How Do I Cut Straight Lines With a Circular Saw?
Tom Silva makes his case for the straight-cutting track saw
I find it hard to cut straight lines with my circular saw. Would it help to use a track like the one I see Tom Silva using on TV?
—James Davenport, Woodbury, TN
There’s no question that a track saw would help. You simply place the track against the cutline and drop the saw onto it. As you slide the saw along the track, it makes a laser-straight cut.
I started using my Festool track saw about 20 years ago, and it didn’t take long before it became my go-to tool for jobs like trimming doors or countertops and breaking down plywood sheets into cabinet panels. In fact, when I have a choice between a table saw and a track saw, the track saw usually wins out. It’s so much easier to set up the track than to wrestle a sheet of plywood onto a table saw. And it’s much safer, too, because there’s no chance of kickback or running your fingers over the blade.
A number of other manufacturers now make track saws, though none of them are cheap. Expect to pay between $400 and $600 for the saw and track. The price is worth it to me because I’m using the saw constantly. But the high cost may be harder for DIY homeowners to justify.
Here’s a less expensive technique: Clamp a straightedge made of plywood or 1x stock to the work and let it guide the shoe of a circular saw through the cut. That method worked well enough for me in the years before the track saw came along.
Shown: Tom Silva trims a door with his trusty track saw. It hooks up to a vacuum that collects almost every speck of sawdust, so the work area stays clean.