Choosing between a track saw and a table saw can be tricky. Both are valuable tools for your workshop, but they serve different purposes and work better in different situations.
Here’s the main difference: a track saw delivers accurate cuts and is easily portable, making it ideal for smaller workshops or on-the-go projects. On the other hand, a table saw is built to handle heavy workloads and offers better versatility in supporting different types of cuts.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the key differences and similarities between a track saw vs table saw. By the end, you’ll have a clear idea of which one suits your needs best, and which is best for different tasks making it easier to pick the perfect saw for your projects.
Table of Contents
What is the Difference Between a Track Saw and a Table Saw?
In this section, I’ll explain the key differences and benefits of each saw in detail, helping you select the right saw for your woodworking projects. Let’s compare the track saw and table saw to see which one suits your woodworking needs best:
- A track saw is a better circular saw equipped with a guide rail with additional features such as a blade cover, dust collection, or the support of a riving knife.
- Provides better safety with the blade concealed within the machinery.
- Perfect for cutting large plywood sheets with clean splinter-free edges for easy assembly.
- Great for precise straight cuts without veering off the path.
- Provides a cleaner workspace with a built-in dust collector.
- A table saw is built to withstand regular, heavy-duty use without damage, making them perfect for cutting a lot of material at once.
- Ideal for precise and longer cuts. It is the go-to tool when you have a lot of material that needs long, straight cuts.
- Features a fence that will consistently help deliver precise and accurate cuts.
- Offers high versatility, serving various purposes like cutting wood into smaller pieces or creating smooth rip cuts and crosscuts.
Table Saw vs Track Saw: Comparison Table
|Ideal for on-the-go projects and smaller workshops.
|Suitable for heavy workloads and handling large-scale cuts.
|Precision and Accuracy
|Delivers precise and accurate cuts with the help of a guiding track. (depends on the track saw blade)
|Delivers excellent precision and accuracy with the help of a fence. (depends on the table saw blade)
|Not suited for consistent repeatable cuts.
|Good repeatability for consistent cuts, particularly with a fence.
|Well portable due to its lightweight design
|Less portable due to its bulk and stationery design
|Takes up less space, suitable for small workshops.
|Requires more space due to its larger size and fixed setup.
|Types of Cuts
|Crosscuts, Rip cuts, Angle cuts, Miter cut. Great at Plunge cuts
|Crosscuts, Rip cuts, Angle cuts, Miter cut. Great at Dados, Rabbets
|Generally less expensive in comparison to table saws
|Generally more expensive in comparison to track saws
* Price depends on the actual saw model
What is a Track Saw?
A track saw is like a circular saw with a fully enclosed blade, and it works alongside a track for better precision. It’s excellent for getting perfectly straight cuts and can even handle angled cuts up to 45 degrees. This saw ensures accurate, smooth cuts while being highly portable and safe. It can tackle various cuts, including cross cuts, plunge cuts, angular cuts, miter cuts, and rip cuts.
Benefits of a Track Saw
- Space-saving and portable: Track saws are small and easily held in one hand. They come with removable tracks, making them easy to store.
- Versatile angled cutting: Unlike table saws limited to straight cuts, track saws can handle angled cuts with precision by adjusting the saw’s position.
- Cleaner and tidier work: Track saws collect dust during operation, keeping your workspace clean and allowing you to focus on your woodworking projects.
- Precision and accuracy: Track saws are designed for clean and smooth results, making them a favorite tool among both professionals and DIYers.
- Lightweight and easy to use: With their lightweight design, track saws offer easy portability, making them suitable for various woodworking environments.
When To Use a Track Saw?
A track saw proves its worth in various situations.
When dealing with large sheet goods like plywood or MDF, a track saw allows you to keep the material flat on the work surface and pass the saw over it effortlessly, eliminating the need to move the sheets through a table saw. The track saw’s ability to make perfectly straight cuts comes in handy, especially in situations when making extra long cuts.
A track saw comes in handy when working in small workshops or job sites. Its ease of use makes it an attractive choice for solo woodworking tasks, enabling efficient and safe breakdown of sheet goods with precision. Additionally, the track saw excels at making long angled cuts across large pieces of material for precise un-square cuts, which is quite difficult to perform on a table saw.
Another advantage of using a track saw is its easy plunging action, allowing you to adjust the blade depth while cutting. This handy feature proves especially useful when you want to achieve precise and controlled cuts at different depths within the material. It also makes it stand out from regular circular saws where blade guards may require manual lifting.
A track saw allows you to cut anywhere on the material as the edge of the track defines the cut path. This comes in especially handy when cutting through live-edge lumber or dealing with irregular edges.
What is a Table Saw?
A table saw is a powerful woodworking tool featuring a flat table with a mounted circular saw blade. There are many types of table saws on the market – e.g. a contractor table saw, jobsite table saw, or a large cabinet table saw. Each of them has slightly different capabilities but they have one basic feature in common – they allow users to make various cuts in wood at different depths and angles up to 45 degrees.
The main benefit of a table saw lies in repeated cuts – set the fence once, and all your cuts will be consistent in size. In case of a table saw you guide the wood through the blade while the tool stays still. It’s a versatile tool for woodworkers, ideal for long cuts, ripping, and handling of thick materials like plastic, metal, or hardwood.
Benefits of a Table Saw
- Built to last: Table saws are designed to withstand heavy, repetitive use, making them reliable under regular heat and friction. They’re perfect for cutting large amounts of material in one go.
- Ideal for long cuts: Table saws excel at precise, and lengthy cuts. If you have a lot of material that requires long cuts a table saw is the right tool for the job.
- Versatile and multi-purpose: One of the main advantages of using a table saw is its versatility. Whether you need to cut wood into smaller pieces or make smooth cross-cuts or rip cuts, a table saw will handle the tasks with ease.
- Precise and consistent: When correctly set up with the fence, a table saw delivers precise and accurate cuts every time. This is especially useful when repetitively ripping material to the exact same width.
When To Use a Table Saw?
When it comes to repeatable rip cuts, the table saw takes the lead. Unlike the track saw that requires resetting for each cut, the table saw allows you to rip material to the same width consistently. This proves incredibly useful in woodworking projects, where you simply set the fence once, and all your cuts will be of the exact same size.
Table saws also excel at making cuts that only go partway through the board, like grooves, dados, or rabbets and it is perfect for ripping narrow boards or cutting splines with ease. Additionally, the table saw offers a cutting depth of about 3 to 4 inches, surpassing the track saw’s limited cutting depth of around 2 inches.
The table saw is great for precise 90-degree cuts because its exposed blade provides better visibility, making it easy to see where you’re cutting (however, it’s important to be careful and work safely since the blade is open). On the other hand, the track saw is lightweight and portable but may have difficulty cutting very small pieces of wood due to limited visibility under the saw blade.
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What to Consider When Buying a Track Saw or a Table Saw?
When deciding between a track saw and a table saw, several key factors come into play to ensure you make the right choice for your woodworking needs.
Portability: Consider where you plan to use the saws and how easily portable they are. Track saws excel in job sites and small workshops, offering convenient mobility, while table saws are more stationary and suited for larger workshops.
Space: Evaluate the space available in your workshop. If you have limited room, a track saw’s compact design might be a better fit, whereas a table saw may require more space for its infeed and outfeed.
Speed: Think about how quickly you need to cut boards and materials. Track saws are known for their fast setup and efficient cutting, making them a good choice for quick, on-the-go projects, while table saws offer repeatability and excel in handling large volumes of materials.
Types of Cuts: Consider the variety of cuts you’ll be performing. Both saws have unique strengths – track saws are great for straight cuts and angled cuts, while table saws offer more versatility, handling complex cuts like bevels, dadoes, and rabbets.
Cutting Depth: Compare the cutting depths of the two saws. Table saws typically come with common blade sizes of 8, 10, and 12 inches, providing a cutting depth of about 3 to 4 inches, surpassing the track saw’s limited cutting depth of around 2 inches. Consider whether the depth meets your project requirements.
Wrap Up: Track Saw vs Table Saw
In conclusion, it’s not about whether a table saw is better than a track saw; they simply serve different purposes, and personal preference plays a role in the decision. Price-wise, both can be comparable, so focus on your specific woodworking needs to determine which one makes more sense for your projects.
Having a track saw for its versatility and portability is a good choice, but adding a table saw to your workshop for extensive woodworking projects can be a valuable investment. The choice may vary based on factors like storage space, cutting plans, and the materials you work with, so consider your specific requirements before making a decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a track saw replace a table saw?
A track saw can handle many tasks a table saw can, but it may not entirely replace it, as a table saw offers more capabilities for certain cuts and woodworking projects. Both tools serve different purposes and are used in various situations. While a track saw offers portability and excellent straight cuts on the go, a table saw excels in handling more complex cuts and repeated rip cuts in a workshop setting.
Are track saws safer than table saws?
Track saws are generally considered safer than table saws due to their enclosed blade design and safer plunge cuts.
What is the disadvantage of a track saw?
The main disadvantages of a track saw are longer set-up times compared to table saws and the limited availability of specialized woodworking jigs designed specifically for track saws.
How Can I Improve My Table Saw?
You can improve your table saw by using various woodworking jigs available for it. These jigs make working with the table saw easier and safer, enhancing your woodworking experience.