Anyone who does woodworking frequently finds themselves wishing they had a certain tool that would make the job sooooo much easier. One of the things that I have frequently lusted after is a track saw; but, since they are the price of a decent table saw so far they remain unattainable for me. For those of you who are unaware a track saw is basically a skill saw you can set on a rigid track and make nice straight cuts. Basically it’s a circular saw that any idiot can cut a straight line with. For a couple of examples you can go to Lee Valley or Home Depot. They would be nice for ripping down large sheet goods that you don’t want to manhandle over the table saw as well as numerous other tasks for which you could justify its purchase.
Anyway… Today I was making a couple new shelves for the kitchen cabinets, without the benefit of a tablesaw, when I started thinking about how to procrastinate and decided to make a poor mans track saw out of a 4 foot piece of aluminum channel and an old piece of 1/4 inch wall paneling, you know the stuff that they mistakenly thought looked good in the 70’s?
The whole process was pretty simple. I put the channel roughly in the middle, and drilled some pilot holes through the metal and panel. Since I didn’t want to search too hard for flat headed screws (I may have been procrastinating but I still needed to get something useful done) I flipped the panel over and drilled a shallow hole to countersink the screws I had on hand.
I then used it to cut my shelving and I have to say it worked pretty well. There wasn’t any measuring or complex trigonometry to get the fence positioned right, I just clamped it down and cut. You can see the difference between the side I cut free hand and the side I used the track on (short and long respectively.) They’re both straight but the freehand side took longer and had more tear out. I suppose the tear out probably has a lot to do with the high grade of particle board I used. Yay salvaged cheap office furniture.