Nick2cd

Grizzly has a new track saw

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I know there's a lot of Festool love out there. I can see why, they make a great product. I drool over Marc's router in every video I see it in. But in truth (Marc said this himself) it rotates a bit... so does every other router. Don't get me wrong I can appreciate the quality aspects of feel and ease of use and even the really slick dust collection.

 

However, I keep reading posts about how many folks out there don't expect the Grizzly track saw to be as "accurate" as the festool? Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but I don't get that. I have an ancient Hitachi circ with a shop made track I've used for 20 years. I have cut literally hundreds of cabinet pieces out with that set up and didn't have to touch them up at all. Straight from the track saw to the assembly table. Granted, I use a high quality sharp blade. But I would argue my shop made set up is as accurate as any Festool track saw.

 

Having said that; you don't need to convince me that the Festool is more convenient, easier to use, better dust collection, a less fatiguing tool, probably even more precise. I've gone away from using my hitachi circ and shop made track, because my current table saw set up with side and outfeed tables allows me to cut full sized sheets down to perfectly accurate cabinet parts right on the table saw. So, for me that's easier. I really no longer have a need for a track saw.

But can anyone explain to me why a Festool track saw would be more accurate than the Grizzly?

I truly believe the Festool could be and most likely is a I'll use the term better tool, but I'm struggling to figure out this accuracy question. If you define accuracy as the ability to cut a straight line where you want it, you should be able to achieve that goal with either. Am I wrong?

 

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One thing off the bat I would consider a concern is how well the track is machined. Although Festool tracks are expensive, so are good straight-edges and T-squares...they have to be machined very precisely within certain tolerances. I don't think Grizzly would have much problem getting a track straight - heck, any of us can do so with a piece of wood and a jointer - but just pointing out their production line probably shouldn't be expected to be as strict as Festool's or even other companies.

 

Same argument could be made with the blade, deflection, etc. One thing I liked about the TS55 was that the blade was terrific out of the box, can't really say the same from my table saw or band saw. I don't know how good the blade on the Grizzly is, but it's a consideration too if they went cheap there. Guess we'll find out in Marc's review.

 

Personally - provided it works well and the track is true - if you don't care about the Festool ecosystem I think the Grizzly is honestly a more compelling track saw alternative to DeWalt's (which is not much cheaper than Festool).

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I know there's a lot of Festool love out there. I can see why, they make a great product. I drool over Marc's router in every video I see it in. But in truth (Marc said this himself) it rotates a bit... so does every other router. Don't get me wrong I can appreciate the quality aspects of feel and ease of use and even the really slick dust collection.

 

However, I keep reading posts about how many folks out there don't expect the Grizzly track saw to be as "accurate" as the festool? Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but I don't get that. I have an ancient Hitachi circ with a shop made track I've used for 20 years. I have cut literally hundreds of cabinet pieces out with that set up and didn't have to touch them up at all. Straight from the track saw to the assembly table. Granted, I use a high quality sharp blade. But I would argue my shop made set up is as accurate as any Festool track saw.

 

Having said that; you don't need to convince me that the Festool is more convenient, easier to use, better dust collection, a less fatiguing tool, probably even more precise. I've gone away from using my hitachi circ and shop made track, because my current table saw set up with side and outfeed tables allows me to cut full sized sheets down to perfectly accurate cabinet parts right on the table saw. So, for me that's easier. I really no longer have a need for a track saw.

But can anyone explain to me why a Festool track saw would be more accurate than the Grizzly?

I truly believe the Festool could be and most likely is a I'll use the term better tool, but I'm struggling to figure out this accuracy question. If you define accuracy as the ability to cut a straight line where you want it, you should be able to achieve that goal with either. Am I wrong?

 

Its an extrusion just like the festool. Pretty hard to screw that up. May be slop in the saw to track connection but dont know. We will see when Mark does his review.

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The best way to understand what makes a Festool saw different than any others is to use it. I also don't know for sure what some folks mean by "accuracy" since perhaps they are just using that term very generically. As long as the Grizzly saw cuts straight, that's accurate enough for the job. And although I think comparing this saw to a Festool is a bit unfair, here are some of my initial thoughts.

 

Dust collection:

Quite a bit of dust escapes the saw. Fortunately, it doesn't spew the dust all over the shop like a traditional circular saw. The dust that does escape seems to do so in a very localized way. So there was a nice pile of sawdust sitting on top of the off-cut piece after the cut was complete. The Festool has nearly perfect dust collection. 

 

Cut quality:

The cut quality was acceptable. The included blade is better than what comes with any other circ saw on the market (at least from initial inspection). The keeper piece had a mostly acceptable amount of tearout that could be sanded away. The off-cut didn't fare quite as well but was still in decent shape. Results are way better than I usually get with my regular circular saw, but not quite the same tablesaw quality cut you get from Festool.

 

Build quality:

Overall, the saw feels a little "cheap". The plastic parts are somewhat rough, square, and not ergonomically designed. A minor detail, but it's something to consider. I could find nothing wrong with the track, except for the fact that the saw had some wobble. Not a wobble resulting from the groove meeting the track, but a wobble that allows the saw to tip slightly to the left and right. Without a doubt, that is going to decrease the cut quality in the long run. I also noticed that the spring is difficult to compress when plunging. This is going to make it fatiguing to use for long periods and almost necessitates having two hands on the saw at all times.

 

 

What I explain several times in the video is that comparing this saw to the Festool, or even the DeWalt or Makita, is kind of unfair. You aren't going to get a $500 saw package for $230. What you're getting is something that is a VAST improvement over a standard circular saw and a shop-made straight edge. When you look at it from that perspective, the Grizzly is a very attractive purchase as it does exactly what it was aiming to do. 

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I also think that the Grizzly saw has less power than the Festool, Makita and Dewalt track saws, which I think would make a difference if you were cutting a hardwood vs plywood. The adjustment gibbs on the Festool TS55 also allow calibration to each track, not sure if the Grizzly saw has a similar feature. Like Marc said build quality is quite a bit different, which allows Grizzly to price their tools at a lower price point. The great thing about Grizzly is that they know their target market very well and did not intend to make a track saw that competes with Festool but to offer their customers a very desirable tool at an even more appealing price. I have Festool and Grizzly tools and am very happy with both brands. 

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I also think that the Grizzly saw has less power than the Festool, Makita and Dewalt track saws, which I think would make a difference if you were cutting a hardwood vs plywood. The adjustment gibbs on the Festool TS55 also allow calibration to each track, not sure if the Grizzly saw has a similar feature. Like Marc said build quality is quite a bit different, which allows Grizzly to price their tools at a lower price point. The great thing about Grizzly is that they know their target market very well and did not intend to make a track saw that competes with Festool but to offer their customers a very desirable tool at an even more appealing price. I have Festool and Grizzly tools and am very happy with both brands. 

 

I think they are all 10 amp, including the grizzly.  I compared them all a while back, and If I am remembering correctly there was no power difference.

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The major thing I cringed about was the tilting back and forth on the track, that absolutely would compromise the cut. I suppose it could be shimmed easily enough, but a matter of figuring out where and how it needs to sit. The tear-out on the offcut didn't bother me too badly, if I was in that scenario, I'd rely on old tricks like blue painter's tape. Or I wonder if an upgraded blade would considerably help. In fairness, Festool does that that green splinterguard thing that helps with tearout on the offcut, though I find that tearout is pretty minimal even without it.

 

I'm kind of hoping Grizzly coming out with more accessories with the track, like one-handed clamps, etc. (I know DeWalt makes something like this but I heard they don't work on the holes of the MFT very well.) I honestly find Festool's smaller things like clamps kind of chintzy and it would be pretty sweet if Grizzly versions of accessories somehow worked compatibly with some of Festool's things like the rails or MFT.

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Just curious, has anyone seen a track saw review published in a magazine like Wood, Fine Woodworking or the like? Seems like there should be one out there now that so many folks are making them.

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Looks to me that the wobble is a simple fix, probably just a strip of uhmw tape. If you look at the two tracks griz/fes looks like griz just put the strip in the wrong spot actually causing the wobble. Doesnt look like any big deal to fix. The spring can be shortened then stretched easily to make it weaker.  

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I will probably end up picking up a few Grizzly clamps since they should work with the Festool track.

 

Very well put together review.

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I will probably end up picking up a few Grizzly clamps since they should work with the Festool track.

 

Very well put together review.

I was thinking the same thing. Those Festool clamps are very expensive for what they are. 

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This topic is interesting so I thought I'd through in another point of reference. I attended a seminar a couple weeks ago hosted by Phil Huber, the senior editor of ShopNotes Magazine. He talked about how he cuts up sheet goods. He showed us his circ, which he bought of Craigslist for 50 bucks. He bought it specifically because it was lightweight and left handed. (He's a lefty) Anyway, it's an ugly old skill saw. He also showed us his shop made track system. Made from 1/2" MDF and 3/4" plywood. He made up 3 lengths of track. He talked about how he sees a lot of people now using a piece of angle-iron or aluminum attached to a 1/2" piece of MDF and had a photo showing that.

 

He does what many of us have done which is to put the sheet of styrofoam down, clamp his shop-made track onto the workpiece and then cut up his pieces. Anyway, somebody in the seminar asked him how he cleans up his pieces after cutting them out this way. He said he doesn't. He goes straight from that method to the assembly table. According to Phil, it's all about the blade, and the shop made track of course protects the keeper from tear-out. He recommended a couple of different blades.

 

Anyway, I found it really interesting that he uses that method. Personally, I like the table saw to cut up my sheet goods. I have a buddy who swears by his panel saw. I find it fascinating the number of ways people will skin the same cat.

 

This is just my opinion, but it seems to me, if I was a heavy track saw user (let's say its your main method for cutting up sheed goods), I'd get the festool. Can't beat the comfort, dust collection, quality etc... If you are like me and use the table saw for 99.9% of your sheet goods, or like my panel saw pal, then a shop-made track will come in handy every once in a while. I would guess everyone else falls someplace in the middle?

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This topic is interesting so I thought I'd through in another point of reference. I attended a seminar a couple weeks ago hosted by Phil Huber, the senior editor of ShopNotes Magazine. He talked about how he cuts up sheet goods. He showed us his circ, which he bought of Craigslist for 50 bucks. He bought it specifically because it was lightweight and left handed. (He's a lefty) Anyway, it's an ugly old skill saw. He also showed us his shop made track system. Made from 1/2" MDF and 3/4" plywood. He made up 3 lengths of track. He talked about how he sees a lot of people now using a piece of angle-iron or aluminum attached to a 1/2" piece of MDF and had a photo showing that.

 

He does what many of us have done which is to put the sheet of styrofoam down, clamp his shop-made track onto the workpiece and then cut up his pieces. Anyway, somebody in the seminar asked him how he cleans up his pieces after cutting them out this way. He said he doesn't. He goes straight from that method to the assembly table. According to Phil, it's all about the blade, and the shop made track of course protects the keeper from tear-out. He recommended a couple of different blades.

 

Anyway, I found it really interesting that he uses that method. Personally, I like the table saw to cut up my sheet goods. I have a buddy who swears by his panel saw. I find it fascinating the number of ways people will skin the same cat.

 

This is just my opinion, but it seems to me, if I was a heavy track saw user (let's say its your main method for cutting up sheed goods), I'd get the festool. Can't beat the comfort, dust collection, quality etc... If you are like me and use the table saw for 99.9% of your sheet goods, or like my panel saw pal, then a shop-made track will come in handy every once in a while. I would guess everyone else falls someplace in the middle?

 

If I ever have a odd sheet cut that cant be done on the table saw I have a pc314. 4 1/2 worm drive trim saw with a forrest WW2 blade. Cuts as clean as the festool.

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I watched Marc's review and thank him for that. My take away is that I bet with a better blade it would produce better cuts. I think I may take a chance on this and see how it does. Right now I just use a circ saw with mdf guide as described above. The Grizzly system has to be better than what I currently use.

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