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