Track saws?

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I'm pretty new and after most of the first semester at the local community, I'm finally ready to buy some of my own tools (starting from nothing). Given the constraints of money and space, I'm going to be working outside and need a portable substitute for a tablesaw to do rip cuts on lumber and sheet products. I'm pretty new and get freaked out by exposed spinning blades (including the Sawstop they use in class), so a contractor's saw is not my favorite option for now.
DeWalt, Festool, and Eurekazone (which works with a third party circular saw) all have similar-looking systems. Anyone have experience with them? Would a heavy worktable and a couple of sawhorses be adequate support for doing longer rip cuts?
Suggestions on substitute devices are also welcome. My main interest at this point, given my current skills and budget, is in having tools to do craft-type furniture--benches, tables, chairs, smaller cabinet type work.
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Sledge Hammer wrote:

I'd suggest a decent circular saw with a good blade, a couple of clamps and a home made saw guide as depicted in the below article:
http://wayneofthewoods.com/circular-saw-cutting-guide.html
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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This is part of a dilemma for a beginner. This solution for ripping straight edgers presupposes you already have a way of ripping straight edges :-)
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Sledge Hammer wrote:

You only need one straight edge to begin with and the factory edge of a piece of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood is usually pretty good.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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I use a few of those saw-guides day-to-day at my shop. They're easy to make and simple to use. One thing that the 'real' ones do, is to keep the blade from wandering off the fence. I have yet to make the investment. I get by just fine with a basic saw- guide. (They also protect the material from picking up scratches from the saw's shoe.)
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Nova wrote:

I still use the exact same guide to break down full sheets before trying to rip them. A great marital peace maker, as I don't need the machine-petrified wife to help cut full sheets.
For extra credit, make the base wide enough to guide a router with 1/2" bit on the other side. Side one guides the saw, side two provides a perfect edge with two good sides.
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I think any track saw system or a jig like the one shown by Nova are an OK starting point. Circular saws are a lot harder to get good cuts so a good sharp and appropriate blade is a must. Plywood use a fairly fine blade but if you can find something with some extrat gullets (missing teeth) it works better to clear the chips. Hardwood probably works better with a combo blade or true ripping blade.
For the table, look for some literature on sacrificial setups. You can make some saw horses with an extra 2 x 4 on top to take the cutting or some folks use a big piece of styrafoam. Search Plywood Cutting Table on Google for lots of ideas. Solid stock will be a very different animal. I would not look forward to ripping an 8" wide board down to 4" with a circular saw. I would much rather do it on a $100 Home Depot table top table saw... personally.

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Sledge Hammer wrote:

If you're doing cabinetry eventually you're going to need a table saw, but even when you have one a track saw will be very useful for dealing with sheet goods--cutting a sheet of 3/4" MDF or to approximate size first is a lot easier than manhandling the whole monster onto your table saw.
Rather than getting a purpose-made track saw or spending money for the EZ-Smart, first you might want to try making a guide from a piece of plywood http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/tools/4283497.html . Costs under 20 bucks (you don't need any kind of fancy plywood--CDX sheathing works fine) and works a treat.
--
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--John
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This is part of a dilemma for a beginner. This solution for ripping straight edgers presupposes you already have a way of ripping straight edges :-)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Not really, which is what Mr. J. Clarke is trying to point out.
The factory edge of an undamaged sheet of plywood is straight enough to make a guide. The base of the saw will bridge minor dents and imperfections. The guide rail really doesn't need to perfectly smooth.
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B A R R Y wrote:

Next time I make one maybe I should shoot video for the people for whom drawing them a picture is not enough.
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wrote:

...this is true and works well. I use an aluminum straightedge (a rule carried by any good tool source works good here) attached to a slice of 3/8" baltic birch, for my guide, which travels with me to jobs...it's set up for my 18v Makita 6" and gets a lot of work. They *do* tend to get worn, so leave enough room to move your straightedge over slightly so you can cut another parallel edge on occasion (this extra also serves as a clamping surface away from the saw motor). Once you've established that you can achieve a straight cut, the ultimate flaw is in your marking and clamping...the devil is in the variables and these two are the keys to a good, parallel, cut. Clamping should be easily achieved by a quick check for tightness before you hack away...marking is another matter. I've gotten *close* to error-free here by using my utility knife to score tiny kerfs to lay the straightedge to...all that said, I'm at my table saw whenever possible!
cg
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There isn't a woodworking tool around that hasn't caused serious injury to someone. I try to be sure that I review the setup before turning on any piece of machinery.
However, a table saw is not my favorite tool for cutting long stock lengthwise. When I cut 4x8 plywood to width, I use a circular saw against a long guide. When I cut long boards to width, I use adjustable supports to keep the board level.
A good table saw will make most of what you want to do. A good table saw may outlast you. I also use a jig saw, routers, drills, a drill press, and assorted sanders. One of these days, I will add a joiner and a planer. Jim
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I gather! I'm managed to send myself to the ER without shop tools-- I'm an expert in making tournequets from my experiences with a box cutter and a stick blender.

Yeah, I get that. Someday....
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I gather! I'm managed to send myself to the ER without shop tools-- I'm an expert in making tournequets from my experiences with a box cutter and a stick blender.
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I have the Festool, and I really like it. You can actually make your final finish cuts with the saw and its track, just as accurately as you can measure and mark the wood. It's worlds better than a regular circular saw because the arbor doesn't have any runout to speak of, so the cuts are smooth and clean.
The blade is completely enclosed until you push it down into the wood, and it has a good depth stop, so you're not exposing any spinning blades when you use it.
I use a couple of sawhorses with a sacrificial piece of OSB on top as a rough bench. Then I just put my plywood or MDF right on the OSB and set the saw's depth stop so that it extends no more than an eighth of an inch or so into the OSB. Works like a charm.
Tom

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That looks very impressive, as does most of the Festool line.
The thing I can afford from Festool is their little plastic block sander.... and it's overpriced, too. :-)
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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I own a few Festool sanders and the 1/4 sheet palm sander isn't one of them. Overpriced indeed. Now this one is a great sander for a good price: (Amazon.com product link shortened) I absolutely love that little thing and with the dust collector adaptor, almost perfectly dustfree with even a basic shopvac. Just because it is Festool, doesn't make it an automatic 'best deal'. That said, Festool doesn't make any bad tools. They're all excellent, just in some categories, overpriced. I would, for instance, never consider their jigsaws or routers either and for the same reason. Great tools, stupid money. I will continue recommending their ROSanders, at almost any price. Oh.... and maybe that wee mitresaw thingy they make...sweeeeet, Virtually dust free, quiet, small footprint...
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Hi,
Something I used a lot when I was very limited in space and tools was a hand jigsaw. Scroll saw? Not sure of the proper name.
Anyhow with a supply of fresh blades, it does a good job of making first cuts, both rip and cross cut and in plywood. Sawhorses with some auxiliary supports keep the work off the ground.
They ain't accurate. You won't get dead straight rips, or even vertical cuts, but you will get your pieces cut out to managable size. You can then use a small bench saw, or band saw, or even a good hand saw to get your finished cuts. The size of pieces you need will control what you use.
Personally, I think the circular saw is the second most hazardous tool I put in my hand. The router is the first. They both scare me.
Old Guy

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In article

I think the most hazardous tool is a hand held electric plane.
I still remember the very first time I used one.
You know how when you are hand planing a narrow edge, you curl your fingers round under the sole so that the tips rest aginst your work and act as a guide.........
--
Stuart Winsor

Don't miss the Risc OS Christmas show
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