Are Tracksaws Under-Powered?

A tracksaw is handy when you need one, but it's no straight-line rip saw. February 27, 2015

I have the Festool tracksaw 55. This is the most underpowered saw I have ever used. Maybe I am missing something? I used it yesterday to make 45% cuts in 3/4 solid cherry and it overheated and shut down after three cuts. I have little trim saws that will do better than that. I was using a brand new 48 tooth blade from Festool to do the job. For the cost of the saw and all the hype I would have expected better performance out of this saw. Please let me know your experiences with this saw. I know the 76 is more powerful, but with this experience I am not sure I want to invest any more in Festool products.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor C:
I have experienced the opposite. I have the 55 and never had issues like that. I find it an incredibly accurate and clean cut. Last used was ripping a 8/4 Bubinga slab lengthwise, sliced through it very clean and quick. Might be like anything else made, something wrong from the factory?

From contributor C:
I forgot to mention that it was a 12' slab, one cut without stopping and did it twice, I was ripping the pith out of it which was the only flatsawn part of the 5' wide slab.

From Contributor Z:
The "soft start" makes it sound weak at first. I had mine for about eight years with no problems and still remarkable accuracy.

From the original questioner
Accuracy is not the issue. It just doesn't have any power. I have two of these saws and the performance is the same with either one. I will contact Festool and see what they say about it and will post it here. I have small trim saws that go through the same material with ease. These saws just bog down and even shut down if you keep trying to go, no matter how slow you proceed.

From the original questioner
I am not trying to rant on Festool here, just trying to solve a problem. Maybe I need to use another blade or maybe I am missing something, but I am just stating what the problem is that I am having with the saw. I have several Festool products that I am quite happy with. I have their router, vacuum system and other items and am quite happy with them. I also have the multi-purpose table and find it quite convenient so this is not a rant against Festool. Just not happy with the performance of the 55 saw.

From contributor F:
I have the 55 and yes it does seem underpowered compared to other circular saws I own. I canít say it's ever overheated and shut down though, even when using blades that were less than sharp. I do try and use a blade with fewer teeth when cutting lumber.

From contributor G:
I have the TS 75 and have had it shut down when strait ripping 4/4 white oak. Other people say it cuts like butter but that has not been my experience. I am using the panther blade for ripping so it is not a blade issue. I have tried doing 45 degree cross cuts in solid 4/4 white oak and was not happy with the results. I am at a bit of a loss to explain why some people say it has lots of power I don't think my saw is out of spec?

From contributor J:
Were you using a fine tooth blade or the rip blades? I have two 55 and never had a problem with them.

From contributor F:
Correct itís not the most powerful saw on the market, but they are great for what they do. I would double check your blade as the saw should not be that weak. Having said that, I found mine bogs when trying to cut through thicker stock, like 1-1/4" MDF, too fast. I don't do much solid wood with it though, especially not ripping. I prefer a 5 hp table saw when it comes to ripping. If I were going to try it I'd go pretty slow.

From contributor G:
I have written it off to different expectations. I have a 10 hp sliding table saw I straight rip lumber on if it is under 10 feet long and you can push the wood through at a pretty good lick and do a lot of lumber in a short time. When I started with the TS 75 I had 2500 board foot of 4/4 white oak to strait rip and guess I was pushing it too hard. I would like sometime to visit the shop of someone who says they have no problems with these saws but I think it will come down to what you are expecting to achieve. I don't believe my saw is set up wrong or not operating as it was designed to do.

From contributor S:
If you are using an extension cord be sure it is the correct gauge - consult the ownerís manual. Undersized/too long of a cord will cause an undesirable voltage drop and lead to overheating and weak performance. That goes for any tool. The heavier the cut, the more important this becomes. If your extension cord or connections are hot you are undersized or have loose connection inside. These are just a hand held circular saws. Good quality, but still a circular saw.

From contributor X:
I don't own a track saw but I do own a lot of other Festools and I do feel they are top notch. I do think they can be a little underpowered compared to other brands. I have noticed that a lot of the European brands make excellent quality tools but they don't seem to be overly concerned with hp. A lot of the European brands offer bigger motors to satisfy the U.S. market. These upgrades are more for the bigger machines but it just goes to show the difference in the mindset from Americans to Europeans.

From the original questioner
When I was doing the cutting it was on cherry hardwood on a 45% angle with 3/4" thick material. I was using the 48 tooth blade and it was brand new. I had just put it on the saw and it immediately bogged down and couldn't keep up. I went and bought two new blades - a 12 tooth rip blade and a 28 tooth blade. The rip blade cut too rough for finish cuts (too much splintering). The 28 tooth still bogged down but I was able to at least get through the cut without the saw overheating and shutting down. I think my questions are answered. The saw is underpowered - accurate, but weak! It doesn't sound like moving up to the 76 is any better. Just seems like a lot of money for a saw that is this wimpy.

From contributor F:
I can't say it's overpriced, expensiveÖ.sure, but if it were overpriced they wouldn't be selling these things the way they are. They do things no other saw can do, (well, before the knock-offs came along anyway), and do it very well. I still have a Porter Cable that's a couple decades old if I need to power through something. But that's not really what the Festool is for. Going back to the overrated thing, itís probably just a matter of opinion. I know I would not give mine up. Itís hard for me to agree a tool is overrated if I can honestly say if mine died tomorrow I'd buy a new one as soon as I possibly could.

From Contributor O:

I feel that there are lots of folks that want to use something like a track saw in place of a table saw or a panel saw. Festool (and now, others) markets to that crowd since that is a huge segment of their buyers. There even was a thread here recently where a poster was trying to muster support that would back his decision that he probably did not need a table or panel saw. While you can do many things with a track saw, you should not expect to do everything with it, or do it well. As for the OP using a tracksaw to rip hardwood at 45 degrees, I think that is a job for a 5 hp tablesaw, a 9 hp shaper, or even a router table with feeder and several passes. The last tool I would use is a tracksaw - especially one with 48 teeth.

From contributor H:
I don't think you need a 5hp saw for 3/4 cherry, but you do need a table saw with a couple of nice blades. A properly set up 1.5hp contractors table saw would take care of this. In my opinion the Festool saws are for slow paced furniture makers and hobbyists.

From Contributor C:
Their 55 saw is fine for plywood, but I bought the 75 so that I could get through 8/4 hardwoods, too. The motor has electronic controls that shut it down when overloaded. The 48T blade is meant for sheetgoods; the rip blade does ok, but you have to take it slow.

From contributor M:
The way you make money in this business is by finding ways to do things quicker and better. Festool helps us accomplish both. The tools pay for themselves and are a joy to use - totally worth the investment.