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  1. #1
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    Default Makita Plunge Cut Circular Track Saw V Regular Circular Saw

    Hey guys!
    Been searching for an answer but I have not found what I am looking for, so I thought i'd ask the question here.

    I was at the hardware store today and saw the makita circular track saw for $850 with 2 rails (1400mm long x 2) and 2 clamps.
    However I am now thinking, I can purchase a quality circular saw for around $300-400 and a good straightedge, and this would do the job fine? But being a novice I think I am missing something that the track saws offers, besides the fact you can do obviouslly do plunge cuts.

    What appeals to me is the easy set up and accurate cutting that the rails would offer, but then I think, with practice I could get those straight cuts with my straightedge.

    So any input would be great!
    The sort of work I do ranges from making work bences, to wine racks, storage boxes etc!
    I have also just put an down payment on a Makita LS1214L

    Thanks guys
    Andy.

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  3. #2
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    hi andy, i work as a carpenter. i have used a makita circular saw and a good straight edge for years and it works perfectly.

    you just have to take into consideration the measurement from the saw blade to the edge of the circular saws base plate.
    very easy to do but not the fastest way to do it.

    the new makita saw and track guide are based on a 1964 design by a company called festool.

    as a carpenter time is money, so it is important for me to do these tasks as quickly as possible.

    if i was a hobbyist i would not buy it, having said that once you have used a track saw system, there is no going back.

    i cant imagine not having the track saw now, it puts a smile on my face every time i take it out of the box.

    if you are thinking seriously about buying a track saw, plunge cut saw, whatever you choose to call it, you should take a look at festool.com.au

    btw. i have used the makita drop saws all my life. i consider it the best dropsaw for carpentry construction. one of the best tools you will ever own. IMHO.

    regards, justin

    p.s. i dont work for festool but i am a festool fanatic!

  4. #3
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    Hey mate, thanks for your reply!
    I'm in a funny position at the moment, because for me all I really need is a straightedge and a circular saw which will do the job, however not the fastest way, but for me there is no need to rush. But the track rail system looks so appealing and I know it's over kill and I dont need that sort of system, but it's so tempting!

    I think I might get myself a good straightedge and keep using that for a few months. If i still feel need to get a rail system I may invest...

    So what sort of straightedge did you use? At the moment I have been using my 900mm fat max stanley spirit level clamped down, however I always get my clamps in the way of my circular saw. I was looking at making 2 out of 12mm MDF, one being a 2400mm and another 460mm, which I found searching the forum.

    Thanks Justin

    Regards, Andy

  5. #4
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    hi andy, you have answered you own question perfectly,

    the straight edges i have used in the past have been a long spirit level and also a long strip of mdf.
    i always used the factory edge on the mdf, checking it first of course, about 200mm wide by 2400mm long.

    i used irwin quick grip clamps located away from the saw so they dont interfere with the circular saw. you dont want to be stop starting. very bad practice, you will never get a smooth straight cut when you have to stop your cut, remove and relocate clamp and then resume cutting.

    btw. another good reason to buy festool products over makita products is the resale value, festool is similar to bmw/mercedes. they hold their value very well.
    if you check out ebay, you will see what i mean.

    regards, justin.

  6. #5
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    There is a simple straight edge jig that keeps popping up in US woodworking magazines.

    Basically, get a length of straight timber then glue/screw it to an equal length strip of some sheet material - 6mm ply, masonite/hardboard etc. so that the sheet sticks out both sides - one side must stick out a bit more than the distance from the edge of the saw foot plate to the saw blade. Then just run the saw down the strip resulting in a custom guide.

    No offset measuring required - the edge of the guide is where the saw blade cuts.

    If you use the cheap low profile clamps that look like a bit of twisted bar with a bolt thru them on the non-saw side of the centre strip you don't have to worry about them interfering with the saw's travel - which is why you have a bit sticking out both sides. You can use the 'other' side of the guide for another saw or as a custom router guide.

    The downside of this type of guide is that there is nothing stopping the saw from wandering away from the guide bar if you have to lean across the sheet rather than follow the saw along the cut - DAMHIK.

  7. #6
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    Thanks mate!
    I have just bought the materials needed to make my straightedge out of mdf, just gotta get my circular saw to set the guide!

    I am undecided whether to get a 185mm or 235mm circular saw. I am tossing up between the Makita 5007NB-2 (185mm with 60mm max cutting depth at 90degrees and 1500w) and the Makita N5900B-2 (235mm with 85mm max cutting depth at 90degrees and 2000w)

    Most jobs would only require the 60mm cut depth but the slight chance I will need to cut deeper it seems I should invest now to save that hastle.

    Whats the general opionion?
    I am sorta stuck at getting it at bunnings cause I have a $230 store credit there, so i'll have to go through special orders to get the larger saw cause they do not stock them!

    I also like the bosch circular saws, but almost everything in my workshop is makita and I rather like them, that's the only real reason I am looking at these 2 saws.

    Thanks guys for any input!

    Andy.

  8. #7
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    bigger is always better mate!

  9. #8
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    Dear Andy,

    In order to augment the solid replies already received from Justin and Bsrlee, but at a more "Plunge/Track Saws 101" sort-of level, perhaps this is more along the lines of what you are wanting to know:

    Plunge Saws have 4 main advantages over just running a conventional Circular Saw along a Straight Edge:

    1) The ridges and grooves in their Tracks hold them perfectly on a straight course without you having to worry about anything other than just pushing them along (whereas with a conventional "Circ" running along a Straight Edge, you have to concentrate on applying a little bit of pressure to push the Saw against the Straight Edge as you push it along the sheet...)

    2) Because the blade "Plunges" via spring-action, you can start your run with the Saw and it's Track sitting fully supported on top of the Sheet you are cutting (rather than with the Saw off the sheet, but with its front edge balancing on the edge of the Sheet as you have to do with a Circ & Straight Edge setup - unless you make up one of those jigs that Bsrlee is talking about...)

    3) Once again, because the blade "Plunges", you can cut "penetrations" into sheets (like perhaps a Window Opening in a Door...), whereas you can't really do this with a Circ & Straight Edge...

    4) Because the blade of a Plunger/Tracker runs more or less directly "sheer" along the edge of the Track, and because the depth of the missing thickness of the Track on the outside of the blade is used (at least on the Festool - not sure about the Mak and the DeWalt...) to accomodate a sacrificial zero-clearance Splinter-limiter that sits right alongside the blade's teeth, the things pretty much produce a splinter-free cut on the exit side (ie. the upper side) of the cut.

    Even though I saw the thread regarding the Jig that Bsrlee is talking about only a couple of days ago, for the life of me I now can't find it again. For me, the amount of work I do with sheets can't justify a Plunger/Tracker, so I'll be knocking up one of those Jigs once I can lay my hands on a decent cheap Circ with a cast-alloy base. But a Tracker/Plunger would be better though...

    Best Wishes,
    Batpig.

  10. #9
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    If you can afford the Makita or Festool plunge saw with rails go for it. You will never regret it, even when you have a saw bench. I have the TS75 with guide rails and just love it to death.

  11. #10
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    i let my mate who is not a chippy, (he is a chef) cut a few lengths of mdf and hardwood with my festool ts-55 last saturday. he was blown away, never seen anything as cool in his life.

    he reckons he will be getting the festool next week,

    once bitten, forever smitten!

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by justinmcf View Post
    i let my mate who is not a chippy, (he is a chef) cut a few lengths of mdf and hardwood with my festool ts-55 last saturday. he was blown away, never seen anything as cool in his life.

    he reckons he will be getting the festool next week,

    once bitten, forever smitten!
    Whatís he going to use it for? Slicing the spuds, carrots and Sunday roast

  13. #12
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    Hey!
    Thanks for the feedback!
    I might go for the circular saw and straightedge setup for a while and see how that goes. I might save up and buy a rail saw at the end of the year!

    Andy.

  14. #13
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    Dear Andy,
    Quote Originally Posted by groeneaj View Post
    I am undecided whether to get a 185mm or 235mm circular saw. I am tossing up between the Makita 5007NB-2 (185mm with 60mm max cutting depth at 90degrees and 1500w) and the Makita N5900B-2 (235mm with 85mm max cutting depth at 90degrees and 2000w)

    Most jobs would only require the 60mm cut depth but the slight chance I will need to cut deeper it seems I should invest now to save that hastle.
    Even running along on top of its own little MDF Support Track (if you should end up knocking up one of those Jigs instead of just using a piece of extruded Aluminium...), you will still be able to handle all sheetwork without problems with the 185mm Mak. The pieces that are more than 60mm thick are obviously sticks (rather than sheets), and since...
    Quote Originally Posted by groeneaj View Post
    I have also just put an down payment on a Makita LS1214L
    ...you will therefore be able to cut through these thicker sticks with the LS1214 (which has substantially more Depth Of Cut than a 235mm Circ.)

    Best Wishes,
    Batpig.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by groeneaj View Post
    Hey!
    Thanks for the feedback!
    I might go for the circular saw and straightedge setup for a while and see how that goes. I might save up and buy a rail saw at the end of the year!

    Andy.
    Bit late but as a hobbyist if you are going to outlay >$200 for a cicular saw you might as well go all the way with a track saw. I bought a GMC circular saw for $90 and use the straight edge method with it but I did not consider spending close to $400 for such a crappy solution.

    Let me just say outright it is a real pain in the #### setting up, especially near the edges of sheets because depening upon which side the motor is on and which side of the sheet you are cutting and how deep you need to cut the #### (motor) always gets in the way of the clamps. No you can't always turn it around and start at the other end because you always want the widest side of the plate on the wood otherwise it becomes to unstable. Don't buy a small saw as this problem will be even worse.

    My advice, if you can afford it, go the tracksaw even as a hobbyist. Save your $400 upfront. Given my setup cost <$100 I put up with it but no way would I be at all happy doing it this way if I had paid >$200 to be honest.
    If you do go for a straight edge setup I wouldn't waste my money on super quality gear as in all likely hood you'll decide to buy a table saw setup or track saw.

  16. #15
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    Andy, have you seen the ProGrip system?

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