Track Saw Vs Circular Saw | What Is The Difference?

Track saws and circular saws are some of the most popular tools among DIYers and professional woodworkers. However, choosing between the two is a challenge because there are a lot of varieties in the market, and they are both great tools.

The two products have circular blades and can perform both angled and straight cuts. Similarly, one can involve both saws to cut different materials, although they are different in applications. So, what is their difference? 

Here are comparative details of the two saws:  

  • The critical difference is that a circular saw has a long and rectangular rail in the front, unlike its counterpart. A circular saw performs double cuts as the rip cuts and the crosscut, whereas the track saw three. 
  • The circular saw has a protective guard, whereas the track saw has none.
  • A track saw has an enclosed blade to enhance dust extraction, whereas the circular saw lacks this feature. 
  • A circular saw is slightly heavy hence not easy to carry, whereas the track saw is lighter. 

In this detailed review, I’ll make it easier for you to make informed choices when choosing between track saws and circular saws.

What’s A Track Saw?

The track saw uses an elongated metal guide with a unique cutting system. Additionally, this device can make incredible cuts precisely. It’s also circular and runs on a metal guide as you cut. 

The rubber strips assist in holding the materials as you work. In extreme cases, you can use a clamp to perform a similar role of holding.

Track saws are popular with DIYers and professionals due to their ease of use and high level of accuracy. In addition, this hand-held device lacks a rail guard hence allowing the user to work with more freedom. 

Key Features of a Track Saw 

  • Dust Collection

They come with a dust bag to assist in keeping your workspace clean by collecting all the dust virtually. When you are not using the duct bag, you can fold it down for storage and space spacing transportation.

  • Tracks

The role of tracks is to stabilize the saw so that the operator does not worry about slipping. In addition, it prevents the saw from moving away from the line-marked lines accidentally.

  • Scoring Capability

Scoring capability is another great feature that’s present in most track saws. It makes it possible for you to limit the depth of the cut.

  • Blade Cover

Track saws have blade covers that are easy to install and remove and are usually made of plastic. These covers are essential as they improve dust extraction.

  • Circular Blade

Track saws use circular blades with hoods.

Benefits of a Track Saw 

Track saws are ideal equipment because they produce smooth and precise cuts consistently. You can also be able to cut long straight lines even beyond a hundred feet.

As I earlier stated, with a track saw, you can be able to set up the depth and cut the materials to your preference. Track saws are also perfect for cutting drywall as their dust collection features help to reduce the mess.

Pros

  • Collects dust which is convenient to dispose 
  • Flexible as one can set varying depths 
  • Provides smooth and precise cut
  • It has a space-saving design 
  • Lightweight and portable
  • It has an excellent cutting capacity 
  • Excellent safety features
  • Very stable to use 

Cons 

  • Set up process is time-consuming 
  • Most types lack a riving knife 

My Recommendation

I recommend Makita SPJ6000J1 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw because it has a super deep cutting capacity to enable one to achieve larger cutting depths. In addition, the saw enjoys a speed of between 2000RPM and 5200 RPM to enable one to complete tasks faster.

This saw delivers precise straight-line cuts coupled with a splinter-free smooth mirror finish. It also has a customized rubberized grip to promote desirable ergonomic comforts and reduce hand fatigue.

What’s A Circular Saw?

A circular saw consists of rotating sharp-toothed discs that can slice through various metal, plastic, and wood materials. This saw gets its power from electricity, although there are rare versions that use gasoline. 

The circular saws model can be either cordless or corded. The cordless models require batteries to produce power.

The most outstanding aspect of a circular saw is that it’s quick. Circular saws have a unique design making them ideal for large projects. In addition, circular saws are versatile tools that can cut metal, wood, and plastic, and they can also achieve crosscuts and rip cuts. There are various types of circular saws, including warm drive, hypoid, sidewinder, and abrasive.

Key Features of a Circular Saw

  • Riving Knife

It prevents the working piece from squeezing and causes the blade to burn the wood. Such could happen, especially when handling hardwood.

  • Blade Brake

It’s a safety feature that stops your saw from working within seconds if you are in a dangerous situation. In addition, an incorporated blade brake system offers more convenience when you are switching your saw on and off.

  • Blade Guard

The blade guard is a safety feature covering the saw blade when placed in a parking position or when the saw is resting on the ground.

Benefits of the Circular Saw

The circular saw could be the perfect fit if you have challenges with a jagged edge that requires a quick cut. Circular saws are also suitable for making cuts in tight spaces, which could be problematic when using a track saw. 

Pros 

  • Available in both left and right-handed design 
  • Smaller motor with a manageable noise level
  • Efficient for regular rough cuts 
  • Lightweight and handy 
  • It does not need oiling
  • The saw is cost-effective 
  • Easy to use 
  • Available in many different types

Cons

  • The cuts are less accurate and fine 

My Recommendation

I recommend DEWALT 20V MAX 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw (DCS570B) as the best circular saw. It’s easy to use, versatile and has a bevel capacity that ranges to 57 degrees.

This circular saw uses a brushless motor to deliver excellent performance when cross-cutting a hard material. With a maximum speed of 5500 RPM, this saw can slice through different materials and enable you to complete your tasks faster.

What to Consider Before Buying a Circular or Track Saw

Getting the right saw to serve your need requires gathering enough facts before making an informed decision which compliments your needs.

The following are some of the tips I believe you should consider when looking for a track or circular saw.

  1. Speed Settings 

Good saws should allow the operator to adjust the speed accordingly. When you control the speed, you prevent certain eventualities from occurring, such as dulling the blade or burning the wood. For example, track saws feature a speed range of 2000RPM to 5000RPM. 

The high speed is suitable for soft materials such as pine plywood. However, you can reduce the speed if you are handling dense wood like walnut. One benefit of using lower speed is that it helps to keep the blade in the proper cutting condition and prevent unsightly burn marks.  

  1. Motor Power 

The right saw should be powerful enough to handle the required tasks. For cordless saws, be sure to check their power by looking at their battery voltage rating. For example, a 40V operated saw will be more powerful than a 24V saw.

Power dictates the working ability of the saw. A powerful saw slices through smoothly and faster. Higher power becomes ideal when dealing with soft materials.  

  1. Corded vs. Cordless 

I prefer using corded saws because I do not worry about charging or changing batteries, as is the case with cordless saws, especially if you are in the middle of a demanding task. If you stop in the middle to change that battery, the chances of making unwanted marks on the workpiece are high. In addition, with this option, you experience unlimited power. 

  1. Safety Measures 

The ideal saw should have a safety mechanism that shields the operator from getting injuries. For example, a track saw has specially designed bases that move on a track to make them safer to use over long cuts. 

The track saw has a predetermined path to allow the saw blade to move. The user has an allowance to foresee any obstacles that could cause a kickback. In case of a kickback, a cam lock prompts the saw from pushing back at the operator. 

  1. Bevel Capacity 

If the saw has an adjustable bevel, it becomes more flexible and versatile. One advantage of a saw with good bevel capacity is that it saves the operator from going an extra step during the production process. 

When you make 45-degree bevels on the sheets or boards, it assists in building furniture or bookshelves since it enhances the surface area for convenient glue contact. Furthermore, it creates a perfect joint without the requirement for edge-banding to fill ugly plywood edges. 

  1. Blade Size 

The blade size determines the thickness of the materials the saw can comfortably slice through. For example, a standard saw blade of 6.5 inches can cut materials of around two inches in thickness. Larger blades with a size of 8.25 inches can slice through 2.75 inch thick materials effortlessly.

The Final Say

Choosing a suitable saw for your tasks requires a broad understanding of both track and circular saws. As I earlier highlighted, the two saws have notable differences, making them suitable for particular tasks. For instance, a track saw allows the user to customize it to cut varying depths. In addition, this saw has a dust collector to prevent any messes in your working area. 

The circular saw comes in handy when you want to handle specialized jobs that require precise cuts. Since such saws are flexible, they accommodate left and right-hand handlers. In addition, they are easy and fast to use. 

Related Questions 

  • What mechanisms make a track saw stay in place? 

Track saws are usually attached to guiding rail which helps to line up the path you are about to cut. Track saws also have non-slip and non-marring pads on the underside ensuring that their base sticks to the guiding rail as you cut.

  • How worthy is a cordless circular saw? 

A cordless circular saw allows you to cut various materials such as plastic, metal, and wood with ease. Moreover, you get to enjoy unlimited portability since it uses a battery as its power source.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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James Thomas

Hi, I’m James. I created The Tool Square to help as many understand and know how to use Table Saws, and many other tool-related products. About Me.

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