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Posts Tagged ‘Saw’

Ridgid TS3650 Table Saw

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!

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Dewalt DW368 Circular Saw

One of the first power tools I purchased was a cheap circular saw. This seemed a reasonable thing to do at the time, as I had little spare change and a small apartment that didn’t present much opportunity for sawing. I’m pretty sure I never made a straight or satisfactory cut with that saw. The base was spongy, the plastic depth adjustment lever broke the first time I used the saw, and there was some sort of plastic aiming device that was effective only for scratching everything it touched.

When I decided to build a deck last year, I realized that the project budget could be stretched just slightly to include a new circular saw. And a new jig saw. And a reciprocating saw. Well, you get the idea. As you might guess after the description of my old circular saw, one of my priorities was eliminating as many cheap plastic parts as possible. I went to stores, removed blades, adjusted depths, told “helpful” employees I’d find them if I needed help, held the saws over my head to test the weight, adjusted the angle of the base, told more employees to go away, etc. In the end, my favorite saw was the Dewalt DW368 light-weight circular saw.

The difference between my old piece of crap and the Dewalt DW368 is nothing short of spectacular. The base is one big magnesium casting that is wonderfully rigid, and all of the adjustments are rock solid. A couple of other favorite items are the bevel adjustment with detents at 22.5° and 45° and the sawdust deflector built into the blade guard. The detents make cutting accurate bevels possible, if still not exactly a breeze, and the sawdust deflector is so sneaky I didn’t even know it was there until I was sawing and a beam of sawdust shot off to the right side and out of the way.

I feel obliged to say something about the motor being strong enough or something like that, but to be honest I never really noticed, which just might be the highest praise there is. I sawed lots of stuff, from nasty wet pressure-treated 2×12’s to composite decking to furniture-grade plywood, and the saw never bogged down or let out so much as a hiccup.

Reflecting on all of the thought I put into the purchase of this saw, it is clear to me now that any of the higher-end circular saws on the market would have probably met my needs. I’m happy with this saw because it’s precise, light weight, and extremely well built. It’s also pretty affordable, at around $100.

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