Upgrading the BTS21

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Forum topic by agianni posted 01-19-2011 05:03 PM 3184 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 3230 days

01-19-2011 05:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

I got a great deal on a used Ryobi BTS21 portable table saw last year and I’m pretty happy with it, but I agree with the main deficiencies that others have mentioned:

1. Sliding miter table is a little flimsy and means there’s no miter track.
2. The throat plate is non-standard and really thin, making custom zero-clearance throat plates pretty much impossible.

I’m thinking about trying something to address both of these deficiencies, as I’m not in a position to buy a new saw at this point, but I’m interested in feedback from y’all before I go to the store and start buying supplies. Here’s my thought:

1. Buy a piece of 3/4 mdf and cut to size just a little larger than the top of my saw
2. Cut a hole with a rabbet to fit a standard throat plate
3. Install a miter track
4. Figure out how attach it to the top of the saw (hold down clamps on the bottom?)

The downsides I can see:

1. MDF on top limits cut thickness, but I’m not at the point where I’m cutting really thick stock and if I need to rip thick stock, it would probably be a situation where I could do without the extra top.
2. The MDF top could make the saw a little top heavy, but I’ve found it pretty stable so far and as long as I keep it close to the size of the top I’m thinking I should be able to keep it together.
3. I can’t use the saw’s fence with this setup, so would have to work something else up. But the fence that comes with the saw is unreliable enough that I have to measure all the time anyway. I’m thinking a 2” aluminum angle for a fence and a couple of inexpensive face clamps from Harbor Freight and I should be in business.

Any other thoughts or alternate ideas for modding this saw?

-- Andrew

2 replies so far

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13 posts in 3230 days

#1 posted 01-19-2011 05:14 PM

Oh, one more issue I thought of is that if I’m putting a miter track on, I’ll need to make sure I mount it square to the blade. I figure once I get it square, I can put a strip of thin stock under the edges that hang over the top to make it easy to accurately put on if I need to remove it for portability. The key will be getting it square in the first place.

-- Andrew

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3469 days

#2 posted 01-19-2011 05:26 PM


I started out with a BTS21, and upgraded to a BT3100. Not that the SMT is a bad thing, on the contrary, I have grown to really LOVE having a slider. It means for the most part, not having to use a cross cut sled… However there are down sides to not having a miter slot… On my old BTS21, I took the cord winder gizmo off the side, and added a piece of MDF with some aluminum miter track from Rockler dadoed. It was a bit far away from the blade, and had to be shimmed to get it just so as far as blade alignment goes… Wish I had pics to show you…

On the throat plates, If I recall they are the same thickness as my BT3100s, and with that, I use 3/16” tempered hardboard to make my ZCTPs… (I also have the OEM zero clearance throat plates… Not quite the same, but close enough…) The hardboard comes just flush with the table surface. Try it on your BTS, might just do the trick!

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