Preparing for the overhaul...

Friday, September 28, 2012

REVIEW: Rigid 10" 15 amp Heavy Duty Portable Table Saw

After finally getting to use it a little bit, I was so impressed that I decided to write a review and share my thoughts.  I bought mine at Home Depot; you can look at the saw itself here.  The first and biggest issue is the price.  This is a very expensive saw.  Not Rockler Hardware-expensive, but quite a bit of money nonetheless.  And, well, if your household is anything like mine, money is at a premium.  So I felt a little crazy, and a little stupid spending so much money on a product that, at the time, I knew nothing about.

Unless you have friends with cool tools, who'll let you practice on them, buying any new tool is sort of a stab in the dark.  Lots of highly rated things suck, and lots of inexpensive, unexciting things (like the craft brushes at Michael's) actually rule.  Well, after finally getting the saw home--if you're picking it up yourself, bring a buddy; this thing's heavy--and getting it into our backyard utility area, we were faced with the challenge of actually putting it together.  Jim ended up doing it for me, which was very nice of him.

It's not actually that difficult to assemble, but the instructions are confusing.  It took Jim about an hour.  Not what you'd call "plug and play," but still not horrifying.

Almost all table saws come with a blade, but it's usually an all-purpose blade more suited to ripping plywood than doing anything interesting.  So in addition to the saw, I bought a couple of Diablo blades.  I personally like Diablo; I think their products are well-made.  And, honestly, getting the right blade is important.  I was going to be cutting a lot of MDF, so I looked for a blade specifically designed to cut MDF.  If you're trying to cut something and the motor is whining, or the piece itself is dragging, you're using the wrong blade.  The right blade should cut evenly and effortlessly.

Having said all that, here's why I like this saw:
  1. A lot of portable saws are very rickety.  This one isn't.  The base (Rigid calls it a "table saw utility vehicle") is extremely sturdy, even on uneven ground.  I was using mine over peastone, and it was solid as a rock.
  2. It has good functionality, and all the functions are easy to access.  I raised and lowered the blade, changed the angle of the blade, and changed the angle of the table itself quickly and painlessly.  Sometimes, changing things around can distract you and take up a lot of time, so this is important.
  3. The table extenders are also sturdy, and I had no problem cutting 24" pieces.  The left rip capacity is 12", and the right rip capacity is 25".  But I cut a 48" piece down to 38" with no problem.
  4. The mitre gauge slots are extremely smoothly machined.  Surprisingly, this is an issue I've had on lots of tools: my jig fits into one slot but not the other, or the slots are so burred up that my jig doesn't slide smoothly at all.  Which, well, makes for some funny-shaped pieces of wood.  Another nice feature is that there are mitre gauge slots on either side of the blade.  The only jig the saw comes with is, well, a mitre gauge but that's an important one and it's also very accurate.
  5. While I don't have specifics on tolerances, I found that even cutting a long (4') piece of MDF into thin (2.5") strips, the saw handled the vibration well.  Sometimes, you can end up with one end being narrower than the other, etc, but I measured all of my pieces and they were completely uniform.
  6. It comes with a nice hooked pusher that really works well.
  7. There's a 2" dust port, which you NEED.  I cannot even tell you how much sawdust I accidentally blew through the living room window.  I also accidentally coated my husband in sawdust.
The one thing I really wish it had was variable speed, but so far I've actually been completely happy with the saw as-is.   All in all, it cuts like a dream.  The blade guard and anti-kickback pauls work, but don't get in the way.  Finally, too, the saw comes with an important safety feature that (surprisingly, to me at least) not all saws have: an ignition key.  You can't start the saw without it, and since the key is small and portable, it's easy to keep out of small hands.  Considering that a blade going at 4400 rpm could easily take a finger off, this is important.

All in all, I think it's worth the money.  And between this and my MicroLux, I now have the ability to make pretty much every cut in the book.  Which, well, that's a lot of versatility in not a lot of space.


Michelle said...

A table saw has been on the top of my list for a while! I know the one I want...

I think they are a must have if you want to cut your own pieces for kits etc., and well worth the money in every respect! I can't wait to see what you make! :o)

Michelle :o))

C.J. said...

The MicroLux is also excellent! I use it for all my fine work and have been extremely satisfied.

Michelle said...

C.J., I'm going to have a look at that one...and if its available in the UK. :o)

Michelle :o))

C.J. said...

I buy a lot of things from the UK, and I've encountered a really varied response in terms of how willing people are to take my custom. Some are thrilled to ship anywhere; others, not so much. I don't know if Micro-Mark ships to the UK, but it'd definitely be worth looking into; their prices are good, the dollar is very weak against the pound, so the prices are actually fantastic, and their products are very nice.