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Thread: A New Table Saw or Track Saw?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
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    A New Table Saw or Track Saw?

    I have the Bosch 4100 Contractor's Table Saw or whatever it was called when I got it 4 years ago. When I finish what I'm working on (built-in bookcases), the next projects in the foreseeable future are all cabinets, built-ins everywhere. The Bosch has been great, but it's small, and it does get bogged down in hardwoods regularly. Just this week I discovered that my fence creeps away from the blade after many passes, so now I have to clamp the fence down to be sure it doesn't move. My biggest problem is handling sheet goods. I have to (obviously) break them down into manageable pieces before I can carry them to the Bosch. So I've been thinking I really need a real full-sized table saw. But then I was thinking maybe the Festool track saw would solve most of my problems at least with sheet goods, and I wouldn't have to cut everything twice.

    What does my esteemed audience think?
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Escondido, CA
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    5,173
    Tracksaw. Lots of muscling with a table saw for sheet goods. Much easier with a tracksaw. Much easier!
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
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    Carol Reed....Tracksaw Yup right again.

    Put her on Let's make a deal & Monty Hall would have lost every time.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Wapakoneta, OH
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    611
    I bought the Festool (the only Festool I'll ever own) just for that purpose (sheet goods) and it can't be beat for that. You will need probably need more than one track (I suggest a 76" and a 55" for maximum versatility) but it's unparalleled for that use. The track saw can cut the sheets to finished size, and it has multiple other uses...I use mine as much for straight edging rough sawn lumber as anything. That said, I still see it as second fiddle to a good table saw. So while I hate deviate from the popular opinion I think, in your shoes, I'd try to upgrade my TS and keep a tracksaw in my sights as a future purchase. You can build a suitable track for a regular circ saw (if you have one) for the sheet goods, and even if your work is mostly cabinets, they still need face frames, doors, drawers, etc. All are done on the TS, and really need one with a good fence. Just my opinion......

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
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    I agree. Unless you are setup for it, dealing with sheet goods can be a challenge on the tablesaw. You could push your saw right over while working on a full sheet of 5/8" material. I do mine on the ground with a shop made guide. This rig is strictly for breaking things down to a manageable size and does not replace a precision guided system. This means I break down parts slightly over size and then have to cut to actual size on the tablesaw. This makes double work but, I do it so sporadically that this works for me. If I worked with sheet goods every other month or more, I would consider a different method. To get me through a kitchen or bedroom project, this saves me a lot of money.

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    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Get an after market fence for your saw to improve that issue, if you can. Then the track system. You will have the best of two worlds and probably at less money. As I recall, you are on the small size, like me. Shuffling sheet goods around is a bear! If you haul them home in the back of a truck, slide one off at a time onto a cutting platform, i.e., sawhorses with a waste board like 1" Styrofoam) Set up the tracksaw right there and make your cuts. Easy peasy. Glenn's suggestion is a good one! I used something like his until I invented my own, but I no longer manufacture it. Festool is good but pricey.

    Oops. Forgot you are in the frozen north. Have to get your sheets inside your shop before you can work on them. Hubby will need to help. I have a hoist and swing system to get a sheet horizontal. And a panel trolley to push them around upright on the long side. I also made a folding tilting fixture from a magazine's plan to get a sheet from vertical to horizontal at waist height. It works but I sure wouldn't brag about it! But then I can't get up and down all that well anymore!
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    190
    If you want a cheaper alternative to a tracksaw, I just got one of the Kreg RipCuts and really like it, for $35 it is really a nice tool I have only used a few times now, worked quite well, easy set up, and I got to use my own saw. . I don't often cut down large sheet goods, and since I have a ShopSmith don't always have my tablesaw set up. This fit the bill, and very cost effective, saved the cost of a tracksaw and as far as I can tell cuts just as straight.

    https://www.kregtool.com/store/c48/s.../rip-cuttrade/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Thomasville, GA
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    5,998
    I don't know how much room you have, but here's what I did to take care of sheet goods. When I laid out my shop, I allowed for an outfeed table, but also added a side support table that serves as my router table and holds the fence system. When I need to cut sheet goods, I remove the router fence (six 1/4-20 threaded inserts in the table). It gives me about 49" of support to the left of the blade. One could easily get by with 40-42" to the left of the blade.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Yorktown, Virginia
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    I have both, but the Festool track saw is my go to for sheet goods and straight lining rough cut lumber. I do not have the multifunction table and associated guides, but have been eying it. It appears to be perfect for accurately cutting cabinet parts.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Calver View Post
    I have both, but the Festool track saw is my go to for sheet goods and straight lining rough cut lumber. I do not have the multifunction table and associated guides, but have been eying it. It appears to be perfect for accurately cutting cabinet parts.
    Go for the table! I've had mine for a year or so, and have found it very useful - both for the saw, and as a clamping surface. Lee Valley has some 20mm bench dogs and other accessories for it, too.

    Last week, I had six bifold doors to cut down to accommodate the new hardwood flooring, and the job was the easiest ever using the track saw and the MFT. I set up a roller stand to support the door's overhang, put the door on the MFT and had them all cut within just a few minutes.

    Using the various clamps and dogs, it makes a great sanding table, too. I've also adapted a Lee Valley LED gooseneck lamp and a Foredom flex-shaft motor holder (using a Lee Valley adapter) to the MFT so I can do power carving on it, with the afore-mentioned clamps holding the work. It really IS a Multi Function Table (MFT)!
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

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