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Thread: Cheap but decent circ saw for dedicated track saw?

  1. #1
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    Cheap but decent circ saw for dedicated track saw?

    Both of my hand circular saws are worm gears, and I don't want to take them out of the general-use rotation by rigging them up as track saws – plus, they're heavy, and I want something lighter – so I'm looking at purchasing a cheap but decent circular saw for use as a dedicated track saw for breaking up plywood.

    It needs to have/be:
    7-1/4" blade
    120VAC (IOW not battery/rechargeable)
    easily replaceable brushes
    cheap
    preferably a model that has zillions of copies out in the wild that I can cannibalize for parts if necessary in the future

    Anyone have any recommendations for new or used models? I found a $28 jobbie at Walmart but it looks like changing brushes would be tough.

    (I started with worm gears and I've used worm gears almost exclusively ever since, so I don't know much about the sidewinder type, but that's what I'm looking for...)

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Jacob Reverb; 06-29-2019 at 1:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    Do people change brushes in these things? I never have, but I'm no pro.

  3. #3
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    I had one of those rigs for years before track saws came out. A key issue is that whatever runs against the straight edge - usually the left edge of the shoeŚ should be parallel to the blade. Otherwise you cut kinda sideways. I had an old Dewalt sidewinder in mine.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Barry View Post
    Do people change brushes in these things? I never have, but I'm no pro.
    I've worn out a lot of universal motor tools (pro & hobby use), but I've never had to change the brushes in any of them.

  5. #5
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    Amazon lists the Skil 5280-01 as their best-selling circular saw, so I guess there must be a lot of them out there. It sells for $50:

    https://www.amazon.com/5280-01-15-Am...XFCZNXW4E6DK0W

    If you think the $28 Walmart saw would meet your needs, I don't think I'd worry about how hard it is to replace the brushes. At that price, it's a disposable.

  6. #6
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    Jacob
    I think the only way that you'll be able to get "cheap and decent", is buying used.
    You stated " track saw". Is it that you intend to use an aftermarket guide rail system,as in EZ, or just reference it to an edge of a home made guide?
    Craigslist is full of circular saws for sale. Some were actually quite expensive in their day, but are now only worth $25-$50 dollars. Especially if they have a cord on them.
    The metal cases for my Milwaukee tools are worth more than the tools themselves these days. I use this as an example of relative worth.

  7. #7
    I am sure you can rig something up for cutting plywood to rough dimensions involving a circular saw but I would not call it a track saw. My DeWalt track saw cuts plywood to finished dimensions with edges at least as good as I get on my SawStop table saw. My Milwaukee circular saw will not do that with any blade I have used on it. I think the bearings on the arbor on the track saw are better so the blade does not wobble was much. The other advantage is the dado in the base of the saw for the track rib. You can adjust the dado to get the saw riding with essentially no play. Absent a machinest making an equivalent track and base for a circular saw I do not think you can get equivalent performance. And in my opinion you are still left with a saw with inferior bearings.

    To me circular saws are cruder break down and construction tools where tracksaws are fine woodworking tools.

  8. #8
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    "Cheap but decent". That contradictory phrase is wide open for interpretation. Many of the name circular saw manufacturers produce saws at 2 or 3 price points, and their quality tends to parallel that model's price. Obviously the more expensive models are considered their pro models, and they have a higher amp motor with heavier windings in the armature, replaceable brushes, better quality bearings, etc. Then there is usually a mid-price option that is considered a better quality homeowners model, obviously a step down from the pro but normally higher amp rating than the next level, and at the cheapest price point, and generally lowest amp rating is the entry level or cheapest homeowners line. So then what you consider a decent price point would depend on where you set your value vs. dollar invested, and that is normally an individual decision.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, guys.

    Was going to make something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW_1AQ_Wm8E

    Idea is simply to break plywood into manageable-size pieces – final dimensioning on table saw and/or jointer – so I can't see taking a second mortgage to afford it.

    I'll just go to the flea market and see if I can find something around $10. Thanks again. Problem solved.
    Last edited by Jacob Reverb; 06-29-2019 at 6:44 PM.

  10. #10
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    I use the 35 dollar Skil circular saw from Lowes for things I don't want to put a good saw in. I've used it with a water hose running on the surface of Granite, and Quartz countertop material, and concrete, and probably dry more than it should have. It's been used with a metal cutting carbide tipped blade for cutting metal roofing sheets. We can't kill the thing, and it still cuts a straight line. If it ever needs brushes, I'll just toss it.

    My favorite sidewinder is the Porter Cable 347, and 743 (matched pairs of left and right bladed). They are discontinued now, and go for more money than they cost when they were new on ebay, but I've picked up a couple of spares off of CL that are like new, for 50 and 35 dollars.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Reverb View Post
    Thanks, guys.

    Was going to make something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW_1AQ_Wm8E

    Idea is simply to break plywood into manageable-size pieces – final dimensioning on table saw and/or jointer – so I can't see taking a second mortgage to afford it.

    I'll just go to the flea market and see if I can find something around $10. Thanks again. Problem solved.
    Brushes would be the very last thing I would worry about on a $28 saw from China. Hard to imagine it would fit into your decent category. Imagine using a saw for a good cut on a sheet of plywood that may cost more than 3 times the machinery. You dimension plywood on a jointer? Man that has to be death to the blades in it's not an insert head!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Klosky View Post
    "Cheap but decent". That contradictory phrase is wide open for interpretation. Many of the name circular saw manufacturers produce saws at 2 or 3 price points, and their quality tends to parallel that model's price. Obviously the more expensive models are considered their pro models, and they have a higher amp motor with heavier windings in the armature, replaceable brushes, better quality bearings, etc. Then there is usually a mid-price option that is considered a better quality homeowners model, obviously a step down from the pro but normally higher amp rating than the next level, and at the cheapest price point, and generally lowest amp rating is the entry level or cheapest homeowners line. So then what you consider a decent price point would depend on where you set your value vs. dollar invested, and that is normally an individual decision.
    I was doing seams in laminate countertops with a shop made track setup long before I knew Festool existed. I love my tracksaws, but the idea that a regular saw can't get equally good results is ridiculous. At the end day, it's just a blade attached to an arbor attached to a motor.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny means View Post
    I was doing seams in laminate countertops with a shop made track setup long before I knew Festool existed. I love my tracksaws, but the idea that a regular saw can't get equally good results is ridiculous. At the end day, it's just a blade attached to an arbor attached to a motor.
    I have seen entry level saws (B&D $45 on sale at Hugh M Woods) with very little use that had in excess of 1/16" of side to side slop in the blade. So no, what I had stated is not so ridiculous. I am happy that you were able to get acceptable cuts with what you had. However that is not always the case with entry level tools.

  14. #14
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    Yeah - I gotta side with Mark. The good track saws - Makita, DeWalt, Festool - are on the same par with the good circular saws....and when you get right down to it, they just aren't that much more expensive than a good non-track circular saw - all things/features considered.

    I look at it this way -- a shop made guide is like a shop made table saw fence. Yeah - they both work, but, which one is going to be better and safer and more accurate?

    Having said that - I'm right now in the process of making a track system for the little 3 3/8" 12V cordless Makita saw I bought. It should be dandy for cutting flooring.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  15. #15
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    If you can find an old Speedmatic they cut better than a Festool if in good shape. Heavier than a dead priest but extremely accurate. Its what I used until I bought a festool. It would be easy to add a HMW base and use a track. They work better with the optional wide base that Porter cable made. They do run on forever, but that although sometimes a drawback speaks to the quality of the bearings. I gave mine to a collector and wish I had not done that now.

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