BT3100 - Is it design or abuse?

I dropped by the local Home Depot to check out Ryobi's BT3100. This machine had obviously been abused by customers (the clerk said it had been on display for eight months), but it still left me feeling a bit leery. I like the concept overall, but two things in particular bothered me about it:
- The sliding miter table had lot of play. I could wrack it a degree or so anywhere along its travel. If this is typical, how would anyone ever get a dead-on accurate miter cut?
- The fence *can* be locked down other than parallel to the blade, but it takes a lot of work to do so and clearly wouldn't happen accidentally. That's the good news. The bad news is that, once locked down, the far end can be pushed to one side or the other with very little pressure, a Very Bad Thing.
In my cursory examination, I didn't see any abvious adjustments one could make to offset these limitations. So... are these faults inherent in the machine's design, or was it a matter of a badly adjusted/abused demo model?
(This being HD, of course I couldn't look at a manual.)
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Wolf Lahti wrote:

The play, as well as everything else about the SMT, is adjusted with little eccentric bolts. More easily visible from underside of SMT. You can take out the slack in a minute or two with just a screwdriver, without disassembling anything. In my experience, though, if you want the table to slide freely, you have to live with a tiny amount of play (maybe 0.005).

Are you sure the far end of the fence is really locking? Try pressing the locking lever a bit harder, or checking that the fence is really seated correctly at the back. Properly adjusted, it does lock and does not deflect easily, though I admit I haven't tried really pushing mine.
You'll get more and better information at the www.bt3central.com forums.
Martin
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I've got a BT-3000 (essentially the same machine as the 3100). Let's be clear about one thing -- it's not in the same league as a Unisaw, or even the various "contractors saws" sold by Delta, Jet, Grizzly, etc.
That being said, don't try to draw any conclusions from the junkpile on display at HD. Even if the thing was ever put together properly in the first place, in the 8 months it's been on display, it's gotten more abuse than any saw in a home shop would see in 8, or even 18 years. I suspect 8 months on display in a HD would wreck just about any piece of equipment short of a blacksmith's anvil.
Mine is about 4 years old. The sliding table slides nicely, and stays parallel to the blade. The fence moves smoothly, and locks rigidly in place without any effort. But I'm careful with it and respect its limitations.
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How is it deficient? Durability, noise?
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Yes to both. A unisaw is made from cast iron. A BT-3000 is made from aluminum and plastic. It's like comparing a golf cart to an M-1 tank. They're both useful items, but hardly interchangable.
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<My BT3000 was bought 5/92 and I didn't pay much attention to warning about hearing protection for a couple of years, unfortunately. It has a motor that IS LOUD! Now earmuffs are mandatory and a second pair hang on a nail for visitors. I move the sliding miter assembly as little as possible. Never have considered the miter slot thingy. Has worked for me.

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It's quiet as universal motors go. It's durable as long as it's treated as a fairly light weight precision tool and not 600 pounds of cast iron.
Kevin
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wrote:

be
The one thing I think the BT-3000 has all over it's like competitors is the width of rip. I couldn't live with anything less. -- Jim in NC
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Roy Smith said

Did I say 8 months? Yep, I did. I meant 8 weeks - but that really doesn't make much difference. A demo sitting in the Borg is gonna get trashed - period. And it's clear from other responses that the slop I found in the miter table and fence was due to abuse or maladjustment. The fence did not come close to locking at the far end - no contact to speak of on the back rail - so that is a matter of how the thing was assembled rather than any inherent flaw in the design.
Thanks for the rapid responses. (Don't you people have anything better to do on a Friday night?)
For the price, the BT3100 seems to be a great deal, offering options many cast-iron saws can't match (a full 3.5-ich depth of cut for one). Some folks disparage it by talking about its 'plastic' parts, but the resins used are tougher than steel for some applications. That doesn't worry me.
That motor, however. That's the one thing that keeps my wallet in my pocket when I pass by. My firt tablesaw was a cheapie benchtop with a universal motor, and I burnt that out in short order in my woodworking learning curve.
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Wolf Lahti wrote:

Nope. What should I be doing? I haven't done anything out of the ordinary on a Friday for going on a decade now.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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I'll bet the resins that are stronger than steel cost as much as steel.
I can't imagine Ryobi using stronger than steel plastic on a fairly inexpensive tool.
Brian Elfert
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One nice thing about the aluminum and plastic construction is that I don't have to worry about rust in my damp basement shop.
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"Brian Elfert" wrote

Sometimes more expensive materials lead to less expensive parts, if machining steps can be eliminated.
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Randy Chapman wrote:

Is it smooth otherwise? I'm still thinking about one of those eventually.
My recently tuned Skil table saw is much improved and functional, but it goes WHAM when I start it, and there's just soooooo much vibration. Doing repeat stuff is scary because the cutoff parts are doing the hokey pokey all over the table top, waiting to vibrate into the blade and thock me in the forehead, even after I've pushed them aside with a stick.
I ran it without a blade briefly, and all of this is coming from the motor. Most of the shrieking of the saw is pure motor, and the blade actually doesn't add much of a component to the sound at all.
Doesn't make sense. Why the hell is the motor so noisy? I've run hundreds of motors in hundreds of other things in my lifetime, and never have I encountered a more obnoxious motor.
I guess I should go look at what a "universal motor" really is.
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I have a BT3100. From all reports, all BT3x variants (including the Craftsman) are smooth as silk. Mine will pass the nickel test in both directions, while cutting 4/4 oak.
Perceptions vary, just as buttheads running straight pipes on their motorcycles or cars *think* they have more power. They don't; they have more noise and vibration, which they equate with power. Unisaur adherents hear the universal motor on a Ryobi, and equate vibration with noise. Doesn't make it so, but I do understand the perception.
(And when I've got my dream shop, I'll have the Unisaur you all dream of!)

Don't push them aside. Push them off the table. It only takes a flick of the wrist.
Kevin
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Kevin Craig wrote:

Sounds like that about seals the deal then. The only objection I still have to the concept is the extra juggling of machinery I would have to do in order to accommodate the projecting miter table.

Feh, when I have *my* dream shop, I'll have a saw that makes a Unisaur look like a pitiful child's plaything.

Well, there is that. Not so easy to do though. My shop is tight, and if I flick them off the table in pretty much any available direction, then I'll have to move something to go fetch them.
What I actually do is pull the sled all the way back until I'm well clear of the blade, and then I remove the pieces and stack them off to the side somewhere. Works, but it's tedious.
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Oh, definitely, it is smooth. Put a nickel on edge on a piece of wood, turn the saw on, and it won't *budge*. Honestly, while it does scream, it does so much less than my thickness planer (possibly less than the router as well), but it is much louder than the jointer (which is a bigger motor, too).
I used to have the BTS10 (piece of crap benchtop). I plugged it in just before I sold it, after I had the 3100 set up well. Scared the crap right outta me -- the thing tried to jump off my workbench (where it was clamped down!) and deafen me, all at the same time.
--randy

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This wouldn't happen to be in the Atlanta area, would it? I had the same experience at a HD a couple of days ago. The BT3100 on display looked like it was ready for the scrap heap. Lots of neat features, though.
Rich S.
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Next time you do that, howzabout giving a bargain alert to the wReck?
Kevin
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