Brad Gosselink and Toolpig talk about the Makita track saw.
I bought the (SP6000J) Makita track saw with the 55” rail a little over 2 years ago. This may be an overstatement but I believe it’s one of the tools that have completely changed my career as a finish carpenter. The first time I used the Makita track saw it reminded me of the first time I ever used a 9.6 volt makita cordless drill or the 12 volt Panasonic impact driver, I instantly knew I had to have one.
Unlike the cordless drill and impact driver which I bought immediately, I hemmed and hawed about buying the track saw. It finally came down to that I had to buy one and I bought the makita instead of others because of the price point. I was struggling with a fledgling new business at the time.
In the next year or so I was able to use the Dewalt and the Festool track saws. They’re both great saws and do just as good of a job cut wise as the makita but if I ever had to buy another track saw I would definitely buy the makita again for a few reasons.
The Festool is expensive and it really only has two upsides. In my opinion they’re only upsides for one reason. Cutting slabs or really thick wood.
One of the upsides is that you can get one of their track saws with a 7 1/4” blade compared to the Makitas 6 1/2”. That’s great but I haven’t needed to cut down a 2 1/4” door in forever and 98% of my work with these saws is for 3/4” sheet goods.
The other upside is that it has a riving knife. This is a very heated debate. For me since I don’t cut many slabs I don’t have to worry about the cut closing back up on me and if it does on sheet goods or a door. Guess what, I’m returning that sheet or that door. Also, it’s not like we are using it like a worm drive nor does it have the power of a worm drive, I can easily hold the saw down in case there’s kickback which is most commonly caused by me not the saw or lack of riving knife.
The Dewalt also has a riving knife and it only comes with a 6 1/2” blade. It uses its own guide rail system which is a big problem for me but not so for others who are heavy into the dewalt line.
In the time I’ve been able to use Dewalt, the saw works just as well as the Makita or Festool but it has one big Achilles heel in my book. The plunge action, for some people who have only used the Dewalt it’s not a big deal but for guys like me who use the makita it’s a big deal. Instead of the plunge action curling into the wood it slides down and in. I always feel like I’m exerting too much pressure down, so much so that I’m afraid to use the track saw without the clamps. Which for the festool and makita I bought the track clamps and have never used them. In my opinion because of the way the plunge action is on the Makita and Festool, the saw glides better and you’re pushing forward and not down and forward.
The other problem with the Dewalt is the track. You can only use other Dewalt tools on the track. Since the Makita and Festool tracks are pretty much interchangeable. If you destroy your track you can borrow your buddies while yours is on order ( I have never ever had to do that, lol). If you buy a Festool router, which you can now afford because you bought the Makita track saw, you can use that router on the Makita guide rails.
Now for why I like the Makita better than the other two. I’m rough on tools, really rough.
I don’t throw them or anything like that but I definitely don’t take care of them like I should. The Makita can take a beating, trust me, also if you do destroy it by dropping it from height you can get another one for a very reasonable price. That brings me to my second opinion, price. The Makita is considerably less expensive than the Fezz, it arguably does just as good of a job and it’s tracks are pretty much interchangeable with the Festool.
The last reason is the 45° safety lock on the track. All of these saws are
top-heavy and awkward on the bevel cut. The Makita has a lock on the saw that goes into the track. This makes it so the saw shouldn’t come off the track when let go on the bevel. It also makes it very hard to make the saw go past 45°, unlike the Dewalt and Makita which don’t have a lock to the rail all you have to do is let the saw bevel and it’s off the angle.
With the Makita you have to pull the whole track off the wood with the saw to go off bevel.
In retrospect, all of these saws are good, all will save you time and money and will make your job site safer.
For me it’s a no brainer, get the Makita. You will be more than happy with it, it does its job extremely well and you won’t break the bank buying it.
One last thing, get the long track with the saw don’t just get two 55” tracks and keep putting them together and taking them apart and putting them together and taking them apart and putting……..
You’ll thank me later!!
BUY YOUR VERY OWN HERE
My original tracksaw purchase was going to be this Saw. I tried for months to check one out at a dealer but I could not find one anywhere near my home.
I was actually trying to avoid looking at the Festool because of price and I did not want to get started on an expensive path.
That all changed when I was invited to Schutte Lumber Company in Kansas City, MO for a Festool Friday event. I immediately bought the TS55 REQ with a CT 36 extractor as well as an MFT multi function table and an ETS 125 sander.
I had read that Makita had a more powerful motor but I decided to go ahead and buy the Festool. I liked the riving knife and the off cut splinterguard. I decided that being able to have a perfect splinter free cut on the work piece and the off cut without scoring would eventually pay for the difference in saved labor and materials.
Since I would be using the saw primarily for sheet goods like MDF and plywood I figured the Ts55 would have plenty of power to get that work done. I also figured that if I ever needed to cut heavy slabs or thick doors I could always invest in a TS 75.
After running the saw for about a year the TSC 55 came out. I decided that I needed one. I Thought it would be a good supplemental Saw to the corded one. I was t was every bit of an eye-opening experience as my original TS55track saw was. With more power and no hose to mess with it became my favorite tool ever. I eventually sold the corded Saw from lack of use.
There was still a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. I really wanted to know how good the Makita version of the track saw was. People asked me at least once a week how it compared to the Festool saws. I just didn’t feel right about giving any answer without actually using one.
Late in 2016 I put my order in for an SP 6000 J and 2 55 inch rails. I also ordered a pair of the clamps and a set of guard rail connectors to make one long rail out of two short ones.
It has been flawless for the past eight months. I have purposefully used it more than my Festool saws and I have been very pleased.
I really do like the extra power. The motor is very smooth and has a really nice soft start and electric brake. The over all operation is typical Makita. Controls are well placed. The handle is comfortable. The plunge action is very smooth. I also like the bevel lock mechanism. It allows you to lock the Saw to the track while making bevel cuts.
I have found the riving knife omission to be less of a problem than I had been led to believe. I have actually never had a kickback on a track saw with or without a riving knife. Similar to what Brad said I have used a worm drive Saw for my whole career. At this point it’s 30 years. I pay attention to how a Saw feels in the cut. You can feel a motor starting to labor more if the blade starts getting pinched in the kerf. I can control a kickback on a wormdrive. These track saws don’t have near as much torque as a wormdrive.
The other omission was the offcut splinter guard. I miss this more than the riving knife. It allows a little more splintering on your waste side of the cut. If that cut off is scrap it’s no big deal but if that cut off is half a sheet of plywood or maybe even more it could create a problem. The Makita does allow for a 2mm deep scoring cut which drastically reduces the chipping and splintering in difficult materials like melamine and thin veneer plywoods. It really works well and produces cuts as clean as or cleaner than the Festool TS55. Although this does increase the quality of the work it also increases the time spent for each cut.
This also allows a little more dust into the air even when hooked to an extractor. In the end it is up to you to decide how much dust is acceptable for your situation. I say for 95% of the jobs we do the dust extraction on the Makita is fine. If you want better extraction you will have to pay significantly more for it.
In the end, it’s not a matter of which Saw is better. It’s which saw is better for YOU. If the quality is really close you have to look at features. Which ones will work best in your shop or on your jobsite.
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Bevel cuts **********
Value (419.00) **********
Cut quality. **********
No splinter guard
No riving knife
Cord is shorter than hose
Cord is placed at an awkward angle
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