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What can you expect from a 120$ table saw?

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Review by lumberjoe posted 04-02-2012 09:05 PM 2758 views 0 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
What can you expect from a 120$ table saw? No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Some call it cheap crap, I say “challenge accepted”

After many years of refinishing old tag sale furniture, I decided I’d like to do woodworking. I got some books, then got some tools. I wasn’t sold on the idea that I would be good at it or even like it, so I wanted my initial investment to be fairly small. Around Christmas time, Home Depot had this bad larry on sale for a little over 100$. I could have picked up something used and much nicer for short dough, but safety was my primary concern as a beginner. I make money with my fingers (IT Manager) and would like to keep them attached for as long as possible.

So, What can you expect from a 120.00 Table saw?

Setup – Actually pretty smooth. Considering this is more of a toy than a table saw, it should be. The blade was suprisingly square to the mitre gague (more on that later) and only required slight tinkering. The tinfoil coated balsa wood table (“Aluminum”) was surprisingly flat and even. The stand took about 15 minutes to assemble.

Safety – actually a decent amount of it. The riving knife/splitter is very adjustable and moves with the blade. The kickback paws are nice and actually work, and the blade guard, well it guards the s#$t out of that blade. It comes with a decent push stick that mounts to the side of the table, where smart people put it when they are done using it (maybe someday I will be like them).


Power- It has little of it. I’m not sure what the motor does with the electricity it is consuming. My assumption is filtering it off into thin air where my hopes and dreams of good table saws live. It bogs down ripping 3/4” pine, and that’s with a forrest woodworker II. The included blade is better suited for turning lumber into landscaping mulch. However as I mentioned, I am an IT manager, and make a good living turning mediocrity into awesome, so I can cope (feed slower when it bogs, smaller cuts, strong and heartfelt words of encouragement.)

Accuracy – Awesome! and Terrible! Let me clarify. As I said, squaring the blade did not take long at all. Using the saw is a different story

Pros: – The rip fence is actually decent. It’s easy to move and lock, it stays straight.
The measuring guide on the track is actually dead on (by dead I mean within a 1/16”, to some people that is a mile and a half). I was expecting it to be off by inches, but it’s not terrible

Cons: – The mitre gauge is 100% useless. It is a non-standard size and cannot be replaced/upgraded. The problem is there is a lot of play between the gauge and the track. You can actually slide the gauge back and forth about 1/8th inch on either side. Therefore I have never even used it once. – Vibration. Forget about the penny test, this thing can (and has) vibrate a 30’ Stanley PowerLock right on to the floor.

Summary:

Things I don’t like about the saw – It’s small. You’ve got 12” on either side of the blade for ripping – I’d comment on how there is no room in front of the blade for cross cuts, but the mitre gauge is unusable – It’s a little down on power – It makes me use a circular saw a lot. I’d rather hit myself in the groin with a tube sock full of bars of soap repeatedly before I pick up a circular saw. – Cannot use a dado blade – ANYTHING but a rip cut is pointless

Thinks I like about the saw – It makes sawdust. At the end of the day if all I can do is make sawdust, it wasn’t a bad day for me. – It’s blue, yellow, and grey. It looks like a superhero’s cousin who also wants to be a superhero, but doesn’t quite have any skills, just good looking costumes. – Despite being under powered, featureless. inaccurate in any way a table saw could be, and small, I have turned out some good results. – It gave me valuable experience for my next adventure starting soon – what I DO want in a saw.

So why 3 stars for a seemingly 1 star saw? Well, everything is relative. At this price point, there are some much worse saws out there. Also I ended up learning A LOT about woodworking buy having to do so many workarounds. Instead of using a dado stack, I got REAL familiar with my router. Same with finger joints. I take nothing for granted now. Just because I flattened the edge that rode the fence, I don’t assume the other will be straight, because the fence and table are SOOOO SHORT. It also taught me how much more magical my life would be with a decent table saw. More importantly, It taught me that I really do love woodworking. This saw induces feelings of range and frustration like only the worst of bratty children or the horrific singing teen shows on Nickelodeon can (you dads know what I am talking about), yet I keep using it over and over and over. I’ve easily sent 1,000 board feet though it in 3 months.

When it’s time for it to go, there will be no viking funeral, no Office Space style bat-beatdown, no craigslist add. It will come out of the woodshop and go quietly into the basement. When I get nostalgic, I’ll head down with some safety glasses and wood. I’ll rip a more crooked line than I could walk after a dozen frosty beers and whisper “you done good buddy!” before I cover it up for a while again.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts




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lumberjoe

2833 posts in 902 days



28 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2341 days


#1 posted 04-02-2012 10:02 PM

Great story . Have you tried a thin kerf blade yet ? The WWII is probably too heavy to ever get up to speed ! LOL

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 902 days


#2 posted 04-02-2012 10:26 PM

I have tried a Freud Diablo 60 tooth and 80 tooth as well that I have for my mitre saw. None are any better or worse. I am going a lot slower with that many teeth, but the saw really bogs down about 2/3’s of the way through. If there are knots, forget it

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View chodgson's profile

chodgson

21 posts in 1337 days


#3 posted 04-02-2012 10:54 PM

Thanks for sharing. I saw this saw on sale for $99 in home depot the other day and sort of said to myself, boy that could have saved my a lot of money compared to the $599 I spent on the R4511 2 years ago.. how much worse could it really be? Now I know the answer.

I bet it would bog down less with a quality 7 1/4 saw blade…. very thin kerf and the wood has less mechanical advantage on the blade with a shorter radius…should still be able to rip 1-1.5 inches thick material. And you’ll have more effective table space because less is taken up by the blade! Not surprised that you didn’t get any help from the miter saw blades if you’re ripping.

Also I can’t help but be amused by the fact that you put a $100 saw blade on a $100 saw… I love my WWII as well, but lol.

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

399 posts in 1848 days


#4 posted 04-02-2012 11:14 PM

I’ve been looking around for a very small table saw I could use to cut small parts out of thin wood. Maybe this is the answer? Thanks for the review and description.

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2341 days


#5 posted 04-02-2012 11:24 PM

I’ve also used the 7.25” blades on several saws with excellent results : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1722 days


#6 posted 04-02-2012 11:27 PM

I’ve had one of these for about five years and like it just fine. I got it for a job where I needed a basic job site saw and wouldn’t have had a problem selling it when the job was finished. I still haul it to job sites and use it for very simple ripping/crosscutting chores. The fence seems to work well, but the miter gauge is a POS (I’m not sure where mine is – lol) I built a sled for crosscutting and it works great.

My biggest complant is the amout of sawdust that gets sprayed into my face when I’m ripping.

Mine has plenty of power and wants to jump when I start it.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15696 posts in 2872 days


#7 posted 04-02-2012 11:47 PM

That was my first saw. Cheap as it was, and with all its shortcomings, it really is what got me hooked on woodworking. For a small investment, and with a lot of patience, you really can do a lot with this little saw.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mrpedal's profile

mrpedal

30 posts in 1192 days


#8 posted 04-03-2012 12:01 AM

..and like most people in IT the process of turd polishing has given you the power of snarky-funny-haha.

“Forget about the penny test, this thing can (and has) vibrate a 30’ Stanley PowerLock right on to the floor”

woodwork is good therapy. Just pretend it’s a coworker going through the saw instead of a 2×4. :D :D

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2336 posts in 1536 days


#9 posted 04-03-2012 12:20 AM

This was my first TS. I built my workbench using this saw and reno’d a basement. I can’t say that it was accurate or powerful but it was the gateway into woodworking for me.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5299 posts in 1252 days


#10 posted 04-03-2012 01:12 AM

Thanks for posting. Pretty funny, all in all. The good news is, when you upgrade you will appreciate all the advantages of a “full size” saw. Benchtop saws are just a challenge…

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 902 days


#11 posted 04-03-2012 01:26 AM

Woodwork is the best therapy. I love this saw even for all it’s shortcomings. I plan to upgrade in the next few weeks to a full size saw. I’m sure my frustration level will remain the same for a while as I do all the things I can’t do now, like dado’s cutting cheeks and shoulders for tenons, making jigs, etc.

Another huge shortcoming of this saw is that stupid defective mitre slot. There are NO accessories that fit it at all, and there is no room to clamp anything like a feather board.

Now to decide between the Steel City, Griz/Rikon, or spend an extra 250 for the JET

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10861 posts in 1343 days


#12 posted 04-03-2012 01:30 AM

My first saw was a little Ryobi and I got a lot of good milage from it before upgrading to my Grizzly. Put a 24 tooth Diablo blade ($27) and you will be amazed at the difference. I put tape on my miter gauge to shim it and it worked! Enjoy.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View doninvegas's profile

doninvegas

332 posts in 1561 days


#13 posted 04-03-2012 01:40 AM

My first saw was a Tradesman I got from Lowe’s for $99. It was a good saw. The fence was accurate and it had the power to cut what I was using at the time (Red Oak also from Lowe’s). It was a direct drive saw so it finally burned up after about 5 years of weekend work. Now I have a Delta contractors saw. It is a big improvement but I didn’t know it at the time.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View john's profile

john

2293 posts in 3035 days


#14 posted 04-03-2012 01:52 AM

I had this saw along with 3 other tablesaws and after using this saw a few times i gave it to my son . It,s a great beginner saw for small projects

-- John in Belgrave (Website) http://www.extremebirdhouse.com , http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112698715866

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1002 posts in 2139 days


#15 posted 04-03-2012 02:18 AM

Dusty is right, that TS is made for a small diameter thin kerf blade. In todays market you can buy a pretty good quality Diablo thin kerf rip or combo blade for under $50. I just saw where gfadvm posted $27, so there you go. You will see, feel, hear the difference immediately. It takes at least 2 HP, real not developed, to swing a WWII efficiently. If your fence is reasonable, I didn’t say dead on beismeyer, just good nuff, then you will be able to dimension your material and can tweak with a hand plane or router.

Also, thanks for an honest review and rating. I kinda get tired of reviews that are given five stars to cheap, poorly make, more trouble than it’s worth equipment, or worse, they have never actually used the machine, but just had to let us know what they brought home today. Not to say the Ryobi is any of the above, we all know it is what it is, and can be more if used in the right hands with the right blade.

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

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