|Review by LokisTyro||posted 04-28-2013 12:07 PM||7885 views||0 times favorited||4 comments|
I’ve had this saw for over 2 years and I thought it deserved a long-term review. It’s a decent performer that’s great for light-duty and the not so precision-intense projects. I’ll try to go over everything that my current knowledge will allow me to. Be aware that this is my first review!
Out of the box everything went together nice and easy. There’s not much assembly required and if you’re a keen mechanic or builder you should have everything sorted out, including alignment, in about an hour. Only until you attempt to use the saw will you realize that you’re not quite finished yet. I’ll get to this in a bit.
Included with the saw was a manual, blade wrench, miter gauge, blade guard, rip fence and stand. All parts seemed to be of a decent quality material but some lacked in proper shape. All of the handles and knobs feel okay to the touch without any sharp flash you come to expect with cheap sub-par parts.
I’d like to get into some specifics. The wrench..is a wrench, it works as it’s supposed to as did the owner’s/operators manual. Clear directions that were easy to read.
The blade guard works well and includes anti-kickback pawls, riving knfie and has a self-adjusting height that functions well. The guard is easily installed or removed with a single wing-nut. It also tilts side to side so it can be used with off-camber pieces, to a certain degree (excuse me if that’s an incorrect term. I think I’m right :-D). In my opinion the guard is nice for an “entry level” portable saw.
The quick-release rip fence aligns itself square with the blade (I have an easy process that seems to work and takes just one second) with reasonable repeatability if you’re using the provided rule on the fence rail, as long as you’re not making cabinets or something with precision a priority. It features adjustable clamping pressure and provides more than adequate clamping power to deal with vibration and rough start-ups of the motor. I’ve read in a review that someone had broken the fence rail off but short of too much clamping pressure or a bad aluminum casting I don’t see this happening in the near future. I’ve been over-clamping mine for about 2 years, only recently lowering the pressure with no ill results. Knowing little about great quality rip fences, aside from being accurate, I don’t have any complaints about the one that came in the box.
The miter gauge and it’s correlating components are by far the worst components of this unit. It’s a T-slot rail that shimmies side to side (left to right and vice versa if you were standing in a frontal, normal sawing position). It’s quite an alarming amount to be honest. The worst part of it is that the slop varies when you’re going down the length of the saw, following the rip fence if it were there, so it’s impossible to shim the miter rail itself in a safe manner. I would worry that adding a shim would cause jerky movements or tough spots which could cause a slip when excess pressure is needed and applied. Not cool. But it is what it is. The gauge comes with an adjustable degree indicator but it points at a glossy black plastic piece so I find myself bending down with the miter degree display inches from my face just to see what degree mark it’s actually pointing to. Any color other than black would have been a vast improvement. A Plasti-dip or specialized primer/paint would really clear things up. Yet another complaint is that the miter guage fence does not sit anywhere near square to the table. Judging by eyesight I’d guess it was off around 3 degrees. There were slots provided to attach my own fence and shim it up to the right angle, which is about the greatest thing about this piece. The handle is respectable and functions without any sign of stripping while tightening or cracking with a good amount of torque applied. Surprisingly smooth action while adjusting from one degree to another.
The table top itself is okay. It is die-cast aluminum and mine had some high spots that I filed down with flat, quality files because I felt it was causing interference with the miter gauge towards the far end of the table. The tops most likely vary from table to table. The T-slots are a bit loose as mentioned. It seems to support weight decently and has a an adequate surface area. The throat plate could be thicker. It is adjustable but needed to be shimmed on the other end. The shape of the table casting would make it difficult, but not impossible to make a zero-clearance phenolic insert. The table surface is also very light which makes it a breeze to move around but could be unstable in some circumstances. It hasn’t been an issue for me.
The stand is great. It looks flimsy but it does not weeble or wobble in it’s standard form.
The On/Off switch has functioned flawlessly and features a lockout mechanism if you have pesky visitors or kids. It features an easy to use flip up, flip down interface! Wowie Zowie!!
The blade elevation is great. I was able to adjust height and get measurements by a few thousandths with a depth gauge and it holds well. The adjustment wheel has held up okay but this is the same wheel that adjust the blade tilt. To operate you push the knob in so two gears mesh and then the wheel is used normally. This would be find but the gears slip. They don’t looked “stripped” I just think they don’t align properly. I don’t bother attempting to look at the issue because it’s still easily adjustable sliding it to it’s position and tightening the lock with the unused hand. For more precise control the gears could be useful. The blade bevel locking knob has worked very well without any issues.
The protractor is easily legible and has a large indicator that’s easily aligned to each degree. Once you set it it’s accurate.
The motor has a rough start up that causes quite a bit of vibration but is fairly smooth once it gets going and also under load. It seems to have good power (13 amp-120 Volt-4500 RPM ball-bearing unit) for a little motor and gets through everything expected of it. It’s operated for over two years without a hiccup with what I would call average use/duty. The power cord has held up after seeing more than a few abrasive surfaces.
The stock blade performs well to this day but it has been on and off the saw. I haven’t noticed any excessive wobble/runout.
I gave this saw 4 out of 5 stars because it’s a great, solid saw for the money. You can’t expect near perfection for this price range but I deducted 1 star for things that could have been easily fixed in manufacturing. Luckily most things you can sort out if there is a desire to do so. It does what it claims to do and has done so for a couple years. I’d recommend it, or one similar, to anyone who needs a general labor portable table saw. If you need a highly precise, errorless machine this one isn’t for you.
I hope someone will find this review useful considering these are likely to pop-up on the used market here and there.
-- -Andy ~~~~~~~ http://lumberjocks.com/projects/silent ~~~~~~~