If your shop space is as small as mine, then you know that space for new tools can be at an absolute premium. When I add a tool to the mix, it has to be compact and fit an absolute need. Lately, my research has been for the best track saw to add to my tool arsenal.
Even though the concept of the track saw isn’t new (at the end of the day, it’s just a circular saw and a straight edge), the tool itself is relatively new to the woodworking world.
Track saws are specially built circular saws that can be locked into a straight edge track system. This allows you to make perfectly straight cuts, primarily on sheet goods. These saws are also great for trimming wider glue-ups or slabs.
For some woodworkers, the track saw has completely replaced their table saw. While I couldn’t justify taking that extreme of a step, the track saw is a tool that I will be adding to my collection relatively soon.
What to Look for in the Best Track Saw
When looking for a track saw to buy, these are a few of the common areas that can separate some of the best track saws from the rest.
Most track saws cut to a depth of between 2 inches to 3 inches. If you anticipate only using the track saw for cutting sheet goods, this won’t be much of an issue. But if you plan on using the saw for trimming slabs or large glue-ups like butcher block countertop or cutting boards, the extra half-inch can mean the difference in making these cuts in a single pass.
If you already own a set of track or a plunge cut circular saw and are looking to complete the system then pay attention to the compatibility of the components.
Some tracks are designed to be used across multiple brands while others may only work with a single saw model. Often you can buy compatibility kits to to attached circular saws or plunge saws to incompatible tracks but that just leads to one extra tool and potential degrees of inaccuracy.
If you ever anticipate needing to make miter cuts for installations like waterfall tables then having a track saw with miter capabilities is a must. Most track saws can tilt to at least 45 degrees but it still pays to double check that the saw you are looking at offers this option.
Circular saws and track saws can make a huge mess in the shop if they aren’t hooked up to a dust collection system. I typically try to cut all of my sheet goods near an open garage door or outside if weather permits as I hate filling the shop with all the plywood dust that these cuts create.
Many newer models of track saws feature built in dust collection ports which makes a huge difference for keeping the shop clean.
When cutting longer pieces of wood the risk is always present of the board binding on the saw. This can create a kickback hazard which, if your hand is place behind the saw, can create a very dangerous situation. Check that the track saw you are looking at features either a built in riving knife or slip clutch mechanism.
Corded or Cordless
With so many tools going cordless it is a good time to add the track saw to the mix as well. One of my biggest woodworking pet peeves is having to drag a cord along the length of a cut when breaking down sheet goods. Not having to worry about that with a cordless track saw is a huge bonus in my book.
Does the saw you’re buying come with any track or enough track to cut an entire sheet of plywood, or will you need to buy additional sections? This can be a deciding factor when pricing out two models that may meet all of your other criteria.
On the other hand, if you don’t forsee needing a full 100-inch track, then a shorter model may just fit the bill for you.
While almost all of the track saws come equipped with a standard 6 1/2 inch blade, some mini track saws come in a significantly smaller size. These mini options typically come with a 4 1/2 inch blade and can only cut to a depth of around an inch.
If you only need to break down thinner and shorter materials for projects like CNC signs, these compact track saws may fit your need.
Variable Speed Control
With variable speed controls, you can set the saw speed to best match the material being cut. This can be especially helpful in cutting materials like aluminum or acrylic.
Although track clamps aren’t included in most of the kits we’ll be mentioning below they are extremely helpful to pick up. Track clamps are specially made to recess within the track so, unlike C clamps or F clamps you may normally use, they won’t stick up above the track and impede the saw.
The Best Track Saw Options
Best Overall Track Saw: DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Cordless TrackSaw
The Dewalt Flexvolt Max cordless track saw takes home the honors in our rankings for the best track saw and best cordless track saw.
This track saw kit comes with everything you need to get started using the saw including the powerful Dewalt Flexvolt track saw, battery, charger, and 59-inch track. Additional track is also available so the saw can be used to cut full-length sheets of plywood.
The saw itself includes every feature that I’m looking for in a track saw. The plunge cut circular saw can cut bevels up to 47 degrees with a cut depth of 1 5/8 inches, while the saw’s cut depth at 90 degrees is 2 1/8 inches. There is a built-in 1 1/4 inch dust port on the saw that can be hooked up to a shop vac for dust collection.
The saw is built with both a riving knife and anti-kickback technology. This is extremely important when cutting thicker hardwoods as the wood can potentially pinch the blade creating a dangerous situation.
The fact that this saw is cordless is also a huge bonus, as dragging a cord along the length of a cut is always such a pain. If you already are in the DeWalt cordless ecosystem, then this saw is a no brainer.
With all that said, there are a few minor downsides to this saw. The bevel feature doesn’t include positive stops at commonly used angles like 22.5 and 45 degrees. Some people hate these stops as they might not always be 100% accurate, but I find them useful.
The saw also doesn’t have a scoring depth setting. Scoring the wood with a first cut pass can reduce tear-out and splinters, especially on pre-finished plywood. The blade can be set manually to a scoring depth, but this is a nice feature found on a few other track saw models.
Best Corded Track Saw: Makita 6-1/2 Inch Plunge Circular Saw Kit with 55 Inch Guide Rail
The Makita track saw is also an extremely solid track saw with a ton of amazing reviews. Like the DeWalt, this saw comes with almost every feature you would need on a track saw.
The cutting capacity on the saw at 90 and 45 degrees is 2 3/16 and 1 9/16 inches, respectively. The saw includes a built-in 1 1/4 inch dust port, variable speed controls for cutting a variety of materials, and a 48-degree bevel capacity with positive stops at 22.5 and 45 degrees.
The saws motor features an electronic speed control function that maintains the blade speed through the entire cut.
One knock on this saw is the lack of safety features. The Makita track saw does not include a riving knife, which, for many people, won’t be an issue, but I would like to have one included as an option.
Best Budget Track Saw: Kreg ACS2000 Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
It can be a little odd to see Kreg listed in the power tool category as, for many people, Kreg makes pocket hole jigs and that is it.
Well, it turns out they also make a really solid track saw kit as well. Their track saw is quite a bit lighter than many of the other options on the market which makes this a great option if portability is an important factor for you.
Overall, the saw offers many of the standard features found on the other saws. It has a cut depth of 2 1/8 and 1 1/2 inches at 90 and 45 degrees. It has built in safety features to prevent binding and kickback.
Kreg also is one of the most popular sellers for aftermarket stand-alone tracks. So if you already own their track, you can quickly drop in this saw, creating a complete setup.
Best Top of the Line Track Saw: Festool TS 75 REQ-F Plus FS
Festool is known for producing top of the line woodworking tools and their track saw is no exception.
The Festool TS 75 is one of the most powerful and technologically advanced saws on the market. This track saw can cut materials just shy of 3 inches thick. This is significantly more than most other track saws.
When hooked up to a dust collection system, this saw produces almost zero dust, which helps keep your shop or job site clean.
The saws slip clutch and spring loaded riving knife help to reduce binding and kickback when cutting through hardwoods.
If you’re looking for a top of the line tool to add to your collection then this saw is a great option.
Track Saw Alternatives
If you already own a circular saw and want to produce straight cuts on sheet goods but aren’t ready to splurge on a track saw, then there are a few good options.
Edge Guide – Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide
The Kreg rip-cut edge guide is an affordable option that connects to your existing circular saw. So long as you have a flat reference surface on one edge of the wood the guide rides along that edge to create a perfectly straight cut.
Note that this system maxes out at 24 inches wide so if you need to crosscut plywood at a deeper depth then this might not be the best option.
This track system looks just like the track for a plunge cut saw except for the adaptor that holds a normal circular saw. Note that this setup isn’t compatible with every model of circular saw so check that it will fit yours.
DIY Track for a Circular Saw
This option is one that I have used numerous times over the years with great success. There are a ton of different variations of these DIY setups so take some time to browse Youtube to find the one that best meets your needs.
Final Thoughts on the Best Track Saw
Track saws are a handy tool for the shop if you find yourself frequently breaking down sheet goods or have a smaller shop when running them through the table saw just isn’t an option. I hope these recommendations help you narrow down your search for a new track saw to add to your tool arsenal.