|Review by jacobgerlach||posted 07-31-2013 09:49 AM||9290 views||4 times favorited||20 comments|
I’m basically brand new to woodworking and recently bought a Ridgid R4512 as my first table saw. I wanted to write a post to consolidate a lot of the information that I found while researching this saw. I’m going to start with a section on the things I found while researching my purchase and finish with a couple of observations from the very basic work I’ve done so far.
Like many people considering this saw, my budget was limited to about $600. This quickly narrowed my search down to the Ridgid sold at Home Depot, and a pretty similar model from Porter Cable sold at Lowe’s (PCB270TS). There is a Craftsman saw that is basically just a different colored clone of the Ridgid, but I get a discount at HD and Lowe’s, so I never really considered that one.
I found many posts on this and other woodworking sites that recommend buying a used contractor saw or similar from Craigslist instead of this flavor of new saw. Although I checked Craigslist every day while choosing a saw, I never really felt comfortable that I had the knowledge or experience to go out and spend a significant chunk of money on a used saw. I wouldn’t have been confident in what I was getting.
The many reviews I read on the two saws basically boiled down to this:
Many people are skeptical of the plastic gears used for blade height and bevel control in the PC saw, although I did not find any reports of actual problems.
The PC has cabinet mounted trunnions, albeit non-traditional ones (don’t span the entire cabinet), and the table fasteners are inside the cabinet.
Many people talk about the PC’s fence being junk. It felt fine to me in the store, but see the first line of my post and take my assessment with plenty of salt.
There are a few reports of the blade being significantly out of alignment prior to initial tuning/setup.
Many people have had issues with the Ridgid’s blade shifting while changing blade height (more on this below).
There are also some reports of rail/table extension alignment issues.
Most seem to place a somewhat high value on Ridgid’s Lifetime Service Agreement.
A lot of people complained about “split rails.” I guess this is a reference to the fact that the rails are in two pieces that must be fastened together?
I found some posts describing the fence on the Ridgid as superior to the PC.
In general most of the posts I found consider the Ridgid to be overall superior to the PC.
At current prices, the Ridgid is $70 cheaper before any discounts.
Ridgid Blade Alignment Issues
This is by far the most common problem you find when searching for information about this saw. Basically, the back of the blade moves to the right when raising the blade. (Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWyvs_g-88c)
The best discussion of this problem was on the Ridgid forums. One poster even thinks he found a possible cause and was able to reduce the lateral motion from 0.015” to 0.002”. (https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/t38531/)
Some have reported being able to find saws that showed no motion at all, but far more people describe getting a HD manager to open 2, 3, or 4 saws to find that all of them move.
After reading everything, I decided that I didn’t think there was much of a difference between the saws. I liked the Ridgid a little better and it’s cheaper, but I felt there was a better chance of not having to partially assemble and then return a saw if I went with the PC.
Many of the posts I read also discussed the 20% off Harbor Freight single item coupon. Many Lowe’s and HD accept this as a competitor coupon, and obviously a $500-$600 purchase is a great time to score 20% off.
I have two Lowe’s and 3 HD’s within 45 minutes of my house, so I decided that if either Lowe’s or HD would accept the HF coupon, that would seal the deal. Of course the last place I called was the only one to say they’d take the coupon, and it was one of the HD’s.
After reading about people buying these saws at HD for a week and a half, it never occurred to me that one of the stores might not stock the saw I was looking for… 2 hours later I still had a HF coupon and no saw.
Ultimately, I picked up the Ridgid with no coupon. My wife posted the attached pic to facebook asking “who spent it better?” since that purse cost as much as my TS…. I don’t have to ask what all of you would say.
As you could expect, my saw does display the alignment shift that so many have seen. As described in the Ridgid forum post linked above, lowering the blade even just an eighth or quarter of a handle turn brings the blade back to (as far as I can tell) exactly where it was before. I don’t have a dial indicator, but within the accuracy of my combo square, my blade is parallel to the miter slots at any height as long as I lower it slightly after raising.
I haven’t tried any of the stuff described in that Ridgid Forum post to reduce the shift. The LOML is sick of TS research and assembly and wants to see more sawdust. It’s good enough for my abilities right now, but I do plan on trying that down the road.
Table extension/fence Alignment
I also had trouble getting the fence to slide over the right hand table extension without binding. I was able to tweak the alignment by loosening the rail fasteners and pulling up on the rails. The rails didn’t really move, but the extension is now slightly lower. I ended up with the right front corner of the extension between 1/16” and 1/8” below the cast surface of the table. My level and framing square both say that the rails are straight, so I attribute this to the table extension and not the split rails (the split is down on the other side of the main table too – most of the table and the right extension are on the same piece of rail).
There are lots of posts about this, so fortunately I knew to expect it before I got the whole saw assembled. There are rocker cams on the axles that hold the saw up when it’s on the casters. These were assembled backwards at the factory, but it was very easy to correct the issue. I’ve included pictures of what it looked like before and after.
There is absolutely no reason you can’t assemble the casters to the legs before attaching the legs to the saw (just not what the instructions say), and I recommend that anyone who buys this saw does so. This will allow checking the caster mechanism before you flip over 250 lbs of saw. I suppose you could probably disconnect and reconnect the caster assembly after the saw is vertical, so you wouldn’t have to flip it back over to make additional adjustments.
Besides the general sturdiness and component quality improvements that I feel like you get when stepping up from one of the (more) portable jobsite or benchtop models, there were a few things that as a novice I didn’t really consider. I originally tried out a smaller PC (PCB220TS) from Lowe’s, and was very frustrated that I didn’t even have enough room in front of the blade to fit a 4” piece to the miter gauge. There is much more room on the table on the bigger saw. I also like that you’re able to lock the blade guard up – this makes adjustments and measurements a lot easier while maintaining the safety factor.
I’m sure that nothing I’ve written here is really news to most LJ’s, but hopefully if there’s somebody out there like me with basically no experience, this helps consolidate some of the info out there.
Thanks for reading!