Right On Trac(k)

Trac_1Building reproductions you seldom get the opportunity to use plywood. But when it comes to shop paraphernalia, sheet goods rule. The bitch on plywood is that the large panels can be a bear to lift to the table saw and keep against the fence throughout the entire cut – without that, you’re not going to have a square or straight line. So what’s an easy way to breakdown plywood?

Have you heard of a track saw? Yeah, I know they are expensive. (Got help for that a little farther in.) Those saws, however, do a great job. You don’t need to cut to the line because a couple of tick marks are all you need to set the track, and you can stop and re-start the cut at your liking – try letting go of a circular saw before the tool winds down completely; it could run a figure 8 around your wrist. Best yet, all the cuts are as straight and true as the factory edge, as long as you’re correct in your setup – it’s hard to get away from Operator Error, right!

IMG_2797I think these saws are worth the money if you build plenty using plywood, particle board or melamine ; I’m not such a fan of using track saws on hardwood lumber. If a track saw is a bit more “out of pocket” than you feel comfortable handing over to the store clerk, you need to check into True Trac.

With their system, you get an adapter plate that mounts to the bottom of your own circ saw. It’s so easy to do. Plus, in the 8′ combo kit, you get two pieces of track (105″ total) that mount together – it’s a better track than what comes with the other saws because it has dovetailed keys to help keep things aligned – and the adapter plate, along with some other goodies. It’s everything you need to cut plywood into whatever lengths and widths you need.

As a member of 360 Woodworking, if you click here, you can read all about my $50 Shop Cabinets and watch a short video showing exactly how effective track saws are for plywood work. You are a subscriber, aren’t you?)

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— Glen D. Huey

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2 thoughts on “Right On Trac(k)

  1. I’d have to cut a lot more plywood than I currently do to justify the cost of a track saw. Costs reach the price of a medium quality stationary tool (planer, band saw, belt-disk sander, or two or three routers).

    I use a circular saw with a commercial edge guide or shop-made guide. I have a gauge that I made that indicates where the kerf is from the edge of the saw guide and use that to set up. The shop-built one is zeroed into the cut line. I like the certainty of clamping either down and not relying on friction. All I give up is the plunge feature. If I need a more precise cut, I can cut a bit oversize and trim down on the table saw.

    But I’m wondering why mfrs don’t just make a circular saw with a 3/4″ wide groove in the bottom?

    And I’m still waiting for someone to create something like a Domino for 1/3 the price.

    1. Keith,
      I agree that a woodworker would need to be cutting many sheets of plywood to spend funds on track saws. But if that’s the case, these saws are wicked-good. And the reason I pointed out the True Trac system is because it’s about half the cost of other manufacturer’s tools – even if you need to purchase a circ saw (about $99), True Trac is still substantially less money.

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