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Took the plunge on a track saw

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  • Took the plunge on a track saw

    I am working on a specific project (a paid one) that involves ply and the size/shape of it has made it seemingly impossible to make clean cross cuts or a straight line down the long edge. After listening to many of you expounding the virtues of a Track Saw I just ordered one. I guess you dont need one until you need one! It will be interesting to see how this changes what I do. I haven't done much work with sheet goods over the years so could not really justify until now. I guess at least this job will pay for it :-)

    As I need it to finish this job I found myself yesterday rushed to make a purchase, which is never an ideal scenario. I had looked at them from time to time and so knew most of the players. I still cant justify going "Green" so the choice came down to the Dewalt or Makita. The Makita won out.

    Many reviews have it 2nd to the Festool and most have it as a best buy. I like the idea of the scoring feature although do note it doesn't have a riving knife. It will be used primarily for sheet goods and I dont see me necessarily straight lining any rough stock so I hope that wont be an issue.

    I would appreciate hearing from other Makita owners and any other track saw folks for any early tips or lessons learned. I did also wonder about making cuts longer than the track and if there are techniques for doing so. Mine is coming with the 55" track and I may get another track later but what do you do if you need to rip a piece of a full sheet of ply?
    Jon

    Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
    ________________________________

    We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
    techzibits.com

  • #2
    Congratulations on getting the Makita, you'll be happy with it it. Other than the dust collection, it looks equal to the Festool. I'm curious what the reviewers faulted it on when rating it second to the Festool.

    When I got my Festool TS75 I think the biggest problem I had was was getting used to the plunge action. It felt really awkward every time I made a cut. I later tried the dewalt which has a plunge similar to a plunge router which felt equally awkward. That said, practice with it on scrap first until you are comfortable with the plunge action.

    When I first started using mine the track slipped a few times The second thing to get comfortable with is keeping the correct downward pressure and figuruing out how much side to side pressure you can exert. If the track moves, a tracksaw really isn't any good and clamping it down every time takes too long.

    In a pinch, I've made half a cut with the short rail, moved it and finished the cut. It is possible, but not ideal. Using rail connectors works as well but then you either have to contend with the long rail for cross cuts or take it apart every time. The best solution is to get a long rail for eight foot cuts. The longer rail needs to be a foot or more longer than 8' so you have starting and ending room. Mine is 2700mm, 106" and is just the tiniest bit too short. Unless it is positioned perfectly, the adjustment slides in the base of the saw start or finish off the ends of the rail. If I had it to do over again I'd have gotten the 3000mm, 118 inch.
    Chr's
    __________
    An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
    A moral man does it.

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    • #3
      Dang if the saws are expensive the tracks are crazy.The 55" is $85 on amazon right now although I have seen as low as $69. the 118" is $210 and I have seen it as much as $300!!!

      IIRC I think I originally paid $250 for my BT3100...
      Jon

      Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
      ________________________________

      We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
      techzibits.com

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      • #4
        I have used the two short rails with two connectors for years and many long cuts. The only thing I changed along the way was getting the Dewalt one handed clamps. The Makita clamps are fine but one handed is easier.

        I also made two small blocks that sit against the metal rail and make it easy for me to get a dead on measure from the edge. One for keep the cutoff piece and one for keep the not cutoff piece. I only need to subtract 1" from my measurement.

        If you are not aware the Festool track parts are the same as Makita.

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        • #5
          I purchased the Mikita Track saw last year prior to my large laundry room cabinet build. Possibly the best purchase yet. Knowing that acessories that I wanted but didnít purchase the first time would haunt me, I went ahead and ordered 2 5ft tracks, replacement rubber track edge, extra blade and 2 one handed clamps. Iíd have to say that the clamps are vital to a good cut. Yea, the rubber on the bottom of the track holds it in place pretty well, but just one slip on a valuable piece of wood could cost you as much as the price of the clamps. The plunge feature works well after you get coordinated with which button to push, I found out the hard way that operating the variable speed saw on slow for a plunge cut could be a recipe for disaster! It will crawl back at you like a demon. If I didnít have a good grip on the saw it could have been ugly!

          When researching track saws I viewed Festool MFT (multi function table) utubes. What a great idea. It looks like the answer to a lot of small shop saw needs.I may have to have one of those! and probably would have already purchased it except I want to incorporate it into my table saw outfeed table and donít want to spend that much money on a table and throw half of it away.

          capncarl

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          • #6
            Thanks for the heads up on the one handed clamps. Just ordered a set.
            Jon

            Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
            ________________________________

            We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
            techzibits.com

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            • #7
              Poolhound, I donít know if youíve noticed the slots on the makita/Festool track. One slot is on the bottom of the track. That slot accommodates the clamp, an allows it to grip your workpiece or table under the track where it is completely out of the way of the saw. With a 48Ē cut using a 55Ē track You can cheat a little with this feature by adjusting the track to allow the saw fully on the track and plunge into the edge of the wood. The end of the cut is still guided by the track and the back guides of the saw. Much longer cut than this you need longer tracks.
              capncarl

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              • #8
                So after some Amazon delivery shenanigans it arrived late on Saturday. In timing the edge I got the first inch a bit wrong as I the back guide came out of the track when I tried to take the first full cut. I dont think it will be an issue. I did my first test cuts on some old used plywood I am recycling into a cupboard door that will be painted. I know from previous pieces I had cut that it is very "chippy" and I had a hard time getting a clean cut. The track saw had no problem and other than a few user errors I ended up with a clean and square plywood door. I then used it to cut the project that caused me to make the purchase. It cut the edges very cleanly and I immediately saw how easy it is to take off even a small sliver.

                I think I am going to like this saw a lot. I guess the only issue is that I now foresee me needing to make or buy some form of MFT setup.
                Jon

                Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
                ________________________________

                We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
                techzibits.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Love my tracksaw (I have the green version). If you plan on making several repetitive cuts you might want to think about a parallel guide. I believe many of the aftermarket (read non festool) ones like seneca work with may brands.
                  I reject your reality and substitute my own.

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