I have had a Festool TS-55 EQ track-saw for years now. For those who live in small houses in the “downtown” core of a city, there isn’t much room for large workshops, let alone stationary table saws. Half my machinery sits in the shed and gets pulled out to the back patio when I need to use it (i.e. not in winter). The Bosch portable table saw I have is good for some things, but breaking down sheet goods is not one of them, and accuracy… well it’s not exactly always to the level I need it to be.
The Festool TS-55 on the other hand does an optimal job in any situation, from cutting 4×8 panels of Baltic birch to the finest of cabinetry cutting. Of course cutting with a track saw assumes that the plywood panels are square – something one hopes for but isn’t always reality. It would be easier with some sort of device to square off the track. Enter the 3rd party track or rail squares. Now Festool does not exactly condone the use of non-Festool accessories, but really it’s not like these devices modify a tool per se.
Below I have outlined most of the track/rail square options available, which I investigated prior to making a choice. For each saw I outlined its country of manufacture, price, and tracks it adapts to. Options for tracks include Makita (M), Festool (F), Triton (T), Dewalt (D), and Bosch/Mafell (B).
- Insta-Rail-Square Track Saw Square – Available in two forms, the original and the XL. I have found this at Atlas Machinery and to be honest I have not been able to find out who manufactures it. (Canada: M/F, C$169)
- GRS-16 PE Guide Rail Square – The “original” guide rail square, manufactured by TSO Products. Available in two forms: the standard GRS-16, and the parallel edge guide. Is compatible with MFT/3, and extendable with the TSO Parallel Guide System (USA: M/F/T, C$215-245)
- Woodpeckers Adjustable Track Square – Multiple angles up to 60 degrees. (USA: M/F/T, US$269)
- TaigaTools Precsision Rail Square – Anodized aluminum, triple-locking mechanism, does not use a latch. (Finland: B, M/F/T, €167)
- Quick Square – Made of high strength plastic, this is the most inexpensive square with the simplest design. (USA?: M/F/T, C$69)
- FC Tools Rail Square – Single-sided devices for three rail systems, and a hybrid double-sided device. Works with MFT. (Scotland, UK: D, B, F/M/T, £185-205)
- Benchdogs Rail Square – Independent devices for three rail systems. Other exceptional Festool accessories. (UK: D, B, F/M/T, £110-199)
- Festool Accessory Kit FS-SYS/2 – Festool’s entry into this category allows for cutting a variety of angles. (Germany: F, C$341)
All of these seem to be constructed of CNC machined aluminum. The thicker the better in my point of view, as it allows for better registration along the edge. It would be great to do a comparison of these squares, but it’s not something that’s in my budget… maybe Fine Woodworking Magazine will take up the cause. There are a bunch of reviews of individual squares, for example here is a good review of the GRS-16. I ended up buying the GRS-16 PE, from Lee Valley the day after it showed up on the website. I’ll write a review on it once I’ve got out and tested it.
Note there has been some controversy in Festool forums about the Insta-Rail, and issues with intellectual property, largely because of how closely it resembles the GRS products. The lack of manufacturers website is a major problem – Canadian made is pointless if we don’t know by who. In the UK, there is also a square from Palette Tools (you can find it on eBay).
Note, if you are doing a *lot* of these cuts, like on a job site, a better alternative might be the Festool HK 55 EQ-F-Plus-FSK.