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Workbench for track saw/squaring

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gaius

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hi all,
since I don't have a precise table saw, cutting perfectly (or even reasonably) square and accurate pieces has been very hard.
Of course, the fact that I'm only an unskilled hobbyist doesn't help either.

So, I'd like to be able to both square and cut to size on a workbench using the track saw.

One way would be for me to build a cheap adaptation of the incra TS-LS system, which is basically a moveable fence, moving along two parallel rails. I could either mount it on the workbench, or even build a workbench around it, if it need be.

For that I would need the rails, something to make the fence glide on the rails without too much play (otherwise it would introduce further measuring/angle errors) and a carriage at the back, with a scale/measure on top.
The carriage with the scale seems to be the hardest part.

Do you have suggestions of how to go about doing this, and what parts I would need to buy/where?


On a related subject - that of squaring - a good steel square with an overlapping/T base seems to be a simple and effective way to quickly square pieces.
I have a cheap one, and it's awful, all bent, so not very useful. However, I recently found some made of 5mm thick steel, made by a German company named Vogel, and they seem to be very accurate. The only problem is price. A 500mm square can easily approach £100.
Am I missing something? Are there cheaper and better alternatives to Vogel, am I looking in the wrong shops?

thanks for your help,
Gaius
 

Eric The Viking

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I can't say anything about which square to buy, but if you use the traditional 3:4:5 triangle, it will always be exactly square. Can you make a slightly adjustable one? I use pieces of old aluminium window frame as a straightedge sometimes - rescued from our skip and pretty straight.

I would say though, don't be tempted by the protractors for rail saws. I bought one of these before VAT went up here a while back, and it's almost no use whatsoever. The scale is silk-screen printed onto the steel, so that isn't accurate, and it doesn't lock to the track very securely either. If you have a good protractor already, you might set it with that and lock it, otherwise don't waste your money.

Not all that helpful, I'm afraid.
 

Lord Kitchener

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If you have enough space, the best solution is to dedicate a table to the job of squaring. Fix a fence along one edge, leave a gap in the fence at the middle wide enough for the track. Then fit two peices of angle to the table, one at each end of the track, so that when the track is place on the table its non-cutting edge bears against the blocks. Place spacers the same thicknes as the material to be cut under the track and clamp to the table.

I've drawn a picture. The green blocks are stops that can be used to cut to length if scales are fitted to the grey fence. As long as the fences are straight and in line with each other, then the squaring accuracy will depend on the position of the two blue angles. One is screwed to the table, the other is firmly clamped so it can be moved if necessary to get a perfect square cut.

I have a table of this design in my workshop and, although using it is slower than a panel saw, it's more accurate and I get better cuts (I've had various panel saws so I know).
 

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Benchwayze

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Gaius,

If you want the accuracy of a table saw, in a track/plunge saw, then you have to go for Festool I'm afraid.
And for sure, it doesn't come cheap; and to use it to its full capacity, you need a worktable, and a set of parallel guides, plus three or four different lengths of track.

You could make your own version of their worktable, but to use all the stuff that turn the plunge-saw into a table-saw equivalent you need the special guide channelling around the edges of the table. You can buy this from them, without buying the table, but from what I am told, you don't save much.

A less expensive Bosch plunge-saw will fit a Festool track, if you have a mind to combine the two. But, as said, the accessories to go with the Festool track are required and are quite expensive. Unless you are lucky and find used items for sale.

I was once a doubter on the issue of Festool and cost, but since grasping the nettle, I can see the justification in their prices. I still think some items are priced a little OTT, but you can't fault the quality and accuracy.

That's been my experience at least. I don't work for Festool nor do I have a shop full of their stuff, but what I do have I am very happy with.

:)
 

Eric The Viking

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Cough.

The Makita SP6000K also fits Festool track. The Festool and Makita protractors are very similar indeed.

There are nice features of the TS55 that make it better than the SP6000, whether they justify a price tag of several hundred pounds more, I doubt (and the Bosch isn't cheap, either).

Oh and the Makita is made in the UK (or so the documentation says).

Anyway, you don't need anything like all that for accuracy, just attention to setting out and cutting carefully. When all is said and done, all the rail saws do is let you work faster and with less setup fiddling about than you'd need otherwise.

I like mine, but it's not the only way, by any means.

E.
 

Benchwayze

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Eric,

Nope.. For sheet reduction, you don't need a Festool (or any other plunge saw) at all. A reasonable hand-held circular saw will do that job, although you will be forever making new MDF guides as time goes on. (One of the reasons I bought a plunge-saw.)

I still believe that pricey as it is, the Festool is easier to use; it's more accurate than circular saws and MDF guides. It's cleaner cutting than any of my circular saws, and the tilting mechanism is positive and accurate; as is setting depth of cut. And repeat cuts are dead-on. That's the big advantage.

I can't compare the Festool with other makes of plunge-saw, but it's good enough for me, by a long way. It's the way I can get table-saw accuracy when I don't have space for a Wadkin. The only drawback? I can't use it to its full advantage, unless it's dry and I can work in the yard! :D
 

Lord Kitchener

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I would be wary of creating a square by mmeasurement, as it could only be as accurate as whatever one was using to measure it, and how accurately those measurements could be trransferred. My way would be to set up the square cut with whatever, carpenter's square etc, then cut four sides of a rectangle and checlk the diagonals.
 

gaius

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Thanks for all the replies and ideas so far.

Lord Kitchener's idea is interesting. In order to make accurate(ish) measurements, the fences could have a double track with a scale/rule on top, like the one here:
http://www.incra.com/images/buildit_bra ... 1_zoom.jpg
The metal track on top of the fence is Incra's T-track plus, I believe.

Incra is very expensive in the US. In Europe it's even worst.
Is there an online shop anywhere in Europe where I could buy similar metal tracks and not pay a fortune? An alternative manufacturer?


Benchwayze":u9dkhx77 said:
Gaius,

If you want the accuracy of a table saw, in a track/plunge saw, then you have to go for Festool I'm afraid.
And for sure, it doesn't come cheap; and to use it to its full capacity, you need a worktable, and a set of parallel guides, plus three or four different lengths of track.
Yes, I ordered one. Not Festool, the Bosch, with two tracks - the 1.6m and 0.8m.

Benchwayze":u9dkhx77 said:
You could make your own version of their worktable, but to use all the stuff that turn the plunge-saw into a table-saw equivalent you need the special guide channelling around the edges of the table. You can buy this from them, without buying the table, but from what I am told, you don't save much.
The Festool table is excellent. In fact, it was their table that made me want to build a cheap version. £500+ for a workbench is too much for non-professionals.
The channeling around the edges is a very good idea. I just don't know where to get something like that.

The Incra TS-LS system is a different concept, but also runs on rails/channels.
As long as one can calibrate the two parallel channels so that they're really parallel, then the rail system would be decisive in ensuring that the moveable fence stays perpendicular when moving along the rail.



Benchwayze":u9dkhx77 said:
I was once a doubter on the issue of Festool and cost, but since grasping the nettle, I can see the justification in their prices. I still think some items are priced a little OTT, but you can't fault the quality and accuracy.
On the subject of Festool tools, I can buy a lightly used/like new Festool planer for £75. I already have a planer, but the price on this one seems to be very favourable. In your opinion, is there a compelling reason to get the Festool and sell mine?
 

Lord Kitchener

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gaius":rqn98mx3 said:
Thanks for all the replies and ideas so far.

Lord Kitchener's idea is interesting. In order to make accurate(ish) measurements, the fences could have a double track with a scale/rule on top

If you are only making 90 degree cuts then you won't need a double track with my design. The one I built uses two 1220mm lengths of the heavy duty Kreg fences with the production stop shown in this link
http://www.axminster.co.uk/kreg-kreg-he ... rod789533/

and it is very accurate. I slide the ripped to width material in from the left so that it protrudes about 5mm to the right of the Festool rail, then take a cut so I have the first square edge, then slide it further to the right until the new edge touches the stop, then take the next cut. As long as the material has been accurately ripped and is therefore parallel, a rectangle the correct size results.
 

gaius

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Lord Kitchener":1d3ekirw said:
If you are only making 90 degree cuts then you won't need a double track with my design.
Ideally I would be able to make 90deg cuts and parallel cuts to length, hence the double track idea. But 90deg, if combined with a scale (does yours have one?) would probably be sufficient.

Lord Kitchener":1d3ekirw said:
The one I built uses two 1220mm lengths of the heavy duty Kreg fences with the production stop shown in this link
http://www.axminster.co.uk/kreg-kreg-he ... rod789533/
Does the Axminster kit consist of just the fence, or does it also include the side rail in the picture? Kreg's webiste describes that kit as comprising both the fence and the track.
 

Lord Kitchener

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gaius":2s62iddi said:
Lord Kitchener":2s62iddi said:
If you are only making 90 degree cuts then you won't need a double track with my design.
Ideally I would be able to make 90deg cuts and parallel cuts to length, hence the double track idea. But 90deg, if combined with a scale (does yours have one?) would probably be sufficient.
Yes. It has scales on both parts of the fence, but in practice I only use the scale on the right hand side.

gaius":2s62iddi said:
Lord Kitchener":2s62iddi said:
The one I built uses two 1220mm lengths of the heavy duty Kreg fences with the production stop shown in this link
http://www.axminster.co.uk/kreg-kreg-he ... rod789533/
Does the Axminster kit consist of just the fence, or does it also include the side rail in the picture? Kreg's webiste describes that kit as comprising both the fence and the track.
I assume you mean the fence rail, the part that the fence attaches to and allows different ripping widths to be set? They do sell a bandsaw fence but my crosscut table uses just the rails themselves attached to wooden sub-fences.
 

petermillard

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FWIW, you can buy replacement Festool MFT worktops - e.g. here - they have a very accurate array of 20mm holes drilled into the work surface, absolutely square and not for much more than the price of the Vogel square you mention. You could then use rail and bench dogs e.g. these or these to accurately register the rail and workpiece to make square cuts.

A length of t-track with a couple of off-the-shelf flag-stops would take care of the repetitive cuts; a stick-on measure attached to the t-track would let you cut to length.

Just a thought. HTH Pete
 

tatcho

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Peter,

What you describe is exactly what I plan to do (once my MFT replacement top, bench dogs and rail dogs arrive). and your solution to the problem of repetetive cuts is a good one. Where/how would you attach the t-track onto the MFT top though? Also, a nod in the right direction as to where you can buy said track and flag stops would be much appreciated too.
 

petermillard

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Hi there

I use the Festool bits & pieces as I do have an MFT - the 'stop profile' is item #1 on Miles Tools diagram linked to above, flag stops need items 4 & 5, 70-74. I was thinking of using generic t-track from e.g. Axminster or Rutlands, but was surprised to see that neither of them seem to do a flag stop; perhaps you could make one, or adapt a Festool one?

If I was building something from scratch, I think I'd fit it to its own set of bench dogs for the most flexibility, but you could probably just screw the t-track to the top edge of the MFT if you didn't mind it being fixed.

HTH Pete

Edit: sorry, just realised Rutlands call them 'flip stops', so they are available, just not especially cheap @ £ 40 with a length of track :shock:
 

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