Have you ever wondered whether a track saw is the best tool for a given task or a circular saw? Now, this question may seem funny to some, but in reality, it is not. There are plenty of factors to think about when considering between a track saw and a circular saw.
In between the two, “which one is the best?” is a question, that has been buzzing around for quite some time. There’s plenty of reasons for that as well. In this article, we will arouse the same question, and go through the reason, and hopefully solve all the confusion.
But before “solving all the confusion”, let me go through the basics of the two tools. This will help if you didn’t know much about one (or two) of the tools.
In this post we'll cover:
What Is A Circular Saw?
A circular saw is a power tool used in woodworking, metal shaping, and other similar tasks. It is simply a circular toothed or abrasive blade, powered by an electric motor. But there is a bit more than that, which makes the tool highly customizable, and thus very versatile and useful in both at the professional level as well as DIYers.
A circular saw is very small and compact, easy to understand and work with. Its flat base allows it to run smoothly on almost any surface. You can change the blade of a circular saw and there are a wide variety of options available.
The device itself can use a number of attachments and extensions, that helps tremendously. A circular saw is handy for a variety of cuts, such as crosscuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, cutting semi-hard metals, ceramics, plastics, abrasive cuts, and a lot more.
A key weakness of a circular saw is that the precision of the cuts, especially long rip cuts, is kind of problematic. However, it can be improved a lot with experience and patience.
What Is A Track Saw?
A track saw is a little more advanced version of a circular saw. Besides the usual traits of a circular saw, it has a very long base attached at the bottom, the “track,” which gives it the name “track saw.” The saw body can slide along the length of the track; this gives the tool an extra level of precision, especially on long straight cuts.
The track is semi-permanent, and it can be removed from the saw. This is helpful, especially for cleaning and maintenance. The saw cannot operate properly with the track removed.
A track saw is especially useful for long cuts like rip cuts, which is especially the weakness of a circular saw. A track saw is also good at making other cuts, as well as maintaining specific angled cuts. Some track saws allow you to make bevel cuts as well.
Comparison Between A Track Saw And A Circular Saw
From the discussion above, one can come to the conclusion that a track saw is simply a circular saw on top of a guide rail. The necessity of a track saw can be aided simply by making a guide fence for his circular saw.
If you also came to the same conclusion, you are right. At least for the most part. But there is much more involved. Let me break it down.
Why Would You Use A Track Saw?
Here are the benefits of using a track saw over a circular saw-
- A circular saw with the assistance of a guide fence can make long rip cuts. Fair enough. But the setup takes some time and effort each time. A track is much much simpler and timesaving in the long run.
- The guiding rail of a track saw has rubber strips underneath, which keeps the rail locked in place. Say goodbye to the annoying clamps.
- Making relatively short miter cuts, especially on wider boards, can be tedious with a circular saw, but it will take no more time than just marking the spots when using a track saw.
- There is no blade guard on a track saw, thus no more struggling with the guard. This is more like a double-edged sword—both kind of good and kind of bad at the same time.
- A track saw can do almost all types of cuts that a circular saw can.
- Some track saw models have dust collection mechanisms that help to keep the working environment cleaner and tidier.
Why Would You Use A Circular Saw?
The benefits you will be getting using a circular saw instead of a track saw-
- A circular saw is small and compact, thus a lot more versatile. It can perform all the tasks of a track saw, if not more.
- The lack of the track can be mitigated with attachments, which is pretty cheap, as well as very simple to make at home.
- A circular saw can work with a lot more materials than what a track saw can. Thanks to the customization it offers.
- Almost all circular saws have blade guards, which keep your hands, cable, and other sensitive things away from the blade, as well as keeping the dust in control.
- In terms of brands and models, a circular saw will offer you a lot more options to choose from.
Which Tool To Buy?
With all that said, I hope I made enough sense to help you understand the tools a bit better. With all the pros and cons of the two tools in consideration, you should not have any more confusion about whether to buy the other tool if you already have one.
In my opinion, despite the track saw, being useful as it is, you should consider buying a circular saw. The reason being you can never go wrong with an extra circular saw. It is simply that good of a tool to have.
Now, in the question of whether you must buy one or not, I would say it is not a must. You can fulfill almost all the needs of a circular saw with a track saw.
Buying a track saw while having a circular saw, on the other hand, is a bit more situational. A track saw is more like a specialty tool. It is not as versatile or customizable, thus consider buying a track saw, only if you need to make a relatively high number of long cuts or you are really into woodworking.
In case you do not own either and thinking about buying your first tool for your garage, My recommendation is to start with a circular saw. This saw will assist you tremendously in learning the tools, as well as the nature of the work.
All in all, both of the two are pretty simple to master and two neat pieces of equipment. A track saw will make the starting of your carrier a lot easier if your work section coincides with the advantages it provides.
A circular saw will help you build up your skill in a general sense. Over time, you can shift to other specialty tools (including a track saw) much more easily.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.