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First Impression Review

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Review by Mike posted 03-08-2012 07:01 AM 5742 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First Impression Review No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Here is my first blush review after less than 5 hours of use:

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the Good -

Out of the box, the blade was dead nuts on. I did not have the problem that others have had with the blade becoming off angled at full height. Assembly was actually really easy once I looked at the parts and the instructions closely on “difficult” sections. I feel that if you need this kind of table saw and have problems assembling it, you really aren’t reading the instructions and need to slow down.

The fence is well built and only needed some very minor lubrication to make it slide like butter. Additionally with the fence, I like that it does not contact the table top. This is nice since the last table saw I had scratched grooves where the fence contacted the top. The handle on the fence is nice and big. Also the handle pressure to clap the fence into place is very light so you don’t feel like you are forcing anything. The other handles on the saw are well made and easy to turn (the height adjustment is clockwise to raise which seems backwards to other saws I have used). The rails are nice too.

The anti-kick back fins are easy to slide a board through and do not hinder cutting like other saws. I did test if they gripped properly with the saw off and they worked well. The blade guard is fantastic too. It is easy to look down at the cut line. The guard is split into two pieces to allow for the non-cutting side of the blade to shield you hands. To remove the guard and anti-kick back fins is very easy. Just pull a compression tab and they pop right off.

The mobile base works well and makes a 300 lb saw easy to move around my shop which is going to be really nice.

I really love the ability to slide the power switch box left and right located under the rail system. I set it up and used the saw. I was so thrilled that I didn’t have to go hunting for the switch. This is a fantastic way to add safety and convenience at the same time.

The saw passed the nickel test with flying colors. I even did a penny test with the same results. The saw is also very quite. You still need ear protection anyway but it isn’t nearly as loud as other saws.

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The ok -

While this really wasn’t a big deal to me, I feel that the bolts and nuts that come in the bags should have been divided up into sections of the build. I had to go from one bag to another between steps and then back again. By going from 4 bags to a few more I would have saved maybe 15 minutes in the assembly time as well as make it easier to find the right parts.

I do like the fact that the saw has storage built on the sides of the saw for all the accessories. What isn’t great about it is that they are positioned so low and far back from the front that you have to bend under the table top and I almost banged my head getting to things (I’m 6’ tall). This really comes into place with the push stick.

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The what were they thinking -

When attaching the back rail for the fence, four out of the 8 bolts are located in ridiculous places. The bolt holes on the table top has very limited room to allow for you to add the washer and lock washer as well as thread the nut on. My fingers are average size and I struggled with it. The outside rail bolts are worse than the center two. They placed to bolt holes in the corners where the leg meets the top. I had to switch to a box wrench from my tool box to get the bolts tight. Additionally, I had to hold the wrench at a really odd angle to even get on the bolt. Very difficult.

I don’t think that someone did a clearance check on the riven knife nor attempted to raise and lower it at different blade heights. The section that holds the anti-kick back fins is bubbled outwards just a little. When the blade is halfway up, if you try to adjust the riven knife to raise or lower it, the dang thing bangs into the back of the saw! You can not lower or raise the riven knife all of the way without completely raising the arbor to it max height!

This isn’t terrible since the saw is somewhat mobile, but the dust port is located at the bottom of the saw. If you perform allot of cuts without DC, sawdust will pile up under it as expected. What isn’t so great is that you can’t just take a broom and sweep under it. There just isn’t any clearance to do it! Additionally, if you do want to attach a DC to the saw, the port is so low to the ground that your piping is going to be forced at an odd angle. Combining the low clearance and the odd angle, it is going to be a pain to plumb the saw.

======================

The Bad -

Out of the box I noticed that paint was scratched on several different parts. Sections of the paint looked like orange peel as if they didn’t fully clean the parts before painting. I can tell that the paint is really thinly coated overall since in sections there was flaking. These were minor on each, but it is a new saw and should look like it in my opinion. If I paid full retail price I would have been pissed, but I didn’t so I don’t mind as much.

The standard blade insert was missing 25% of the paint from the top. The insert was also pitted and scratch badly. Sears is replacing it at no charge.

Here is my big gripe about the saw at this point. The riven knife design is terrible for alignment. Here is why. There is a little lock pin that allows the pin to fit through pre-drilled holes. If you try and use the riven knife without it position on the holes, the entire knife tilts to the left causing it to create pressure and pinching when using the fence to the left of the blade. This is flat out dangerous. Also, the riven knife should be smooth, the one that I got is rough and sandpaper like. Sears is sending a replacement to see if that can resolve that issue. Out of all the tuning operations, the riven knife was just a flat out pain in the butt.

Finally, while it worked out ok for me not only are the box dimensions that the saw comes in under what they actually are (bad for getting through doorways), but the saw itself with the rails is also wider than the manually actually states. If I didn’t have the room I do have, this could be a major issue.

======================

Overall first blush review of the saw – 3.5 / 5 stars

If they fixed the paint issue I would add half a star just for that. The riven knife design lost it a star. The riven knife is a poor design and can be dangerous to someone that doesn’t know about the issue nor how to fix it. I might consider buying the saw again if it was priced at $400 – $450, but $600 + S & H of around $170 is ridiculous for the quality of the product based on the safety issues with the riven knife and the paint.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - http://www.termitecrafts.com




View Mike's profile

Mike

307 posts in 1436 days



10 comments so far

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

511 posts in 2066 days


#1 posted 03-09-2012 12:58 AM

Thanks for a great and well-written review!

I’ve been considering a purchase of this model but had decided against it after visiting the local Sears store and finding the floor model with no blade (so I couldn’t perform an alignment check with the blade at various heights), no fence, and the two adjusting wheels missing . . . and nobody working there interested in putting the saw together for me . . . and nobody working there who could answer any questions about the saw. But your review has me, once again, interested – especially your observation that the blade alignment problem might have been solved.

The dust port thing concerns me. Is it too close to the floor for a 90-degree elbow – either PVC or a 4-inch elbow made for dust extraction? When you said the piping will need to be at “an odd angle,” what did you mean?

Thanks in advance!

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2966 posts in 1035 days


#2 posted 03-09-2012 01:08 AM

That saw looks just like the Ridgid R4512.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View jonmulzer's profile

jonmulzer

48 posts in 1414 days


#3 posted 03-09-2012 02:08 AM

Same saw, different colors, different warranties.

View Mike's profile

Mike

307 posts in 1436 days


#4 posted 03-09-2012 03:44 AM

Mark,

I went to the shop and took some measurements for you. The skirt to the left and right sides of the saw are only 9” high since the front and back are blocked by the caster assemblies. Measuring from the bottom of the dust shoot 4” port, there is about 12” of vertical room. When I was making some thin test cuts, if the board was short enough to drop between the blade and the throat plate as many times is the case, I don’t think there is room to have the sliver go anywhere. If that happens it my clog the DC piping with any angled pipe bend. I wouldn’t say this is just common to just this saw however. I am going to leave the port open and just move the saw about a foot every now and again to clean up,

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - http://www.termitecrafts.com

View woodjunkie's profile

woodjunkie

34 posts in 1417 days


#5 posted 03-09-2012 12:26 PM

This is the same saw as the Masterforce saw that Menards sells. I bought mine there for 549 and have seen it on sale for 499. I love the saw and the only issue i had in assembling was getting the 2 piece fence rail to be straight. I have a 90 degree elbow on mine for dust collection (no problem) and as soon as I get around to making a Zero Clearance throat plate the clogging issue should be no issue.

-- He: Can I get the plans for that? Me: Plans???

View dustyal's profile

dustyal

1218 posts in 2224 days


#6 posted 03-09-2012 03:51 PM

Well written review… thanks for taking the time. I’ve been looking at this saw as compared to the Rigid TS. They seem similar. Thanks for the point about dimensions as I am under a tight squeeze as is. Locally, I can get a factory reconditioned Rigid for less than $400 with coupon… wonder if it would have the old problems of the Craftsman? You never know.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View cdhilburn's profile

cdhilburn

95 posts in 1433 days


#7 posted 03-09-2012 08:46 PM

I have this saw and the dust collection port is far enough off of the floor that I was able to use the flexible 4” hose with a slow bend. I used some magnetic sign material on the front to close off the “smile” which improved the suction through the insert significantly. I did have to fabricate a reducer to fit my 4” hose. Before using a dust collector I just had a box that I slid under the saw. Archaic but it worked. Please check your alignment at all different blade heights. I am selling my saw because it changes as you raise and lower the blade. I really like this saw and if yours doesn’t have this problem then you should be very happy. I aligned mine several times but wasn’t smart enough to check it at different heights. If I would have checked it correctly the first time then I could have had mine replaced or repaired while under warranty. I caught it 2 weeks after warranty expiration and all I got was you had a chance to purchase the extended warranty and thanks for being a Sears customer. But again….outside of the alignment it is a really good saw for the money.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

511 posts in 2066 days


#8 posted 03-09-2012 09:11 PM

Thanks for your response, Mike. I already have a couple of sweeping 90-degree elbows along the route to the dust collector, so an additional one under the saw won’t add a “complication” if there were a sliver to escape down through the insert (whether zero-clearance or not).

cdhilburn, I appreciate your comment. The alignment problem (at various blade heights) is one that this model has had. As Russell Pisciotta commented, this model is also the Ridgid R4512. It used to be, I think, the Ridgid R4511 which I believe Ridgid discontinued (and discounted) when the alignment problem was exposed. I’m hoping the R4512 is the reincarnation of the R4511 but with the problem solved, and Mike’s observation that his Sears 21833 DOESN’T have the same alignment problem is evidence (to me) that, perhaps, this is the case.

I plan to visit the local Menards, which has a Masterforce 2400036 in stock, and take a close look at its alignment at various heights.

Not that anyone necessarily cares, but the Masterforce right now is $599 with no shipping costs (store pickup). The Ridgid is $499 plus $100 shipping to my home from Home Depot. The Sears is on sale for $569 with no shipping (store pickup). If I go with the Sears saw, their 5-year “In-Home Master Protection Agreement” for an additional $85 might make sense.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View 47phord's profile

47phord

175 posts in 986 days


#9 posted 04-10-2012 10:07 PM

I have this saw as well. I had never heard of the blade alignment changing with blade height until I read this review. I went out and checked mine and it moves out about 1/32” when adjusted all the way up. So far, it hasn’t caused me any trouble as far joints fitting together, maybe because it’s only out that far when it’s raised up all the way; the lower I went, the closer it was and I rarely run it with the blade at max height. Too bad, as until now I wholeheartedly recommended this saw, for the price you couldn’t beat it. I scored mine for $430 with a craftsmen club discount about two years ago. The only real gripe I had with it is the fact that the miter gauge is a piece of crap (but aren’t they all at this price point?). I still recommend it, just now with reservations.

View Mike's profile

Mike

307 posts in 1436 days


#10 posted 09-19-2012 10:33 PM

Updated Review after way to many days to count:

Hi all, I figured I better update this review now that I have been using the saw for some time now.

The Good:

The saw has been very reliable and hasn’t needed a lot of attention for maintenance. Every now and again I re-apply a wax coating, but that is really it. Also I don’t have any problems with the saw blade going off center at any height. Overall I would raise the star rating to a solid 4 at this time. I wouldn’t give it five stars since I don’t think that there is a perfect tool out there.

The So So Bad:
I still think that the dust port is in a totally useless place. Every now and again a cut off drops down and starts to jam up the port. Now it doesn’t happen with the zero clearance insert that I use, but not all cuts use the zero clearance. The hooks that hold the inserts is ridiculously small and it would be nice if it could hold more than one insert at a time. Also with all of the inserts if they sit for sometime in the throat they will become super magnetized and become difficult to remove.

Simple Tricks I learned while using the saw:

I use rare earth magnets to hold the blade wrench to the side of the saw. They work great for a lot of things too.

When removing the blades, spray a little WD-40 on the nut and it will slide right back on instead of having to struggle with it.

Overall I would by the saw again.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - http://www.termitecrafts.com

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