Think fast! What's the best way to make long, cross and miter cuts in the workshop or on the job? Have you ever thought of something like the DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw?
Most people only think of two options: a table saw and a circular saw. But there's a third option that we rarely consider: track saws. I'm in the same boat as the others, though I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because there aren't many options to choose from, but it's really a chicken-and-egg problem. Maybe the market just isn't asking for them.
However, for the sizing and outfeed challenges of a table saw and the relatively imprecise and unstable lines of a circular saw, a track saw is an elegant and nearly foolproof alternative. By clamping the track to the work surface, you are guaranteed a near-perfect cut. But how do you score style and usability with this already solid idea? Well, if you're DeWalt, you can combine it with your FlexVolt battery platform.
Although seeing a track saw at work is a bit like seeing a northern hairy-nosed wombat in the wild, DeWalt's version of the rope has been around for over a decade. You won't find any substantial differences between the corded version and the FlexVolt, other than the battery. As with the FlexVolt miter saw, DeWalt started with the basics it built and converted the power.
bend a little
The DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw uses the 60V capacity of the battery pack to power the brushless motor. Variable speed dial selects between 1,750 and 4,000 idle rpm for cuts up to 2-1/8 inches thick. It has a bevel angle of 47° and a cutting depth of 1-5/8 inches at 45°. One small gripe here is that there is no 45° stop. It may take a few tries to get used to the straight-cutting mechanism where you push instead of pull down, as you might do with other plunge saws or track saws.
Blades and Shrouds
You'll notice that the blade is almost completely enclosed in a metal guard compared to the tool body and blade guard of a typical circular saw. The benefits are twofold: Less exposed blades are definitely safer, and DeWalt claims the guard achieves 90 percent of its dust collection capacity when attached to a dust collector. This is especially helpful for carpenters working in finished spaces. Simply remove the guard to change the blade. You'll also notice that the riving knife slopes downward with the blade.
shoes and tracks
Of course, the feature of the same name that allows users to make such straight, clean cuts is the double-edged rail. The saw can be mounted on a track in both directions so you can cut in both directions. The tracks are available in 46", 59" and 102" lengths, and even better you can attach tracks for longer cuts. Once the raised rails of the track line up with the grooves of the saw, an easy turn of the continuous anti-kickback mechanism dial prevents the saw from straying from the cutting line.
The track clips slide into the bottom of the track and their rubber pads press against the bottom of the work surface, holding the two together. The clamp can run the entire length of the track, so you can clamp very short components all the way down the length of the track (or combined track). At first, it is easy to see only intersections and slittings that are perpendicular or parallel to the edge of the material. But it's important to note that the track can be clamped to any cut line angle on a flat surface – it can also be angled along the same line. In this way, it is more versatile than a table saw where fences can only be parallel to the blade. You could of course use a miter gauge, but you can imagine that would be more bulky than a track that guides the blade down a long cut.
Once the anti-kickback dial engages, you know the cut will be just right. great . It is incredibly accurate compared to any regular circular saw and in many cases more practical than a table saw. For example, if you're removing face frames on the bottom of cabinets or doors, you can't beat the clean, accurate cuts of the DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw.
take the plunge
I don't think I've ever seen slumping action like what I've seen on this track. That doesn't mean it's bad by any means—it just feels a little different. Those familiar with the few track saws on the market or even plunge saws will naturally want to pull the saw off — or a better example might be the action of a miter saw. But you're actually driving DeWalt down the drain. There is also a locking device to prevent plummets.
This saw is great for putting straight edges on decks or floors. I've used it on several jobs, but most notably on the house I'm building for my family. Sustaining and growing my business in new digs has been a long process, but it has certainly been a labor of love. As any contractor who's done it knows, it's not easy doing double duty.
But it's easy with the DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw's Composite Miter. I have a skirt that runs along the wall of the stairs (at the corner of the stairs of course). At the corner where the wall terminated, I marked the plank, removed it from the wall, and clamped the track saw to it to create a perfect compound miter. This is the easiest, cleanest, fastest way to cut things I've ever done. It turned out beautifully.
The dust collection system works as advertised and most of the sawdust is captured in the vacuum. As I mentioned, this is especially important when working in a finished or near-finished workspace. Covering everything with dust again just takes more time (and money) to clean up. Who wants to breathe in all those particles. The dust port swivels for easier hose management, or if you're outside just to keep the dust away from you.
the bottom line
The DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw is just what carpenters order for precise and clean rip, cross and bevel cuts. It is especially helpful for interior work as the dust collection system works well. Cutting with a circular or table saw will reveal any small hiccups or wiggles in the wire. But when the rails are firmly clamped to the workpiece, you'll be hard-pressed to do anything with this saw other than perfectly straight cuts.
The fun plunge action may be unlike any saw you've ever used, but you'll get used to it in no time. At no point in this review did I wish this saw was any different. It is the right solution to one of the main challenges contractors have been facing – achieving perfectly straight cuts.
You can get a bare saw (without the rails) for $379, but you can get batteries and a 59" rail for $579. That's about $150 less than a comparable kit from Festool. Makita has a new plunge saw for $499 without a track. Anyway, I know at least DeWalt is worth adding along with the circular and table saws. I use it instead of those standard options every chance I get.
- Makita SP6000J Track Saw
- Festool HK 55 woodworking saw
- Festool TS 55 track saw
- Festool TSC 55 track saw
- Zero Gap TrackSaw Cutting System Provides Straight, Chip-Free, Precise Cuts
- Depth of cut for rails: 2-1/8" at 90 degrees and 1-5/8" at 45 degrees; Depth of cut scale accurately tells the thickness of the rail
- Continuous anti-kickback mechanism and riving knife prevent kickback when engaged
- Ergonomic in-line mechanism
- Use with TrackSaw(TM) dual-edged rails for perfectly straight cuts in both directions
- The Power of a Corded Tool Comes with the Convenience of a Cordless Tool
- Enclosed low-profile hood provides 90% dust removal capacity
DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Track Saw Specifications
- DCS520B – Bare Tool
- DCS520T1 – Kit
- DCS520ST1 – Kit with 59" rail
- DWS5020 – 46" track
- DWS5022 – 59" track
- DWS5023 – 102" track
- Bevel Capability: 47°
- Blade Diameter: 6-1/2"
- 45° Maximum Cut: 1-5/8"
- 90° Maximum Cut: 2-1/8"
- No-load speed: 1750 – 4000 RPM
- Height: 10 inches
- Length: 12 inches
- Weight: 12.5 lbs
- DCS520B – Bare Tool – $463.90
- DCS520T1 – Kit – $467.99
- DCS520ST1 – Kit with 59” rail – $567.99
- DWS5020 – 46" track – $53.77
- DWS5022 – 59” track – $74.99
- DWS5023 – 102” track – $174.99