As a woodworker, you might experience the situation when beginner woodworking asks for suggestions. You may get questions like:
Table Saw vs Track Saw, which one to choose?
Track Saw vs Circular Saw, which one to go with?
Or similar other questions with some innovation into the main query. It isn’t easy to make suitable suggestions before properly knowing individual situations. This article can help you eliminate certain ambiguities to make this question easy.
If you get a more precise question like Table Saw vs Track Saw vs Circular Saw! Which Should You Buy?
As a beginner woodworker, we recommend you go with a table saw. Later you can add other tools into your woodworking arsenal. A table saw offers more diverse cuts with utmost precision and accuracy. Going with a table saw as a first choice will not disappoint you as a novice.
Alternatively, you can answer that it depends on the project requirement and what you are trying to build. A lot of aspects get involved in making the decision.
If you are working on small projects like making cages and birdhouses, you need small tools. Working on large projects such as learning to make furniture like a kitchen table requires bigger tools.
But of course, there is the aspect of price as well. However, being constrained by budget does not mean buying cheap tools that will stay with you for some time only.
Before going deep into each tool, there are quick recommendations.
- If you are working on construction projects, a circular saw is a good tool. Using a straight edge with a circular saw, you get a combo of a circular saw and a track saw.
- If your project involves rip cuts and crosscuts, a good-quality table saw should be your go-to option. The accuracy of a table saw is unmatchable. It is the heart of a woodworking shop. You will eventually buy one because of its versatility, if not at the start.
- A track saw is most suitable to work with larger pieces of wood and plywood. As the wood gets smaller, it may be of less use.
Power saws may look similar to each other, for each of them performs cutting functions. But at the same time, we cannot deny that each saw excels at making some unique cuts.
To excel at making each cut may tempt you to buy all kinds of saws; it is not practically possible to so. You will always be constrained by one or other reasons, such as budget and space in your woodworking shop. You will have to settle on bringing some essential saws to your woodworking shop.
Main Difference Between A Table Saw Vs Track Saw Vs Circular Saw
- Table saws come with a working piece or a table, while track saws come with a track.
- Circular saws neither come with a table or a track, and they are handheld tools
- Cutting with a track saw is limited by the size of its track, while a circular saw can cut as long as you want
- The circular is also the most compact and flexible-to-use tool among all
- As for the price, table saws are the most expensive, while circular saws are the most affordable
- A table saw can make the most accurate cuts, while the cuts of a circular saw may not be very precise.
- In a track saw and the circular saw, the wooden piece is stationary while tools move to make a cut
- Whereas on a table saw, the tool is stationary while the wooden piece is fed into the blade to make a cut.
- A track saw can make a crosscut, rip cut, and angle cut effortlessly and can work on larger prices.
- For smaller pieces, a table saw with a wood-feeding shoe might be more suitable
How To Choose Among Table Saw Vs Track Saw Vs Circular Saw?
Choosing the right saw depends on many factors such as the material to cut, frequency of use, and the type of cuts and project, to name a few. The decision to choose between a Table Saw vs Track Saw, or a Track Saw vs Circular Saw is more complicated than it looks. What makes them a tough choice is their overlapping qualities in some situations and some apparent differences in others. But nothing is impossible until you assume it so.
Woodworkers worldwide working on various projects tend to have their inclinations about preferring one saw over the other. But for DIYers and beginners, the answer to this question may become daunting.
So, what is the most suitable way to answer this question?
The best way to answer this question is to know about all these saws one by one to know their features. You need to pay attention to their converging and diverging points to know which one is inevitable for your woodworking shop and which one to let go of.
What Is Table Saw?
A table saw is like a circular saw built into a table. The table saw blade attaches to a post called an arbor and appears through a table hole. You can also lower the blade in the slit.
The table saw is a preferred tool due to its highly accurate and clean cutting. But like a jigsaw, you cannot make circular cuts with a table saw. This may be the only limitation of a table saw.
This is one essential tool that you will always find in a woodworker’s shop or a DIYer’s garage. For versatility, most woodworkers prefer table saws over other devices.
Table Saw Pros
Cuts made with a table saw are highly accurate. The stability and balance of a table saw are highly commendable. For this reason, many woodworkers rely on a table saw for making most of their cuts.
Rip cuts and crosscuts
When I come to rip cuts and crosscuts, a table saw is highly efficient. The speed with which it makes the cuts really makes it shine.
One of the benefits of a table saw is that it lets you make tiny and minor adjustments quickly. There are windows to check for accuracy of angle when you are making beveled and compound cuts.
A table saw has a sawdust disposal system that makes it less messy to work with. There is a dust disposal compartment where most sawdust collects during working.
Table Saw Cons
A table saw is not portable like other saws, so you might have to have a dedicated space for its storage and setup.
Some models are compact and lightweight. You may also get wheels or handles to drag them along. A table saw is still bigger than other tools.
Another consideration is the price. Due to its size, power, and versatility of cutting, a table saw may costs more than other handheld power tools.
As a beginner woodworker, you might need a little practice and skill before using a table saw. It may also require being more cautious about safety concerns.
If you are concerned about table saw noise control, check out this case study Michigan Tech University on the reduction of noise from a table saw.
Best Table Saws To Consider
DEWALT DWE7485 – Best table saw for beginners
Metabo HPT C10RJS – Best portable Jobsite table saw
What Is Track Saw?
A track saw is another power tool that allows you to make crosscut, rip cut, and angle cut easily. The track saw is similar to a circular saw, but the setup is faster than a circular saw. Thus, it will cut some of your work time and speed up the project.
As the name implies, the saw moves along the track. For some woodworkers, it is basically a circular saw that moves along.
As a DIYer, you need to make long, precise cuts through materials that are not available in your woodworking shop. A table saw is limited by the space on the table. However, this is not the case with a track saw.
The track eliminates the need to make markings and lines to make cuts. Likewise, it also reduces the chances of making errors. This is one of the best saws to use in tight spaces without requiring any space for infeed and outfeed.
Track Saw Pros
The saw comes with a shroud that collects the dust. Thus, it helps in keeping the work surface and surrounding clean.
Like a circular saw, a track saw is small in size and does not occupy much space in your workshop. Thus, if you are constrained by workspace, you can go with a track saw. As for tracks, you can stack them upright along a wall.
A track saw also allows you to make angled cuts. However, be patient as making the proper cut in the absence of a miter gauge will take some time. Nevertheless, you can buy a separate miter gauge.
Easy to use
A track saw is much easier to use for a single person working in a woodworking shop. You can safely cut through heavy/ large pieces with a track saw. Due to the accuracy of their cut, they are getting immense popularity among professional woodworkers and carpenters.
The blade on the track saw is covered, so it is much safer and reports relatively fewer injuries than other saws. Nevertheless, all power tools require you to be careful.
A track saw works with a 12-amp powerful motor with a large cutting capacity. Due to this power, it can cut through a variety of materials without any jagged edges.
The track or rail of the track saw comes with rubber strips on the underside that keeps the material in place while you cut. However, for a beginner, the absence of the clamps may be a little unsettling, though it gets better with time. The rubber grips work really fine to keep the material in place. Nevertheless, if you are uncomfortable with using them, you can always buy a supporting clamp.
Track Saw Cons
Length of the track
The length of the track is its biggest downside and limitation as well. You can also buy long tracks or combine two medium-length tracks together to cut through sheets of plywood, but how long?
The price of the track is a little higher than a circular saw. However, it seems justified due to the presence of a track.
The setup of a track saw takes some time to make the first cut. But once the set is complete, you may create multiple similar cuts with full accuracy.
Unlike a table saw, it does not come with a riving knife which is a safety feature. You might have some issue cutting through a thick wood.
Best Track Saws To Consider
Makita SP6000J1 – Best Plunge Circular Saw with guide rail
Dewalt flexvolt DCS520T1 – Best Cordless TrackSaw
What Is A Circular Saw?
A Circular saw is a tool that works with a circular blade with several teeth and attaches to an arbor. It spins and cuts through sheets of wood and other materials. A Skill saw is a hand-held tool that moves through the cutting stock for cutting. You can get various blades to adjust with a track saw to cut through a large piece of plywood.
According to many woodworkers, a circular saw can be a good start when establishing your woodworking shop. But if you are buying a tool for a specific project, understanding the project needs is a more prudent option.
Circular Saw Pros
They are versatile tools that can make rip cuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, and compound cuts. They allow you to work on various materials with variable thickness. You can also adjust the depth of the blade on the saw. They are very good at making straight cuts across the width of the material. However, keep the support of a straight edge ready to keep them aligned.
Not limited by the size
The foremost benefit of a circular saw is that there is no limit to the size for making a straight cut. To make a straight cut, you only require a linear guide like a rip fence or just a plywood piece secured with clamps. You can create as long cuts as you want, even if it goes for hundred miles. Make sure you have a straight edge that long.
The prime advantage of a circular saw is its portability and transferability. You can take this tool wherever you want. It does not restrict you from working in various places. So, you can work in your Jobsite workshop as well as on your patio. Many circular saws are battery-powered, so they do not require you to work around power sockets either.
A circular is the most affordable power tool. If you are constrained by budget and need a versatile tool, a circular saw is the best option.
Circular Saw Cons
Most circular saws do not come with a sawdust disposal system. The circular saw with the dust collection option becomes more expensive.
As you move your hand while you make precise cuts, the cutting may become a little trickier. It requires you to be very slow, steady, and careful when making angled cuts.
It is a little slower than others. If you want to cut through four identical pieces, you will spend some time making adjustments for each cut. Overall, the setup may take some extra time.
Best Circular Saws To Consider
- SKIL 5180-01 CIRCULAR SAW – Best Budget circular saw
- Metabo HPT C3607DAQ4 – Best Cordless Circular Saw
Can A Track Saw Replace Your Table Saw?
The answer is No. However, it can be a substitute when you have space constraints and prefer compactness over convenience. When you are cutting through a 4’x8′ sheet, a track saw is a better option. It allows you to lay down the sheet, adjust the track and start cutting. But, imagine hustling this sized sheet through the table saw blade.
On the contrary, if you have a big shop with massive support and outfeed setup, there is no comparison with a table saw for making repeat cuts. A table saw is also a superior option to cut through narrow stock that might be cumbersome and slow with a track saw.
While you can always have both saws in your woodworking shop, it is not always a necessity. A track saw is mobile, relatively safe, and is suitable for use in various setups.
On the other hand, for woodworkers searching for power accuracy and not shying away from spending more cash, a table saw is a no-brainer.
If you want to read about miter saws, we suggest reading this article about the best miter saws for homeowners.
Who is the circular saw for?
I can say with complete confidence that this is one tool that is suitable for everybody (woodworker). This is a pretty cheap option that lets you get through a lot of job situations. And you can go for Metabo HPT for a powerful circular saw. They last for a long time, and their battery charge really fast.
Who is the table saw for?
Finally, about the table saw, we already know that they are the most versatile tools that are essential for every woodworking shop. It is by far the most used woodworking tool out there.
Who is the track saw for?
To be honest, a track saw might be the last option to suggest, whether as a replacement for a table saw or a circular saw. But if you have gone into your DIYing and want quick cutting than a circular saw, you might choose a track saw.
A track saw is actually preferred for its accuracy due to the track. Another situation is when you are budget constrained; go with a track saw instead of a table saw. Needless to say that after you have all tools and want to expand the diversity, a track saw can be your luxury item.
Now we have concluded our article. You have read about the tools and their pros and cons. But there are specific thoughts that I want to share before ending the article.
No matter which tools you buy, depending on the type of woodworking you do, quality should be the paramount criteria. This way, you will buy only once that will last for a long time instead of replacing it after some time.
Realize that you may find some tools overlapping in their functions, but they are not equal. That’s why they are made into different tools.