Track Saw Advice

TheyCallMeTex

New User
Ben
I guess the main point here is to start making stuff. As time goes on, you'll accumulate more tools. I started out with a saber saw, belt sander, drill, and a router, all from 1970s Sears. With a birch plywood straightedge and a few clamps, I built all sorts of stuff out of shelving pine. Thank goodness, most of it didn't survive over the decades.
Yes this is absolutely my approach.

I imagine I'm going to make a whole bunch of crooked boxes :)
 

Martin Roper

Martin
Senior User
I have the Makita saw, corded version. I'm pretty happy with it. I purchased the PowerTec track to save some money. I like that Makita is compatible with Festool, even their systainers.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
I never use my cabinet saw for plywood since I bought my track saw. Handling sheets of 3/4 ply is too much work. And not all that safe. The first cuts I make when using my track saw is cutoff the factory edge! ITs THAT good!.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I agree, Peter Millard's videos are interesting and his input on track saws is very good. He uses a Festool but comments honestly on much less expensive brands. He also recommends some simple jigs something like I use that he made from scrap. He uses his track saws to make finish cuts on cabinets and furniture. He has a table saw but hardly uses it at all due to space considerations in his shop and the quality of the saw he has.
 

UncleJoe

Joe
Senior User
When I got serious about woodworking I splurged and bought a festool tracksaw and connected it to my craftsman shop vac. My work quality jumped up considerably. I can't tell you that the Kreg or Makita is any better or worse but the Festool is great and the user community at the Festool Owners group is extremely helpful.
I built this toy box and bed without a table saw. Just my track saw and router. My build quality was so improved I was encouraged to go ahead and buy a table saw and Bandsaw as well as a planer and a jointer. I now run the festool dust extractor instead of the shop vac
 

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Hjanes

Harlan
User
I guess the main point here is to start making stuff. As time goes on, you'll accumulate more tools. I started out with a saber saw, belt sander, drill, and a router, all from 1970s Sears. With a birch plywood straightedge and a few clamps, I built all sorts of stuff out of shelving pine. Thank goodness, most of it didn't survive over the decades.
This rings some bells. Very similar experience, except my first tools were vintage '60's Sears. I'm still using my scroll/saber saw of that era. While other '60's tools wore out, that old saw just won't quit.
 

petebucy4638

Pete
Corporate Member
Yes, the Makita is a good saw. I do not have one but have looked at a lot of reviews and it is consistently ranked high. It uses the same track as a Festool which might be significant. Tracks are a major part of the track saw investment so if you got a Makita and later decided to upgrade to a Festool you would not need new tracks. Scott Brown has a youtube channel and really likes his Makita track saw - if you want to watch it being used.

I use a DeWalt and I like it but the track is unique and it does not have any major advantage over the Makita. I got it because the saw plus a 106 and 59 inch track was about $600. A good deal at the time. Now third parties (like Powertec) sell compatible tracks for a lot less but not the long ones. I also use an "Evolution" track saw at church and we just join a couple Wen tracks (which are OK but only 50 inches, I think PowerTec 59s are a better idea). It works fine as long as you check the joined track to be sure it's straight.

I think a Makita saw plus a couple 59 inch Powertec tracks and a couple DeWalt clamps would be a good setup. You can decide later if you want the Makita 122 inch track. A long track is great for working in my shop but it would be a pain to transport. I consider my DeWalt a "forever" tool, I have no desire to upgrade. I am pretty sure the Makita is good enough to go into this category. Festool has some ease of use advantages but also a smaller motor and a 5mm smaller blade - so some disadvantages too.

You will want at least a jobsite type table saw if you keep doing this. Cutting small pieces with a track saw is not simple or quick. I have a SawStop. I cut all large pieces, solid or sheet goods, with my DeWalt. It is just much easier.
I have a Dewalt track saw. It definitely gets the job done. I use it to break down plywood. If used carefully, you don't need to use a table saw. That said, I often use the table saw to make the final cuts if a project needs to be extremely precise. A track saw will never replace a table saw for most tasks, but it is a handy to have around. If I had it to do over again, I might go with Makita, just because I have had better luck with Makita than Dewalt.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
Corporate Member
When I bite the bullet, it will be the Makita. I use my cordless Makita circ saw to break down as I have a table saw. If I was better with a router, I suspect I could eventually ditch the TS. I use my BS more and more and have been transitioning to hand joinery.

I keep a 2 inch slab of foam hanging from my garage ceiling, so back the truck up, drop the foam, drop the sheet on it and get to town.

There are accessory jigs that make repeat cuts really easy.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Scott,

Don't forget about the router jigs so they work with the track saw track if you ever get one. I use mine regularly to make shallow dados on cabinet parts. Just like the track saw, I don't use this capability for small pieces of wood (I have a router table for that). But for working on large pieces of wood, a router in a jig sliding on the track saw track makes a nice straight and accurate cut.

Jim
 

jgt1942

jgt
User
Recently my TS55 started to make weird noises and smoke, neither of which is good! I originally purchased the TS55 in 2014 as a used unit. Between then and now I seldom used it mainly due to two physical moves. As I get older I move MUCH slower and rest a LOT more. Needless to say, I was emotionally crushed. I called Festool and ask what would be the worst-case cost for a repair and was informed that it would cost about 1/2 the cost of a new saw, so I sent the saw in for repairs. I was shocked to receive an estimate of $425 for the repair and went into a tailspin. After a bit of research, I saw a few postings stating similar issues and they were resolved by installing new brushes even though they did not have much wear. I had looked at mine and they showed very little wear but what the heck, they only cost $25 with shipping so I ordered the brushes.

Sorry to report that the new brushes did NOT resolve the issue. So, now what? A new Festool would cost $699 thus I did more research. I watched SEVERAL YouTube videos where the Makita had received very positive reviews. I also considered getting a battery TS, but looking at the Festool it was at $800 so I decided I'd stay with the corded TS but still Makita or Festool.

I decided to purchase the Makita from HomeDepot. The total cost with my VET discount was $408 which also included a track. Also, one of the pluses of the Makita is, that Festool tracks (I have two) could also be used with the Makita. I could have ordered just the saw at $399 before discount but I did not and I assume the case comes with it.

Obviously, I was excited when it arrived. Later I grabbed the Festool track and made a few cuts and was successful but I did have some reservations.
  • I REALLY liked my Festool and this was NOT a Festool
  • The darn power cord is only 8 feet long (the Festool cord is 13 feet long)
  • The power cord is fixed into the handle and comes out 90 degrees to the handle. I see this as a possible issue in the future.
  • When setting the depth on the Makita at a very shallow depth, around 10mm or less it was difficult for me to loosen the locking mechanism.
  • The case did not securely position the saw and the plastic at the bottom of the case was damaged because of this. I noticed that the plastic at the bottom of the Festool case was about twice as thick thus much less subject to damage.
  • The lid of the case did not have anything to lock the handle of the saw in place as did the Festool.
    I can fix the above last two items with some Great Stuff spray foam.
Yesterday I was helping my son install some plywood fillers between 2x8's in a deck ceiling. Both of us were surprised as to how quiet the Makita was and the grade of the cuts. I'd go as far to say the cuts were as good (or better) as the Festool. BTW I did use my two Festool guide rails.

Because we were outside I did not use dust collection and it did make a LOT of sawdust. Sometimes it seemed that the saw was not cutting because it was so quiet but the dust coming out told us otherwise.

At this time I'm satisfied with the Makita but will admit I'd rather have the new Festool with the 1.8mm wide blade and the riving knife.
 

Echd

C
User
I picked up the makita 36v (dual 18v battery) track saw a couple weeks ago. My main use is sheet goods and putting a straight edge on stuff too big to easily joint.

The edge this thing leaves is jointer quality. Highly impressive.

I'm using two powertec 55" guide rails.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Another youtuber who makes a lot of tracksaw content is the 10 minute workshop. He includes useful jigs that are cheap and easy to make. To me the secret of using the track saw for finish cuts is to make some jigs so you can avoid having to cut to a mark which is inconsistent with repeat cuts to the same dimension.
 

Douglas Robinson

Doug Robinson
Corporate Member
A circular saw and a straight edge require you to apply pressure downward AND against the straight edge to make a good cut.

Festool does not send out 'tons of free saws." In fact it is the opposite and there are no sale prices for a new one. If a dealer sells the saw for less than the Festool assigned price they cease to be a dealer.

I have a Festool T55 and have owned it for over 10 years. I love the thing. I am a one man shop and do not have room for an out-feed tale on my tale saw. I use my T55 outside on two MFT's to break down sheet goods and refine them as needed on my tale saw.

The latest Festool T55 is far superior to mine 9three generations old now).

First it has retractable riving knife.
Second, it has an anti kick-ack feature.
Third the shroud has an improved dust collection channel.
Fourth, it has improved pressure pieces to hold the saw on the track,
Fifth it used a thinner 1.6mm wide lade that cuts faster and cleaner than the older 2.2mm wide bladed units and the blades last longer.

These are some of the improvements. FWIW I work at Klingspor and Festool provides dealer training on their tools.
 

Craptastic

Matt
Senior User
I've owned the Makita and also the Bora track that has an adapter that fits your circular saw. I have also used a Festool track saw more than a few times in the past. The Festool was better than the Makita (smoother and better feel of control) than the Makita. But the Makita wasn't a slouch either. The Bora could be cumbersome at times realigning for cuts. All of them worked well for breaking down large sheets to component parts..

You pays your money and you get what you pay for.
 

Barry W

Co-Director of Outreach
Barry
Corporate Member
Thumbs up for the Makita (battery). Enough good comments have been made. I'll just say, "ditto."
 

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