The Best Track Saws for DIYers and Pros
If you need help keeping your project on the right track, check out these cutting-edge saws.
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- BEST OVERALLMakita SP6000J1 6-1/2 Inch Plunge Circular Saw KitCheck Latest Price
- RUNNER-UPDEWALT Flexvolt 60V MAX 6-1/2 Inch Cordless TrackSawCheck Latest Price
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKSHOP FOX W1835 Track SawCheck Latest Price
Whether you’re ripping sheet goods or cutting long lengths of lumber to width, a track saw is often the way to go. Track saws operate on top of a workpiece instead of manipulating a wide sheet of wood through a table saw, making them a safe and accurate option for your next project.
Track saws have been around for a long time, but only in the past decade or so have they grown in popularity thanks to the DIY movement. These handy tools are a convenient way to make fast, accurate, repeatable cuts on types of products like plywood, lumber, and medium-density fiberboard. In many ways, the best track saw can take the place of a miter saw, table saw, and radial arm saw in one package.
The best track saws can be quickly clamped in place and provide incredibly accurate cuts. When shopping for a track saw, make sure to choose a high-quality product. Top-quality track saws, like the ones on the list below, are fast, reliable, and powerful enough to get the job done.
- BEST OVERALL: Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2 Inch Plunge Circular Saw Kit
- RUNNER-UP: DEWALT Flexvolt 60V MAX 6-1/2 Inch Cordless TrackSaw Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: SHOP FOX W1835 Track Saw
- UPGRADE PICK: Festool TS 55 REQ Plunge Cut Saw with T-Loc and Rail
- BEST PORTABILITY: Kreg Circular Saw Track
What to Consider When Buying a Track Saw
While track saws aren’t new, they’re relatively new to the home DIY scene, so you might not know enough about them to make an informed decision on the best track saw for your needs. Here are some tips to consider when shopping for a new track saw.
A track saw’s blade size has everything to do with the thickness of the material it can cut. Most track saws use 6½-inch blades and are capable of cutting a material around 2 inches thick. Track saws with larger blades, in the 8¼-inch range, cut a material closer to 2¾ inches thick. Miniature track saw models use blades 4½ inches in diameter, and they cut any material just larger than 1-inch thick.
Some of the best track saws feature speed settings, which is a differentiator compared to their circular saw counterparts. Controlling the speed allows the user to avoid burning the wood, dulling the saw blade, and creating more splinters than necessary. If a track saw features speed adjustments, they’re typically in the range of 2,000 RPM on the low end and 5,000 RPM on the high end. For a soft material, like framing lumber or pine plywood, the high-speed settings are best. It’s best to dial the speed down toward the lower end of the range for dense woods like locust or walnut. The lower speed helps prevent unsightly burn marks and keeps your blade in good cutting condition.
Track saws with adjustable bevels are far more flexible and versatile than other models. Most of a track saw’s duty consists of making 90-degree square cuts. However, the ability to make bevel cuts can save the user an extra step in the production process. Cutting 45-degree bevels on boards or sheet goods helps when building bookshelves or furniture, as it increases the surface area for better glue contact. It also creates a clean joint without the need for edge-banding to cover ugly plywood edges.
Corded track saws, like circular saws, should be powerful enough to get the job done. It’s difficult, though, to quantify their power in a useful way that the shopper can understand. Manufacturers have modeled most track saws after sidewinder-style circular saws, and they love to boast about amperages on their packaging. However, amperage actually pertains to the amount of electrical current the motor can draw without breaking down. It doesn’t directly represent power.
For cordless saws, the power is a little easier to judge based on the battery’s voltage rating. A 20V battery-operated saw will generally be more powerful than an 18V saw. There are exceptions to this rule, but this is a general guideline to follow.
Corded vs. Cordless
The debate has raged forever as to what’s better: corded or cordless tools. When it comes to a track saw, the saga continues.
On one hand, a corded saw will usually feel more powerful, and you don’t have to worry about changing batteries. That’s particularly helpful in the middle of a tough cut (like a thick piece of oak or walnut). Stopping in the middle of a cut to change the battery will always result in unsightly saw marks on the cut edge. On the other hand, a cordless saw doesn’t have a power cord to get hung up on the end of a lengthy board while you’re trying to rip it to width. This can also force you to stop to adjust the cord, resulting in the same unsightly marks.
Ultimately it comes down to what’s more important for the user: unlimited power (where power is available), or unlimited portability (as long as there are spare batteries on hand).
It might not seem like a big deal, but cord length can directly impact the usability of any circular saw, but especially a track saw. Roofers and framing carpenters often remove the standard cord on their circular saws and replace them with 25-foot cords just so they can avoid having to use an extension cord. With a track saw, the longer the cord, the more range you’ll have for manipulating long tracks and materials. You’ll almost always require an extension cord, but they can hang up. If your track saw uses a 6-foot cord but you’re cutting an 8-foot sheet of plywood, you might be pulling the extension cord with you as you cut. Eventually, the cord may hang up the end of the track.
Of course, this can be avoided altogether by hanging the cord off to either side of the workpiece, but still, a longer range will help keep the cord from hanging up on a workbench or sawhorse.
Tracks come in different lengths for obvious reasons. Crosscutting a 12-inch wide board is easy with a track saw, but it doesn’t require a 4-foot track. Similarly, ripping a plywood sheet is what track saws are best at, but a 4-foot track will be an inconvenience if it has to be reset halfway through the cut.
Resetting the track also adds a degree of error to the cut. If you’re not careful, you may end up with a long cut that isn’t as straight as you’d hoped. This negates the purpose of a track saw in the first place.
Some tracks are modular, and they’re great for job site work, this allows you to snap smaller lengths together and use them as a longer track. For the workshop, however, it’s best to have a 2-, 4-, and 8-foot track for quick and easy setup and consistent results.
Track saws are really just circular saws with specially designed bases that ride along a track. However, the very nature of a track saw makes it safer to use than a circular saw over long cuts. The track provides a predetermined path for the saw blade, so you’ll be able to look ahead and see if there are any obstacles that might cause kickback. Should the saw kickback, the cam locks featured in several models will stop the saw from pushing back at the user.
Many carpenters guide their circular saws by pinching the base with their free hand, potentially bringing their fingers close to a spinning blade. While these are experienced craftsmen who may have done this a thousand times, there’s always room for error. Track saws eliminate the need to guide the saw with a free hand, making it much safer for inexperienced users and pros alike.
Our Top Picks
While this article has given you a lot to consider when it comes to shopping for the best track saw, you might wonder which models are the best on the market. The following list of some of the best track saws out there can help you choose a high-quality saw that fits your needs and budget.
1. BEST OVERALL: Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2 Inch Plunge Circular Saw Kit
The Makita SP6000J1 Plunge Circular Saw Kit has everything a pro could want in a track saw. This kit comes with a 55-inch track, with additional tracks available if needed. The saw itself is where the kit really shines, however. This plunge saw has a 12-amp motor, bevels from -1 to 48 degrees (with positive stops at 0, 22.5, and 45 degrees), and has a depth of cut as much as 2-3/16 inches. It also has a depth-stop feature that engages with the flip of a lever and allows the user to make a quick pass across the material, cutting only 1/16 of an inch deep. This scores the material and avoids splintering. Best of all, users can adjust the speed between 2,000 and 5,200 RPM with a dial in the handle.
The Makita is a great saw and really doesn’t fall short anywhere. If there’s one complaint, it’s that an 8¼-inch blade would help it muscle through denser materials.
2. RUNNER-UP: DEWALT Flexvolt 60V MAX 6-1/2 Cordless TrackSaw Kit
The Cordless TrackSaw Kit from DEWALT is an excellent option for a DIYer, woodworker, or carpenter that needs a powerful saw in a cordless package. This saw uses DEWALT’s 60V batteries, which automatically adjust the voltage for the tool they’re clipped to. In this case, the TrackSaw uses 20V, which allows it to keep running longer than most battery-powered circular saws. It also features the ability to plunge cut allowing you to start your cut in the middle of a workpiece if needed. It uses a 6½-inch blade and bevels up to 47 degrees. This kit has a depth of cut of 2⅛ inches and speed adjustments between 1,750 and 4,000 RPM.
Keep in mind that the bevel action on this model doesn’t have any positive stops to lock it in place at any degree mark, which is a feature that some look for when shopping.
3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Shop Fox W1835 Track Saw
If you’re looking for a track saw but also like saving money, then Shop Fox has your answer. This track saw works with Shop Fox’s guide rail and plunge cuts materials up to 1-1/32 inches thick when on the track. This saw has a 9-amp motor that spins up to 5,500 RPM and bevels up to 45 degrees. It provides kickback protection as well.
There are a few areas where the Shop Fox falls short, which is why it’s so affordable. You have to purchase the track separately, there is no speed adjustment, and the cord is short, at just 6-feet long. Even with those drawbacks in mind, it’s a good tool at this price.
4. UPGRADE PICK: Festool TS 55 REQ Plunge Cut Saw with T-Loc and Rail
When it comes to power tools, you aren’t likely to find another company that puts more thought into their products than Festool. The TS 55 is a corded plunge cut track saw with over 2 inches of cutting depth. This saw stands out from the rest for many reasons, but specifically, its fine tooth saw blade makes it possible to cut through almost any material. It uses a 13-amp motor with adjustable speed control between 1,350 and 3,550 RPM. It can bevel from 0 to 45 degrees. It also has several safety features, including mechanisms to prevent pinching the blade and reduce the chance of kickback. It also features slow-start technology to keep the saw from jumping on startup.
The drawback is obvious—this saw is expensive. But for the price, you get an amazing quality tool from one of the top names in the track saw and power tool industry.
5. BEST PORTABILITY: Kreg Circular Saw Track
When it comes to job site tools, track saws tick the portability box. If you’re looking to keep your load light, however, adding a Kreg Circular Saw Track to your toolset can do the trick. The secret to this saw track is its universal sled that fits circular saws with blades on the right or the left, making it flexible for use with any saw and almost any sized blade. Once on the track, the sled guides the saw blade, maintaining a tight fit against the track to reduce splintering and increase accuracy. One of the Accu-Cut track’s best features is the starting block, which gives the user a place to start the saw’s motion and move the blade guard out of the way.
There is one notable sacrifice if you choose to head down the Accu-Cut path: The sled raises the saw base from the material’s surface, which will reduce the thickness of the material you can cut.