I am looking for some track saw input from everyone. I am looking at buying one very soon and I have found 3 different ones. Dewalt, Makita and Festool. Any input or reviews of any would be greatly appreciated!!
The EZ system really starts getting interesting once you start attaching your other tools like your router and your portable planer, not to mention using larger circular saws to cut hardwood. The other manufacturers really focus more on cutting sheet goods alone with their track setups.
Ken Kortch said:
I've owned and used the EZ Smart system for a while and really like it. Hand-held circular saws and I have NEVER gotten along ... NEVER. So I went with the EZ Smart system and have never looked back. It makes cutting plywood an exact science ... and safer because I don't have to manhandle large sheets - the sheet sits still, while the saw moves - very precisely.
Their web site is http://www.eurekazone.com . They offer so much stuff these days that the site can be confusing now. What I have is several lengths of the track of some different lengths, the clamps, the crosscut handle thing (actually works well with a fairly short track length), and I purchased a pre-setup circular saw - the lower cost Hitachi. Oh, and I eventually bought their Smart Table Top Kit and the folding legs and I made a table one which cutting is easier.
From my recollection, these guys were making track systems before the big companies even thought about it, and I credit them for their forward thinking. I have ZERO experience with the other makers, so I can't comment on them.
The track uses a white plastic anti-chip insert. You slide this into the rail and then only with the first use, you make a cut on some scrap wood and run the saw down the rail to remove the "extra" anti-chip width. This sort of customizes the rail to your saw - exactly. This means that with all future cuts the anti-chip insert shows you EXACTLY where the blade will cut - no guessing. You align the rail's anti-chip edge with your cut endpoints - keeping in mind where the kerf will be, clamp the two ends, place the saw on the rail (usually on a part of the rail hanging out beyond the plywood), start the saw, and simply slide to cut. That's it. I really like that.
For a 4' cut I like using a 6' rail (1' on each end to start/stop the saw). For an 8' cut I prefer having a 10' rail. You don't buy super long rails, but combine shorter rails to get the full length. The joints are smooth enough to be essentially nonexistent ... though combining just a few longer lengths is easier than combining a bunch of them.
BTW, I have NO financial association with them. Actually, I am kind of a woodworking newbie. Most of my projects have been related to simple construction projects in my horse barn - stalls, doors, .... I started into this system because I absolutely HATED - DREADED - cutting large sheets of plywood. No more!! Now its actually kind of fun - even by myself (no helper).
Justin, I have the Dewalt DWS520CK TrackSaw Kit with 59-Inch and 102-Inch Track and I am very happy with it. I am not affiliated with Dewalt, just a satisfied customer. I did buy most of the accessories such as the track clamps, router adapter, miter gauge.
Hey guys, I'm old to Kreg, but new to post.
I have used the Dewalt system for about 2 years and its been awesome! I bought the system with bothe 46" and 59" tracks and free 102" track and saw for about $560. The long track made it the deal. Looking back, I was only worried about the upfront cost/investment, but now I see it should be regarded as weather or not you want it to "integrate" into you woodworking "system". Festool has the edge on that hands down, although Dewalt does well. I have a dewalt extractor vacuum that inhales almost all the dust and chips each cut. But if you plan on investing in Festool tools in the future, the festool system would be the better route. I love my Dewalt, and the clamps, and tracks... I think the Festool has better chip out protection on the right side of the blade. The Dewalt does not have the splinter guard. (Although in melemine, its very very light chipout, if any on far side of blade...)
Just decide one what feels comfortable. Imagine life without it! I can't!!!
Is the only advantage of a tracksaw the straight edge? I don't feel like spending the $$$ on a setup but I did a simple circular saw guide out of 2 pieces of MDF sandwiched and glued then I cut a straight edge on it. It rides along the factory straight edge of the MDF and gives a nice clean cut with no chipout. I made one in 4' and 8' lengths.
Is there a secret use to the tracksaw that I haven't seen in youtube videos etc...?
One advantage is that it keeps the saw against the edge, resulting in a perfect straight cut.
When ''free''handing a circular saw against a straight-edge, it may wonder off a tad, resulting in saw marks on the finished edge.
After sawing a long piece, with a hand saw, I prefer to dress the edge using a router.
A router bit will give a much smoother and straight edge.
That was EXACTLY why I bought the EZ SMART tracks. I had created one of those plywood straight edges and had tried to use it several times, but each time the saw wondered off to the non-track side - making a mess of things. I'd given up on using a circular saw until I came across the track saw option. It completely changed my ability to work with plywood sheets. BTW, when I first bought the EZ tracks, the big name folks did not have those track systems available.
The EZ folks sell something called a RipSizer that is similar to Kreg's new lower cost system. Seems like a robust solution for the price, but I have a concern about the propensity to wander off there too, since its not really locked down. I'll stick to the tracks.
Methods I've used with good success---
coat the circular saw base, router base and edge with ''furniture paste wax''---
the paste wax reduces friction and helps for making a smoother glide of the saw base and router base on the work piece surface and straight edge.
Keep the saw base butted to the straight edge piece---
and try to make the cut continuous---without stopping.
Easier said than done---
pausing will cause saw marks to appear on the finished cut edge.
This may be a little more difficult that it seems, but with practice, it can be done.
When I've had to make a long 8ft cut, I'd make my 1st pass, about a 1/4'' larger---
then reset the fence and re-cut to the finished size---
with the a router.
I've been able to end up with a smooth continuous cut edge, on 3/4'' birch or oak plywood, with some good results.
A router with a the ''slanted'' cutter blades, or a spiral bit, will produce better finished results.
The shearing action, of the router bit cutter blades, will produce a smoother finish.
A spiral ''down'' bit will produce a keener edge on the finished side.
Prior to obtaining a store bought straight edges, I made my own---
the base piece cut from 1/4'' hardboard.
Fasten a 1/2'' x 6'' pw straight edge to the base piece/plate.
One side a dimension of the saw base plate edge to the cutting blade teeth.
And on the other side, the router base edge to the cutter blade edge.
The saw base and router base, glide along the 1/2'' pw edge,
and the cutting tool along the finished edge of the base plate.
Make the base plate blank size a 1/4'' large on edge edge---
once the straight edge piece is secured in place,
make a saw cut on one side, and the router cut on the other side.
It's also handy, at times to have other sizes available---
a 4ft and 3 foot section.
To make the cut, scribe a line near the ends of the project piece,
place the straight edge to the scribed line, clamp the straight edge to the project piece, and make your cut.
Works for me.
The cutting/straight edge fixture, I described above will suffice for most DYI wood workers, and for those needing to make occasional long cuts .
The store bought variety(s) of straight edges are great when one has several repeated cuts to make.
I love my Rockler
Low profile straight edge clamp system
Takes up little space and stores nicely.
Can be used with a circular saw and router.
A very handy tool.
Here is the latest tracksaw entry from grizzly.
Hey Gary, I appreciate you sending me that. I knew they were going to hit the market soon. Shop Fox has one too. The review was good and mainly I was looking for one to break plywood down too. For $230 it's not a bad buy at all and I think that's going to be the way I go. I'm willing to bet with a better blade on the saw the cut quaility would definately be better. I've been crosscutting 4x8 sheets on my table saw lately, it's such a pain to set the clamp up, get the circular out and deal with all that dust from it.
Let us know how it works if you get one Justin. My daughter lives near to the grizzly in Muncy I'll take a look at it when I am down again.
A little while back someone had posted comparative tracks in a forum thread. If you're in the market you might be interested in seeing what to me was a surprising difference between the typical "big company" tracks and the tracks from Eurekazone.
Was reading a review of the Grizzly track saw (The Wood Whisperer), and in a subsequent reply to it there was mention of adding chip-proofing features. Can it be true that some of the track saws don't provide chip-proofing on both sides of the blade? I'm so used to it with my Eurekazone saw that I can't imagine otherwise. Even simple basic circular saw blades make great clean cuts.