A tale of two components.
MSRP: $329.99 (bare tool + track) $399.99 (tool + track + 4ah battery & charger)
The new Ryobi Track saw showing up sparked some debate- which part of a track saw system is more important, the saw or the track? I posed this question to the Popular Woodworking and Woodsmith staff members, as well as our followers on Twitter. The staff leaned slightly more towards the saw, while the online poll showed a bias towards the track. I have my own thoughts on the debate, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Let’s take a look at the stats for the new plunge-cut track saw.
The saw features a brushless motor and can achieve 260 linear feet of cutting per charge with a 4Ah battery (enough to crosscut 65 full pieces of plywood before running out of juice). Comparing those numbers to other cordless track saws on the market, you’ll find that some fall a bit behind the leaders, but not in any meaningful way. Ryobi is the only manufacturer I noticed to clearly state this cut depth includes the track thickness. If I had to make a guess, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume most everyone else isn’t factoring that into their stats. (There’s also the question of how much more useful an extra 1/2″ of cut depth is at a certain point, as I’m not sure I’ve ever cut something much more than an inch thick on a track saw.)
There are some really nice features, like easy-to-use track adjusters and an anti-tip mechanism. The plunge adjustment is clear and straightforward, and the blade and riving knife can be removed with minimal fuss. There is quite a bit of plastic in the construction of the saw, including the baseplate. None of it feels poorly made, and the plunge mechanism is all metal, but it’s clear where some cost concessions were made. I also noticed that there wasn’t any sort of anti-kickback feature, which is nice if you’re rippping a more narrow piece.
In use, the saw had plenty of power for the 3/4″ oak plywood I was testing on, and all of the mechanical bits worked well. All in all, it’s a perfectly positioned saw for the price point, with everything you need, but not much more.
This is the part of the review where I get to share my track saw horror story. A few years ago while working on a project, I had just finished test cutting some bevels, all at a perfect 45°. I moved on to the final cuts, got ready for glue-up, and realized that none of the angles were 45° anymore. I spent the rest of the afternoon, plus the next few days, trying any way I could to solve the problem. It finally turned out that the track had developed a barely-perceptible deflection, right near the middle, that was throwing off the cuts. It wasn’t noticeable when the track was sitting flat, but the angled weight of the saw was enough to flex it out of square as it passed over. My perfectly good saw was completely undone by the failure of the track.
So hearing that the Ryobi track was coming in 27 1/4″ sections that could be joined together gave me serious pause. Imagine my surprise then, that upon unboxing I was presented with the most robust, well-made track sections I’ve ever experienced. They feature heavy-gauge aluminum construction and are very stiff with little give. The two connectors are nearly 12″ long and have enough play that the track can be aligned perfectly by the user, instead of relying on it being true from the factory. Once everything was tightened up, the saw slid over the seam with no issue, as you can see below. Just a small click as the saw passes over the gap between glide strips.
Ultimately what we have here is perfectly average saw with a truly outstanding track. Where does that leave the package as a whole? If you’re already using Ryobi tools and have batteries, the saw + track kit is a screaming bargain at $329. There’s just not a comparable saw on the market at that price point. The $399 kit with the 4ah battery is still a great deal, but you’re starting to creep towards the price point of some other (corded) track saws. Still, as an all-around package you can’t go wrong with this saw (and especially this track).