- Jan 1, 2018
The best plan for a track saw if you ask me is to plan to whip your credit card out. Lol.. Between the aluminum extrusions, plunge mechanisms, and advanced dust collection designs, DIY is not really an efficient use of resources even for someone with access to a machine shop. You can make a straight edge fence system for a circular saw, but it won't be a true track/plunge saw with the same benefits. Yes a track saw is expensive, and it shouldn't be so expensive, but the alternative diy version is not a perfect substitute. I think good budget options are available as well: Even though the Ryobi is not a great track saw compared to the rest, I've seen it on clearance for under $200 with tracks for cordless, then the Wen with Powertec tracks is a decent option (corded and cordless available), followed in price by Kreg, then Makita, then of course there are the premium brands like Festool and Mafell. DeWalt and Milwaukee have their versions too, but I would personally recommend sticking with a brand that uses Festool style tracks like the ones I mentioned previously.
One of the many advantaged of a tracksaw is that you put the edge of the track across 2 points and go. The sacrificial rubber edge is made by the blade so the saw blade cuts exactly where the sacrificial rubber edge hits the measurement point.
Another advantage of a track saw is that there is pretty much no way the saw can twist while making a cut so the cut is perfectly straight all the way across. I could never achieve this with a circular saw and clamped straight edge. Most of the time I don't need to clamp the track saw clamp.
I agree with aluminum. The best option is to go out and buy a proven lower end track saw like the Makita. Like I said above, I bought a top of the line Mafell tracksaw, which I love, but I would have been just as well off with the much less expensive Makita.
I too would like to make my own track saw! But my purpose will be for making occasional cuts in Steel and Stone. I will start out with an off the shelf track and machine a base plate for a slow RPM saw suitable for cutting steel. I will use the same for a wet stone saw. My Mafell would probably handle both these needs but I paid too damn much to use it for such work!
Then, of course, there is the plunge capability of the commercial track saws. Why do we have this? How often do you guys actually start a cut in the middle of the board? Personally, I think I could live without the plunge.