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Track Saws. What point am I missing?

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Benchwayze

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This is going to be so difficult to explain, but I'll do my best, so someone might be able to put me right.

From my surfing, looking at various track-saws, I get the message that if you lay the track-rail down, dead on the line, it's impossible to end up with inaccurate pieces; no need to take into account the thickness of the blade. I can't see this. The kerf must be factored in, surely?

Suppose I want to cut two pieces of ply, two feet square, from a sheet, six feet by two feet:

My usual practice is to work from right to left. So I cut a two foot length, from a six foot length, leaving a four foot length to my left. (I.e, four feet, minus the kerf width)

I would then cut another two foot length from that, leaving a piece of waste, under my guide. This 'waste' would be two feet by two feet/minus the kerf width. (I could probably use that for another job!)

So, working as I usually do, if I put the track-rail down on the line, with the workpiece I want to the right, I am surely going to end up with a piece which is less than two feet long; by the thickness of the saw-blade. Is it just my visualisation, or do I have to work with the waste to the right? In other words, with the track-rail positioned on the piece I want, rather than on the waste?

It's driving me ape!

I see the point of a track saw, but I think it is going to force me to work 'left-handed'. In other words I will have the piece I want to keep under the track rail, with the waste to my right. This is likely to lead me to an accident waiting to happen, or cutting errors galore. As I said, it's driving me nuts and I am wondering if I should just stick with an MDF guide, and offset my saw, by the distance from blade to base-edge. Using this method, the pieces that come off the saw are the pieces I want and are dead to size.

Or am I missing something? :?

Thanks in Anticipation. :)
 

The Wood Butcher

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The offcut goes to the outside of the track, in your example the end to the right, you keep the piece under the track. You do have to work "left handed" but you get used to it very quickly. For longer pieces I use my left hand to pull the trigger and my right hand to plunge and guide the saw. It's a little cack-handed at first, but safe because the saw is being guided by the track.

Just to muddy the waters a little further, with the saws that have an outside splinter guard like the festool, you can get a clean cut to the left of the blade as well but you do have to take the thickness of the kerf into account. However, that offset will always be an exact distance from the edge of the splinter guard on the track.

To muddy the waters still more, Festool offer a parallel guide extension for doing thin rips that cuts to the left of the saw but is calibrated to account for the thickness of the kerf.

How's the chopsaw working out for you?
 

Benchwayze

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Thanks for that WB. Yes, as I thought. I am going to have to get used to working the other way! :mrgreen:

I think I am going for the Makita, from D&M. They are offering two guide-rails, with the saw, for a good price, and looking at Alan Holtham's video, it's just about what I will need.

The chop-saw is working a treat thanks. Still haven't yet made a dedicated stand for it, but so far I haven't really needed to. I dismantled my lathe, and mounted the saw on that bench. With outrigger supports, no probs. I just wish I could get a sheet of Plywood under it! :lol: :lol:

Now that I know my thinking was right, I can come to terms with it, and a track-saw will be on order. The next target after that; a Domino! :mrgreen:

Thanks again and all the best. :)
 

Henning

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If i may muddy the waters even more for you, if you are going to buy the Domino i think you will regret not buying into the system when you buy the saw. In essence, the two can share power leads and if you decide to further buy into the system at a later date, say with an extractor, you can get hoses with the lead incorporated, which would then leave you to only switch out the tool. A shame to not have the Festool tracksaw then...
OTOH, if you definitely know you're not going to splash out on even more tools, all the above is moot points, but i started with the Domino and now have a rather sizeable collection of Festool, primarily due to the system which make most of it work togheter.
 

Steve Maskery

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John
If you have a collection of BW magazines, go back a year or two, I forget exactly when, and look for my setting gauge. It allows you to set the rail so that the offcut is exactly what you want, rather than the piece that is under the track. It's useful when ripping stock that is too narrow to support the track, such as door rails and stiles.
It complements the one I featured on my first DVD which automatically sets the track so that the piece underneath it is the right size. No measuring involved.
Cheers
Steve
PS Don't forget you will need DX for it to work cleanly, especially if other machines start to Dom-inate your workshop!
 

Benchwayze

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Thank you Steve.
If you give me a day or so, to make a final decision, I'll be in touch for a copy of the DVD. In the course of my wondering about this point, I was trying to come up with a solution that might let me work 'right-handed' as it were. But if you've cracked the problem already, then it's pointless reinventing your wheel!

My shop isn't really dominated by any particular make of tools mind. I have nothing against Festool and of course, if I want to have a Domino, then there isn't any choice! I do see what you are getting at though Henning, and were I twenty years younger... Well it might be a different story. Now though, with the track saw and the Domino, I should have all I need for the machine side of my work. I tend to go, not for one make for everything, but for the best tools within my budget, by whomever. So, as long as the Makita does its job, and I think it will, then that will be good enough for me. (I believe the saws fit the Festool rails BTW.)

I am at the stage now where I use machines only to take the grunt out of woodworking, and finish by hand. Also most of the stuff I am likely to use sheet materials for, will be finished with inside two or three years. So, the track saw might not see much use after that.

Will I sell tools on? Not me. That will be up to my Son! If he wants his Inheritance he will have to! Don't worry folks. Being a realist, I have told him to register with UKW, when the time comes around. :lol: :lol:
 

The Wood Butcher

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John

I'd also have a look at the new Bosch GKT 55 GCE. It's the Mafell MT55 in a blue paintjob for a lot less cash. The track system that comes with it looks really good as well and solves some of the niggles that you get with the Festool/Makita track. Festool and Makita track is identical, in fact I think the saw is a copy of one of the older Festo saws.
 

wcndave

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what niggles do you have with festool/makita, as i am in the market for a good plunge saw, and was thinking festool due to cleaness of cut, and generally the quality... however watching the Bosch video, it looks good too...
 

Benchwayze

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No niggles with Festool, apart from their prices. But you gets what... etc. In fact the Festool track-saw was the first one I looked at. At Axy, it's available for a good price.
No niggles with Bosch. Their Pro range of tools is excellent. (A fine Jigsaw esp.) A great offer on their track-saw at D&H atm
No niggles with Makita really. It seems from the video to be as good as the others, and is the least expensive.

But whatever, I must have the 'won't-power', not to buy until next month, when the next top-up of my tool fund is due. :D :D
 

27neth

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The Wood Butcher":2v39sbe9 said:
John

I'd also have a look at the new Bosch GKT 55 GCE. It's the Mafell MT55 in a blue paintjob for a lot less cash. The track system that comes with it looks really good as well and solves some of the niggles that you get with the Festool/Makita track. Festool and Makita track is identical, in fact I think the saw is a copy of one of the older Festo saws.
I have the Mafell saw, what i have read is the Bosch is the same saw but a stripped down version. I would still choose the Bosch over the Festool....

John....
 

MickCheese

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I have the Makita version, I am very pleased with it.

Used it a while ago to cut some dados using multiple cuts, the results were very good.

Mick
 

Karl

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Hi John

I have the Makita which I bought 18months ago. I did a review of it here.

18 months on and i'm still happy with it, and it's done a lot of work in that time.

HTH.

Cheers

Karl
 

Dominion

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Another Makita owner here and very happy with it too.

Had a go with a brand new TS55R today and there is very little to choose between the two. The Festool has a better depth stop set up but the Makita has a more powerful and smoother sounding motor and an anti tilt device when cutting bevels. Quality of cut and dust extraction were identical.

Main difference is the Makita is £330 with two rails, bag and connectors, equivalent Festool will be £570.
 

chippy1970

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The Makita saws look ok 2 guys I work with have just bought them with extractors. I have the TS55 had it since 2007 and cannot fault it , one of the great things with Festool is resale value I could probably sell mine for almost what I paid for it five years ago. I just sold off all my classic systainer cases to change over to new T loc ones. I got more than what they cost me new, dont ask me why people want to pay that much I dont really care thats up to them :D
 

Dominion

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It's incredible what old systainers go for, I'm planning on swapping mine for T-Locs and it looks like I'll end up in profit, madness!
 

Benchwayze

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Read your review Karl. Thanks!
I saw that someone had kickback, because of no riving knife.
Would this be avoided if one cut hardwood in more than one pass. Kickback occurs when ripping right through, but isn't usually an issue when making cuts such as dado cuts. Maybe two or three lighter passes, so the last cut has very little meat to remove?

I'm not a technology expert mind. Just a thought? :D
 

chippy1970

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Dominion":3tkj037x said:
It's incredible what old systainers go for, I'm planning on swapping mine for T-Locs and it looks like I'll end up in profit, madness!
Bit of advice if you do, sell them separately , some guy just sold a huge stack at once on ebay and didn't get anywhere near what I got for mine.
 
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Benchwayze":2q2bdww5 said:
Read your review Karl. Thanks!
I saw that someone had kickback, because of no riving knife.
Would this be avoided if one cut hardwood in more than one pass. Kickback occurs when ripping right through, but isn't usually an issue when making cuts such as dado cuts. Maybe two or three lighter passes, so the last cut has very little meat to remove?

I'm not a technology expert mind. Just a thought? :D
Hi John,
Have you looked at the Dewalt DWS 520K ?
Great wee saw, good deals to be had.
Has a spring loaded riving knife and a built in anti kick back device,
But more importantly, it runs on a central locator, so can cut both sides of the track, unlike most of the other one sided saws :wink:
 

Shultzy

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Benchwayze, back to your original question. All the circular saws I ever seen have the wider part of the sole plate to the left of the blade. This is why waste smaller than the width of the sole plate should be to the right of the cut, as the maximum width of the sole plate provides maximum support on the wood you are cutting.
 

Benchwayze

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Well, you're right Shultzy, of course.

But it's cagg-handed to me. If I use a table saw I use the fence to the right of the blade to dimension. This leaves the waste on the left. That feels natural to me. And although a circular saw is upside down to a table-saw, it works out the same, turning the work over towards me. On my old Triton, there was a circular saw,used upside down. That was back to front for me (Which is why I never used it as a table-saw, and only as an overhead cross cutter).

On the other hand, if I flip the work over horizontally, with a circular-saw, it would be as you describe. But as said, I feel cagg-handed that way. I must be a closet 'ambidextralist'! :D On the other hand, it could be the subliminal reason I never feel comfortable with a circular saw, unless it's a top of the range model, with a sharp blade. :mrgreen: :wink:

Edit..
Let's explain it this way, I don't measure how much waste I want to cut off a piece of timber, to get a work-piece of a certain dimension. I measure the size of the piece I want and cut away the waste. Sometimes the waste is bigger than the piece I want, and I prefer the largest area to be under the bulk of the sole plate.

Although I think Festool have solved the problem with their 'parallel guide rails. You can cut repeat sized pieces all day, right across the width of a sheet, just by moving the track. The piece that comes off, is the piece that is to be your work-piece. I'll find the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4VTxEGyU0Y


But maybe I'll just get Great Barr Sawmills to cut my sheets to my drawing. Cheaper that way... and I'll get my Domino all the quicker. 8)
 
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