admin on August 9th, 2008
On a recent long drive, I stayed awake by making a mental list of tools I hope never to live without. While the full contents of list are still a bit hazy (more to follow, rest assured), I am absolutely certain that one of the top entries will be a table saw. When I bought a house a few years ago and finally had room for a table saw, I didn’t have much experience with one, but knew that it had to beat a circular saw for ripping long or narrow boards. Once assembled, I grew so fond of making quick, precise, and blissfully repeatable cuts that I made my wife promise not to make me choose between her and my table saw.
As usual, I also didn’t have much money (see “I just bought a house”, above) and was therefore in search of a really great value, which lead me directly to the Ridgid TS3650. I personally believe this saw to be pretty much in a league of its own as far as value, and others seem to agree.
While I won’t rehash these reviews, I’ll mention that this sucker is really heavy at about 270 lbs., most of that in one totally unmanageable box. Apparently, Ridgid has recently made a few changes, repackaged the saw in a single box (from two), renamed it the TS3650, and changed the shipping weight to an even 300 lbs. Personally, I had to unpack the box in the garage and carry it to my basement shop one piece at a time. If you bench press locomotives for sport, maybe you’ll do better.
Next, I’ll suggest that you immediately throw away the blade that comes with the saw and buy a really great one. I’m a big fan of the Freud blades, specifically the LU84R and the LM72R. Before I upgraded the blade, I was pretty happy with the saw. Immediately afterward, I was consistently able to make glassy smooth cuts in the hardest woods, honest-to-goodness splinter-free cuts in plywood, and burn-free rips through thick hardwoods. Ah, bliss.
Perhaps my next suggestion will be more obvious to the world than it was to me, but for Pete’s sake, connect your shop vac up to the dust port under the saw. For quite some time after I got my saw, I cut boards with eyes squinted behind safety glasses and lips pursed against the bombardment of sawdust that blasted at me and pretty much everywhere else. After I noticed the mound of sawdust conveniently located under the dust port, I figured I’d give it a shot. What a difference! Now, the vast majority of dust goes down the hatch and I can actually cut boards with my eyes open (still behind safety glasses, of course).
Finally, I will mention that my saw came out of the box with the blade slightly out of alignment with the rip fence and slots in the table. This is fixed by loosening the trunnions from the cast-iron table and wiggling a little lever at the back of the saw. It’s not exactly difficult, but does require some patience and persistence. A good article on aligning blades on contractor saws is here.
As I consider what I have written here and what is certainly one of my favorite tools, it occurs to me that there are tons of features I haven’t addressed. Those that spring into my mind include the really solid, deflection-free rip fence, flat cast-iron tables, a remarkably unobtrusive splitter, and the Herc-U-Lift base. Fortunately, plenty has been written about all of these features and others. Browse through the links in this post and see what others have said. When you’re through, I believe you’ll have reached the same conclusion that I have. If you do find a better saw for the money, let me know!