With the recent release of Milwaukee’s M18 Track Saw and the growing popularity of track saws beyond carpenters and woodworking enthusiasts, the question arises: why do you need a track saw? While some may argue that a circular saw with a straight edge or table saw can get the job done, a track saw offers unmatchable accuracy and efficiency. So, let’s explore the key benefits of using a track saw and discuss some popular models available on the market to see what all the hype is about!

The Guide Rail System

A track saw’s main advantage lies in its guide rail system. By attaching the guide rail securely to your workpiece, you eliminate the need for measuring, marking, and manually keeping the saw in line and on track. The saw effortlessly glides along the rail, allowing you to make long, straight cuts with absolute precision. With guide rails that now can exceed 8′ long and connect with additional tracks as needed, this feature allows you to make as long of a straight cut as you need, and saves time and effort while ensuring flawless cuts that require minimal or no additional finishing. 

Reduced Tear-Out and Splintering

A common complaint with traditional circular saws is that they can often cause tear-out and leave rough edges, especially when cutting materials like plywood or veneered boards. With a track saw, the guide rail supports the material throughout the cut, minimizing tear-out and giving you clean, professional-looking edges. The blade spinning upward instead of downward contributes to this reduced tear-out and splintering, and allows you to move along with the rest of your project without having to clean up any edges.

Additional Features and Models

Apart from making straight cuts with precision, track saws often come with additional features to enhance their versatility. One of arguably the most popular brands in the woodworking world is Festool, known for their superior-quality and performance. Some of Festool’s lineup includes models such as the:

Festool Plunge Cut 6-1/4″ Track Saw TS 55 FEQ-F Plus (576708), equipped with a robust 1,200 watt motor that delivers consistent power for cutting through a variety of materials–including solid wood, plywood, melamine, and more. This track saw excels at plunge cutting, allowing you to start cuts in the middle of a material with ease. The plunge mechanism enables you to create precise and clean cutouts, grooves, and recesses. The TS 55 FEQ-F Plus is compatible with Festool’s entire guide rail system, which ensures straight and splinter-free cuts over longer distances, minimizing the risk of veering off course. The Festool Fast Fix system enables quick and tool-free blade changes. With a simple lever, you can swap out blades effortlessly during projects that require different types of cuts or materials. This track saw also incorporates Festool’s Splinter Guard technology, which helps prevent splinting and tear-out during cuts. Paired with Festool’s exceptional dust extraction system, you can easily maintain a clean work environment, improve visibility, and prolong the life of your saw and blades. While the TS 55 has been Festool’s shining star for some time now, they have recently released a newer TS 60 K model (577422) with even more features and Kickback Stop!

Festool Plunge Cut Track Saw TS 55 FEQ-F Plus

Festool TS 75 EQ-F-Plus Plunge Cut Track Saw (576118), equipped with a super powerful 1,600 watt motor, the TS 75 EQ-F-Plus delivers consistent performance even under heavy loads. Like the TS 55 FEQ-F Plus, this track saw features a plunge design, allowing you to start your cuts in the middle of a workpiece rather than from the edge. With a larger blade diameter of 8-¼” (210mm), the TS 75 EQ-F-Plus offers a generous cutting capacity. It can effortlessly handle a wide range of materials, including solid wood, plywood, melamine, and laminates. Whether you need to make rip cuts, crosscuts, or bevel cuts, this track saw is designed to work seamlessly with Festool’s guide rail system for the smoothest long cuts possible. The TS 75 EQ-F-Plus can also be easily attached and detached from the guide rail, allowing for quick and efficient setup. 

Festool TS 75 EQ-F-Plus Plunge Cut Track Saw

Festool 18V Cordless 6-¼” TSC 55 KEBI-F Plus Cordless Track Saw w/ Kickback Stop (576718), powered by an 18V lithium-ion battery, this cordless option offers the freedom to move around without being constrained by a power cord. The 5.2Ah battery included in the kit provides long-lasting power and reduces downtime. The TSC 55 KEBI-F Plus features a 6-¼“ blade size, making it suitable for cutting a wide range of materials, including wood, plywood, and other sheet goods. The saw is equipped with a high-performance brushless motor, which delivers consistent power and extends the tool’s overall lifespan. One standout feature of this saw is the Kickback Stop technology, which helps to prevent kickback and detects the saw’s movement to stop the motor in a fraction of a  second, reducing the risk of possible injuries.

Festool 18V Cordless 6-1/4″ TSC 55 KEBI-F Plus Cordless Track Saw (5.2Ah) Kit

Last but not least, the Festool 18V Cordless Track Saw HKC 55 Li EBI-Plus US Kit (576167), equipped with a brushless EC-TEC motor that provides extended overall lifespan of the tool. Also powered by a 5.2Ah lithium-ion battery, this cordless track saw offers the freedom of movement and convenience that comes with being battery-powered, including extended operating time and reduced downtime. The HKC 55 Li EBI-Plus US features a 6-¼“ blade size, making it suitable for a wide range of cutting applications. It excels in cutting wood, plywood, and other sheet goods with precision and efficiency, whether you need to make rip cuts, crosscuts, or bevel cuts. This track saw is also compatible with the full guide rail system as well and features a plunge design to start anywhere while cutting. What makes the HKC model unique is that when coupled with Festool’s FSK Guide Rails with integrated angle stops, HK saws bring a higher degree of efficiency, repeatability, accuracy, and quality of cut. This saw also features a 0 – 50° angular range, while the TSC 55 is -1 – 47 °.

Festool 18V Cordless Track Saw HKC 55 Li EBI-Plus US (5.2Ah) Kit

Each of these models offer varying cutting depths, plunge-cutting capabilities, and compatibility with Festool’s guide rail system. While Festool is widely regarded as a top choice for any woodworking tool, it is designed as a premium brand for professional woodworkers, so it comes at a higher price tag. If you don’t necessarily need the same tools as the pros but are looking for other amazing options, reputable brands like Bosch, DeWalt, and Milwaukee also offer their own track saw solutions, providing options for users already on their battery platforms.

Bosch’s Track Saw 6-½ Precision Saw with Plunge Action & Carrying Case (GKT13-225L), is equipped with a robust 13-amp motor that delivers ample power for cutting through various materials. This motor ensures consistent performance, even when dealing with dense or tough woods. This track saw offers remarkable cutting accuracy, thanks to its dual counterbalance plunging system, which helps minimize blade deflection and ensures straight, splinter-free cuts. The track saw has a bevel capacity of up to 47°, providing the flexibility to make bevel cuts for a wide range of applications. It also incorporates an adjustable glide plate, which ensures smooth movement along the track and reduces friction during cutting. This track saw is designed to work seamlessly with Bosch’s FSN track system, allowing for accurate and guided cuts over long distances. It also includes a dust extraction port that can be connected to a vacuum system to effectively capture and remove dust during cutting. 

Bosch also has cordless options as part of their newer PROFACTOR 18V line. The Brushless Plunge Cut 5-1/2″ Track Saw (GKT18V-20GCL) is a compact option that can easily accomplish close-to-wall cuts with its minimum distance between the blade and the wall at only 0.4″. This saw delivers precise and clean cuts in wood and wood-based sheet goods such as laminated particle boards and plywood, and has beveling, overload protection, and speed-setting control features. Similarly, the Brushless Strong Arm 7-1/4″ Track Compatible Circular Saw (GKS18V-25GCB14) is a powerful cordless option with a larger blade and a powerful 2-1/2″ cutting capacity, with the ability to power through 2X material across the entire 50° bevel range. Both cordless options can be used with or without Bosch’s tracks.

If you’re on the DeWalt platform, the FLEXVOLT 60V MAX 6-½ Brushless Plunge Track Saw (DCS520B) comes equipped with their FLEXVOLT brushless motor technology, providing increased power and longer tool life compared to traditional brushed motors. This cordless track saw is powered by a 60V MAX lithium-ion battery (must be a FLEXVOLT battery–you can learn more about that here), providing ample power for a variety of cutting tasks. This track saw features a 6-½” blade size, making it suitable for wood, plywood, and other sheet goods. One of the standout features is its low-profile blade guard that allows saw to be used in confined spaces and a continuous anti-kickback mechanism and riving knife to prevent kick-back when engaged. The track saw also features a straight plunge mechanism for optimal ergonomics and is compatible with DeWalt’s zero clearance TRACKSAW dual-edged tracks for perfectly straight cuts in both directions. 

DeWalt FLEXVOLT 60V MAX 6-½” Brushless Plunge Track Saw

And to wrap things up with the one that brought on all of this recent attention, we have Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL 6-½” Plunge Track Saw (2831-20), equipped with a brushless POWERSTATE motor and powered by Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL technology. The Kit includes a high output XC6.0 lithium-ion battery to deliver outstanding power and runtime, but it is compatible with any M18 REDLITHIUM battery. This cordless track saw features a 6-½” blade making it suitable for cutting wood, plywood, and other sheet goods. The powerful motor can rip solid hardwoods and features a variable speed dial for added control. This track saw also ensures straight and controlled cuts over extended distances and incorporates an electronic anti-kickback function, and smooth, pivoting plunge motion for precision plunge cuts with an accurate depth of cut. 

Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL 6 ½” Plunge Track Saw Kit

The Importance of Accessories

To maximize the benefits of a track saw, it is essential to consider the accompanying accessories. Guide rails, clamps, connectors, and other accessories play a crucial role in optimizing the functionality of track saws. Compatibility between different brands is generally favorable, allowing you to mix and match accessories based on their needs, but most saws are designed to be the most efficient with their accompanying accessories.

When deciding on the most suitable track saw for your needs, it can be challenging to navigate the various models available. To help you make an informed choice based on your specific requirements and budget, here are some essential considerations to keep in mind: blade size, speed settings, bevel capacity, motor power, corded (and cord length) vs. cordless, track length, and safety features. By considering each of these factors, you can confidently select the best track saw for your projects, ensuring efficient and precise cuts while prioritizing your specific needs and preferences. 

While a track saw is not a mandatory tool on every job site, it provides unmatched accuracy and efficiency for a wide range of woodworking projects and is a great tool to add to your arsenal. By eliminating the need for measuring, marking, and manually guiding the saw, a track saw simplifies the cutting process and delivers flawless results. With reduced tear-out and splintering, track saws offer clean edges, saving time on additional finishing work. Whether you choose a Festool, Bosch, DeWalt, Milwaukee, or any other model, investing in a track saw will undoubtedly enhance your woodworking capabilities and lead to more precise and efficient cuts. And if you’ve still got questions or would like a personal recommendation, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’re always happy to help. You can contact us at cs@ohiopowertool.com or give us a call at 614-481-2111 with any questions, comments, or concerns. Plus, be sure to follow us on all your favorite social media channels to stay in the know on all the latest announcements, deals, news, and more!