest advantage of the tracksaw and guide is the speed at which you can cut a board into the required pieces because the marking out is so easy and with some materials the rubber strip does give a cleaner cut.
 
It all depends on how often you'll be cutting and how accurate you're looking to be. Trakcsaw will always be better than any form or circular saw jig type set up in my opinion. And the likes of aldi/lidl and even screwfix/b & q will fit your 150 budget. Peter Millard has done the subject amazingly well on his YouTube channel and would be infinitely more informative than I could hope to be. I personally have the makita corder track saw and would buy it again if it ever broke. More money, but I was fortunate with a bonus several years back.
 
I used to use a length of wood clamped to the workpiece but any snag on the cable or slip by me and the saw moved off line. A track saw (TS55) was a revelation in ease of setting up and usage. Despite having a table saw with a sliding table I have used the track saw for ripping oak slabs. A friend with a table saw went out and bought a track saw having seen me use mine. He said if he had know about track saws he would have had one instead of a table saw.

However if you are ripping long lengths of wood a table saw may be the better bet
 
I started with a table saw, then got tracksaw, then built a track saw bench, and now I sold my table saw.

If you buy a track saw (my recommendation), go for a used Makita/Dewalt/Festool or a Lidl Parkside. Some turn their nose up at the Lidl, but I have two and they work perfectly.
You will struggle to get a Festool for ~£150 but a Makita or Dewalt is findable.
 
For years I used a home-made plywood track and circular saw.
This comprised a long piece of 3mm ply for the saw base to run on with a thicker (probably 12mm) straight piece glued onto it to make a fence. The base is cut to suit the saw by running the saw down the fence for the first time then it’s good to go. It worked surprisingly well and the track cost pennies.
Eventually the circular saw died and I replaced it with a plunging track saw.
 
Another recommendation for the Parkside/Lidl. I have one and also a Festool TS55, so I do think I'm in a good position to offer an opinion on the Parkside - both use the same track design. One of these plus a pair of Evolution 1400mm tracks is more or less within your budget.
 
Hello
I bought the track saw kit off ebay, including all the joints and addons. My experience was not good.. firrst the joining method left a bump on the join. This would stop the saw sliding or catch and move the track. Next issue was the stick on rubber edging , this moved and did not cut well on the first cut to fix the edge, also you see all the you tubers just laying their track on off they go. Well maybe the kits are better now? I use a home made cutting track and just cramp down at each end.
This just food for thought , good luck
 
Hello
I bought the track saw kit off ebay, including all the joints and addons. My experience was not good.. firrst the joining method left a bump on the join. This would stop the saw sliding or catch and move the track. Next issue was the stick on rubber edging , this moved and did not cut well on the first cut to fix the edge, also you see all the you tubers just laying their track on off they go. Well maybe the kits are better now? I use a home made cutting track and just cramp down at each end.
This just food for thought , good luck
I have the McAllister track saw, cheap and cheerful, but I'm not exactly a power user. When I get round to it, I'll probably buy an ST2800 track, as I'd like to be able to cut a 2440 sheet. I believe they're compatible with the McAllister saw, according to Peter Millard.
 
Another issue i had was space, managing 2 & 3 track pieces in a garage , id just get frustrated and then mistakes happen in my world. Having said all that i still like the concept
 
A good cast iron table saw with an accurate rip fence is my preferred method. Yes, more space is required but I use mine a lot. The table saw can also joint boards, cut finger joints, make thin strip rip cuts, cut mitres, cut tenons, etc, etc.
 
Track saw, or a length of wood, or anything you run the risk of it not being set exactly.
Sure you can align it to a mark but the chances are you'll be out in some way one end or the other.

Tablesaw, you set the fence, make a trial cut on a spare bit of something, measure that and adjust or make the cut. Result is a parallel cut.

If using a tracksaw, using it on a mft is probably the only way to ensure the cut is parallel in 99% of the time.
 
Can't sneak up on a cut with a track saw either. Or at least not as simply as just tweaking the table saw fence.
I'm not convinced about the amount of room a track saw takes up vs. a table saw either, it pretty much requires it's own dedicated bench, for want of a better term.
Great pieces of kit, but never going to replace a table saw.

Edit: The one stumbling block I have with track saws though, is that I want to see what the blade is doing.
I've been beaten over the head before about this, but I don't us a guard on a TS, when I push something through, it's the blade I'm focused on, not the work piece, a guard prohibits that, even all singing all dancing clear ones.
 
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[snip] I'm not convinced about the amount of room a track saw takes up vs. a table saw either, it pretty much requires it's own dedicated bench, for want of a better term.
Great pieces of kit, but never going to replace a table saw.

That is a rather bold statement, and in my case is absolutely not true.

Every piece of plywood, MDF, and counter top for this basement sink...

Basement-Sink-2-M.jpg


Basement-Sink-1-M.jpg



...was cut, sanded, assembled, and painted on this workbench.


Item24-52-M.jpg


Item24-54-M.jpg


Once the components were cut, the fence and guide rail were removed and stored under the work top.

Since building my MFT-style workbench, which is also my assembly table, I rarely use the table saw, but it does come in handy sometimes, so I'll keep it for now. However, after I built the positioner table for the sliding deck, I have not used the rip side of the saw. I am considering removing the little wing on the far right and cutting down the round guide rail to match.

Shop-1-M.jpg


Edit: The one stumbling block I have with track saws though, is that I want to see what the blade is doing.
I've been beaten over the head before about this, but I don't us a guard on a TS, when I push something through, it's the blade I'm focused on, not the work piece, a guard prohibits that, even all singing all dancing clear ones.

I don't understand the importance of this, but to each their own. I know where the blades on the track saws and table saw are, so I don't need to see them to know they are cutting. I trust the alignment and accuracy of the fences and flip stops on the tables, as well as the splinter guards on the guide rails, so I know the blade is cutting where I want it to cut.
 
As you say, each to their own, but from my experience, being able to see the blade extends me a degree of control, whether that be an intuitive feel for what the blade is doing in relation to the work piece, that feels missing when it's hidden/obscured by a guard.
With a tracksaw that's compounded even more due to it being "upside down" so to speak.
Having said all that, and as I said before, tracksaws are great pieces of kit, and in my defense I haven't used one 1/100th the amount I've used a table saw.
 
.....With a tracksaw that's compounded even more due to it being "upside down" so to speak.....

If the tracksaw & splinter guard on the rail are set up correctly, you should be getting clean cuts on both the upper & lower edges....?!?

Here are a couple of cuts I've done this morning on some 18mm MFC using a tracksaw and a rough/ oversize cut on my table saw ( This is the offcut, by the way...)

MFC is known to be difficult to get a clean cut on it on both faces on a normal table saw without a scribing blade.....

20240415_121624.jpg
20240415_121602.jpg
 
Having spent the weekend helping a friend fit a kitchen and only having a jigsaw I really missed my track saw. If you cut a lot of sheet goods they’re really useful
 

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