Why a plunge saw when I have a circular saw?

A very common question. Many people can’t see the difference. Then they use a plunge saw and their question is answered.

Very briefly a plunge saw is designed to give straight cuts using a guide rail. Cutting can start anywhere on a piece of material as the blade is “plunged” down onto the surface, while a circular saw has to start cutting at the edge.

A plunge saw’s blade is also fully enclosed when at rest

This review will be testing the following plunge saws

□ Triton TTS 1400

□ Bosch “Professional” GKT 55 GCE

□ Makita SP6000 J

□ VonHaus 1050W

□ GMC GTS165.

□ Lumberjack 165.

Each of these plunge saws comes highly recommended from other saw reviews, and this review finds out which one is actually the best in terms of value for money and quality.

“The Thunder from Down Under”: The Triton TTS1400 Plunge and Track Saw.

Triton as the heading suggests is an Australian company. The TTS1400 is unashamedly rugged in its appearance.

Equipped with a 1400W motor producing a maximum 5000 rpm turning a tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) 165mm blade, the TTS1400 cuts through most woods easily.

To ensure clean cuts this plunge saw has soft start and variable speed from 2000 to 5000 rpm for better control and cleaner cuts, unlike many circular saws. Once the cut is started there is a constant speed setting, making it almost like a table saw, when comes to accurate cuts.

As with the vast majority of corded saws, the TTS1400 is no light weight machine. Weighing in at 5.4kg, it is surprisingly well balanced and relatively vibration free, thanks to its ergonomically designed soft grip handles.

The TTS 1400 has a cutting depth of 54mm at 90 degrees and a bevel cut of 38mm at 45 degrees. The bevel capacity for this plunge saw is 0° to 48°. Ideal for joinery and skirting cuts.

Blade changing is relatively quick and easy with the spindle lock stopping blade slippage thus protecting fingers. The hex wrench can be stored in a pocket on the plunge handle, but one of the minor criticisms is that it can fall out.

As plunge saw blades are completely covered, saw dust extraction is more efficient than a circular saw ‘s and the Triton TTS1400 is typical in that regard. The dust naselle can be fitted with a 360° vacuum cleaner adapter.

One of the best features of the TTS1400 is the “anti kickback mechanism which reduces the very frightening kickback that sometimes happens. It’s very easy to activate if using the saw “track free”, but it automatically switches on when the saw is slid onto a guide rail.

A plunge saw performs at its best when used with a cutting track. Unfortunately the TTS1400 saw is not supplied with a guide rail, but it does come with a rip fence, ideal for short straight parallel cuts.

Want to cut close to a skirting? The Triton TTS 1400 is the best plunge saw in this review to do just that. The blade housing is flush and at 90° to the base plate edge allowing for flush cuts.

For simple maintenance 2 carbon brushes are supplied and are easily fitted.

The TTS1400 comes with a 3 year guarantee provided it is registered on www.triton.com within 28 days of purchase.

The Triton TTS1400 is quite a remarkable product, but it does have its little faults, and in the grand scheme of things, they are pretty trivial.

The saw itself is a plunge or track saw, and it is a pity that the guide track is not included. However, the TTS1400 is compatible with the Triton TTSTP guide rail.

While the TTS1400 operates on the 230/240V system it is fitted with the EU standard “seluko” plug. Again, Triton have catered for this discrepancy by including a UK 3 pin adapter.

While not essential, the TTS1400 does not have a carry case or box included.

It is recommended to useear protection, as the TTS1400 is quite a loud saw.

Pros:

■ 1400W motor delivering a maximum of 5000 rpm.

■ Soft start with 2000 to 5000rpm and constant speed control for long straight cuts.

■ A TCT 165mm diameter blade included with a plunge cut of 54mm at 90°.

■ A bevel cut capacity of 0° to 48°, with maximum depth of cut of 38mm at 45°.

■ Spindle lock installed for quick and easy blade change, avoiding slippage.

■ Extremely well balanced and easy to handle despite its weight of 5.4kg.

■ The TTS1400 is covered by a 3 year warranty for peace of mind.

■ Fitted with a plunge lock for extra safety.

■ Additional carbon brushes for basic maintenance.

■ Anti “kickback” technology reduces “kickback”

■ Ability to cut flush to skirtings due to the blade housing being flush and perpendicular to the base plate.

Cons:

■ No guide track included despite it being a track saw. However, the TTS1400 is compatible with the TTSTP guide rail.

■ Although designed to operate on 230/240V this saw is fitted with the EU “Seluko” plug, but a UK 3 pin adapter is included.

■ Carry case/ bag is not included.

■ The TTS1400 is quite loud and ear protection is recommended.

A European Thoroughbred: The Bosch “Professional” GKT55 GCE Plunge saw.

Held by many to be one of the best manufacturers of plunge and circular saws, Bosch’s “blue” GKT55 GCE is a track saw with pedigree.

With a 1400W motor capable of delivering 6250 rpm, the GKT55 GCE will easily cut most woods, laminates and composites.

Being a plunge saw, the GKT55 GCE has that edge on a circular saw in that with its soft start of 3600rpm and ability to start cutting internally on a piece of wood, accurate cuts are made more possible.

Weighing in at hefty 4.7kg, the GKT55 GCE is easily controlled and well balanced. The ergonomically designed soft grip handles reduced vibration to the hands and arms, makes the Bosch GKT55 GCE one of the most comfortable track saws anyone could want.

The 165mm diameter blade included with this saw is specially designed to reduce noise, making the GKT55 GCE possibly the quietest track saw on test.

Dust collection is highly efficient due to the blade housing design.

The blade has a plunge cut of 57mm at 90 degrees, and a bevel capacity of 0°to 47° with a cutting depth of 42mm at 45°. Blade replacement is made easy and safe with a spindle lock.

Safety wise, the Bosch GKT55 GCE has a 2 step safety catch, and of course full blade contraction as with all track saws.

As always, Bosch offers a 2 year warranty on the GKT55 GCE which is automatically upgraded to 3 years if it is registered on www.mybosch.co.uk within 28 days of purchase.

The legendary “L-Boxx” carry case is included included with this plunge saw package.

There are a couple of small niggles with the GKT55 GCE. The foremost is that there is neither a rip fence/ cut guide or guide rail supplied with this track saw. Effectively making the GKT55 GCE a circular saw.

Having said that, the GKT55 GCE is compatible with all Bosch guide rails as well as the guide rails designed for the Festool TS 55 range of plunge saws. A somewhat strange move to have a Bosch saw aligned with a range of Festool plunge saw accessories!

Even though the blade housing was almost flush to the baseplate the closest cut to skirting was 18mm.

Despite the GKT55 GCE being part of Bosch’s “Professional” range, the price was just too high to be value for money.

Pros:

■ Extremely powerful 1400W motor capable of soft start 3600 rpm to maximum 6250 rpm.

■ Excellent bevel depth of cut of 42mm at 45° and 57mm at 90°.

■ Good dust extraction due to blade housing design.

■ Maximum of 3 year warranty, giving complete peace of mind.

■ Well balanced and easy to handle, despite weighing 4.7kg, thanks to well designed ergonomic handles.

■ Innovative noise reducing 165mm blade.

■ 2 step safety catch and spindle lock safety features.

■ “L boxx” carry case included.

Cons:

■ Price. This saw cannot deemed as value for money.

■ Guide rail or cut guide/rip fence not included. Effectively making this track saw an expensive circular saw.

■ The closest the GKT55 GCE cuts to skirting is 18mmm despite its flush blade housing design.

The Makita SP6000J Plunge cut Saw.

Founded in 1915, Makita is one of the foremost power tool companies in the world, and the Makita SP6000J is their current track saw aimed at the DIY enthusiast and professional.

This Makita plunge saw is powered by a 1300W motor which with its soft start feature provides 2000to 5800rpm ensuring accurate cuts from its 165mm diameter TCT blade.

Again, with the SP6000J being a track saw, the main emphasis is the ability to cut from anywhere on the wood surface, and it certainly cuts cleanly through most woods and composites with ease.

Its cutting depth of 56mm at 90° is respectable, it is nothing to write home about. The same can be said about the SP6000J ‘s bevel depth cuts of 40mm at 45° and 38mm at 48mm.

The Makita SP6000J has a 2 stage safety catch to prevent accidental starting.

With the general advances made in ergonomic design the SP6000J ‘s soft grip handles do make its 4.4kg weight easy to handle and control, but offer little in innovative design.

The ” Makpac” carry case for saw storage is included. While for peace of mind, the SP6000J is covered by a 1 year warranty.

This particular Makita plunge saw package does not include guide rails, or even a rip fence/ cut guide, however, for those who want a guide rail included, the Makita SP6000J1 option offers just that, but it isn’t value for money.

The SP6000J ‘s blade housing design, while making dust extraction excellent, stops this plunge saw making flush cuts with skirtings, as the minimum distance is 18mm.

Whether looking at the Makita SP6000J1 or the SP6000J, other saw reviews as well as this review found the Makita plunge saw, at 102dB to be the loudest saw on test, and hearing protection is essential.

Despite its “pedigree” the SP6000J really isn’t one of the best track saws on test.

Pros:

■ Powerful 1300W motor providing a maximum 5800 rpm.

■ Soft start and variable speed allowing controlled clean cuts.

■ 2 step safety catch to prevent accidental starting.

■ Ergonomically designed soft grip handles.

■ Supplied with 165mm diameter blade.

■ “Makpac” carry case included.

■ 1 year warranty cover.

Cons:

■ The price. This is not best value for money.

■ While respectable, the cutting depths at bevelling or at 90° are not impressive.

■ Guide rails and rip fence are not included.

■ The SP6000J cannot cut flush to a skirting.

■ This track saw is very loud. Ear protection is essential.

Want the Best of Both Worlds? THE VonHaus 1050 Circular Saw/Multipurpose Plunge Saw.

The VonHaus 1050 can only be described as an attempted marriage of two different concepts.

The saw itself is quite light and as such is easy to handle.

While the 1050’s motor is relatively small at 1050W it provides a staggering 12000rpm. This plunge cut circular saw short work of most woods and composites not by brute strength, but by speed.

With a choice of 2 TCT blades (40 or 20 tooth) and a diamond saw blade, the applications seem to be many. However, the saw package is limited by the fact that the blades are 110mm in diameter.

As a consequence the cutting depth at 90° is only 28mm (25mm with track) and no bevel capacity severely limits this track saw ‘s performance.

Despite its shortcomings, the 1050 can still be considered as one of the best track saws on the market, especially when viewed as an entry level saw.

The VanHaus 1050 has a 2 step safety guard and a blade guard, the latter showing its circular saw heritage, and the former avoiding accidental starting.

The depth of cut can be set to ensure clean cuts, and the track saw style blade housing design with a vacuum cleaner adapter, allows excellent dust collection

The best part of the VonHaus 1050 plunge cut circular saw ensemble is the many accessories included, more than any of the saws in this review.

Yet another accessory is the 4 section 1340mm length guide rail complete with hex wrench, grub screws, connectors and clamps. Everything that many a new DIYer would ever want, to get started.

However, while this may be true for the novice DIY enthusiast, it has to said that great care has to be used when assembling the track guide as the thin aluminium is prone to warping and pimpling if the grub screws are over tightened.

For basic maintenance two easy to install carbon brushes are also included.

For peace of mind the VanHaus1050 comes with a 2 year warranty.

And not to miss anything out, a versatile fabric carry bag is included.

Finally, the VanHaus 1050 plunge cut circular saw is by far the cheapest on test, and does offer exceptional value, it is severely limited in its scope.

While this may be a marriage of concepts, it is worth noting that not all marriages are made in heaven.

Pros:

■ The price.

■ Exceptionally fast 12000rpm provided by a 1050W motor.

■ 3 blades types included . This is probably the best feature of this hybrid track saw.

■ Excellent saw dust removal mechanism

■ 4 part guide track included.

■ Equipped with 2 step safety catch and blade guard.

■ 2 replacement brushes included.

■ Covered by 2 year warranty.

■ Durable carry bag supplied.

Cons:

■ Blade diameter of 110mm.

■ Very shallow cut depth of 29mm (25mm with track)

■ No bevel capacity.

■ No soft start facility.

■ It is neither a circular or track saw.

The GMC 165 Plunge Saw and Track

The first thing to say about the GMC 165 is that this is a heavy and cumbersome plunge saw.

Weighing in at 4.8kg, there was little in the way of balance or ergonomic soft grip to make this saw well balanced or easy to control.

The GMC 165 is equipped with a 1400W motor that provides a maximum of 5200 rpm, and with its soft start and variable speed facility, a lower speed of 2200rpm.

Supplied with a 165mm diameter tungsten carbide tipped blade GMC claims this track saw easily saws through most wood types, composites, laminates, plastics and some non-ferrous metals.

As with all modern plunge saws the GMC165 comes with a 2 step safety catch to avoid accidental starts.

The cut depth is a very respectable 57mm at 90° and bevel plunge cut of 42mm at 45°. Both depth cuts are good but nothing to mark this track saw out as extraordinary.

For clearing dust away the GMC 165 extraction has a Simple but clever track design of just two segments.

Dust naselle and vacuum cleaner adapter provides adequate dust collection.

Probably the best feature of the GMC165 track saw kit is the guide rail. With a length of 1400mm, it comes in 2 x 700mm sections, which is a clever little engineering touch; as there is only one joint, there’s less chance of the track saw jamming.

However, the useability of the track clamps was a concern, something that was also flagged up in other saw reviews.

For simple maintenance the GMC165 is supplied with 2 spare carbon brushes, which are easy to install.

The GMC165 track saw is covered by a 1 year guarrantee, which is automatically extended to 2 years if it is registered within 30 days of purchase.

A canvas carry bag is included. Unfortunately it is too small for the track halves to fit into it.

While a little niggle, the GMC165 comes with a standard EU plug so an adapter is needed.

Saws of this size and type are noisey, but at 101dB, this track saw is very loud and ear protection is essential.

Pros:

■ Soft start and variable speed, gives added control.

■ 2 step safety catch to stop accidental starting.

■ Automatic extension to a 2 year warranty when registered online within 30 days of purchase.

■ Inclusion of 2 spare carbon brushes which are simple to install.

■ A canvas carry bag is included.

Cons:

■ Cumbersome and unwieldy.

■ Plunge cut at both 90° and 45° were respectable but slightly disappointing.

■ Track clamps were disappointingly flimsy and too small.

■ At 101dB the GMC165 is very loud and ear protection is essential.

■ Fitted with an EU “seluko” plug. A UK adapter is needed.

■ The carry bag is too small to accomodate the track segments.

The Absolutely Colossal Lumberjack PS165 Plunge Saw.

Weighing in at 7kg theLumberjack PS165 track saw is too heavy. While boasting soft grip handles this colossus is so unwieldy that it is more like a table saw than a plunge saw.

The PS165 is powered by a 1200W with a variable speed up to 5200 rpm turning a 165mm diameter blade making it similar to most of the saws on test.

With a cut depth of just 55mm at 90° and bevel depth of 42mm at 45°, the PS165 track saw demonstrated nothing really of note.

Like most of the other saws in this review the PS165 has a bevel capacity of 0° to 45°, certainly not the best range.

The Lumberjack PS165 compared to the other plunge saws in this review, is decidedly average and disappointing.

Having said that, the PS165 ensemble has a redeeming quality, and that is in the area of guide rails!

Lumberjack seemed to have looked very hard at its competitors’ guide tracks especially those that cater for the Festool TS 55 range of saws.

The plunge track is 1400mm long and made of 2 x700mm segments made of high quality aluminium.

The material is thick enough not to warp or pimple, giving the track saw a smooth ride and a straight cutting line with minimal jamming due to there being only one joint.

The lumberjack is covered by a 2 year warranty.

Unfortunately the PS165 package does not include a carry case or bag.

It’s very sad to say but the Lumberjack PS165 comes nowhere near to being the best plunge saw

Pros:

■ Well constucted and engineered guide rail.

■ 2 year warranty for peace of mind.

Cons:

■ Weighing 7kg the PS165 is just too heavy.

■ Very unwieldy and hard to control.

■ plunge depth at 90° and bevel depth at 45° while being average, were disappointing.

■ Bevel capacity of 0° to 45° was not unique.

■ Carry case or bag not included.

So which one is the best?

This review of track saws has examined each candidate and visited very different kinds of saws from circular to table saw. Even mentioning very fleetingly other brands outsde this reviews remit (the Festool plunge saws range).

It has to be said that the assessments of each product was stringent, each one of the candidates under scrutiny is a quality product in its own right.

So….

The best plunge saw is the “thunder from Down Under” Triton TTS1400.

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