What Is The Difference Between A Track Saw & Miter Saw?

Both track saw and miter saw are great tools to have in your workshop.

For every professional dealing in wood materials, there are situations where one of these tools is preferred over the other. Of course, they are both used for cutting through materials, but what are their other differences?

Here are comparative details of the track saw vs miter saw: 

  • The critical difference between the track and miter saw is that the track saw makes rip cuts, whereas the miter doesn’t make them; it specializes in crosscuts.
  • A miter saw is a specialty tool, unlike the track saw.
  • Miter saws are primarily stationary. Most of them are mounted on a benchtop, while some can be slightly moved. On the other hand, track saws are entirely mobile.
  • A miter saw allows angled cuts easier, faster, and accurately while a track saw can make long straight cuts.
  • With a track saw, the blade moves across the workpiece along the guided track, whereas, with miter saws, the blade drops from above the workpiece.
  • A miter saw gives you the ability to cut wider pieces out of your material.

In this guide, I’ll highlight the pros, cons, and uses of the track saw and miter to guide you as you shop for a device for your woodworking projects.

Track Saw Overview

Also known as a plunge saw, this tool is used in woodworking to make very long cuts. Track saws come attached to a guiding rail. The rail is then attached to the wood in the exact path you’re about to cut, creating a smooth and straight cut.

Track saws are a good choice for making rips across a wide board. The track saw uses a covered circular blade. It’s an excellent tool choice if you need to cut through plywood or move around job sites.  Their portability makes them perfect for DIY projects at home and workshops with limited space.

To ensure a perfect cut each time, the track saw requires a precise setup. In addition, these track saws come with an in-built dust collection system, which makes them adaptable in areas without good air circulation.

Key Features of a Track Saw

  • Plastic Blade Covers

Exposed saw blades are risky to the user. Track saws have a plastic blade cover as a safety measure to keep woodworkers safe from cuts. With the cutter covered, you can use the tool more safely.

  • Circular Blades

Track saws have circular blades that make almost perfect cuts. The accuracy of these cuts means you don’t have to make any recuts on your workpiece.

  • Guide Rail/Track

Tracks make it easy to have a smooth, clean-cut. Once the rail is attached to the wood, the saw will slide across the rail following the marked lines. The rail reduces the chances of making errors by also holding the blade in place to ensure the cuts get made accurately.

  • Dust Collection System

The shroud on a saw acts as an excellent dust trap. Woodworkers need this dust collection system to direct the debris to the collection port, which keeps the working area clean. In addition, this dust port is well-suited for workshops or spaces that don’t have a good air circulation system.

  • Rubber Strips

To make precise cuts, the blade needs to be held firmly without any slip-ups. With a track saw, you don’t need to use clamps. Instead, the tool has sticky rubber strips on the track bottom that are firm and remain stable throughout the cutting process.

Why You Should Use a Track Saw

Track saws are highly accurate. With the circular blades, you’ll a perfectly straight cut. In addition, the blade is stable and is held down by rubber strips which makes it easier to control during the cutting process.

This tool has track adjustment, which makes cutting much easier. Once the blade is aligned with the track, the cut can be made with one movement.

Furthermore, this tool is perfect for professional woodworkers who have to move around from one work site to the next. It’s portable and fits in your home if you handle a lot of DIY projects. It’s also ideal due to its dust collection system, which helps you keep the environment clean.

Pros

  • It’s a portable device
  • It makes accurate, precise, and smooth cuts
  • It comes with an in-built dust collection port
  • Can make straight, angled, and plunged cuts
  • Users are less prone to injuries
  • It doesn’t require a lot of space in your workshop or home garage
  • It’s a good choice for cutting sheet goods
  • It has blade covers that make it safer
  • Has excellent stability

Cons

  • It comes with less motor power
  • Setting up can be time-consuming

My Recommendation

I recommend the Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2-inch track saw due to its super deep cutting capacity. This device will help you cut through materials much faster because of its powerful speed between 2000RPM and 5200 RPM. In addition, the motor has 12-Amp, which makes it easy to cut through plywood sheets and drywalls.

The track comes with electronic speed control to keep things running smoothly. In addition, the guardrail is long enough, about 55″ long, that it can effectively handle most projects.

This saw has a custom-made rubber grip that keeps the saw stable as you hold it. The cuts delivered will be precise and straight with a splinter-free smooth mirror finish.

Miter Saw Overview  

A miter saw is a specialized power saw used for chopping wood at specific angles. It’s a stationary machine that comes with a workstation. This machine excels well in crosscutting.

Miter saws are a great option if you need to cut a board in half. Because it’s stationary, stable, and powerful, there’s minimal movement during the cutting process. In addition, you can set it on your workbench to help make precise cuts.

You can cut at a precise vertical 90 degrees or 50 degrees at an angle with this tool. This saw is specifically designed to make angled cuts. Miter saws make cuts such as bevel, compound, trim work, and regular board cuts.

Miter saws used in woodwork projects come in a variety of sizes and diameters. The blade ranges from 8 to 12-inch sizes. For instance, when cutting, a 10-inch miter will cut a 2×4 post at 45 degrees, while 12-inch will cut at 2×6 at the same angle.

Key Features of a Miter Saw

  • Protective Blade Guard

To prevent injuries, the blade has a protective guard that comes with each tool. Furthermore, this device has additional fencing that’s attached to the workstation for improved safety.

  • Motor-Powered Cutter

The stationary tool has a strong motor-powered cutter that allows for blades to be precise. A device with more amp has more power.

  • Dust Port

Just like the track saw, the miter saw also comes with an in-built dust collection mechanism. This system traps all the dust and keeps the working surfaces clean.

  • Laser Guides

Miter saws come with laser guides and lights that project a beam on your workpiece. This feature will help and guide you to make accurate cuts.

  • Rotation and Depth Stops

These features make this tool much more flexible. For example, having depth stops allows you to adjust the height of the blade, which controls how deep it cuts into your workpiece.  

  • Blade Guards

The blade has a guard that lowers to cover it when you raise the saw. In addition, you can get miter saws with articulated blade guards that give you a better view of the cutting line.

Why You Should Use A Miter Saw

A miter saw is a specialty tool; therefore, you should only get one if you have specific jobs that require this tool. In addition, miter saws are built to excel at cross-cutting; therefore, they will not be good for ripping.

As a stationary tool, it’s more similar to a table saw; therefore, it would be perfect if you have a workshop or home garage for storage. However, there are some very portable models that are lightweight, and you could take them to a job site. The larger versions are stationary.

Pros

  • You can make repeated cuts
  • You can cut wider pieces at an angle
  • It can be attached to a wide array of workbenches
  • Has essential safety features
  • It produces precise miter cuts
  • It has a fast and simple process
  • You can save time with broader cuts
  • It’s specifically designed to make crosscuts, angled and beveled cuts
  • It’s a good choice for beginners

Cons

  • It’s less versatile than other saws
  • It requires a lot of space for work and storage
  • Most models are not portable
  • As a specialty tool, it’s more costly

My Recommendation

I would recommend the DeWalt DWS780 12-inch Double Bevel Miter Saw due to its high level of functionality. It comes with all the critical features of a miter saw, such as a 12-inch blade, double bevel functionality, and gliding capacity. In addition, the cutting capacity is versatile and can be boosted up to 13 inches.

This miter saw is a bit costly compared to other brands due to its excellent features. Getting a double bevel miter saw comes with many features that are suited for professional contractors or homeowners. This tool is built for heavy-duty tasks that a single bevels miter saw can’t handle.

What to Consider When Buying a Track Saw or a Miter Saw

  • Safety

Both the miter and track saw come fitted with safety features such as the blade guard. This is an essential part, mainly due to the risks involved in using an exposed blade. Both beginners and pros can comfortably use either of these tools in their projects with this feature.

  • Dust Collection

If you are working in a workspace without proper air circulation, you need to get a tool that captures all the dust and debris. Besides, having a clean environment makes it easier to work. Both tools come with an in-built dust collection system for easier management.

  • Portability

The miter saw is mostly stationary. However, some brands are movable. Track saws are portable and can be used in different locations. Therefore, depending on your workspace and project requirements, you can decide whether you need a stationary or movable tool.

  • Type of Cuts You Need To Make

A miter saw is used for specialized tasks. Therefore, if you don’t need to make crosscuts or bevel cuts, you don’t need to purchase this tool. It also doesn’t make rip cuts; for this, you would need a track saw. Therefore, it’s critical to confirm the use of the device before making a purchase.

Summary

Professionals and DIYers can both use the track saw and miter saw in their daily projects. However, both tools have different strengths and abilities; therefore, you need to properly research before settling on one. Depending on the cut you are going for, track saws are good for rip cuts, and the miter saws work best for crosscuts.

Consider the features I have highlighted in this detailed guide when choosing whether to buy a track saw or a milter saw. Both devices definitely have unique capabilities that you should look out for as you shop.

Related Questions

  • Do I Need a Miter Saw If I Have a Track Saw?

With miter saws and table saws, the length and angle of your cut will be limited. However, with a track saw, woodworkers can get accurate and deep cuts no matter the angle. Therefore, only get a miter saw for specific projects that need crosscuts. For other projects, you can use a track saw.

  • Can a Track Saw Be Used Without a Track?

Most saws in the market can operate without a track. However, guiding them using a track guarantees that they’ll make straight and precise cuts. In addition, the tracks make the cutting process much smoother.

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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