Best Track Saw For Woodworking – Table Saw Alternatives [2021]

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Home » Tools » Power Tools » Best Track Saw For Woodworking – Table Saw Alternatives [2021]

Track saws are one of those tools you need to own once you know what they are. Because they are both a safer solution to a table saw AND feature perfectly straight cuts with almost zero splintering they solve a problem you can’t with a table saw. Learn what the best track saws (corded and cordless) are for professionals and hobbyists in this article. 

Over the last 20 years  sliding miter saws have replaced the dangerous radial arm saw.

And table saws need to be made safer too. 

With over 10 amputations a day tied to table saw use it’s a tool that is extremely dangerous for all levels of woodworkers.

Which, among other reasons, is why the track saws have exploded in popularity the last few years. Simply put, a track saw can take dangerous plywood cuts and make them safer.

Due to it’s design, a track saw can:

  • Deliver table saw caliber cut quality
  • Reduce need to lift and muscle plywood sheets
  • Provide a serious safety edge vs. the table saw as it reduces kick-back with in-built features and a disappearing two-handed plunge blade design
  • Remain highly portable if you need to do occasional ripping on a jobsite or away from the shop with cordless power
Not sure you want to take the leap? We’ll also review an alternative that will convert your existing circular saw into a modified track saw.
 
Top Picks:
  • Best Overall: Festool 55  is a high end hobby or professional grade saw with top reviews and excellent performance
  • Best Value: Makita SP6000J1 track saw  featuring competitive pricing, top performance, excellent blades and a cordless option
  • Best Budget: Kreg Adaptive Cutting System  is an all-in-one saw at an affordable price that works with the broader line of Kreg attachments

What is a Track Saw

What is a Track Saw

In woodworking the tool names tend to take a common sense form. And, that’s no different when it comes to a track saw as it is, literally, a modified circular saw that sits on a track.

But don’t dismiss it as a fancy circular saw.

Because of some major engineering and anti-splinter technology a track saw offers up serious improvements to cutting everything from heavy plywood sheets to thick oak doors with ease.

Features

As you probably know from working with other tools, not all track saws are made the same.

Since tool brands all leverage their own manufacturing techniques and patents to differentiate their offerings you’ll find track saw features vary from saw to saw but include: 

  • Safety features like spring loaded riving knives
  • Splinter guard on the track and saw to prevent tear out, scoring tool built in to slice grain or melamine before the blade hits
  • Motor features like soft start, variable speed, electronic speed control and anti-slip clutches to prevent kickback
  • Cordless and corded track saws
  • Blade sizes ranging from 6.25″ to 8-1/2″ 
  • Setup capabilities including easy blade change, adjustable plunge depth, rail tightening to reduce play, blade tilt with preset setups, Dust extraction port
  • Accessories like varying lengths of (optional) rail, a carrying case and dust extractors

Alternatives to a Track Saw

Alternative to a track saw is the circular saw

Maybe you’re thinking this saw is just a fancy circular saw that is pre-made to be paired with a track. Well, you’re partially right, and while a track saw is a useful saw there are two track saw alternatives you could consider (or probably own):

  • A circular saw with an edge guide   is a viable alternative, but you’ll lose the quality controls of a track saw (splinter guards, plunge) and the saw won’t be “locked in” to the track. 
  • And, the table saw is of course the old standard in both ripping and crosscutting boards and plywood. But, you will need to supply more muscle and safety issues increase on a table saw when crosscutting bulky sheets of heavy plywood.

Guide to Track Saws for Woodworking

Now that we understand the basic features and reasons for a track saw, let’s take a look at what’s on the market. 

And I realize not everyone can afford an $800 track saw.

So, with saws ranging in price from just over $100 to over $1,000 we’ll look at these saws in four categories:

And, to help you keep the saws in order, here are the track saws in this review:

Best Track saws for Hobby Woodworkers

True to this sites namesake, let’s start out in the range of track saws that most home woodworkers would invest in.

And as experienced tool buyers, we all know if you go too cheap you get what you paid for. But if you don’t invest enough you’ll sacrifice a few features that you actually needed.

With that, track saws are no different and with a reasonable balance in budget and features in mind here’s the saws that make the most sense for woodworkers:

  • Makita SP6000J1
  • Dewalt DWS520K 
  • Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Plunge Saw
  • Triton TTS1400
  • Shop Fox W1835
  • Grizzly T106867
But of these, the first three are most commonly sold and have the best reviews. Neither the Triton, Shop Fox or Grizzly have grabbed on as mainstream choices.

1. Makita SP6000J1 Track Saw [Best Overall]

Makita SP6000J 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw
805 Reviews
Makita SP6000J 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw
  • Powerful 12.0 AMP motor for optimum performance in a wide variety of…
  • Precision accurate cutting delivers a splinter-free mirror finish
  • Electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load for smooth…
  • Variable speed control dial (2,000-5,200 RPM) enables user to match the…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 09:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

Makita vs. Dewalt and Makita vs. Milwaukee is a pretty common brand comparison. 

New to woodworking and not sure about Makita? Well, they are one of the top 3 brands that you’ll find on big box and specialty tool supplier shelves. 

And the Makita  saw keeps up their quality reputation with a saw that is highly rated, has all of the top features in this category of tool, and is a tool most professionals would start with if Festool wasn’t around. 

But we’ll get to Festool in a bit.

Key Features

Since features are the name of the game, here’s what the Makita SP6000J offers up:

  • Motor: 12 AMP motor with 2,000 to 5,200 RPM (adjustable) and electronic speed control for constant RPM
  • 2-3/16″ cut capacity
  • Bevel cuts with range from -1-degree to 48-degrees (with positive stops at 22.5 and 45-degrees)
  • Can cut as close as 11/16″ of an inch from the wall
  • Dust port with 1-1/2″ outside diameter for connection to dust extractors
  • Soft start feature like you’d find in similar high end routers
  • Plunge operated
  • …and many more that you can find on the Makita site.

Accessories

Be sure to check around for a bundle, but if you want to start with just the saw and a guide rail you can always buy up other accessories later.

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 18:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Dewalt DWS520K Plunge Saw

DEWALT Circular Saw, 6-1/2-Inch, TrackSaw Kit…
  • Zero clearance track saw cutting system delivers precise, straight,…
  • For use with track saw dual-edged tracks for perfectly straight cuts in…
  • On-track cut depth: 2-1/8 (54mm) at 90 degree , 1-5/8-inch (41mm) at 45…
  • 12A, 1300W motor effortlessly powers through hard woods up to 2-1/8-inch…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 18:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

The Dewalt is very comparable to the Makita but lacks a couple of important features:

  • Electronic speed control
  • Adjustable speed
  • Soft start that prevents the saw from “jumping” when engage 

Otherwise, the general features are similar and with the Dewalt generally running slightly higher in cost.

Key Features

The Dewalt includes all the key features of a high quality track saw:

  • Motor: 12 AMP motor (minus the Makita advantages)
  • Universal 1-1/4″ dust control
  • Cut depth of 2-1/8″, 1-5/8″ at 45-degrees
  • Continuous anti-kickback only allows forward motion of saw
  • 6-1/2″ blade (48-tooth ultra fine)

Accessories

Like other track saws you’ll be able to buy the tool “bare” or with accessories:

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 19:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Plunge Saw (Lowest Priced)

Adaptive Cutting System Plunge Saw
  • Plunge-cutting circular saw for cutting solid wood and plywood when paired…
  • Powerful 12-amp, 120-volt variable speed motor with load compensation
  • Safe with fully-shrouded , retracting blade, riving knife, electronic blade…
  • Blade-left design is optimized for right-handed users, and provides…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 19:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

While Kreg hasn’t ventured into too many tools their plunge saw is worth a look. Since Kreg is a #1 supplier of jigs for woodworkers, it’s not surprising this saw is both a great value and well priced.

Most importantly, it also features one of my favorite features of a circular saw: a blade-left design that allows us right-handed users the ability to see the blade and action without leaning over sideways during the cut.

And like the Dewalt and Makita you’ll find this saw as a bare tool or bundled with accessories.

This is one of Kreg's first adventures into tools, but so far reviews are pointing to it paying off. If you're afraid of that new-to-the-trade brand you might head back to the Makita.

Key Features

Even at a lower price point, the Kreg has a number of the key features found in the Makita:

  • Motor: 12 AMP with adjustable speed, load compensation and electronic brake
  • Integrated dust collection
  • Cut depth of 2-1/8″, 1-1/2″ at 45-degrees
  • Retractable riving knives, splinter guards
  • 6-1/2″ blade (48-tooth)
  • Carrying bag

Accessories

Similar to other saws you’ll be able to add as many accessories as you need. And, not surprisingly, Kreg offers up one of the biggest lists of extras:

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 13:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Track Saws for Professionals

When you’re investing in tools you will use every day a few extra dollars upfront is almost always worth it. And, with track saws this holds true as the well-known Festool has a complete line-up to cover carpentry to heavy duty hardwood jobs.

  • Festool TS 55
  • Festool TS 75
  • Mafell MT55cc Plunge Track Saw

Festool TS 55 Professional Track Saw

Festool 575387 Plunge Cut Track Saw Ts 55…
  • When used with Festool guide rails, you can achieve perfectly straight and…
  • Spring-loaded riving knife (splitter) keeps the cut kerf open so that the…
  • This reduces the chance of kickback. Antistatic function
  • Blade changes are easier and safer using the fastfix system which locks…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 04:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

Festool has the most variations in track saws of any manufacturer. And they also feature a top notch reputation and distribution channel (read: warranty and repairs).

But first, for some metric clarity, the 55 vs. 75 models is simply the maximum depth of cut (2-1/8″ vs. 3″). 

So with that in mind the 6-1/4″ blade on the Festool 55 will cut just about all the plywood and hardwood you can throw at it. And, with Festool having a long history of being a top tool provider you’ll gain all the features noted below.

Key Features

As you’d expect in the professional category, Festool will give you all the features of the top DIY track saw and then some:

  • 1200 watt motor with variable speed and electronic speed management for constant speed
  • Cut depth of 2-1/8″ (55mm)
  • Retractable riving knives, splinter guards, plunge operation
  • 6-1/4″ blade (48 teeth, ATB)
  • Systainer carrying case
  • FastFix system for blade changing that locks the arbor and switch at the same time

Accessories

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 04:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Festool TS 75 Professional Track Saw

Festool 575389 Plunge Cut Track Saw Ts 75…
  • When used with Festool guide rails, you can achieve perfectly straight and…
  • Spring-loaded riving knife (splitter) keeps the cut kerf open so that the…
  • This reduces the chance of kickback.
  • The slip clutch helps to minimize the risk of a kickback and minimizes wear…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 05:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The TS 75 is almost identical to the TS 55 with the exception of a larger blade (stepping up to a 8-1/4″) and a 1600 watt motor to power deeper cuts.

When would you need that type of depth?  

While I’ve trimmed countless full size oak doors with a smaller circular saw, every now and then I’ve ran into a full size exterior door that tops the 2-1/8″ of the standard TS 55. So, trim carpenters that are looking for a do-everything saw may justify the extra cost and weight.

Mafell MT 55 cc Professional Track Saw

Mafell is another German made saw, and is arguably better than the Festool based on reviews and user reports. However, where Festool has major distribution channels, and thus better parts availability, you’ll have to go to a few specialty dealers like Timberwolf Tools or other sources. 

Best Cordless Track Saws

When it comes to cordless track saws you’ll be able to take your saw on the road and do creative things like cut that sheet of plywood down before transporting it. And with these saws featuring dust collection bags vs. attached dust collectors you can be free of two cords and not just one.

Festool TSC 55 Cordless Track Saw (Best Overall)

Festool 201394 TSC 55 REB Basic 18V Cordless Track…
  • Guide rail precision – a perfect cut the first time, every time, with…
  • Splinter-free cutting—splinter guards on both sides of the blade ensure…
  • Go where the work is—not only can you replace large, stationary equipment…
  • Ec-tec motor – Brushless ec-tec motor on the tsc 55 Reb has Robust…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 08:26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Festool TSC 55 is almost identical to its corded counterpart with the exception of a dual 18/36V  battery system powering the blade. You’ll have the same track, same splinter guard and accuracy of the Festool lineup just in a cord-free design.

And, since your dust extractor won’t always be around, you can use the supplied dust bag to catch the dust you’ll generate. While not as slick as the dust extractor, a viable option.

Makita XPS01PTJ Cordless Plunge Track Saw (Best Value)

Makita XPS01PTJ 5.0Ah 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion (36V)…
  • Powered by two LXT batteries; x2 LXT technology delivers more power, speed…
  • Makita built electronically controlled BL Brushless motor delivers 6, 300…
  • Automatic speed change technology adjusts cutting speed and torque during…
  • Variable speed control dial (2, 500 – 6, 300 RPM) for optimum performance…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 09:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

At $350-400 at most retailers for just the tool and around $500 MSRP with two batteries it’s impossible to find a better rated and reviewed cordless track saw.

Features, as expected, are overall very close to the corded Makita saw. However, if you are debating a corded vs. cordless saw at this price point you’re very close to the base Festool price. Which, by all reviews and specifications is the superior tool.

Dewalt FlexVolt Cordless Track Saw

DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Circular Saw, 6-1/2-Inch,…
  • Zero clearance TrackSaw(TM) cutting system delivers straight,…
  • For use with TrackSaw(TM) dual edged tracks for perfectly straight cuts
  • Continuous Anti-Kickback mechanism and riving knife prevent kickback when…
  • Straight plunge mechanism for optimal ergonomics

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 09:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to cordless tools the decision is first this: do you already own the battery ecosystem? Since these cordless saws will use batteries you already own the $150-200 savings there can override any overall tool performance.

Other than the battery power, you’ll find the Dewalt FlexVolt track saw to be comparable. 

And like most cordless saws the blade provide can be thinner kerf and reduce cut quality. So, many users have upgraded to a standard track saw blade (48 tooth, ultra fine ATB).

Budget Track Saws

All of this sounds great, but maybe you’re thinking to yourself I don’t have $400 to spend on another saw.

Well, there are two options to consider:

  • A budget track saw
  • Converting your existing circular saw to a track saw

WEN CT1065 Budget Track Saw

WEN CT1065 10-Amp 6.5-Inch Plunge Cut Sidewinder…
  • Ditch the table saw: rip boards up to 2-1/3 inches thick with clean,…
  • Create 45-degree bevel cuts in boards up to 1-5/8 inches thick
  • Perfect for ripping boards or for performing internal plunge cuts
  • Includes a 6.5-inch 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade (165 mm) with a 20 mm…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 09:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For about 25% of the cost of other track saws WEN offers up an entry-level saw that is, for many, an alternative to a table saw and circular saw all in one.

With the same track system (costing almost as much as the saw, of note) and plunge capability you’ll have a way to start breaking down plywood and even doing edge cuts.

While this saw is not as well built as a Makita or Festool overall reports on the saw are good.

A few things of note:

  • Check into other tracksPowertec   or even Makita are reported to work better than the WEN track.
  • The blade makes the saw. And, Makita or Festool have premium blades. So, rather than let an inferior blade ruin your cut you’ll want to consider a Makita 6-1/2 inch blade  after you try out the WEN’s stock blade.

Kreg Accu-cut Track Saw Conversion

Circular Saw Track (Circular Saw Track)
  • Rip, crosscut, and make angled cuts up to 50″ Long in plywood, MDF, and…
  • Simply align the guide Track with your marks to make accurate cuts
  • Hold track in place without clamps thanks to anti-slip guide strips
  • Prevent splintering with anti-chip strips that support material during the…

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 04:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Almost all woodworkers own a circular saw.

So why can’t I just convert my saw to a track saw, you might be asking?

Well, you can. But you won’t have the design and features of a higher grade track saw like the anti-kickback, riving knife or splinter guards. But, here’s what you can get with a saw track conversion kit:

  • Support for almost any saw – left or right handed
  • Rip up to 48″ sheets of plywood
  • Clamp-free with duel gripping edges
  • Reduced splintering

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a track saw replace a table saw?

While a track saw can replace a table saw, it’s best used to complement a table saw for cutting plywood. A table saw is best for ripping lumber to width, where a track saw is best for cutting large sheets of plywood.

What do I use under the track saw to not cut my bench?

While not obvious until you use it, most DIY’ers and professionals use a sheet of 2″ thick foam as the base for their cutting. At 2″ thick it’s highly unlikely, if properly set, you’ll ever have your saw cut through your material AND the foam.

Is a track saw better than a circular saw?

A circular is better than a track saw at making rapid cross-gain cuts in dimensional lumber. Whereas a track saw is far superior in making high quality rips and crosscuts in plywood sheets due to it’s splinter free blade and built-in straightedge.

Summary

Most experienced woodworkers regret not buying a track saw sooner. 

Because you’ll have the freedom of not muscling 50-75 pound sheets of plywood on a table saw you can improve cut quality, reduce waste, and in most cases work safer. 

Track Saws on Amazon

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 09:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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