Are you currently stuck between either buying a table saw or a track saw? You’re not alone, and the good news is that we’re here to assist you with your decision.
Whether you’re a professional woodworker or DIY’er, sometimes it can be hard to decide which tool is best, especially as both types of saws come in handy for a range of different purposes.
So, to help you out, below you’ll find a handy guide filled with key information on each kind of saw so that you can make the most informed decision as to which may be best for your current needs. Let’s jump straight in!
What is a table saw used for?
First up, we’re going to be taking a look at the table saw. Oftentimes thought of as the ‘workhorse’ of saws, it’s a great, versatile tool to have at your disposal.
They are known as being the best for making long cuts, which means they are suitable for serving a range of purposes. You'll also find that the table saw tends to be centerpiece of any highly functional woodworking workshop as they are incredibly diverse.
Table saws are designed with three purposes in mind: to help improve accuracy, lower the amount of precision and effort required to make a straight slice, as well as reducing the amount of time needed to make the cut.
Usually, many woodworkers who own multiple types of saws choose to use their table saw as their ‘go-to’ saw for handling long, straight cuts while leaving their other saws for dedicated purposes, such as their milter saw being used solely for cross-cutting.
In addition to this, table saws are usually used for handling thicker materials, such as plastic and metal (with the right metal cutting blade), so they’re great for handling heavy-duty cutting tasks.
Table saws are ideal for use if:
- You need to make repetitive, straight cuts. By correctly setting up the fence, table saws will be able to cut multiple pieces of material with accuracy.
- You plan on using thicker materials. Tables saws are built to withstand heavy-workloads, which makes them great for thick woods, plastic, and even metal.
- If you have a bigger workspace. As table saws are on the bigger side, it only makes sense that you should have the necessary space to accommodate one.
- If you plan on making several different types of cuts. Like we mentioned above, table saws are versatile pieces of cutting equipment. They can be used for making deep cuts, long cuts, narrow cuts, and even miter cuts.
The benefits of using table saws
- They can withstand regular use: Table saws are built to last! As they are designed with the purpose in mind of being able to withstand many hours of repetitive, heavy-duty use, they are able to be exposed to regular heat and friction without any damage. This makes them ideal for situations where you plan on cutting a lot of material in one go.
- Ideal for longer cuts: As we mentioned above, table saws are built with long, precise cuts in mind. So, when you have a lot of material that you need to make long cuts into, a table saw is the tool you need to correctly get the job done.
- Another reason as to why a table saw is best suited to making long, repetitive cuts is because you can set the fence to one size so that all cuts made will be consistently the same. They are versatile: By far, one of the main benefits of using a table saw is that they’re so versatile and able to serve a multitude of different purposes. Whether you need to cut the wood into smaller pieces or make smooth crosscuts, a table saw is a great tool to use.
- Precise and accurate: As long as you have correctly set the fence and know how to use your table saw, you can count on it to do the rest for you. Table saws are precise and consistent, so they’re an ideal choice for those wanting to achieve precise, accurate cuts - time and time again.
What are Track Saws used for?
Next up, we’re going to be taking a look at the track saw.
Traditionally, they feature a long track in the front of their design, which allows for precise and smooth cuts, so it should come as no surprise that they’re a favorite of professional woodworkers!
Unlike table saws, a track saw is a type of hand-held circular saw, that features a rectangular track that runs down the front of their design.
When in use, a track saw slides down a connected rail which allows for the cuts to be made with accuracy and precision.
As they’re so lightweight and easier to use than other kinds of saws, track saws are a popular choice for professionals and contractors alike and have gained popularity for being a ‘portable’ saw.
Track saws are ideal for use if:
- You work alone and only need to use one saw. As they’re on the smaller side, track saws are great for solo woodworking tasks.
- If you want to make angled cuts on smaller pieces of material. Due to the smaller design, track saws are perfect for making angled, precise cuts.
- For those that want to save on space. Track saws are significantly smaller than table saws, which makes them great for anyone that doesn’t have a lot of space in their shed!
- If you work at multiple job sites and want a portable saw that you can take with you anywhere.
The benefits of using track saws
- They’re space-saving: Unlike a table saw, track saws are traditionally very small and can be held in one hand. Plus, thanks to their portable design, track saws can have their tracks dismantled from them, which allows for even easier storage when not in use.
- They can be used for angled cutting: Unlike table saws which are designed solely for making straight, long cuts, track saws can also be used for making angled cuts. All you’ll need to do is simply adjust the position of the saw, to make the angled cut with accuracy.
- Makes less mess: Track saws make a lot less mess than table saws, as they are able to collect dust in a shroud during operation. This is a really handy feature, as it means that dust will be kept out of your eyes, allowing you to spend your woodworking session free from rubbing dust out of your eyes and coughing. Plus, it also means that your workstation will remain clean and tidy. How’s that for convenience?
- They’re accurate: Sure, track saws might come with a higher price tag, but they also come with a higher precision rate! Like we mentioned above, track saws are a favorite of professionals, and this is because they have been specifically designed to make clean, smooth, and accurate results.
So, there you have it! As you will have seen from our guide above, both table saws and track saws serve similar needs, having both as a professional woodworker would be very-much ideal.
However, there are instances where both kinds of the saw will trump the other, whether it be down to storage space, the type of cut planning on being made, as well as the kind of material needing to be cut.
We recommend taking a look at what work needs to be done, and then deciding (with help from this guide) which type of saw is going to work best for you. Happy woodworking!