Track saws and table saws seem similar on the surface, but in reality, they have differences that significantly affect what they should be used for and why. Here, we'll cover the differences between the two tools, the situations they should be used in, and why they can't be used interchangeably.
While both of these typical home tools do roughly similar things, the way they go about doing them is a little different. The main difference is in how they are used. As you can imagine, a table saw involves a table where the saw is attached to a table, you place what you want to cut on the table, and you move the saw down to cut through it.
On the other hand, a track saw is like a regular hand saw, but it comes with a piece called a track, which guides the saw in a perfectly straight line so you can make clean cuts. Here is a comparison of them and the winner for different categories to help you decide based on their potential usage.
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw: Power
A table saw has a larger infeed and outfeed compared to a track saw, and the more powerful motor means it can handle more rigid thicker materials. It's the perfect option for joiners that need to make deep or narrow cuts, but it's also suitable for rabbets, dadoes, and miter cuts.
Table saws may be large and potentially unwieldy depending on what you are cutting, but there's no denying that they offer accuracy, power, and versatility. Moreover, it's much easier to repeat the same cuts over and over with a fixed table saw. With crosscut sleds, fences, and stop blocks to safely create the same cuts.
A track saw has a weaker motor, which means less power when cutting thick or tough substances.
Winner: Table Saw
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw: Portability
With a table saw, you have a rotating blade at a fixed location, and you move the piece you are cutting to line up with the fixed saw. But with a track saw, you move the saw wherever you want on the piece you are cutting and use the track to guide the saw along desired cutting paths.
Table saws aren't very mobile, meaning you usually have to work at the shop. Even portable table saws are still quite bulky. Meanwhile, track saws are small and portable, making them easy to carry around and use in almost any environment, including on a workbench.
Winner: Track Saw
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw: Accuracy
A table saw is heavier and difficult to move but has more power and accuracy, while a track saw is more portable but has less power and less precision, though it still makes clean cuts.
The fixed position saw blade in a table saw offers high accuracy and the ability to repeat the same cut effortlessly. It can be equipped with a wide variety of accessories to make different types of cuts.
Winner: Table Saw
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw For Sheet Goods
The primary purpose of a track saw is to make large crosscuts or rips across wide, large sheet goods. That's because large sheet goods can be challenging to move across a table saw, especially if you work alone. As far as the length of your cuts, the guardrail of your track saw is the only limit in that regard. Table saws aren’t a great choice for making long crosscuts or rips on large sheets.
Winner: Track Saw
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw For Angle Cuts
Track saws are ideal for plunge cuts because the depth of the cut can be altered. However, it doesn’t have as much cut variety as table saws. The setup and cutting process is also slower. For long rips, you will need foam boards or sawhorses. However, they can be used to make accurate cuts that are not perfect 90 degrees on large panels.
Table saws with the right modifications could make precise angled cuts, but it would be difficult to push the large sheets along the saw at those angles. With a track saw, all you need to do is adjust the track to the angle you want to cut, then push the saw across the track. More often than not, the cut is cleaner than the one offered by a table saw.
Despite this, the numerous angle cuts available when using table saws on most materials are far superior than for track saws.
Winner: Table Saw.
Track Saw Vs. Table Saw: Safety & Working Alone
Safety is always a top priority when using potentially dangerous tools like concrete grinders, hammer drills and these of course. Working alone with a track saw is much safer than with a table saw, especially when breaking down large objects. Even with a plethora of safety features, it's just much riskier to use the table saw solo. The track saw is safer since the cutting action and saw are covered, preventing many common woodworking injuries. Most track saws come with dust collection accessories, which collect dust and reduces the risk of slipping and fire. It also helps keep your work area clean.
Table saws operate in one direction, providing an easy and predictable sawing mechanism, so they benefit in terms of safety in that regard. Although some models do have dust collection systems, they may cost more. They are also potentially more dangerous because the saw is exposed and pulls material towards it. It requires more experience and patience to use safely, as materials could go flying if misused.
Winner: Track Saw
Final Verdict: Which Is Best?
A table saw is large and heavy but has more power and accuracy but requires more safety measures to use. A track saw is portable but weaker. It's also safer and easier to use and cuts large sheets of material more easily. Overall, there isn’t one that beats out the other since it depends on what you’re using it for.
If we had to sum it up, the primary difference is the tradeoff between power and portability. A table saw is not very easy to move around, while a track saw is. However, a table saw is larger and therefore has a more powerful motor, and since the saw is in a fixed spot, the accuracy is not dependent on a person's precision.
If you’re looking for portability, then a track saw is best, and if you’re looking for more accurate cuts on rigid material, then a table saw is the top option.