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
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
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
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.