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Thread: Make your own track saw tracks

  1. #1

    Make your own track saw tracks

    For years I used a DeWalt circular saw with a home made guide for breaking down sheet goods. Usually I cut on the ground or on my assembly table, using foam insulation board underneath for support and protection.

    Last year I upgraded to a Makita track saw, mostly for the dust collection, partly for the plunge cutting capability. The saw came with a 55" track but I thought the price for the 118" version was astronomical (I think the oversized shipping has something to do with this). Some woodworkers like to make their solutions to problems rather than buy them. So I made my own tracks out of 1/2" MDF which turned to be surprisingly easy to do. I made one about 115" long and another 72" which works out well for 5x5 Baltic Birch sheets. To give them some non-skid grip, I sprayed the underside with Plasti-Dip. They seem to grip pretty well, but occasionally I need to wipe them down to clear off dust.

    There's no difference in the performance of the shop made tracks versus the aluminum, but the aluminum ones are cooler, a little lighter, and say "Makita" on them. Make the guide a little oversize in width and trim it to zero clearance with the first cut. The aluminum ones come with an extruded slot for using their spiffy clamps. I kept a clamping ledge so I could use regular old F clamps. With the non skid backing, many people don't clamp at all, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

    I've posted some photos. For anyone who needs tracks and wants to save some coin, I hope this is helpful.

    By the way, the other thing I learned about track saws is they come with a very fine finishing blade. If you're going to cut thicker or denser material, it pays to buy a coarser tooth blade or the saw will labor. Mine came with a 48 tooth, I added a 28 tooth and 14 tooth blade, both from Freud.
    Edwin

    Track saw-1.jpgTrack saw-2.jpgTrack saw-3.jpgTrack saw-4.jpgTrack saw-6.jpgTrack saw-7.jpg
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    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 02-16-2018 at 9:17 PM.

  2. #2
    This is awesome! Nice work!

  3. #3
    That's a great idea! Thanks for posting it!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    744
    Great idea!

    Makes me feel much better now when I use a long homemade straight edge and my cordless circular saw...
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Deep South
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    3,764
    Well done! I was contemplating buying the long Makita track because I have an onsite job where I won't have a table saw to rip full sheets of plywood. I may just build one of these first and see how it works out.

    I used a Dewalt circular saw (non plunge) and home made cutting guide for decades before getting a real track saw. My opinion is that the track saw is worth the money. I can achieve a level of precision and quality of cut that exceeds that of a saw made for house construction.

  6. #6
    Very nice. I made a miter box sort of thing for my track saw which I've found to be very handy and taking it to the work site is a whole lot easier than bringing the 12" SCMS.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Trinidad, West Indies
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    397
    Nice. Thanks for posting.

    MK

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    8,578
    How did you ensure the straightness of the track -- particularly the long one?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    How did you ensure the straightness of the track -- particularly the long one?
    Jamie, I'm not sure I understand your question, but maybe this will answer it - I cut the track blank a bit oversized at the table saw where the fence is parallel to the blade. Then I cut a shallow groove at the table saw with a dado set for the rail the saw rides on, which is a very snug sliding fit, like how you would fit a table saw sled runner. Once the rail was glued, I think I used a spacer to glue and brad nail the outside left ledge. I milled a tongue on the ledge to preserve the anti-tip mechanism feature on the Makita saw. The first cut with the track saw trimmed the right (cut) side to exact size and zero clearance and parallel to the rail. I then waxed the whole face so the saw would slide nicely.

    The longer track required joining two pieces which I did with dowels and glue with pocket screws for clamping.

    One minor drawback of the homemade track is a loss of cut depth capacity by about 1/4" because the aluminum stock track is thinner. Other than that, wherever you place the track will be the exact cut line.

    Edwin
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 02-18-2018 at 8:49 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    744
    I do not have a track saw so this thread is especially enlightening for me.

    I did did not notice the shallow dado into which you inserted the guide track. So the answer to Jamie’s question is the track will be as straight as your table saw made the dado. I suppose if one wanted to, the straightness could be measured.

    But “the proof is in the pudding” method seems to indicate you are satisfied with the result in practice, so it must be pretty straight.

    Bill
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

  11. #11
    I can't see these photos. Is it my account or are the links broken?

  12. #12
    Good idea Edwin. Thanks for sharing it!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Pollin View Post
    I can't see these photos. Is it my account or are the links broken?
    Hi Pat. This post explains what's changed. LINK
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
    Posts
    262
    Very nice... If I didn't already own a couple of 4' Festool tracks, I'd be copying your project.

  15. #15
    Nice! -------------------

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