Circular saw vs track saw

If you are new to woodworking, it may be difficult to make a clear distinction between power tools. Each of them has a different purpose, so it is crucial to understand what are they used for. Let’s try and answer the question you got stuck in your head – what are the differences between a circular saw and track saw?

Circular saw is one of the most commonly used tools when it comes to long and straight cuts (rip cuts). A track saw is like a circular saw but has a ‘track’ that can be attached to what you are cutting and guides the cut making it very precise. If you often cut sheet goods, a track saw is considered as a better and also an easier option.

My top picks:

Circular saws

Track saws

Intro

Picking one power tool between a circular saw and a track saw can be really tricky. You will need to make your choice based on the activities you are going to use the tool and although both circular saw and a track saw can be perfect for the same tasks.

This is what a creates the struggle of every DIYer, hobbyist or even workshop owner. To make the right pick, you will need to perfectly understand the function of both tools.

Circular saw

A circular saw is a handy tool that is obligatory to have, whether you are a hobbyist with a passion for woodworking projects or you are a workshop owner.

It is not a stationary tool, which means you can take it anywhere with you, although you may need to take an extension cord with you.

As you already know, you can’t make curved cuts with a circular saw, for that task you will need a jigsaw. But, what the circular saw perfectly does are straight cuts.

Related: Circular saw or jigsaw

Set the right depth, draw a line and start cutting. I won’t put effort into explaining that process, but you can check my guide on how to cut straight with a circular saw.

For more info about how to use a circular saw, and better, which situations require using a circular saw, consider the video below.

Circular saw is a very helpful tool when working on construction projects and framing. However, for most of the tasks, you will need extra precision that you would not be able to do with a free hand.

That will require something like a guide, it could be anything to ride your base plate along. A piece of plywood or a level, but, you will need clamps to fix that on the board.

There is nothing bad about using clamps unless there is an easier way to make the cut. You may find a guide that rides along the edge of the plywood which will substitute all your homemade guides.

 

But if you want to make really long cuts, longer than your guide, then you may not get the precision you needed. Exactly for this reason, you may want to consider the track saw.

Track saw

At some point in your life, you will need to cut sheet goods, and although some gurus will suggest using a table saw for this, I would highly disagree with this.

Why not a table saw?

Well, those big boards are bulky and heavy, so it will require much effort to transport them without damage. If you don’t have someone to help you with this, it will be a very difficult task.

Related: Best table saws

Plus, the boards may be so big that you won’t be able to guide them along the rip fence.

A circular saw may do the work, but there is a risk of unprecise cut, which you don’t want to happen after spending money on that piece of plywood.

The simplest solution is the track saw.

Rather than moving the work to the tool, you can move the tool through the work.

This means the board you are going to cut can be anywhere, for example, placed on the ground.

A track saw is basically a circular saw with a shrouded blade that follows a metal rail for making straight cuts. There is a groove on the saw that fits on the track and you can just slide the saw on the rail and make the cut.

The downside of the rail is rubberized, which means once you set it, it won’t move. There is absolutely no need of clamps, opposite of using a circular saw.

To understand what am I talking about, look at the video below. You will get the idea of a track saw and learn why would you need this tool.

Top picks

Whatever your choice is, here are our recommendations.

DEWALT DCS575B FLEXVOLT

As always, DEWALT focus on making the best possible models and once you get the DCS575B FLEXVOLT in your hands, you will feel the difference.

It has a brushless motor that has 5800 RPM and if you combine that with the carbide-tipped blade, you get an unstoppable saw that can handle a variety of tasks.

The blade of 7.25 inches can cut wood with 2 inches thickness in one pass. It has a bevel capacity of 57 degrees, so angles and bevels won’t be a problem.

Buy the DEWALT DCS575B FLEXVOLT here on Amazon.

Features:

  • electronic blade
  • brushless motor
  • 57 degrees bevel capacity

DEWALT DWE575SB

Again, a saw from DEWALT, but this one has one feature you should definitively consider – a laser guide. It is one of the most useful features that can help you to make the most accurate cuts.

Combine the laser guide with an aluminum base plate and you will get the result – straight cuts even if you need to cut several feet of plywood.

Unlike many circular saws, it has an integrated dust blower to keep the line of the laser clear and free. It is a corded tool with a cord protection system that makes the cord 3 times more durable than a standard one.

Buy the DEWALT DWE575SB here on Amazon.

Features:

  • laser guide
  • aluminum base plate
  • integrated dust blower
  • 3 times more durable cord

Festool TS 55 REQ

Although other manufacturers started creating track saws, Festool was the first one to do that and it ended up doing it very well.

This model has a bevel capacity of up to 47 degrees with stops at 0 and 45 degrees. It has a riving knife as well as a  plastic splinter guard, and it is much safer than other track saws.

It has a 10 Amps motor which is not very powerful, but it is more than enough to cut thick wood. Plus, it has an integrated dust collection system.

Buy the Festool TS 55 REQ here on Amazon.

Features:

  • 47 degrees bevel capacity
  • riving knife
  • integrated dust collection system

Makita SP6000J1

Even if you a complete newbie, there is no way that you haven’t heard of Makita. It is one of the largest manufacturers, and their track saws are one of the best on the market.

If you are looking for a powerful and reliable tool, the SP6000J1 is the saw you need. It has a built-in torque limiter for burnouts prevention as well as great motor start.

You can pick from 2000 to 5200 RPM depending on the task and make bevel cuts from -1 to 48 degrees. With the rubberized handles, you will get much comfort while operating with it.

Buy the Makita SP6000J1 here on Amazon.

Features:

  • built-in torque limiter
  • bevel capacity -1 to 48 degrees
  • rubberized handles

Conclusion

To sum up, both the circular saw and the track saw are great for making long, straight, smooth cuts. However, if you need really long cuts and you often cut sheet goods, you may want to consider a track saw, for easily finishing the job and better precision.

What are your thoughts on this? Which tool do you prefer? Share your opinion in the comments section and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.

Related: Portable table saw reviews

Related: Cabinet table saw reviews

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