Perfecting your woodworking skills means investing in the tools that align with the requirements of your projects. So if you’re wondering whether a track saw or a table saw should be the next addition to your tool kit, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll outline both tools’ main advantages and disadvantages and hopefully clear up any lingering confusion, enabling you to make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn more.
- What Is a Track Saw?
- What Is a Table Saw?
- Track Saw vs. Table Saw: What to Consider When Making Your Final Decision
- Track Saw vs. Table Saw: No Wrong Choices
Tracks saws are often described as more advanced circular saws. The two main elements of the tool are the saw and its metal track. These components take the guesswork out of cutting since the track points to where the blade enters the wood. All users have to do is sketch out the cutting pattern on the surface area and follow it with the track saw. The blade will glide through the wood smoothly.
To help you determine whether a track saw is the right choice for you, let’s look at its significant benefits.
The track adds extra stability to the saw and allows it to make extremely clean angular, straight, and crosscuts. In addition, the metal track makes the saw easy to use. With other portable saws, making precise cuts requires marking the cutting shape and bringing the blade to the outlined part of the wood. Using a track saw simplifies the process, and you can place the blade over the initial cutting spot and begin ripping through the wood.
Depending on the demands of your projects, you might need to work from different locations. Durable and compact, a track saw is a portable tool you can move from your garage to a new site and complete your project outdoors.
Additionally, it boosts productivity since you won’t be tied to a specific workshop to resaw materials. You can pick up the machine and get to work whenever you have spare time, no matter your location. This feature makes track saws attractive options to construction workers. They sometimes have to juggle several jobs, so a portable saw they can carry on-site bumps their efficiency.
You’re forced to operate on a time-crunch with stationary saws since they must remain in the designated work area. This is a non-issue with track saws which engender better time management by allowing you to work on your projects whenever and wherever you want.
When choosing the appropriate power tool, you also need to consider how much space it will take up. If you have a small garage or haven’t yet built a designated workshop, a track saw might be the way to go. Of course, it should also match the requirements of your woodworking projects. When they involve cutting plywood panels and other sheet goods like wood wool boards, a track saw will get the job done in confined spaces.
Saws need to be handled with caution as they’re powerful tools that can cause severe damage and injury when improperly operated. However, a track saw is one of the safer woodworking options. It comes with protective covers that go over the blades, allowing you to monitor their movement and minimizing the risk of accidents.
The unobscured view of the blades means that you can stop sawing whenever you feel uncomfortable and assume a more secure position. However, you might experience kickback when the tool jerks back towards you when mishaps occur. Most track saws have a locking mechanism that keeps the blades in place when there’s kickback, reducing the possibility of personal injury.
If you have limited woodworking experience, you’re probably looking for a reliable budget-friendly tool to hone your skills. The track prevents the blade from slipping, so you’ll be able to master a smooth cutting technique safely.
To better understand how a track saw works, let’s look at the most notable drawbacks.
Once fully set up, most users have little difficulty maneuvering this handheld tool. But you might have trouble assembling it.
The setup process may differ depending on the manufacturer, but it generally involves checking that only the blades’ teeth are exposed. When too much of the blade peeks through the protective cover, you risk damaging it. You’ll not only end up with rough, asymmetrical cuts but also possibly injure yourself.
A power saw’s usefulness is primarily determined by its motor power. While newbies can learn to operate a track saw without much difficulty, they must ensure their model provides enough cutting power. A decent track saw should be able to cut through large boards accurately. A weak motor leads to irregular edges that degrade the integrity of the workpiece.
Furthermore, the struggle to make the tool work may lead to equipment damage and costly repairs. To ensure your tracks saw has sufficient strength, look for a model whose motor power is 9 Amp or higher.
Table saws are stationary tools best suited for larger projects where you need to work with sizeable wood pieces. When used correctly, a table saw boasts unmatched accuracy, and its consistent performance enables users to make various complex cuts in thicker materials. However, using this powerful machine requires moderate to advanced technical knowledge since you must manually feed the wood into the saw.
Here are the main reasons investing in a table saw is a great idea.
Although a track saw gives the workpiece clean and defined edges, it lacks the support necessary for cutting the wood panel’s center. But using a table saw resolves this issue, and the motor provides the device with enough power to go through thicker plywood slabs or logs.
Thanks to its multipurpose nature, the tool can smooth out the edges of your workpiece, leaving an even finish. In addition, the table underneath the hardwood pieces adds stability to the machine so that thicker slabs leave the blade unscathed.
The tool’s maximum cutting depth is between three and four inches, depending on its make and model. This feature allows a table saw to make demanding cuts without stalling or malfunctioning when paired with increased torque.
Since table saws are stationary machines, you have to push the workpiece into the blade to achieve the desired results. Due to its strong motor, you’ll need to use additional equipment to tackle hardwood, more rigid plastic, and other thick materials. For a smooth cut, it’s essential to align the workpiece and the saw’s fence. While other saws offer no option of modifying their operation, placing a feather board against the wood piece will enable you to push hardwood panels through the saw quickly.
Featherboards act as a woodworking assistant that gives you a better grip on the workpiece, holding it tightly against the table fence.
Perhaps what draws amateurs and professionals to table saws is their efficiency in making rip cuts. The only other tool that enables you to cut wood lengthwise is a circular saw. However, using a circular saw for ripping is time-consuming and could leave the wood riddled with irregularities.
Additionally, if you’re working with a smaller model, you might need an extra set of hands to steady thicker panels. But most manufacturers offer models with a larger table so that the tool will rip boards quickly.
Let’s go over the significant drawbacks of a table saw and give you a clear picture of how they work.
For inexperienced woodworkers, operating a table saw is often a steep learning curve. To avoid severe injuries, users need to be extremely careful when pushing the wood into the blade. Most manufacturers have developed high-tech features such as blade covers and emergency sensors to boost user safety. However, the precautionary features are sometimes overpowered by the strength of the saw’s motor.
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned woodworker, it’s recommended that you always don protective gloves and goggles. They’ll shield you from the exposed blade and wood debris.
A table saw might make your trips more stressful if you intend to work from different locations. Assembling the saw takes time and effort, and your vehicle should have enough storage to hold the disassembled parts. While some models come with portable stands, these items are often bulky and challenging to transport. In addition, unless you’re driving a van, moving the table saw is tiresome for most people and could take several hours to re-assemble.
Both tools are popular among woodworkers of varying skill levels, but several aspects will influence your final decision. We’ll provide a few pointers to help you find the ideal tool.
A track saw might be your perfect match if:
- Your projects include creating straight cuts across thinner wood pieces.
- You don’t have a large workshop and need a compact and portable tool with decent cutting power.
- You want to practice your skills on an easy-to-use machine before upgrading to a more powerful option.
- You’re looking for a reliable and budget-friendly tool.
A table saw may tick your boxes if:
- You often work with thicker wood slabs.
- You want an effective method of making center, edge, rip, and angle cuts.
- You plan on using the saw in a spacious workshop.
- You have no budget restrictions.
Both tools are indispensable pieces of woodworking equipment but are used to achieve different results. Now that you’re familiar with their benefits and drawbacks, it’s up to you to determine which saw meets your needs. Unless you have several projects under your belt, it’s best to stick to a track saw. However, a table saw is the way to go if you’re ready to take your skills to the next level and work on complex tasks.