Wait, what is a Tracksaw?
A tracksaw is a very simple concept. It takes a saw that looks and feels similar to a circular saw and utilizes a special base that matches a length of the track. The saw rides along the track and creates a perfectly straight cut.
The track can be of any length but typically come in two main sizes, one to cross cut sheet goods and another longer ones to rip sheet good material. The track typically has an anti-splinter guard that supports the wood fibers on the top of the cut. A circular saw/tracksaw cuts on the up stroke so the top fibers tend to tear out if precautions are not taken.
What are the advantages of a tracksaw?
Tracksaws give you the ability to handle sheet good material that would other wise be too cumbersome and unsafe at the table saw or another cutting method. They also give you a much straighter and cleaner cut than a regular circular saw.
With the saw guided by the track, you can perfectly line up the anti-splinter guard edge with your cutting marks and get an incredibly accurate cut. With a tracksaw’s ability to be placed in just about any position on a flat surface, you can make any angle you want.
Why don’t you use a table saw?
Imagine you had a full sheet of quality prefinished maple plywood for a client’s custom cabinet. The cut list calls for this specific sheet of plywood to be the first cross cut down the middle of the plywood. Even if you have a large 52″ rip capacity table saw, the cut is unsafe and you could easily damage the expensive material.
Yes, there are extra large panel cutting saws that are designed for that particular job but a tracksaw is going to be purchased and used by a specific customer. We will get to that a little later in the blog.
Dewalt FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Tracksaw DCS520
Powered by Dewalt’s new FLEXVOLT battery platform, you can now slap the same battery as their cordless table saw, miter saw, etc into their brand new FLEXVOLT Tracksaw. Taking a tracksaw from a corded tool into a cordless tool is a huge game changer. Dewalt isn’t the first to do it but with the combination of the FLEXVOLT battery platform and the other tools it can be put on, we are confident it will be a major eye catcher for a handful of demographics of people.
The DCS520 has the same great design to their corded model (DWS520) with a few additional features and cutting the cord. The DCS520 is now cordless and extremely portable. The saw has a continuous anti-kickback mechanism that prevents kickback to protect the user and the material. Dewalt’s dual edged tracks are pretty neat as well. You can perfectly straight cuts in both directions. We use one side for 90-degree cuts and the other for angled cuts.
Specs and features:
- Bevel Capacity – 47 degrees
- Max Cut at 45 degrees – 1-5/8″
- Max Cut at 90 degrees – 2-1/8″
- No Load Speed – 1750-4000 RPM
- Tool height – 10 IN
- Tool Length – 12 IN
- Tool Weight – 12.5 Pounds
- Blade Diameter – 6 1/2″
Parallel Plunge Mechanism
The plunge mechanism on the Dewalt Flexvolt Tracksaw has a parallel plunge mechanism that is smooth as the day is long but it is a bit of a strange feeling at first. The tracksaws we have used in the past have a more of a pivoting action. The mechanism on the Dewalt unit needs to push forward and down and this is a bit awkward and takes a few cuts to get used to. We do think it is a bit safer motion as you need to push forward and that is always a good thing when working with a spinning blade. You always want to keep the pressure on the cut and not let the saw kick back.
Continous Anti-Kickback Feature
The Dewalt Flexvolt Tracksaw has a continuous Anti-Kickback feature that can be turned on or turned off by a dial on the base of the unit. This dial pushes a wedge type roller on the base of the unit that prevents the saw from going in reverse on the track. This prevents kickback. An extremely valuable feature especially when plunging in the middle of a piece of material.
47 Degrees of Bevel
The Dewalt Tracksaw can bevel up to 47 degrees. Perfect for back-cutting a panel to get a nice and snug fit. The bevel scale is on the front of the saw and can be manipulated by loosening the front knob and rear knob. Use the scale to dial in your angle and re-tighten the knobs and you are ready to go!
With a wide variety of materials out there, having the ability to dial in the RPMs to the correct speed is incredibly important. The Dewalt Tracksaw gives you an RPM dial on the top of the unit to do exactly that.
Cut the Cord
In our opinion, MOST but not ALL tools are better cordless. There are a handful of tools in specific categories that just simply don’t make sense. The tracksaw isn’t in one of those categories. We have had all corded tracksaws in our professional woodworking shop and that is what we have all come to use through the years. With progressing battery technology, companies are able to make always-been corded tools and make them into lean mean portable machines!
With cutting the cord you automatically lose endless power. Duh! They are battery powered! We again go back to the battery technology. With increasing performance in the power and runtime department, cordless tools are having the same or better performance as their corded cousins. Our biggest recommendation is having the required battery platform for the frequency and type of work you do. Someone that is using their tools all day won’t cut the mustard if they only have one battery. They will be spending the majority of their time sitting waiting for it to charge. They need 1-2+ extra batteries to always be kept at the ready for use. On the other hand, someone that uses their tool once a week doesn’t need a fleet of batteries.
Upgrade that factory blade
Unfortunately, the blade that comes on the saw does a very poor job with cross-cutting applications. With a tracksaw, that is their bread and butter! We went and purchased a Dewalt blade that has a few more teeth and our results were night and day. A quality blade can make a good saw great and a bad blade can make a great saw useless. With a quality blade installed and the anti-splinter guards on the tracks, cross-cutting finicky material is nothing to sweat about!
With Dewalt’s FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Battery platform powering their cordless tracksaw, the power department wasn’t a concern. A tracksaw is used in a more delicate and precision application rather than a 4 sheet OSB rip but application. It could be certainly used in that fashion but we like to be realistic in our reviews and blogs. A woodworker, contractor, finish carpenter will be using a tracksaw to do finish cuts in a more precise application. One or maybe two sheets of plywood at a time. Power performance was excellent in this regard.
Another application is trimming large raw pieces of hardwood. Live edge hardwood needs a straight edge to start the milling process. A tracksaw is the perfect application for this!
The small shop must have!
A tracksaw is a small shop must have. It allows one to break down large cumbersome sheet goods into manageable sizes to bring to the table saw or to exact finish dimensions. Can’t afford the space for a large table saw? Get a tracksaw! They will allow you the same cutting rip and cross cutting abilities as the table saw while sacrificing a small amount of time for setup.
If you are a woodworker, contractor, fine woodworker, finish carpenter that needs precise cuts on the go or in the workshop. The DCS520 is an excellent cordless solution that allows you to make perfectly straight cuts with superior accuracy. Some may not find the parallel mechanism to be for them so if you have the opportunity, try it in a store. For us, it wasn’t a big deal.