JimD's DeWalt DWS520LK Track Saw

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  • JimD's DeWalt DWS520LK Track Saw

    We used to always have a "family gift" each Christmas. My kids have homes of their own and my wife is in heaven but I've continued the tradition by buying myself something : ). This year is was a DeWalt track saw with the 102 and 59 inch tracks. I ordered it from Amazon but it was actually supplied by CPO tools. Pretty pricey at nearly $600 but part of my reasoning is that I will probably be doing more for my kids away from my shop. I can't bring my table saw but can bring this. I was also hoping it would eliminate my need for 60 inch rip capacity on my saw. It has.

    As others have commented, the 102 inch rail comes in it's own masonite box which is about 104 inches long. Shippers must love it. Besides the saw and the two rails, I got the DeWalt clamps for the rails. I highly recommend them. I tried a couple cuts without the clamps and I got a little off in both cases. Undoubtedly some is operator error but I cut where I wanted each time with the clamps.

    One of the reviews at Amazon commented the long rail was too short. I don't think that's true at all. I position both rails to only overhang a inch or so on the side I start the cut from leaving the longer overhang at the other end. This gives me plenty of rail.

    It takes a couple minutes to get the guide almost snug to the guide rail. I was surprised to not find an allen wrench for this lock nut but it took only a couple minutes to find mine. You must do this but it is easy. Just use an allen wrench to loosen the lock nut, snug the guide and back off a tiny bit and then tighten the lock nut. Do both and you are done. This and adjusting the depth to where I wanted it was the only setup. The depth adjustment is really nice, by the way. It reads in real measurements - inches - and in the depth considering the rail. So if you want to cut 3/4 plywood projecting the blade 1/8 below the wood, you set to 7/8 inch. I've read the Festool is in mm. I would hate that.

    I was pleasantly surprised that the saw cuts EXACTLY at the soft edge of the guide rail. You have to make a cut to cut off the soft edge and then you use that to set the guide from that point on. I used to use a home-made guide of 1/4 luan with my Milwaukee and it would gradually erode the edge, I believe because the blade wobbles a little during startup and shutdown. There has been none of that with the DeWalt.

    I've also read criticism of the guides as too flimsy. I don't think that is true either but maybe the Festools are heavier. I suspect the criticism is from somebody trying to make cuts without the clamps and blaming the guide when they get a little off. Maybe the Festool works better without the clamps but the DeWalt with the clamps is great. I've also read that the clamps (dewalt) are recommended with the Festool.

    I opened this gift early and used it to make a cabinet for church. The cabinet is a little over 5 feet tall, about 32 inches wide and about 16 inches deep. It has three shelves. It is about as big as I could get from a sheet of 3/4 plywood. I used the DeWalt to make all the cuts including the rabbet in the sides for the back - and most of the rabbet in the top. All the plywood was cut with the DeWalt but I used my other tools to make the face frame and cut the frame for the doors. This went unusually well and quickly. I had all the major cuts done in a couple hours. It's nice to not have to cut to rough size with the circular saw and then finish on the table saw. I built a lattice of 1x4 pieces years ago to use when ripping up plywood. I lay it across the trailer I use to bring home the wood or my table saw and work bench if I'm in the shop. Cutting up sheet goods this way is much, much easier than trying to manuver a full sheet through the table saw. I have infeed and outfeed support and have done it but not from now on. Why wrestle with it when you have a better way? You could get buy with simpler supports for the wood you are cutting but the lattice is a worthwhile small project. The brass screws that hold it together are well countersunk. The pieces are knotched to fit over each other. They are on 1 foot centers if I remember. The resulting piece is plenty strong enough to support itself and the plywood laid over supports. I think mine is 6 foot by 3 foot. You want it a bit smaller than a full sheet since you need to clamp the sheet goods around the edges.

    You need to be carefull about your marks when using this tool. It will cut where you set it but a crude pencil mark about where you want the cut is not good enough. I use a 0.7mm mechanical pencil. I can routinely cut within about 1/64 of what I want. That works fine.

    I've also read criticism of the angle of the dust chute. If you don't like it, I didn't, loosen the two torx screws closest to the chute on the saw and rotate it. I hook my shop vacumn to it and it catches nearly all the dust.

    I will probably buy the router guide for the rails. I can see where it would be handy to make rabbetts and dados. I don't think I'll get the right angle guide. I've read it isn't terribly accurate and I found it easy to mark both ends and just use the shorter guide for cross cuts.

    If you are at all considering this type of tool I recommend you get it. It will not replace a table saw but it will give you a way to cut up sheet goods larger than your saw will easily handle accurately and easily.

    Jim
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