BT3100 saw - reasons not to buy one ?

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I am considering a new tablesaw, mostly because I need a much larger fence system.
I came across the Ryobi BT3100 - which looks like a pretty neat although different saw. In my initial Googling research, I found that additional rails are easy to acquire from Ryobi and that the saw has a cult like following.
Requirements:
Annual Run time: under 50 hours / home dyi / furniture / hobbyist small foot print: (I'm not moving so I can have a bigger shop - not with this wife atleast )! set up & accurate easy / uncomplicated set up where repeatable cuts are simple long lasting / well built - not a "5 season machine" large cutting capacity - with / available extension rails my list goes on, but excludes the unreasonable
I have only read good things about the BT3100 - maybe I may have developed tunnel vision
What are the cons of this machine ?
Thanks in advance Matt
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Although my saw isn't the greatest (far from it), I would never buy a table saw that didn't have a solid cast iron table.
--
Stoutman
http://www.garagewoodworks.com
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Plastic parts.

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Presumably you are not against all plastic (or I wonder what tools you have in your shop<g>), so I presume you are talking about plastic parts you feel should be made of metal. Which parts specifically are you referring to? Most of the ones I think of are things that make sense to be of plastic (covers, handles, friction locks on the movable rails, etc.) I hope there are not significant plastic parts that are not properly engineered for their role, that I will be replacing often.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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Matt, I have a Ryobi BT3100 and it isn't a bad intro saw if you are just getting started and aren't sure if you want to commit to an expensive cabinet saw. The unit itself is pretty cheap and as you have found there are a bunch of after market accessories for it.
However, words of warning; by the time you equip the unit with all of the bells and whistles you will probably want as you get more serious you will have spent as much if not more for a decent cabinet saw.
I am speaking from experience as I bought a packaged deal (extension tables, micro-adjustable fence, router table extension) from a company that will go unmentioned and although it is a good product, I spent way too much for it. Now I am left with an average setup but not near as nice as a comporably priced cabinet saw.
Live an learn. I just hope my mistakes will help others.

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it with no sale or rebate going. A decent cabinet saw starts at around $1,000 for a bare-bones Grizzly 1023. How in the world can you spend $700 on accessories for the BT3100? Certainly if you do, you will have extended its capabilities far beyond those of a basic cabinet saw (such as by adding a router to the auxiliary table, etc.
Well, actually, I know a way. Believe it or not, JoinTech has a version of their fence system for the BT3100. 60" saw train for only $1.200!!! http://www.jointech.com/ryobi_sawtrain.htm . But anyone who would put a $1,200 fence system on a $300 saw is in serious need of professional help, IMHO.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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Why compare it to a cabinet saw? By the time you trick out one of these "worksite" saws you've spent as much money as you would for a good contractor saw (Delta, Jet, General, Powermatic, hell even Woodtech or Grizzly). The contractor has a cast iron table, induction motor, and is available from entry level steel stamped wings and 30" fence to cast iron wings and 50" comercial fence sysems for about 1/2 the price of a cabinet saw. They also accept all standard tablesaw accessories (miter gauges, tenoning jigs ect.). If you don't have to throw it in the back of a pickup every morning, why buy a 'worksite saw?

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I like mine because I can load it by myself and take it to the job. Replacing the motor costs almost as much as the saw and I seem to replace the motor much to often. Is portability important to you? Will you mind spending over $200 for a motor once in a while?
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Simple solution: New wife, new house, new Unisaw.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

He could go new or only slightly used on all three!
Barry
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B a r r y wrote:

Not me! She would have to be virginal. Then she would have no idea how poorly I perform. :)
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LQQkIE YONDER wrote:

True. You'd be the best she's had!
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larger fence system"? I don't see much difference in the sizes of fences--some, but not to the extent that one is considered much larger than another.

Matt, I have one, which I like very much. I think it is an incredible machine for the money. Sometimes the "cult-like following" forgets the "for the money" phrase, resulting in a gross overstatement and this sometimes gets strong reaction. While I appreciate the engineering and manufacturing that went into this saw that you can get for not a whole lot more than a good circular saw, it is no cabinet saw.
Here are some tradeoffs: Aluminum main casting. I have no problems with the auxiliary table and sliding miter table, but the main casting is too flexible. The base needs to be solid and square if you want the saw to be accurate. If it is not, the table has enough flex to twist unacceptably. While this saw may be okay as a portable for rough carpentry, you wouldn't want to do precision joinery after toting it in the bed of your truck.
Universal motor, lack of power. The universal motor screams, but not as badly as I anticipated. It is underpowered compared to a cabinet saw, but not much compared to most contractor's saws. Shouldn't be too much of a problem for your stated mission, just don't feed 12/4 oak through too fast! <g>
Lack of miter slots. These are available after market, but still are not standard configuration. Many jigs (store bought, or plans in mags, books, etc.) run in the miter slots and will not work with the BT3100 as is. I haven't found that to be an issue--you can usually vary the design to work.
Setup and alignment could be easier. however, once set up, my understanding is that it holds its alignment very well. I don't have enough first-hand experience to confirm that, but a friend who has been using one for several years claims this.
The fence is a PITA to get on and off, (which I believe to be the case with lots of OEM fences). There is a very nice after-market fence that is easily removable while the riving knife stays in place.
On the positive side, the sliding miter table is much better (IMO) than a miter gauge. But I still plan to build a crosscut sled for really precision work. And the fence locks very solidly, and with alignment that is very repeatable. I have my fence aligned to be about .002" farther from the back of the (fully raised) blade than the front, and repeatedly moving and relocking it varied this reading by no more than +/- .002". The aluminum extrusions used for the rails and fences are very rigid and straight. The stock blade is very good (again, for the price--no, it's not a Forrest<g>). Blade runout at the rim on my saw was .003". The riving knife is great -- the stock one that is part of the guard assembly, or one you can make from sheet stock--I used Lexan.
No tool should be mistreated. But while this saw is not "fragile", if I get clumsy moving a 10' 2x12 through the shop and have an end swing into a tool, I'd rather it hit my Delta bandsaw or Jet jointer than this saw.
Hopefully this gives you some sense for the tradeoffs. I think it would be an excellent choice for the mission you described, subject to clarification of what you mean by a larger fence system.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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Hi Alexy, You mean the blade guard is a PITA not the fence, right? JG
alexy wrote:

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Absolutely. How the heck did I ever write that paragraph? I do know the difference between a fence and a blade guard. Honest. I do.
Thanks for the catch.
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Presumably you found BT3Central.com If not, check them out. User-run site not affiliated with Ryobi. Lots of good tips, discussion boards will show problems/question that new owners have.
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Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com/reviews/ryobiBT3100K.htm Has its pros and cons, like any saw.
-- Regards,
Dean Bielanowski Editor, Online Tool Reviews http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com ------------------------------------------------------------ Latest 6 Reviews: - Ryobi One+ Cordless Tool System - Festool CT Mini Dust Extractor - Kreg K3 Pocket Hole Joinery System - Incra Miter Express - Book: Scroll Saw Fundamentals - Ryobi BT3100K Table Saw System ------------------------------------------------------------
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I've been running it's predecessor (but basically identical saw) for 6 years and it has performed admirably with every task I have thrown at it. For what they are selling it for today it is an awesome deal.
It's not the most powerful of saws and will self destruct (motor) if you overstress it, often with little or no warning, which is it's main con. Acknowledge this and treat it with respect and you will not have any problems.
Apart from this it has limitations which if you understand before purchasing you will not be disappointed.
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Search the archives for the very funny story from Tom Watson about his purchase of the very same saw.
matthew silver wrote:

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My one son owns a BT3100 and it DOES WORK for him...(very causal usage)..
Personally I do a lot of woodworking and I would not even think of owning one for the work I do... My impressions of HIS saw...
Small and very light, underpowered, I question how long the saw could hold alignment the sliding table is a great idea BUT his is not capable of making the same cut more then 6-7 times before you have to reset everything ...
BUT for him it is a HELL OF A GOOD SAW... extremely inexpensive and will (I think) last him until I die and he gets my cabinet saw...
Just my opinion... really depends on what you ask the saw to do..
Bob G..
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