The Bosch GKT13-225L track saw hit the US market about 2-years ago. In the time that it’s been on North American ground, this professional-grade machine has made a name for itself as one of the very best.
I think even those who say “go Festool or go home” might concede that the Bosch 6½” track saw can hold its own among the best of the best. If you’re going by price, Festool is the only track saw that is more expensive than the Bosch model.
So, as one of the most expensive 6½” track saws that you can buy, is the Bosch GKT13-225L worth it? Hopefully, after reading this review, you’ll be able to make an informed decision. It has certainly won me over. Yes, it’s pricey. Then again, professional-grade woodworking tools aren’t cheap.
What is a Track Saw?
For those who are unfamiliar with track saws, I’ll help you understand them better. Since all track saws are more expensive than any other type of circular saw, I’ve often heard the question: “do I need a track saw?”. Well, knowing how they work and what they do should help you decide if this is the right type of saw for you.
The first important feature of a track saw is the plunge action. This means that you can place the foot of the saw onto a board, then press down and plunge the blade into the piece that you’re cutting. This makes it much more accurate than conventional circular saws.
Then there’s the feature that gives the saw its name – the track system. This consists of a rail that fits onto the board that you’re cutting. The bottom of the track is perfectly flat, enabling it to be positioned firmly onto the board without slipping too easily. For extra peace of mind, you can clamp the rail to the board.
The upper surface of the rail has a ridge that corresponds with a locating groove on the base of the saw. This guides the saw as you push it forward, ensuring perfectly straight cuts. You can make rip cuts on long boards with the utmost ease. You don’t need a fence. Nor do you need to load cumbersomely large boards onto a table saw.
You simply set up your track, place the saw into position, and presto, you’re off. It’s also a fantastic saw for making perfectly straight cuts into floorboards. It’s fast, easy, and superbly accurate with the minimum of hassle.
Bosch GKT13-225L 6½” Track Saw ǀ The Full Review
- Track saw with plunge action – provides fast, easy setup for one-step clean finish cuts in wood and wood-based sheet goods such as laminated particle boards and plywood
- Plunge mechanism – allows for precise plunge cuts with an accurate depth of cut
- Single bevel pivot point – when sawing using a track (sold separately), the track can be positioned in the same way for bevel cuts or non-bevel cuts
- Constant electronics – helps maintain speed under the load of more-demanding applications
- Overload protection – protect the motor from overheating
- Efficient dust extraction – when connected to a suitable vacuum cleaner, supports easier working conditions
- Swiveling hose port – keeps optional vacuum cleaner hose out of the way
- Easy blade-change system – quick three-step blade swap with spindle lock and on-board hex key
- Tracking adjustment – features front and rear knobs for adjusting the precision of the fit of the saw to the track to deliver the best cutting experience
- Specialized 48-tooth 6-1/2 In. track saw blade – designed for clean, precise results
Right, time to get down to business, a comprehensive review of the Bosch 6½” track saw. Since these are fairly complex machines, this is going to be a pretty long, in-depth look at what makes this such a remarkable saw.
The Low Down
You can immediately tell that this is no ordinary saw. The Bosch GKT13-225L is German engineering at its finest. At the price point, I’d certainly expect it to be.
The first thing that struck me was the superbly machined magnesium base plate. This makes the saw incredibly lightweight and as durable as they come. It weighs only 10.4 LBS – an amazing feat for such an accomplished saw with heaps of power.
Another really cool feature is the adjustable dust extraction port. This makes it super easy to adjust the angle of your vacuum hose so that it doesn’t snag on the rails.
The rotating plunge depth indicator is also a pretty ingenious aide. It accommodates the thickness of the track so you can get on with the business of cutting without making constant calculations to account for this.
Putting the Power in Your Hands
A 6½” saw is not exactly the biggest you can get. Nonetheless, you want the power to cut through fairly thick material (it has a maximum cutting depth of 2¼” at 90°). Furthermore, you don’t want the saw to labor, lose RPM, and start burning the wood when it has to plow through harder woods.
The 13A electric motor is truly awesome at maintaining power through some pretty tough jobs. It has a soft start, prolonging the life of the saw, and reaches a maximum (no-load) blade speed of 3,600 to 6,250 RPM, controlled by a variable speed dial and a wonderfully sensitive trigger switch.
An electronically controlled induction motor means that power delivery is incredibly smooth. The saw will automatically adjust the power as the load demand changes.
The Bosch GKT13-225L has a number of features that make it incredibly easy to work with absolute precision. When you’re getting ready to take the plunge, Bosch has come up with a few ingenious, yet wonderfully simple tricks to help ensure that you’re spot on. There is a marking at the back of the blade guard that indicates exactly where the blade kerf will be when performing the plunge. A fine red line across a small viewing window at the front keeps you aware of the front kerf position.
The cutting depth indicator is perfectly in your line of sight with accurately scaled markings and the saw follows the rails with total perfection for incredibly accurate cuts.
Making the Cut
The first few times that you use the Bosch GKT13-225L, you might think it feels a little unnatural when plunging the saw. Unlike most plunge saws, requiring you to press down, this saw has a uniquely positioned plunge lock. You push forward when you want the saw to plunge. Once you get used to this, you’ll find this is actually a more natural movement and works very well.
I’m seldom impressed with stock blades. Though I have to say, the 48-tooth blade that you get with your initial purchase gives you an impeccably smooth cut with absolutely no tear out. Anti-vibration slots are another wonderful addition, making this saw even easier and more comfortable to use.
Speaking of comfort, the handles are also great. The rear handle gives you a firm grip on the saw with the trigger and plunge lock in just the right place. The large front handle gives you a real sense of control as you use the saw.
The Bosch GKT13-225L can handle hardwood pretty easily, even up to the maximum thickness that the blade can accommodate (2¼”).
The Correct Angle
The single bevel point is the best for a track saw, it allows you to make bevel cuts using the track without hindrance. It also has a dual lock mechanism, giving you complete peace of mind that the angle you set will remain accurate.
It has a positive stop at 45° with the ability for another 2° by simply pressing a button.
Keeping Things on Track
The Bosch GKT13-225L works with the FSN track system. What I really like about this system is the variety of track sizes that offer a great deal of versatility, ranging from 31½” to 82½”:
- FSN800-32 and FS1600-32 (with shelving pin holes)
- FSNWAN Track miter guide
- GKTPA rip fence
Plastic covers protect the tips of the rails from those inevitable knocks and bumps. A really cool idea was to make these covers slightly rounded to allow your power cord to move effortlessly without catching.
The first time you use the FSN track, the blade shaves a thin layer from the splinter protection strip. This ensures a perfect fit with zero chance of tear out. Over time, this does cause some wear on the strip, but these are easy to replace. It works fantastically well.
An anti-slip underside means you can place the rails onto a board without the need to use clamps. It maintains a pretty unwavering position. Of course, you can use clamps as well for added peace of mind.
The Final Word
Something that definitely deserves a mention is the attention Bosch engineers pay to dust extraction. Generally, Bosch tools way exceed OSHA recommendations for dust in the workplace. To this end, the Bosch GKT13-225L has really superb dust extraction. According to Bosch advertising, up to 90% of sawdust is removed. I’ll have to take their word for this. It certainly is one of the best I’ve seen for virtually no sawdust contaminating your work area.
Finally, the L-BOXX-4 carrying case is a really cool extra. This is a super-tough carrying case to keep your saw and accessories neatly organized and safely stored.
Now for the 600-dollar question: Is the Bosch GKT13-225L worth it?
Yes, you can expect to pay around 600 bucks for this track saw. Not cheap at all. This doesn’t include the tracks that will set you back even more. Though, for some context, the nearest rival from Festool costs over $800. Okay, the Festool kit includes a single track. Even with this addition, the Festool saw is much more expensive. This makes the Bosch GKT13-225L reasonably inexpensive at the high end of the track saw market. This is defiantly a high-end product, giving brands like Festool a serious run for their money.