There’s no question that circular saws have their place in woodworking. But, just try to cut a straight line without running the saw against a straightedge. I sure can’t! And, even a straightedge doesn’t prevent kickback or reduce tearout on delicate veneered plywood.
DeWalt addresses all three limitations with its new corded (DWS520) and 28-volt lithium-ion cordless (DC351) TrackSaws ($499 to $999 in 2009). The saws ride on an anti-slip aluminum track to ensure arrow-straight cuts. These tracks come in 59" or 102" lengths with soft edges that meet the blade to help reduce tearout. Modified quick clamps hold the track securely, when necessary. The saws function with a straight-plunging action, and that, coupled with variable speed and a 1-1⁄4"-diameter dust port, ensures precise, clean cuts. A riving knife keeps the blade kerf open when ripping solid wood. Both 6-1⁄2"-diameter saws cut material up to 2-1⁄8" thick at 90° or 1-5⁄8" at a 45° bevel. If you’re in need of a portable saw with panel saw potential, these TrackSaws seem very promising.