Track Saw VS Table Saw

Are you wondering whether the woodwork you’ve got planned will be done better with a track saw or a table saw? 

Track saws and table saws are often used interchangeably. What can be done with one can usually be done with the other. For some specific projects, you may want to use one over the other.

If you’re looking for the finer details of the track saw vs table saw debate, you’ll find everything you need to know below.

Track Saw VS Table Saw Summary

Table saws are best for use in a wood workshop. They’re bigger, bulkier, and more powerful machines that can do precision work and also handle large volumes of material. Table saws excel at being stationary in a production-style setting. The main downside to them is the difficulty in transporting one around and that they are not quite as good at certain types of cut.  

Track saws, on the other hand, are easily transportable and are geared towards more irregular use. A track saw can be carried under one arm making them ideal for tradesmen or DIYers with limited storage space. While it will usually take longer to prepare each cut, it will be possible to perform the same cuts with a track saw as it is with a table saw. 

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re working in a workshop and have space then a table saw is best. If you’re limited on space or if you plan on moving around, then a track saw is best…

That said, if you’re planning on cutting large pieces of sheet material or on making long, angled cuts then extra thought is required. 

What is a Track Saw Used For?

Track saws normally consist of two parts. There is a long straight track that is laid on top of a piece of timber in the direction that a cut will be made. Next, there is the saw, which travels up and down the track performing a cut. 

Track saws can be used to make a wide variety of cuts but are primarily designed for performing long straight cuts, usually in sheet material. Large plywood sheets are an example of something that would commonly be cut with a track saw. 

The track can be placed on any piece of timber at any angle required. The blade will usually cut to a maximum depth of around 2 inches and can be tilted to perform beveled cuts if necessary. 

Other specialist cuts can be performed as well by modifying the way the saw is used. Ultimately a track saw can be modified to perform most of the cuts that a table saw can do. 

The portability of track saws is key to their popularity. One way to think of them is as a travel table saw. 

Looking to purchase a track saw? Check out our best track saw buying guide.

Benefits of a Track Saw

  • Good for long straight rip cuts
  • Good for long angled cuts in sheet material
  • Portable
  • Easy to store
  • Easier to use for solo work
  • Cleaner, smoother cuts
  • Safer – they are generally regarded as safer than table saws.

Downsides of a Track Saw

  • Labor intensive – Each cut usually requires a fresh setup
  • Less powerful – they may struggle on thick or dense timber
  • Less versatile – they are limited for use in making accurate, short, or complex cuts
  • Slower for repetitive work

What is a Table Saw Used For?

Table saws consist of a flat table with a guide rail (known as a fence) along one side. Timber is pushed along the guide rail and is cut by a circular saw blade that sticks up through the table. On top of these basic features, the angle and depth of the blade can be adjusted and there are several other additional attachments.

Table saws can also be used for making long straight cuts in timber and are highly accurate in doing so. On top of this, they can also perform a huge range of other types of cuts. Notably, they are good at performing short and delicate cuts.

The key thing with table saws is that they are very accurate and highly adjustable, with beveled cuts, deeper cuts, dadoes, and rabbets all possible without much difficulty. On top of this, once a table saw has been set up to perform a certain cut, new timber can be fed into it. This makes it easy to perform repeated cuts, as is often needed. 

Looking for a budget table saw? Check out the best table saws under $1000.

Benefits of a Table Saw

  • Very good for fast and accurate repeated cuts
  • Great for production style work
  • Can make deeper cuts  – 3 to 4 inches normally vs 2 inches for a track saw 
  • Narrow cuts, dadoes, and rabbets are all possible
  • Highly versatile
  • Highly accurate – good for delicate cuts and for cutting smaller pieces
  • Powerful – good for tough and thick materials
  • Best for workshop situation

Downsides of a Table Saw

  • More difficult to operate with large pieces of sheet material
  • Difficult to perform long angled cuts across pieces of sheet material
  • Not easily transportable – best kept in a workshop
  • Need a large amount of space in which to be used
  • Generally regarded as less safe than track saws
  • More expensive than a track saw

When to Use a Track Saw Over a Table Saw

Track saws are perfect if you plan on changing where you will be working frequently. They also often make a better choice than a table saw if you plan on cutting a large amount of sheet material.

Track saws can be carried anywhere very easily and stored in a small space. They’re more of an on-the-go style tool. You take your track saw to the timber and set up and perform each cut one at a time. While there is a lot of setting up, it is still possible to do most cuts.  

One area in which track saws significantly outperform table saws is in making long angled cuts in sheet material. That is any cut that isn’t at 90 degrees. On a table saw, this requires a difficult setup. Whereas on a track saw, the track can just be set and the cut can be made. 

When to Use a Table Saw Over a Track Saw

Track saws cannot do some jobs efficiently and are particularly poor at repetitive work. On top of this, they’re also less useful for precision work.  

If you can work in a workshop or recreate a workshop setting every time you use your saw, then a table saw will be best. They’re much more accurate and once you have set the saw to perform a certain kind of cut, you will be able to make very accurate repeat cuts very quickly.

One area in which table saws significantly outperform track saws is in making long, narrow rip cuts. It is far easier to set up and perform this kind of cut with a table saw than it is with a track saw. 

Track Saw VS Table Saw FAQ

Can you plunge cut with a track saw?

Track saws are otherwise referred to as plunge saws. So, as you can guess, it’s very easy to plunge cut with a track saw. It is possible to plunge cut with a table saw, but it takes a long time.  

Do table saws or track saws have dust collectors?

Nowadays, both table saws and track saws feature either a dust collector or fittings to allow dust extraction. Commonly, track saws come with a hoover fitting which allows a hoover to be attached. 

Are track saws safer?

While safety ultimately depends on the user, track saws are generally regarded as safer than table saws. 

Can you cut angles with a track saw?

It is much easier to cut angles with a track saw than it is with a table saw. In some cases, extra attachments will be required or the setup procedure for cutting angles with a table saw will be lengthy. 

I’m new to woodworking, what saw would you suggest?

If you have the space to create a workshop and you know that you will be performing a large number of repetitive or precision cuts, then get yourself a table saw. Otherwise, you’ll probably find that you can get what you need to get done with a track saw. 

Importantly, if you’re planning on moving around a lot then a track saw will be much easier to use.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing is to think about how you will be using your saw. This depends on both where you’ll be working and what you’ll be doing.

For wood workshops and production style work, a table saw is usually best. For remote and irregular work, a track saw is usually best.

Hopefully, you know clearly what kind of work you’ll be doing. If you think you might be doing a bit of both, then don’t worry about it too much because, as I said at the start, what you can do with one you can normally do with the other as well.

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