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Track Saw: request for feedback

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  • Track Saw: request for feedback

    I just read here that some are using a Track Saw for cutting Aluminum. Plexi and Lexan. I'm looking for feedback on Track Saw Products that you use and like. I'm also curious about the blades you use for cutting various materials we use in out builds.
    Brooks Cone
    Southeast Michigan
    Patrol #303, Kit build

  • #2
    I have only used the one I bought which was a Makita so I can't compare with any other brand. The saw is what you would expect from Makita. The track works accurately but I don't know how long it will last. I haven't had my hands-on any other brand. For aluminum and plastic Makita sells a "plastic and non-ferrous metal" blade which I bought new before I cut the windows. I have been using a different brand, OSHLUN, 56 tooth blade, for a couple of years. I have even cut 4130 with a ferrous metal labelled blade. It worked great but cutting steel was rough on the underlying foam as the shavings melt the foam, but it still worked.

    I rarely use a table saw anymore other than cutting 2x4's, For sheets of anything, I love it.

    It is also a plunge cutting saw, It smoothly enters the material from above. For my lower kit doors with windows, I drilled/step drilled the inside corners of the window cutout, put the track saw on it, and cut to the corners. You can even back the saw up into a mark smoothly and easily, wood or aluminum. It is extremely easy to get extremely accurate cuts.
    Last edited by svyolo; 12-29-2021, 11:35 AM.


    • #3
      I own a commercial woodworking business and have a FESS track saw. Very high quality but be prepared to pay.


      • #4
        I also have the festool teacksaw like spinning wrench. I use the festool blade for aluminum and use a similar blade on my chop saw. I know some folks that have the Makita track saw and love III. The makita is a lower cost unit. You can use a regular arbide blade but the aluminum blade is safer and does a better job. The track saw is fantastic for sheet aluminum. I put the sheet on top of a 2” sheet of foam or osb. Just lay the track on top of the aluminum and go. You can cut wide pieces or slivers down to 1/32 of an inch. Leaves a great edge too. Better than sheet or tin snips.
        John Snapp (Started build in Denver, CO) Now KAWO -Arlington Washington Bearhawk Patrol - Plans #255 Scratch built wing and Quickbuild Fuselage as of 11/2021. Working on skinning the left wing! -Ribs : DONE -Spars: DONE, Left wing assembly's: DONE., Top skins : DONE YouTube Videos on my building of patrol :


        • #5
          Much better edge than snips including the big Fiskers. Initially seems rough but very superficial and a scotch bright wheel knocks it down quickly and completely. 6 1/2 inch blades are not as common and more expensive, which is for me the only downside. The accuracy and time saved makes the expensive blades a non issue. More accurate than any table saw, or anything else, I have ever used. The weight of the saw, track, and your hand, keep the track in place with a couple of rubber strips on the bottom. I still have an 8 ft straight edge guide I bought to use with a circular saw 30 ish years ago. The track saw blows it away. You place the track to your mark, and cut. Done. You quickly learn to make more accurate marks.


          • #6
            When you say track saw I think of a Skil saw and a couple long straight boards. Like so. Aluminum cutting blade.
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            Scratch building Patrol #275
            Hood River, OR


            • Frank
              Frank commented
              Editing a comment
              Same here. I have 4 1/2 blade on a small battery circular saw. Also a 10 in. blade on the table saw. Both are Diablo laminate/nonferrous blades. Bit of a mess with the chips.

          • #7
            If less then 1/16 thick just use a hand shear

            The patrol requires 1/16 2024 which is to thick to cut with shears.

            I always buy aluminum in 12 foot lengths. So I wanted a straight edge longer then 12 feet. The extra length is need to clamp the straight edge down to table. Circular saws will hit clamp otherwise.

            I bought several aluminum straight edge sections (lowes) and glued them to a mdf backer board to lock them straight. I probably used the 12 foot 2024 sheet edge to establish the straight edge while glue was setting.

            I also used a portable saw and a high tooth blade. The back tape allows for straight edge to be slid around sheet of aluminum.

            When using a circular saw, you want to have some sort of material under aluminum that will be sacrificed. The saw blade rips thru the sacrifice board and the aluminum. It makes for a cleaner cut in the aluminum. I think I used styrofoam sheet.


            Bottom of straight edge with tape to allow sliding for setup without scratching.



            This is a picture of gluing mdf to aluminum straight edge sections with gorilla glue. The 12 foot 2024 edge is used as the original reference.
            A length of steel tube is used to hold down mdf while glue setting. Make straight edge longer then 12 feet so clamps will not interfere with circular saw
            which overhangs material being cut. The side clamps are used to hold multiple aluminum segments in line until glue sets.


            Jig saw not used for cutting aluminum. Jig saw only useful for cutting mdf.


            Two C clamp hold straight edge. I do not think the square tubing had any value. My battery for portable saw was no good anymore.
            I wired a 12 volt power supply in place of battery. I liked the 5 1/2 portable saw instead of a 7 1/4 circular saw. You can get dead battery
            portable circular saw from Goodwill. You do need a high tooth metal cutting blade. This is a 1/16 sheet being ripped. I used a sheet of styrofoam under
            aluminum. I think it works best to rip the aluminum with some sacrifice sheet below aluminum. I think the styrofoam helps remove chips
            in the saw teeth during cut.

            There will be chips everywhere.

            In the far back of the picture there are a couple of fans that blow away chips during the cut. If you have a helper with eye protection you can blow
            air on the front of the saw to remove chips.
            Last edited by sjt; 01-24-2022, 06:10 PM.
            Austin Tx


          • #8
            started routing fuel lines. and worked on finishing previously built form blocks for all wing parts


            • #9
              I am an avid and experienced woodworker but a novice airplane builder, when I started on the build and bought a few different sheets of aluminum I did not know how I would cut the parts I needed. I read about aviation snips, shears, the fishers mentioned above, and everything in between. One day while building a workbench in the hangar with the track saw I realized this might be the best tool for the job. I have the Dewalt flex volt (60v) track saw, the accompanying 60v HEPA dust extractor and a 59” (I believe that’s the length) track. The saw is made for a 6-1/2” blade but dewalt likes to be difficult and made the arbor size irregular so no decent 6-1/2” aluminum blade, in my opinion, fits the saw. Don’t panic though, Diablo makes a fantastic 5-3/8” 50 tooth blade that cuts aluminum like butter and fits the dewalt arbor. I’ve used it on .063” without issue, the dust extractor does a phenomenal job at keeping the mess down. I won’t cut aluminum sheet goods any other way.



              • svyolo
                svyolo commented
                Editing a comment
                I am far less experienced with aluminum than wood, but heard long ago that anything you use on wood works on aluminum. I now concur, and a track saw is the best affordable cutting tool, IMHO. With a different blade, it made extremely quick work of polycarbonate and acrylic I used for the windows and skylight.

                I still suck at welding aluminum, but my Mig and TIg steel is getting there.

              • Jhankins
                Jhankins commented
                Editing a comment
                What blade did you use for the polycarb and acrylic?