What's your opinion on this


Capnrock
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So I recently asked about table saws around $1000 or under. Now perhaps another dilemma....?

I've been reading about track saws. In my opinion the pros are: portability, less space, and price. The cons: no dado, no work table, slower to set up. I'm sure theres more to both, but those stick out to me.

Also, I went back a few pages in the power tools section and didnt see this question asked so I apologize now if I missed it. Didnt want to fire up an old thread either. 

So for those of you that have had experience with or without one or the other care to chime in on your experiences and hindsight? Oh, and I'll be cutting down sheet goods mostly for projects, but some ripping on 1x's as well. Thanks guys, Cap

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The two are completely different tools that just happen to have some overlap. I don't have a track saw, but just a shop built guide for a circular saw. I use that mainly for breaking down sheet goods or cutting stuff that's just to big/heavy/unwieldy for the table saw. The table saw is what I use for cutting those broken down sheet goods to final dimension, ripping lumber, dados, precision cross cut & miter cuts.

If I HAD to go without one or the other, I wouldn't. The table saw gets the most use by far, but for just little money, you can get a circular saw & make a guide for it.

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The work piece that you are cutting with a track saw has to be of reasonable size, the track has to rest on something.   It would be near impossible to rip cut a 2 inch wide piece with a track saw without rigging up some way to support the track. 

 

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I've been  using a track saw for breaking down sheets and then taking it to the table saw. Much easier than trying to lug a full sheet and try to accurately cut it. It's also useful for trimming table top ends. You can do the same with a circular saw but the track is super convenient and accurate.

If I have to do multiple rips, or quickly adjust the width of a rip cut, table saw all the way. Probably the best addition I've made to the table saw is the Incra 1000HD. Really useful for cutting multiple parts.

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Bucking the trend. Table saw isn't that important. It's a good tool but you can do good work without it. I can't think of a single operation the table saw can do that i couldn't manage with another tool. Yes some of those operations are a bit faster with the table saw.

Track saws are an awesome convenience when it comes to working sheet goods. I built an entire set of kitchen cabinets with a track saw as my main and only saw for casework. My table saw was right there the whole time. lifting and moving full sheets of ply onto a table saw can be difficult and dangerous. Breaking them down is pretty important hence circular saw or track saw.

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Before purchasing either I would think about what you actually want to build, once you determine that the answer should be much easier. For me my preference is to make furniture and smaller gifts so a full on workshop centered around a table saw or bandsaw would be my choice. If you are going to be building cabinets or large sheet good projects a tracksaw would be a good but IMHO opinion still not a great choice. They are great for cutting down sheet goods and making larger panels but I personally would not be ripping down 1x with one but that might just be me.

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8 hours ago, Capnrock said:

So people "could' use a homemade track saw or an actual track saw for alot of the purposes we are all accustom to using a TS for?

I know there are things the track saw cant do like dados, but there are ways around that. Not saying it's the best/simplest way, but ways. 

 

A track saw comes nowhere close to capable of what a table saw does. Precision, repeatability, and handling stock that is small or narrow are some things that a track saw does not do at all, or as well as a table saw.

I'm not saying that a table saw is the end all, or that it needs to be the core machine in a shop. Lots of guys us a band saw lots more than a table saw. Depends on your workflow and the kind of stuff you build.

I'd say go ahead & get yourself a decent circular saw for less than $100 and make yourself a good edge guide. It's dead simple to do & there are a million youtubes on how to do it. Then start using it. You will soon find where it is lacking & what it will do. If you find the track saw isn't that useful to you, then you haven't spent a ton of money. If it is, then go for a good actual track saw. But I bet you'll find that having a track saw only will be very limiting.

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Capnrock, I agree with pretty much everything above.  These are two different tools that are "the right tool" for different jobs.  We have a lot of folks on this forum that are budget concious so if a track saw was a good "instead of" for a table saw, then folks here would be doing it.  

If you're question is really which should I get first, then that's more a matter of what kind of woodworking you do now and want to do next.  I went years with only a straight edge & circular saw and a SCMS.  But the centerpiece of my shop and work strategy is a lathe.  To date the only sizeable piece of flatwork I've made is a large rolling shop cart.  

By the way, for that shop cart the lumber yard cut down my plywood to my dimensions for a very reasonable fee.   So having your retailer break down your sheet goods is a very reasonable option.  (And there's using a jig saw if you don't need a clean edge).

Ultimately I used my long straight edge to run the router for dados on my cart.  So that's another point about track systems.  They can mount routers and that's worth checking into before you buy into a system.

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... and then there are guys like @James Wright, who recently made a 4-leg stool from a tree, using a single chisel....

Not being a TOTAL lunatic, I fall into the group that has a circular saw and guide to suppliment my table saw. IMO, the biggest advantage a commercial track saw has over a simple circular saw is dust collection.

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