|Review by WillMat||posted 04-19-2012 09:47 PM||3745 views||0 times favorited||6 comments|
First, I will rate the saw, and I rate it a 4 out of 5, over the difficulty of aligning the blade to the miter slots. The manual shows a mechanism using set screws to adjust the trunnion, from underneath the table, at the front of the saw. However, the saw does not have this feature, and when you look at the parts diagram, it is not there either.
To align the blade to the miter slot, which I had to do, as mine was 0.010” out, I had to add shims under the rear lift rod. The trunnion pins are made into two tapered blocks that have a flange attached to the bottom, with two screws going through each flange, which holds both blocks to the table, fitting into two tapered recesses, at the front and rear. I suppose one could shim these blocks, but they are hard to get to without dismantling the top from the saw body. I chose to add some steel shim stock under the rod shown in the third photo, under the top and bottom of the rod. This pulled the rear of the blade around, and into tolerance, aligning it to within 0.002” to the miter slot.
I did both a rip and crosscut test on a pine 1×12, and the cut was outstanding. It was actually so smooth, it looked as if somebody had pulled a scraper over the edge. That says two things, that the saw was aligned correctly, and that it had a decent factory blade on it.
The quality of the parts in the saw are outstanding, and can be seen in the photos of the underneath of the saw. The trunnion, holding the motor and gearbox, is a solid aluminum casting. The only plastic here is the black front dust cover, that extends for the vacuum connection. Also, if you notice, I did say it had a gearbox, not a belt. Since the motor runs faster than the needed blade speed, it is slowed down with a set of helical gears. This increases the cutting torque, so the motor can be a little smaller than a conventional 1750 RPM motor.
The only problem I had with the fence was that they had the clamping pressure set a little too tight from the factory, and a quick adjustment cured this. It was set square straight out of the box. I also noticed that the fence body is held up off the table, a paper thin amount, to reduce sliding drag.
The miter gauge is so-so, as it fit pretty loose in the miter slot, so I quickly replaced it with an Incra miter gauge. I used this gauge, along with a dial indicator for the blade adjustment, and the miter gauge has zero play in it. The stock miter gauge is made with a cast aluminum body though, so the only thing plastic is really the handle. The miter bar was aluminum though.
The saw came with a push stick, and you can see it mounted on the left side of the saw, under the table.
The table is a good size aluminum casting, with 3/4” miter slots, which are of the T-slot type. My table was flat across it, when checked with a straight edge. The table extension works great, and the fence rods push out with it. There is also a slide-out support on the back of the saw.
The stand is a gem, in that it has several collapsible ways to use it. Once you’re done using the saw, you can set the stand so the saw is laying on its side, and store it upright against a wall. I never noticed the saw stand moving at all while using it on a wooden deck. One leg also has a leveling foot, which is a plus.
The motor, I found, was no louder than any 7-1/4” circle saw, and maybe a little quieter.
The blade guard is a split type, and it has a riving knife that raises with the blade. I found this to work great, and the anti-kickback pawls worked as they were supposed to. This is a very safe saw, in my opinion.
The bad part is the blade insert, which reminds me of one I saw on an older Delta contractor saw at one time, and its made of thin sheet metal. I think one can make an L-shaped insert for zero clearance, or for a 6” dado set, however, I haven’t yet. Porter-Cable shows a dado insert available for order on their parts website.
The most useless part, I think, is the tape measure that is mounted on the underside of the table extension, and shows along the inside of the rear fence rod, as the extension is pulled out. I use either a good tape measure, or an accurate steel rule to set the blade to fence dimension, so the tape is useless. They need to get rid of this, and add the trunnion adjustment.
Rikon makes this saw, and its big brother, for Porter-Cable, and I have seen that parts are available from several online sources, including Porter-Cable. The parts I ordered for spares were the brushes, brush holders, and a brush cap.
All in all, again, it would have had a 5 star rating from me, if the trunnion adjustment has been better, so I hope Rikon and Porter-Cable reads this review.