There used to be a time when a track saw was considered an unnecessary luxury to most woodworkers. However, they have made quite a comeback over the years. Now, you will find one in every workshop because- let’s face it, there’s nothing better for seamless straight cuts.
With so many different types of saws in the market, investing in a new track saw might seem like a waste if you already have a circular saw and a table saw.
However, a track saw offers many additional possibilities to your woodworking capabilities.
With a good track saw, you can make a lot of cuts that you cannot even think about with a circular saw. For instance, making long rip cuts perfectly straight can be a nightmare if you do not have a track saw.
Throughout the course of my career as a professional carpenter, I had the good fortune of working with some top-notch track saws. In this article, I will give you a thorough comparison of the track saw by two of my favorite brands Festool and Makita.
Let’s see who comes out on top in this head-to-head contest between Makita vs. Festool track saw.
Makita vs. Festool Track Saw – A Quick Comparison
Not everyone has the time or luxury of reading through an entire article to make a valid choice. If you need a quick comparison, here is a table that showcases a lot of the major differences between Makita and Festool track saw.
|KEY FACTORS||MAKITA TRACK SAW||FESTOOL TRACK SAW|
|MODEL NAME||MAKITA SP6000J||TS 55 REQ-F-PLUS|
|POWER OUTPUT||10-AMP MOTOR||1200 WATTS|
|BLADE SIZE||6-1/2 INCHES||6-1/4 INCHES|
|MINIMUM RPM UNDER NO LOAD||2000 RPM||2000 RPM|
|MAXIMUM RPM UNDER NO LOAD||5200 RPM||5200 RPM|
|MAXIMUM CUTTING DEPTH AT 90 DEGREES||2-3/16 INCHES||2-1/8 INCHES|
|BEVEL CAPACITY||-1 TO 48 DEGREES||-1 TO 47 DEGREES|
|MAXIMUM CUTTING DEPTH AT 45 DEGREES||1-9/16 INCHES||1-7/16 INCHES|
|UNIQUE FEATURES||BUILT-IN CURRENT LIMITER AND SOFT START AND ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROL||MICRO-ADJUSTABLE DEPTH CONTROLS AND ZERO-TEAROUT CUTTING AND FAST FIX BLADE CHANGING SYSTEM|
There are some pretty noticeable differences between the two track saws. Having used both of them, I can tell you firsthand that using the two saws feels entirely different.
In the following section, I will give you “an unbiased review” of both of them so that you can decide which one you want for yourself.
If you are ever on the market for any budget power tools, the first brand that everyone will suggest is Makita.
The company has made a significant impact in the world of budget power saws offering an excellent entry point for starting woodworkers or DIY enthusiasts.
Despite the cheaper price tag on most of their tools, Makita never skimps out on build quality and features.
That is why they have gathered a huge following over the years. I have used a few different tools by them, and their chainsaw is one of my favorites of the bunch.
In addition to fantastic quality control, Makita also offers decent warranty services, including a 30-day return policy.
Most of the units come with two to three years of warranties so you will be able to get your product fixed should anything bad happen.
Favorite One – Makita SP6000J 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw
The SP6000J was never my first choice when I was on the market for a track saw. In fact, I only knew about DeWalt and Festool, and those seemed like my only good options out there.
I ended up going with the DeWalt. But soon after, I tried out the Makita track saw a couple of times in my friend’s workshop.
Frankly, I was BLOWN AWAY by the performance it delivered for the price. It was a lot cheaper yet had comparable performance to both the DeWalt and Festool option.
Eventually, I caved and ended up buying one for myself. And even though I have other track saws, I tend to use this one also from time to time.
Since it is a corded unit, a lot of its performance depends on the power of the motor. Thankfully, power should never be an issue here because of its 12-amp motor. It even comes with a soft-start feature that prevents unwanted kickback during startup.
As expected with such a capable motor, the unit gives you access to a nice range of RPM. Under no load, I could shift from 2000 RPM all the way up to 5200 RPM using variable speed control. Since the speed control is electronic, maintaining RPM consistency is never an issue with this track saw.
It also offers excellent bevel cutting capabilities. I could cut from -1 degrees to 48 degrees. Thanks to the bevel stop at 22.5 degrees and 45 degrees, I had a lot of flexibility in making critical miter cuts. Keep in mind, that at the time I got this unit, I was not very experienced. Still, it posed no challenge when I was using it.
The cutting depth that the saw allowed is another element that impressed me. I could cut through 2-3/19 inches of materials easily when cutting straight. At 45 degrees angle, the cutting depth is lower obviously. Still, it allowed for 1-9/16 inches of cutting depth at that angle without any issues.
It has a very smooth plunge release lever that further enhances the ease of use when working on a finicky project. The unit comes with a current limiter to prevent any burnout of the motor. So even if you have to work for long hours, you do not need to worry about the health of your track saw.
The unit has a few other nifty features that might not seem like much but adds a lot of extra utility. For instance, the small 1-1/2 inch dust port lets you hook up any dust collector to ensure your workshop remains free from sawdust. You can replace the 6-1/2-inch blade in the unit easily using the hex wrench.
Despite offering such an excellent list of features, the price of the unit is under 450 dollars. Sometimes you can find it for much cheaper in online stores. It is a great investment for any beginner woodworker. Even if you have decent experience in carpentry, this track saw can add a lot of versatility to your workshop.
If you want to know more about the Makita SP6000J, there is a complete breakdown posted on this website- from use to power and safety features.
- No load speed from 2000 to 5200 RPM
- Electronic variable speed control for better RPM consistency
- Features a soft start system
- Powerful 12-amp motor
- Comes with a current limiter
- Smooth Plunge release lever
- 6-1/2 inch blade diameter
- -1 to 48 degrees of bevel capacity
- 1-9/16 inch cutting depth at 45 degrees
- 2-3/16 inch cutting depth at 90 degrees
- Bevel stops at 22.5 degrees and 45 degrees
- Easy hex-wrench blade changing system
- Electric blade and arbor lock
As a power tool brand, it does not get better than Festool. Originating from Germany, Festool is the definition of “premium quality” regardless of the power tool you are buying. It is one of the first choices of many professional woodworkers and enthusiastic hobbyists.
At its time of conception in 1925, the brand was called Fezer & Stoll. Later on, the name was shortened to Festo, and today, it is simply called Festool.
The first notable achievement of the brand was the production of a portable chainsaw. It was the first of its kind and made a large ripple among enthusiasts.
Even to this day, the quality of Festool did not waver in the slightest. The only issue some have with the brand is its pricing. Some claim that the price might be a bit higher but considering the quality they offer, I can understand the pricing.
Even their warranty policy is one of the Best in the industry. With any unit, you get a month of replacement warranty. Apart from that, you have at least three years of limited warranty to ensure you get full satisfaction from your product.
Their customer service is extremely responsive and is always to help you out in case of any issues.
Favorite One – Festool 575387 Plunge Cut Track Saw Ts 55 Req-F-Plus
If you love cordless track saws, the TS55 REQ-F Plus is a great choice. It is an upgraded version of their EQ model and comes with many revamped features.
I have one in my workshop, and I absolutely love using it. Sure, it costs a pretty penny, but when it comes to quality, I do not like to compromise.
The thing about this track saw is though it comes with the premium price tag that is natural with Festool products, it is still not too high that you cannot afford it.
In fact, it is one of their lower cost units which means if you want a Festool product in your workshop, this is a good choice.
One of the main benefits of the unit is its compact design. Since it is only 10 pounds in weight and cordless, you can practically take your project anywhere with this device.
It requires a single lithium-ion battery and consumes around 1200 watts of power offering you excellent runtime.
Despite being a cordless unit, it offers a similar range of RPM compared to Makita. You get an adjustable dial that lets you switch the revolution per minute of the unit from 2000 RPM to 5200 RPM under no load. So, you have more than enough power to rip through any type of material.
The bevel capacity in the unit is also excellent letting you go from -1 degrees to 47 degrees. You have access to a wide angle of cuts.
In fact, you can make inclusive 87 degrees cut with this unit without any issues. The angel of cut is quite similar to Makita but the stability is better with Festool.
The cutting capability of the unit is nothing short of perfection. It can cut through 2-1/8 inches of material at 90 degrees with the guide rail detached.
With the rails, the cutting depth comes down to 1-7/16 inches at 45 degrees and 1-15/16 inches at 90 degrees. So, you have a lot of flexibility while cutting.
The 6-1/4 inch blade that comes with the unit might seem like a letdown compared to the Makita. However, when it comes to cutting prowess, it is no slouch.
In addition, the FastFix blade changing feature in the unit ensures you waste little time when your blade gets dull and you need a replacement.
If you’re still having trouble with blade changes, the techniques used for changing a circular blade should be of help.
The safety features in the unit are also worth a mention as it eliminates any chance of kickback. It has a spring-loaded riving knife that makes sure that you can cut any materials without endangering yourself or your track saw.
To further enhance the cutting experience, the depth adjustment in the unit lets you control micro-points to ensure the highest accuracy.
The price of the unit is definitely a bit higher compared to Makita. It comes at around 600 to 650 bucks and if you are on a lower budget, it might not be a good option.
Additional accessories also cost a bit higher which is the only real issue with this unit. However, if you want quality and performance, this one comes with plenty.
- True cordless freedom
- Uses a single lithium-ion battery
- No load speed from 2000 to 5200 RPM
- FastFix blade changing system for faster blade replacement
- Precision guiding rail system
- Spring-loaded riving knife for reduced kickback
- Zero-tearout cutting
- 6-1/4 inch blade diameter
- -1 to 47 degrees of bevel capacity
- 2-1/8 inch cutting depth at 90 degrees without guide rail
- 1-7/16 inch cutting depth at 45 degrees with guide rail
- 1-15/16-inch cutting depth at 90 degrees with guide rail
Makita vs. Festool Guide Rail: Are They the Same?
The element that contributes the most to the accuracy and performance of a track saw is the guide rail system. Often referred to as tracks, this component should always be a point of consideration when you are buying a track saw.
Thankfully, both Makita and Festool come with high-quality guide rails.
In fact, a lot of people have the misconception that the two guide rails are the same. This however cannot be further from the truth. And in the following section of the article, I will showcase all the major differences between the two tracks.
But first, let me show you the similarities. You see, before I got my hands on both of the tracks, I also thought they were the same.
Both are made of aluminum, and you get the same size options from both brands. In addition, the plastic/polymer segments in both the tracks look quite similar.
However, that is where the similarities end. If you take a closer look, some of the functional differences become apparent.
1. Guide Ridge Width
The guide ridge in a track saw serves as a slot where you place the saw so that it can move along the guide rail. When it comes to the guide ridge in the tracks of the two brands, there is a slight difference in width.
The difference is quite minuscule and unless you measure it with a straight edge, you will not be able to notice it. In Makita tracks, the guide ridge is .3mm narrower.
2. Splinter Guard Strip
The splinter guard strip in a track saw minimizes tear out and enhances the accuracy of the track saw; especially when making the first cut. Makita and Festool took a different approach when choosing the material for their splinter guard strip.
Festool went with a Hard Polymer that boosts cutting accuracy slightly. The Makita guard strip is also pretty decent and has great accuracy. But it features a Softer Rubber-Like Material.
3. Non-slip Strips
Another slight difference between the guard rail is the dimension of the non-slip strips. These strips ensure the tracks stay in place and offer you a stable cutting experience.
Both of the tracks offer excellent grips thanks to the non-slip strips. In Festool track saws, the strips are a bit narrower than Makita. However, they are a bit thicker in comparison.
4. Glide Strips
In both Makita and Festool tracks, there are glide strips that carry the weight of the saw and reduce friction while cutting. At first glance, the glide strips in both tracks look almost the same.
However, once you look closer, you will see that the Festool strips are a bit narrow and have a smooth surface. Makita, on the other hand, features a serrated top surface along with a slightly wider shape.
5. Anti-tipping Features
The anti-tipping features of a track are important when you are using the track saw for bevel cutting. This is where you will notice the most difference between the two guide rails.
Festool and Makita guide rails are “interchangeable” when using them for 90-degree cuts. However, bevel cutting requires a lot more attention when you are cross-mixing the products.
Festool tracks are much more expensive compared to Makita. The brand Makita is always considered a budget-friendly brand that offers high quality at a low price. Festool, on the other hand, caters to premium quality and taste.
Still, considering all the features, Festool and Makita tracks are both quite well designed and usable in any woodworking project. The difference is minuscule and if you are not using it for bevel cuts, you should be fine with either of them.
Is Festool Better than Makita?
People often tend to think of the more expensive product as the obvious “better one.” Though it makes sense in many cases, in this particular situation, it is not entirely true.
Yes, Festool is the more expensive option and does certain things better. But it is not downright the better choice. Makita offers many excellent features and does a lot of the things that Festool does at a fraction of the price.
So, dubbing Festool as the better choice outright would be unfair. Makita offers a level of value that Festool simply does not. Both of the units have their place and it is up to you to decide which one is better for you.
Despite being the cheaper one, Makita is an excellent competitor to the Festool track saw. Both of the units offer fantastic performance.
Makita is a low-cost option for people who are on a tight budget. Since it does not feature a riving knife, it might also not be the best option if you plan on cutting solid timber.
On the other hand, Festool will chop through any material without any issues. It is also portable and does not require you to stay tethered to a wall socket for power. But it costs a lot more and many DIYers would not want to spend that much on a track saw.
There is no clear winner between the battle of Makita vs. Festool Track Saw. Both units offer something unique to the user and both of them deserve to be in your woodshop. I know because I have them both!
Sure, Makita does not give you the wireless freedom that you will get from Festool. It also cuts comparably well and gives you excellent cutting accuracy during any of your woodworking projects.
However, if you are looking for portability, Festool is hard to beat. DeWalt does a pretty good job at it, but Makita, being a corded unit, offers nothing in terms of portability. You can see our comparison of DeWalt vs Festool in this article.
In my opinion, get both of the track saws if you can afford them. If you do not have the budget, then you need to be a bit more attentive to your specific needs. Since now you have a complete picture of both track saws, it should not be too difficult to make the right choice. Good Luck!