Check out our Grizzly Track Saw Review!
If you’re like most hobbyist woodworkers, you’ve been lusting after one of those fancy tracksaws for a while now. It all started with Festool and their TS55. They brought us the accuracy of a panel saw with the versatility of a compact plunging circular saw. For many small shop pros, this development was huge. But it came at a fairly steep price tag: currently $550 for saw and guide. A couple of years ago, both DeWalt and Makita stepped in with their offerings. I even had an opportunity to do a little side by side testing of the DeWalt saw that you might want to check out. Both saws made an initial splash simply because they represented the first “real” competition for Festool’s flagship product.
A couple years later, the reception to these tools feels lukewarm at best, judging from general forum/blog chatter or the lack thereof. While cheaper than Festool’s offerings at about $430 – $500, I don’t think the price difference is enough to motivate most fence-sitters. And general consensus seems to be that if you’re going to spend almost $500, why not spend a few bucks more for the version made by the company that lives and breathes this system?
So why should we give a crap that Grizzly is getting into the track saw game? Because it’s going to cost $230! If you happen to be a firm fence sitter, consider this the schmear of vaseline that’s going to help you decide one way or the other.
Unfortunately, the product isn’t out yet and I can’t provide any sort of in-depth analysis or comparison. But I do have a unit on order and will report back as soon as possible. So at this stage, all we can do is speculate and raise interesting questions. I had a few questions of my own and decided to contact Grizzly directly for the answers. I’ll summarize their replies below.
They are taking orders now, but the product won’t ship until mid to late March 2013.
There will no doubt be many comparisons to the Festool line. The saw looks to feature the same plunging motion and the track looks almost identical. Are any of the accessories and components (clamps, tracks, etc) going to be compatible with Festool’s saw? And conversely, will Festool’s saw work on Grizzly tracks?
Their reply stated that they did not take any measures to ensure compatibility with other brands and they can’t say for sure whether or not they will work together in any fashion.
Low Cost = Low Quality?
Grizzly’s track saw will hit the market at about 60% less than the cost of a Festool saw. How was this done? Are companies like Festool, DeWalt, and Makita simply over-pricing their products or are there areas where money can be saved without sacrificing quality? A lower-powered saw perhaps? Thinner gauge metal used in the track? In my circle of woodworkers, Grizzly has a reputation for being a great bang for the buck in stationary power tools. Obviously this is a very different beast, but this price difference is even more significant than usual. People are left to wonder if the quality is up to par.
Grizzly says that there are some differences between their saw and the competition, but one of the primary pricing factors is cutting out the middle-men. However, they feel that comparing their saw to Festool is a little like comparing a Toyota to a Lexus. They both will get you to the store and back but there are key differences. They are not aiming their tool at taking away business from these other manufacturers. Instead they are hoping to provide an option for those who would not or could not afford a track saw in the past. This allows just about everyone to have a track saw in their tool arsenal.
Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these bad boys. Many of you know of my affinity for the green Koolaid, but you should also know by now that I am honest and fair. So it should be interesting to see how this tool holds up to a little scrutiny. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be lacking in some key areas. The Toyota/Lexus analogy makes that perfectly clear. The real question we’ll have to answer is whether the quality changes will be worth the cost savings and whether this saw will indeed fill that niche. If it can make clean, tearout-free cuts in just about any sheetgood, then it just might be a winner.