June 17, 2011

DeWalt DWS520K 6-1/2-Inch TrackSaw Kit - Review

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Our recent shelving project turned out to be a lot more involved than we originally anticipated. To do the work, we ended up setting up an entire shop in the room we were doing the work in. We moved in the miter saw (getting extra room because the saw was the Bosch Axial Glide!), set up a work table, built temp shelves for our tools and made hooks for extension cords. Pretty much everything we needed was in the room. Except for the table saw. It's a good sized room, but table saws are like pool tables...they may look like they're a manageable size, but in order to actually use one, you need an area that is about five times its size.

So the table saw was out in the driveway, rain or shine, and we would have to go through a door, down a hallway, through another door onto the porch, and then yet another door to the outside, walk down the path and then to the saw every time we wanted to make a cut. There has to be an easier way, we thought.

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And there is. Around that time, we got to talking to DeWalt about their Corded TrackSaw and they offered to send one over for us to check out. We're glad they did because the tool probably took days off our project (and miles off our legs).

The premise of the tool is simple; circular saw that runs along a track, ensuring a straight cut every time. Most carpenters we know have a homemade circ saw track in the back of the truck, but here, the saw actually sets into the track, ensuring an even cut, and there's really very little thinking or effort beyond that. Because the saw fits into the track, it just has to be pushed, not pushed and directed like you have to on the homemade versions.

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The saw has all of the standard features and controls found on a circ saw. 12 amp motor, depth control (up to 2-1/8), and the bevel control. It has a few new ones too; a trigger safety and a speed control. The footplate is also unique with its track fittings and calibration knobs. All of the controls are intuitive and for the most part work well. We would have liked to have seen a better depth control knob, maybe a lever or something, the knurled knob at times got difficult to operate. The saw takes a 6-1/2" blade, smaller than the standard.

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Before using the tool in any functional manner, you first need to cut the anti splinter strips. These are rubber strips that extend down the sides of the track. To trim them, simply set the saw in the base, adjust it so it's snug and run the plunged saw down the track, cutting the strips as you go. The process ensures the strips are cut to the exact path of the blade. And the anti-splinter strips are very functional. In our time with the saw, all of the cuts were nice and clean, with no blow outs.

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The track has rubber on the underside of it, so the track doesn't necessarily need to be clamped down to the workpiece, but there are clamps available that fit into the track so they don't get in the way of the saw. We tried these out too and they're really easy to use, but since we were using the smaller of the two tracks (more on the sizes in a bit), we didn't feel it was critical. For the larger track it would probably be more of a necessity.

The saw also has some very nice dust collection abilities. Because the blade is almost entirely encased in the guard, just about all of the dust is captured. This was a good feature for us, since we were working in someone's house with the tool.

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Having the ability to easily and reliably rip sheet goods or other pieces of lumber in a small space was fantastic. Like we said, it saved us a lot of trips in and out of the house. The saw is a little under $330. That's all, you say? Well, not really. That's only the saw, not the clamps or the track. Tracks are available in two lengths (59" and 102", $76 and $229 respectively) and clamps are another $30 for a set of two. You can get the saw and the two tracks for around $550. A chimp can do the math and discover that the package deal is the way to go.

It's not a cheap item, but when you start doing the 'what is my time worth' equation, the cash investment isn't so bad. Think about how much time you spend walking to your table saw....

Just the saw at Amazon, or the saw and two tracks here. More options (cordless) and accessories here.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at June 17, 2011 5:40 AM

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Recent Comments

I have used an earlier track-saw model (http://www.eurekazone.com/) with similar anti-splinter strips. These things are a pain in the butt to cut the first time and don't work that well to begin with. Also, if you think of the forces that go into making splinters, how is a little piece of rubber really going to counteract that? My solution was to invest in a better blade:CMT brand ITK contractor finishing saw blade with 36 tpi. The key here is that you get carbide teeth ground at three angles (basically left right and center). I had minimal to no splintering with a better blad. I imagine it would only be better with a Forrest blade.


Posted by: John at June 20, 2011 3:11 PM

I have used the cordless version and was blown away by how well it worked. I was a bit skeptical but now I am thinking that most DIY/Home shops would be better off with a tracksaw with a small tablesaw instead of a cabinet or contractor saw.

Your price on the saw seems a bit low. Most places have it fro $450-500. The only ones I could find at that price were amazon used.


Posted by: Tom at June 17, 2011 8:09 AM

Check out the EZSmart by Eurekazone - a similar system except I think more versatile and a way to use your existing saw.


Posted by: John Seiffer at June 17, 2011 6:46 AM
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