The track saw has matured from its humble beginnings as circular saw with a straightedge to being called a table saw replacement by some companies. That doesn’t ring true to me, because a table saw is much more than a tool for working with sheet goods. It seems to me that track saws are more of a replacement for the bulky panel saw lurking in the shadows of the shop.
A panel saw is probably something every lone woodworker has thought about acquiring at some point, because face it: Cutting a full sheet of plywood accurately on a table saw by yourself is tricky at best (unless you have enough room to equip your table saw with in-feed, out-feed, and side extensions). Unfortunately, a panel saw will take up a good chunk of wall space — but not so with a track saw. You can make cuts in an area not much bigger than a full sheet of plywood, and when you’re done you have your floorspace or workbench back again.
What initially spawned this question was Rockler listing a new panel saw for sale on their website. For $900, a price for which you can get a pretty good table saw, you can buy the Panel Pro 2 panel saw which can handle a full sheet of plywood with room to spare. But who’s still looking to buy a panel saw when you can buy a track saw for half that price?
With growing popularity of the track saw, is the panel saw still a relevant tool? Or will it be relegated to the back of the big box store, custom cutting plywood for customers who don’t own a track saw?