As a woodworker, you’re faced with a lot of challenges, with wood cutting among the most prominent ones. Precision is vital when cutting wood, but other factors determine the type of saw you should use.
Two saws that are used for similar projects can be quite difficult to separate, seeing that most people cannot buy the two, and they shouldn’t. One such fierce debate is the track saw vs. table saw battle that has been going on for a long time now.
Do many woodworkers struggle with the problem of which saw to buy between a track saw and a table saw, but are they too similar to pose such a challenge? We’ll find out soon but first, let us see what they are.
What is a Track Saw?
A track saw is sometimes called a plunge saw or a plunge-cut saw used to cut plywood. As the name implies, it has a long aluminum rail or track that determines the length of your cut. It can make rips and crosscuts on your wood. It is called a plunge saw, as you can set the depth of cut and cut the wood by plunging the blade into the wood at the desired marker.
Now, you may be wondering, isn’t a track saw a fancy circular saw? Well, they look similar, but the major difference is the presence of a track that makes precise cuts easier with the track saw. The tracks have clamps that hold them down without the need for crews. This makes adjusting and removing the tracks quickly.
It has a large dust shield that collects dust effectively when in use while also hiding the blades when not in use. Also, because it is lightweight and easy to move around, you can use the saw effortlessly, especially when working with wide plywood.
Parts of a Track Saw
The track saw consists of several parts made up of minor and major parts. Here, we’ll be looking at some of the major parts that make up a track saw and how they work to make this saw effective.
- Track: This is an aluminum rail that guides the blade on the wood. It also determines the length of the cut, so some people join two tracks to make a longer cut.
- Blade: This is the part of the saw that cuts. It consists of a sharp disc that spins at high velocity when turned on. There are different blade sizes available.
- Vacuum Port: Cutting wood forms a huge amount of dust which not only reduces the work area but can cover your cutting points. This is why the vacuum port is important, as it serves as a dust removal system that removes dust as it forms. It includes a dust collection shield.
- Speed Controller: There are different speed levels on the track saw. The speed controller allows you to adjust the speed of the blade depending on your needs. You may want more control or a faster cut.
- Bevel Controller: With the bevel controller in the track saw, you can adjust the angle of cut away from the normal 90 degrees up to 45 degrees to create different pieces.
Pros & Cons of the Track Saw
- Perfect for tight spaces as you don’t need a massive space to work with a track saw. Your small garden shed will accommodate this saw effortlessly.
- Easy to make accurate cuts as you do not need to make test cuts anymore; simply adjust your track to the cutting mark, and you won’t miss the target
- The dust collection system ensures dust is removed from the working surface so you can work hitch-free.
- It can make difficult cuts as it can start cutting from the middle of a piece.
- Affordable as the price range is not out of reach for a lot of woodworkers.
- Difficult to set up as it takes a long time to measure and arrange the track.
- Lack of versatility as its engine has low power.
What is a Table Saw?
A table saw is a type of saw involving a circular blade usually run by a powerful engine and protruding from under a table. The table carries the workpiece and allows the user to do work without having to support the workpiece.
The table saw is a versatile type of saw that allows you to make different types of cuts, including ripping, long cuts, and so much more. It can comfortably handle thick wood with the right blade. There are different types of table saws like a mobile saw or cabinet saw.
With the table saw, you can easily cut in a straight line since there is lots of room to add guides. This saw cuts from the bottom up as the workpiece is placed in the saw. The table saw is more popular due to its versatility. There’s also better stability when working with a table saw since there’s a table with legs that supports the wood.
Parts of the Table Saw
Here are some of the major parts of the table saw that set it apart:
- Emergency power switch: This allows you to quickly turn off the saw in the event of emergencies.
- Powerful motor: Table saws are equipped with powerful motors that there’s enough to rotate the blades at high speeds.
- Dust collection port: This port collects dust from the work surface, keeping the area clean and ensuring accuracy. Even though not all table saws come with this feature, most do.
- Rip fence: This can be made from aluminum or wood and is a bar running parallel to the blade that serves as a guide to the workpiece to ensure accurate cuts.
- Blade: The blade is the part that cuts. It comes in different sizes, with the most common size being 10 inches.
- Push Stick: This helps safely you move the wood over the blade without having to use your hands and risk injuries.
- Bevel and height controller: This is in the form of a crank wheel and allows to adjust the height and angle of the blade.
Pros & Cons of the Table Saw
- Versatility is a huge bonus of using table saws, as they say, can make different types of cuts for woods of varying thicknesses. You can also use guides like rip fences to improve accuracy.
- The dust collection system in some of the models removes dust from the workspace keeping the area clean and your respiratory tract healthy.
- Easy cuts as you don’t have to support the wood; just slide it over the blade. The fence also makes it easier.
- The high cutting speed of the table saw due to the powerful motor it has allows you to cut your wood faster. This will reduce the overall time for your project.
- The table saw can be quite expensive, which may put it out of the reach of some woodworkers.
- Heavy and takes a lot of space in your shed. You will need a larger working area and the help of others to move it when needed.
Differences Between a Track Saw and a Table Saw
The track saw and table saw share several similarities, like cutting woods with motorized saws. But they also share a lot of differences that set them apart from the other. Here are some of these differences:
- Looking at the two saws, one of the most noticeable differences is in their sizes and builds. While the table saw has a defined structure in the form of a table, the track saw is more mobile and faster to use. This also means the track saw needs little space to work while you’ll need a wider space to use your table saw.
- The track saw may be easier to move around but when it comes to cuts, the table saw is the most versatile among the two. You can make different types of cuts on woods of different thicknesses.
- It is faster to use the track saw to cut but setting up this saw is time-consuming. With the table saw, using the saw is not the fastest, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time setting it up.
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw – Which Should You Use?
Depending on the project you want to embark on and certain factors, you may need either of the saws. There are scenarios where you’ll need a track saw, or a table saw to make the type of cuts you need.
A track saw is perfect for making straight-line cuts as the rails give the perfect guide. You’ll also find it effortless to make plunge cuts in the middle of workpieces because of the mobile nature of the saw.
Metering cuts and cuts along the edges without cutting off parts of the edges are some of the things the track saw does well. You’ll need the track saw if you value portability.
A table saw is perfect for working on thick woods, making rips and crosscuts. The position of the blade makes repetitive cuts quite easy to make as you only need to slide the wood over the blade. You’ll need the table saw if you’ll be working on diverse wood types and thicknesses.
Cutting wood has never been easier with these saws. However, they vary in several ways, and choosing the best one to get, depends on a lot of factors like the type of cut, cost, and ease of use, among many other things.