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My BT3100 Table Saw Upgrades

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Blog entry by JD13 posted 08-07-2014 05:41 PM 12719 reads 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Years ago when I just needed a cheap table saw for misc household projects, I bought a Ryobi BT3100 at Home Depot. At that time, it was cheap and was one of the nicer ones for the money. Now, years later, as I am getting back into woodworking, I need a good saw that will handle jigs and such. I know this is a divided topic – some LOVE it, some HATE. I own one and I’m still on the fence. It only had a miter slot on one side, doesn’t have a nice flat cast-iron bed and some other features I wanted. Really, I would like a nice big cabinet saw – but it’s not in the budget and I don’t have space. I really wanted to mount a Vega Pro fence system to it, but without the cast iron bed and “regular” bolt pattern, you can’t. Also, the proprietary throat plate is really frustrating. I know it has advantages, but at this point. there are a million after market things for “regular” oval plates but you have to make everything “custom” for this saw.

Also, I HATE that sliding mitre junk thing that everyone seems to tout (SMT – Sliding Miter Table). I know guys love it and it’s so much better than blah blah blah, but I hate it. I would drive over it with my car, set it on fire, and throw it away, but the thought I might be able to sell it to some sucker someday seemed even more gratifying.

I made a rolling cart for this one and bolted it down with t-bolts. Now it’s at the height of my bench for more outfeed and is solid. I found a site that still sells parts, so I got a miter slot for about $40 and turned it around and mounted it to the other side of the blade after seeing it done on bt3000.com (huge shout out – great help and pics – thanks!). This required some leveling, some shimming, and drilling into the saw cabinet. But now I have 2 miter slots on each side like a real cabinet saw! I couldn’t have made Ed Stiles box joint jig – or a decent sled – without it. If you have a BT3000, I HIGHLY recommend spending the $40 and following the instructions on bt3000.com to mount it.

As long as I was there, I unplugged the small crappy switch and mounted one from Rockler. Once I’m done with all my other upgrades, it’ll go on the left side at hip/knee level where it belongs (in my opinion). I needed something between the rails, so I made a drawer box to fit. It has just enough clearance under the fence to allow a 3/4” sheet good and a hair more in case I want to glue a piece of sheet metal on top. For now, I just have a scrap piece of melamine sitting there (not bolted down or anything, but it hasn’t moved yet while cutting).

...and the biggest baddest upgrade by far (but the easiest) was a Forrest WWII 1/8” blade. OMG. I have read so many reviews that say what a big deal that blade is – but I thought, “it’s just a blade”. Wrong. It’s not just a blade. It’s a whole tool by itself. There is now NO SOUND when I cut wood – it’s so sharp and precise. And the edges of my cuts are like they have been planed with no snipe. And pushing anything through it is like butter – quick, smooth, consistent, no burn marks, simply AWESOME.

-- JD from Elk Grove



6 comments so far

View NormG's profile

NormG

5507 posts in 2470 days


#1 posted 08-08-2014 05:17 AM

Welcome back to woodworking and sounds like you have found a way to use your saw with upgrades

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3139 posts in 3179 days


#2 posted 08-08-2014 05:37 AM

JD,

Many years ago, my husband thought he was doing me a great favor and gave my 1940s Yates American (only an 8” blade, but very heavy duty saw with a large disc sander attachment and jointer) to a friend and bought me a BT3000. At first I was disappointed, but then I came to really love the sliding table (especially when used for dadoes on the router table end). I felt so much safer cutting crosscuts with the sliding table than with the miter gauge. Then he thought I should upgrade to a 5HP Grizzly. I was smart, though, and kept the BT3000. While the 5HP is nice, there are many things I still prefer about the BT3000 and am glad I kept it. I made my own router mount, router fence, and router dust collection. I also bought another accessory table for a couple bucks off Craigslist from a fellow whose BT3000 motor died so he parts-out the saw. I agree that it has its downfalls, but it was a pretty good saw for the price. I certainly got my (actually my husband’s) money’s worth!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View stefang's profile

stefang

15512 posts in 2801 days


#3 posted 08-08-2014 04:42 PM

I think these small saws have a place in the shop. Bosch has a great new design with a 10” saw and a sliding table that can be used on either side of the saw plus extensions to enlarge the table surface for bigger work. I’m really tempted to buy one since they are on sale here in Norway now.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JD13's profile

JD13

18 posts in 858 days


#4 posted 08-17-2014 09:28 PM

stefang – is that the “GTS 10 XC Professional”? I tried to look it up, but that’s all I found. I’m in Illinois in USA – and am actually close to a Bosch headquarters state-side. Bosch does not sell those here. It looks interesting – nice looking little saw if that’s the one. Little outfeed table, sliding table, but best of all – 2 miter slots – one on each side. That’s really important for jigs. Very cool. If that’s the one, I say go for it!

-- JD from Elk Grove

View ZenithWP's profile

ZenithWP

1 post in 264 days


#5 posted 03-21-2016 07:29 AM

Hey JD,

I have a question for you. On your fence for the BT3100 can you push the fence locking lever all the way down or does it stop about 3/4 of the way down all while,locking the fence?

I just replaced the front block on mine and now the handle only goes down 3/4 of the way down. It locks the fence in place but before I could push it all the way down so it points towards the ground.


Years ago when I just needed a cheap table saw for misc household projects, I bought a Ryobi BT3100 at Home Depot. At that time, it was cheap and was one of the nicer ones for the money. Now, years later, as I am getting back into woodworking, I need a good saw that will handle jigs and such. I know this is a divided topic – some LOVE it, some HATE. I own one and I m still on the fence. It only had a miter slot on one side, doesn t have a nice flat cast-iron bed and some other features I wanted. Really, I would like a nice big cabinet saw – but it s not in the budget and I don t have space. I really wanted to mount a Vega Pro fence system to it, but without the cast iron bed and “regular” bolt pattern, you can t. Also, the proprietary throat plate is really frustrating. I know it has advantages, but at this point. there are a million after market things for “regular” oval plates but you have to make everything “custom” for this saw.

Also, I HATE that sliding mitre junk thing that everyone seems to tout (SMT – Sliding Miter Table). I know guys love it and it s so much better than blah blah blah, but I hate it. I would drive over it with my car, set it on fire, and throw it away, but the thought I might be able to sell it to some sucker someday seemed even more gratifying.

I made a rolling cart for this one and bolted it down with t-bolts. Now it s at the height of my bench for more outfeed and is solid. I found a site that still sells parts, so I got a miter slot for about $40 and turned it around and mounted it to the other side of the blade after seeing it done on bt3000.com (huge shout out – great help and pics – thanks!). This required some leveling, some shimming, and drilling into the saw cabinet. But now I have 2 miter slots on each side like a real cabinet saw! I couldn t have made Ed Stiles box joint jig – or a decent sled – without it. If you have a BT3000, I HIGHLY recommend spending the $40 and following the instructions on bt3000.com to mount it.

As long as I was there, I unplugged the small crappy switch and mounted one from Rockler. Once I m done with all my other upgrades, it ll go on the left side at hip/knee level where it belongs (in my opinion). I needed something between the rails, so I made a drawer box to fit. It has just enough clearance under the fence to allow a 3/4” sheet good and a hair more in case I want to glue a piece of sheet metal on top. For now, I just have a scrap piece of melamine sitting there (not bolted down or anything, but it hasn t moved yet while cutting).

...and the biggest baddest upgrade by far (but the easiest) was a Forrest WWII 1/8” blade. OMG. I have read so many reviews that say what a big deal that blade is – but I thought, “it s just a blade”. Wrong. It s not just a blade. It s a whole tool by itself. There is now NO SOUND when I cut wood – it s so sharp and precise. And the edges of my cuts are like they have been planed with no snipe. And pushing anything through it is like butter – quick, smooth, consistent, no burn marks, simply AWESOME.

- JD13


View JD13's profile

JD13

18 posts in 858 days


#6 posted 03-22-2016 12:43 AM

Hey ZenithWP – the fence handle only goes 3/4 down. Not sure if it was always that way or when it started, but it’s been that way so long that I can’t remember it going all the way down. But to your point, yes, even 3/4 down it still locks solid in place.

-- JD from Elk Grove

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