Introduction: DIY Track Saw Using a Cheap Circular Saw

Picture of DIY Track Saw Using a Cheap Circular Saw

Like everything else necessity creates a need, and in this case I needed to be able to cut long straight repeatable cuts on 18mm or thicker plywood. While something like a Festo Track-saw would be awesome I don’t have the funds for something like that so I decided to do what I do best. Build one.

For this I needed a few supplies but luckily I had some lying round the house that I believed would do the job. For the slider guide I used a piece of 6mm Plexiglas or as others may know is perspex or Acrylic sheet. For the track I used piece of 16mm Chipboard or Particle board. While this piece of wood is not the most durable for the task I believe it will serve the purpose. Later when I have a piece of ply I can always make another track, the bonus of using the chipboard is that the board is 2770mm long.

Step 1: Making the Saw Guide

Picture of Making the Saw Guide

First thing I did was cut a piece of Plexiglas to 20mm wide on the De Walt Radial Arm saw, this would form our slide. The next step was to measure the base of the saw and then divide it up in sections where we will be drilling some 3mm holes where the slide will be mounted to the saw. The Plexiglas slide was divided in half and then measured to suit the hole location on the base of the saw. These holes where drilled with a 3mm drill and then where counter sunk using a 6mm drill. I used 5 M3 counter sunk hex head screws I had lying around.

Drilling the base of the saw was a little more tricky as this had to be parallel to the side of the saw. Problem is that it’s not flat. I had a piece of Aluminium profile the would work perfect, so I held the this against the side of the saw and then used the slide as the drilling template. Once completed the slide was then fitted with the bolts and Nyloc nuts.

Step 2: Making Your Track

Picture of Making Your Track

Making the track was a little more tricky I needed to know where the track needed to be, or rather should I say where the Blade needed to be. Using the Slide as a guide I cut a 6.5mm deep groove with the saw, this Line would be the start of where the groove would need to be fit the track slide. I now measured a 20mm wide line, and set up my router to cut the right hand side groove, this would be the opposite side of the 20mm slide.

Using the router, I made three cuts with 1/4″ bit, I used this bit because it would cleanly cut the groove, and not rip the wood out. Once completed I check for the fit of the slide. Perfect. Last thing that we need to do it to cut the track a little narrower. Since I had the router at hand, I used the router to cut a section of the wood off, you could also do this with your new track saw.

Step 3: Testing Your Tracksaw

Picture of Testing Your Tracksaw

The Last thing I needed to do was to test it, for that I cut 18mm plywood 600mm wide to make my garage cupboards.

Setting the saw up is as simple as marking two points on the board at either end and then clamping the track to the work surface. Since we are always cutting to width we want, we need to make sure we are always cutting the outside of the sheet off, so the piece we want to retain is where our saw should sit on. Alternatively, know the width of cut your blade makes and add that to your over all measurement.

Once done marking and clamping (screwing it down works just as good), make your cut.

These benches and cupboards are made from entirely recycled wood, all cuts where made using the track saw.

Comments

timberwolfblades (author)2015-08-20

I like sharpstick's method of creating the groove. It's a little more user friendly for my skill set.

ethicaloffence (author)2015-07-28

This is an awesome idea. Will definitely try it. Thank you

dn'co (author)2015-07-03

Simpler way to test the line would be to directly cut it on the board no ? You first make the track, then cut the board with it. Thus, you get exact line of cut.

Good idea, thanks for share

ThomasL1929 (author)2015-06-21

Why not just do it the easy way? This is one of the most useful, simple, inexpensive, easy to use jigs ever. Can be made for 8' and 4' lengths (have both). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiSz7kPwFY0

krieglers (author)ThomasL19292015-06-21

Why not just do it the easy way? That a very good question with a very good answer why not. I my mind, mine is the easy way, longer to make but I enjoy woodwork, I can cut, rip and miter up to 9' over and over, without having to concentrate. Mine is inexpensive, didn't cost a cent bar the electricity. Can be made in any lenght too

I have made jigs like to one you have posted a video of , I used to use one. They have one very big flaw. You constantly have to push to saw against the track, failing to do so leads the saw to wonder. Circular Saw's are very powerful and the gyroscopic motion tends them to be lead astray, not with this design, because the track keeps the saw going straight whether the blade is blunt or not.

I guess Festo was onto something.

buck2217 (author)krieglers2015-06-30

Because we are I'blers and making something is what it is all about-- anyone can do stuff the easy way but an alternative is always good

ThomasL1929 (author)krieglers2015-06-22

Fair enough. As far as cost, mine cost nothing either-they were scraps of 1/8" hardboard (Masonite) for the base, and 1/2" compressed particle board I had laying around the shop. Nothing wrong with your design, I simply wanted quick and simple, and this design has never caused an incorrect cut for me. To each his own, and keep making sawdust! :)

buck2217 (author)2015-06-24

I need one of these. Good job

stpeter955 (author)2015-06-19

Interesting addition to the workshop but I'm wondering if you have a radial arm saw (which you say you used for the acrylic piece), why don't you use this to rip the sheets of ply or whatever?

krieglers (author)stpeter9552015-06-19

Well it's a little hard to carry a radial arm saw to a different location. And the idea is to bring the saw to the job, not the job to the saw. One also cannot cut 600mm wide on a De Walt Powershop, the bench on the saw is not wide enough. Lastly, if you are like me then one tends to work in numerous places round the house and this fits in really tight places.

stpeter955 (author)krieglers2015-06-20

Fair comment - I stand corrected and enlightened!

bgunville (author)2015-06-19

No matter how many negative comments made I do think it is a great cheap alternative and I for one will make one of thiese

boffincentral (author)2015-06-19

I disagree slightly as to alignment.

The guide needs to be EXACTLY parallel to the saw blade, not the side of the saw base. They may be the same thing but that is not a guarantee.

krieglers (author)boffincentral2015-06-19

Doesn't make a difference since the blade will cut to the outer edge of the wood rail, which is the edge one is working off. Should the blade be 6mm out it may be an issue. Then again half decent circular saw should be somewhat parallel, I did measure the distance seemed good enough. After about 10 sheets of plywood, it still cutting great.

Phil_S (author)2015-06-19

I too am a circular saw adaptor and tend to favour aluminium profiles. You can get all manner of profiles from specialist suppliers. One of the most useful additions has been a 600-mm channel profile fencefor running down less than perfect edges to boards - the 600-mm length "averages" any out of true bits. Another usefull bit of kit has been a large roofing square with a 600-mm Al profile attached along one edge with small set screws. This allows the square to be used butted up against an edge of a board. Easy to adjust and surprisingly accurate for making out cross cuts. For large scale marking out, tiling etc., a 2-metre 25-mm square pole used originally to make up shelving and units with plastic joiners is stiff enough to run the saw against without bowing and hot melt glued to a wall supports the first row of heavy tiles while the adhesive goes off. Finally, a small section channel profile makes a nice glass shelf corner unit for routers, phones etc.

"nolan kriegel"

double sided tape comes in handy

nolan.kriegel (author)2015-06-18

I have built something similar using an aluminium shower assy that I bought a ReStore for $5. It seems to me you may have the same problem as I had. The clamps at each end to hold it in place would bet in the way when you start the cut and when you finish. I did not see any where showing you clamping. Thank you.

krieglers (author)nolan.kriegel2015-06-18

yes and no. The Clamps are quite far out the way so the saw passes freely. one the thinner pieces off wood, I screw it down to the wood

mcporche (author)2015-06-18

A hint for making your track....Instead of trying to be as precise as possible, simply cut the groove about an inch further away from the edge than you need. Then, simply run your saw thru the track. Your blade will cut the wood so that the line is exactly in the right position.

krieglers (author)mcporche2015-06-18

I did consider that but, then I also figured I would need to do it at 3mm increments to remove the excess, so it was easier with the router in 4 cuts. Other reason why I used the route was that I had the rails cut, it was easier to adjust that with the router

jtechian (author)2015-06-18

One way to make a guide is to use linear bearings on a metal rod. Bolt the bearings to the saw base and mount the rod to your table. your saw will be accurate every time. No more attention needed to keep the slide on track so you can pay more attention to the blade :)

Wingloader (author)2015-06-18

Not only is this an awesome idea but mcporsche and sharpstick have super awesome ideas to add to this. This is like creating the perfect table saw for cutting big pieces of plywood

sharpstick (author)2015-06-18

Another simpler way to create the groove is with layers. Make two planks and screw them down to the base plate with countersunk screws, with the exact distance gap.

mcraghead (author)2015-06-16

Nice!

CurtosNoirDesign (author)2015-06-15

This is so clever. I want the deWalt saw track system because I use it at work and it's great....but at a tremendous cost. I have everything already to make your version. Thank you for your well written instructables.

Jobar007 (author)2015-06-15

You can buy aluminum inserts for tracks as well as the runners that fit inside them. This would be expensive, in comparison to the costs that you've accomplished though. This is an interesting alternative to the circular saw guides out there since it doesn't operate under the assumption that your base is square and even. I like it!

krieglers (author)Jobar0072015-06-15

You are correct they are pretty costly. On a Sunday afternoon hardware stores are also not open one had to make do with what you have. I have cut strips as narrow as 80mm, off strips 100mm wide, clamping was not an issue, I used chipboard screws. Board works a treat, I have also started using 60 tooth blades, the cut are perfectly smooth.

tomatoskins (author)2015-06-15

I love homemade fixes like this! Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community! I'm excited to see more great stuff from you in the future!

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