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Thread: Track Saw vs Circular Saw vs Table saw Vs Miter saw - Which one to start with?

  1. #1
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    Talking Track Saw vs Circular Saw vs Table saw Vs Miter saw - Which one to start with?

    Hi,

    I realise that all tools are not equal. I remember someone saying that even a table saw does not equal a table saw does not equal a table saw
    But if someone is just getting into the woodworking hobby with a limited space available for the workshop, which one would you guys recommend to buy first? A Track Saw or Circular Saw or a Table saw or a Miter saw, And why?

    Thanks
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 04-08-2021 at 7:42 PM. Reason: Defaulted text for reasability.

  2. #2
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    Hi Amelia,
    It really depends on what you want to build. My first saw was a bandsaw. After about 10 years I added a mitre saw and eventually got a table saw. My “track saw” is simply a circular saw with a homemade guide. It lacks the features and capabilities of a true track saw ( from what I have read anyway) but does what I need.
    What kind of work did you want to do?

  3. #3
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    I would agree that it depends on what you want to build. The thing is, a track saw has its uses, a bandsaw can be a very versatile tool, a miter saw is useful for some things, and a circular saw can be inexpensive and versatile and, with a guide of some sort, accurate also.

    I personally feel that, while the track saw, circular saw, miter saw, and bandsaw all have their uses, I would start out with a "jobsite" table saw. Dewalt, Bosch, Sawstop, and others make great jobsite saws, depending on how much you want to spend and what your preferences are. I own one and love it because it can be folded up, moved out of the way, and, when you need it, just roll it out and unfold it. Plus, I'd say that these saws may be more accurate than the used table saw I started woodworking with a lot of years ago. I think they are high quality saws and have been very happy with mine. They have their limitations in terms of handling larger boards, but I still feel the table saw is the most versatile of saws in the shop and found that it's almost impossible for me to get along without one. So, these saws certainly are something to consider.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia Green View Post
    Hi,

    I realise that all tools are not equal. I remember someone saying that even a table saw does not equal a table saw does not equal a table saw
    But if someone is just getting into the woodworking hobby with a limited space available for the workshop, which one would you guys recommend to buy first? A Track Saw or Circular Saw or a Table saw or a Miter saw, And why?

    Thanks
    If space is an issue, a track saw and MFT/crosscut table will go a long way. I'd highly recommend taking a look at Peter Millard's 10 Minute Workshop videos, as well as his 10-part series on track saws.

  5. #5
    An angle is difficult to cut on a trak saw but not on a table saw. You can't rip on a miter saw but you can on a table saw. A circular saw can do many things but it can't do anything that a table saw can't do. Build your shop around a table saw then add those other tools as your wallet allows.

  6. #6
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    I would say table saw first but as everyone has said it does depend on what you want to build

  7. #7
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    Your question is impossible to answer without knowing what you intend to build. Track saws shine on sheet goods bit so much on hardwoods. Table saws require a lot of infeed and outfeed support and lots of accessories to be as versatile as they can be. Miter saws only cut off ends of sticks. Unless your 1st projects are moldings, you probably do not want to start there.

    Everyone needs a circular saw sooner or later so it is not a bad place to start. A better place to start is to plan your 1st project and then buy the minimum set of tools necessary to accomplish that project. If you have plenty of cash then just go buy whatever your heart desires. If not, acquire tools, as needed, along the way.

  8. #8
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    You said "woodworking" and "limited space" I would also ask what are your plans are. If you plan on starting out building small things like bird houses then most tools may be too big. If you would like to learn how to make furniture then larger tools would be needed. Of course there's always the money aspect. If it's tight then you'll want to think about not just what you want to start with but where you want to get to. Lots of people say "buy your second tool first". What this means is don't buy a cheap tool that'll limit you in a short amount of time. If you do you'll end up spending more than you would have.

    A circular saw is good for construction. It can be used with a straight edge to act like a track saw.

    A track saw is very useful for cutting sheets of plywood down to a manageable size. It can be used to cut wood but as the pieces get smaller it becomes less useful.

    A table saw is usually the center of a wood shop. With proper skills it can cut sheets of plywood as well as rip and crosscut wood. With tools you can make, like a sled, it can make most cuts. It's the center piece of a woodworking shop because it takes up a lot more room than the other saws you listed. It's the one tool, above all the others you listed, that really requires someone to teach you how to safely use it.

    A miter saw is useful for cutting lumber. It can make square cuts as well as ones at angles. A table saw can also make these cuts but unlike a table saw the wood doesn't move so longer pieces are easier to deal with. A compound miter saw can cut two angles at once. That's something a table saw can do.

    A band saw (not listed) is also useful. With it you can cut curves. That's something none of the other saws can do. The cut edges are not as smooth as what the other saws will produce and will require further finishing before the next step in a project, like gluing.

    This is pretty basic but hopefully gives you a place to start.

  9. #9
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    My suggestion is to base it on what you want your first project to be. Pick the tool (or tools) that gets your first project done. As you do more projects you’ll identify and purchase more tools to accomplish it.

    Then if you end up anything like me, you will find yourself continually buying more tools ;-)

  10. #10
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    In my experience, the saw usage for ripping stock in my shop is approximately 90% table saw, 5% track saw, 5% bandsaw. For crosscutting in my shop, it is 75% chop saw, 25% sliding table saw.

    This is from 30 years of doing woodworking as a hobby and as a job. There are lots of people trying to sell table saw alternatives, sort through all that sales pitch and the table saw still reigns supreme. A smaller version, along with a good chop saw (doesn't have to be a slider), will build practically anything.

  11. #11
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    Table saw first.
    Their are many versions of "table saws". Some weigh less than 100lbs. Some will weigh in excess of 1 ton. There is no limit to the number of jigs and fixtures folks have invented to do work on a table saw. You can accomplish everything on a table saw that the other three saws can do with the appropriate fixture or jig. You just lack the portablity.
    Ripping a board, and crosscutting a board, are the bread and butter of a table saw. It cannot be done faster, repeatedly, and more accurately with the other three. Especially ripping to width.
    Miter saw would be second. A good miter saw is going to be expensive, but setup properly it is capable of some very good work. It has the ability to cut compound angles much more quickly, and effortlessly, than a table saw.
    A tracksaw would be third. A tracksaw makes breaking down plywood panels easier and safer than struggling with it on a table saw. If you know that you'll be doing a fair amount of work with plywood panels, the tracksaw would be my second choice.
    A circular saw by itself has limited use in wood working. It's good to have one around for the rough work you wouldn't want to use your tracksaw for.

    You have omitted the bandsaw. A woodworking shop needs a good bandsaw.Problem is that they are big, heavy, and tall.A lot of folks just don't have the room for a big one.
    A small one can cut the "curvy" shapes easy enough.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 04-09-2021 at 9:50 AM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  12. #12
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    I find a track saw and a circ saw to be somewhat redundant. For most projects a table saw rips and a miter saw crosscuts. There you go. You want to cut curves or resaw you need a bandsaw. My power saws in order over 50 years: circ saw, RAS, miter saw, abrasive cut off saw, table saw, bandsaw, track saw, flooring (Skil) saw. Not counting saber saw or tile saw or reciprocating saw or buzz saw (oscillating saw). Only one not still in my shop is the RAS and tile saw.
    NOW you tell me...

  13. #13
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    Like most of the replies here I vote for the tablesaw as #1.

    If you live in a big metro area you can find any number of tablesaws for sale on sites like craigslist, some very cheaply, from vintage to almost new.
    If you have limited space but lots of money a Sawstop is a good and safer saw.

    A good jig saw can do a lot of what a bandsaw can do - not as accurately - but you can use a jig saw on parts that are too heavy to lift onto a bandsaw table.

    Like tablesaws, miter / chop saws are available used too. If you get a lighter 8" slider you can store it out of the way until you need it. Some of the larger ones can be heavier, but I have a 12" Rigid that is actually very light and easy to lift around.
    Last edited by Mark Gibney; 04-09-2021 at 11:51 AM.

  14. #14
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    Also without knowing what your plans are. I would say first is a GOOD circular saw. Worm drive. Back in the day, they built entire houses with just a Skil wormdrive. You can build a workbench, which is a great thing to have. Next I would say a GOOD miter saw. I can build picture frames with my vintage Dewalt. It's accurate enough to do that. Cabinet table saw. Track saw last since some have mentioned you can get a guide for the circ saw to get by. I personally do not have a track saw. I do have 3 band saws, which others have mentioned a great tool too.

  15. #15
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    For me Radial Arm saw first then table saw then panel saw then band saw, circular saw, jig saw
    Need to know WHAT YOU ARE PLANNING ON BUILDING to advise you
    please post more info for us to advise you better
    Ron

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