Ryobi BT3000 Table Saw Review

By Phil Bonner, wudwrkr@ix.netcom.com


When I shopped for a table saw I compared the Ryobi with others available at around the same price. Since I grew up using the Delta contractor saw which is also used by my best friends, I naturally was inclined by product loiyalty alone to choose the Delta.

When making this comparison, as far as I could tell, the Delta hasn't changed in basic concept, design and function in over twenty years. In fact it's an American woodworking icon. Although, the other brands of table saws in the same price range may offer improvements to the basic Delta design, they never-the-less follow the same basic, bare bones, table saw concept.

In contrast, the Ryobi's designers appear to have broken the traditional table saw mold by re-engineering the basic table saw using the latest materials and manufacturing techniques. In the process Ryobi has produced a comparatively more modern and versatile wood cutting platform than the bare bones table saws offered by it's competitors for the same money. This is readily apparent in the extensive use of cast and extruded aluminum construction, the detachable/moveable tables and rip fence guide bars and the sliding miter table.

Naturally, I suspected that all of these light weight "improvements" and moveable parts may be prone to "play" and "slop" requiring frequent re-adjustment and tightening. I was concerned that, cumulatively, these light weight improvements would render the machine comparatively "antsy" and delicate causing it to be an overall annoyance, rather than a pleasure, to use.

Below is my appraisal of the basic saw's performance. Attachmnets such as an outfeed table, fence guide and side table extensions, and sliding miter table work piece clamp are also available.

Cutting and Ability to Hold Settings

For over 2.5 years I've been using the Ryobi BT3000 while working from mostly large pieces of rough sawn 5/4 and 2" oak. I couldn't be more pleased with it's consistent "dead-on" accuracy and cutting performance. In fact I routinely expect to get consistently jointer clean, no-burn, cuts from my machine. By virtue of these consistently mirror clean cuts, I can only conclude that the Ryobi has zero, or, very little arbor run out. My friends who have the Delta's are impressed.

Since I'm still in the process of setting up my shop, I need to move may saw around my garage to get it into position most times when I use it. It's light weight makes this transport easy. This frequent movement including inevitable smacks into other equipment, etc., have not ever adversely effected it's settings.

Periodically when my cuts begin to degrade, I check alignments only to find that my blade needs re-sharpening. I use the standard Ryobi blade (Made by Frued) and a Frued back-up. Since I am already getting perfectly clean cuts I wonder if the Forrest blades recommended in rec.ww could improve performance by either cutting faster, or, by lasting longer between re-sharpenings.

Just for good measure, on a few occasions usually before commencing new projects, I'll go over the whole saw "tweaking" and spot lubing my equipment - just like I would with any piece of power equipment. More often than not, any required "tweaking" is only to improve upon the last settings that I had previosly dialed in. And like most table saws, once you get the hang of it's adjustments, it's easy.

With the Delta CS, and particularly with the standard Delta CS fence, this tweaking is almost necessary ritual for just about every cut. By virtue of the fact that the standard Ryobi extruded aluminum rip fence works as a "T" clamp, that locks down both front and back, it stays dead-on parallel with the blade. In use, the fence glides lightly on the extruded aluminum guides which is a plus when sneaking up on scribe marks for final fine line cuts.

It kills me to hear people favorably comparing other TS in this price range to the Ryobi while in the same breath stating that the standard fences are trash and recommending after market fences for an additional $200.00 to $300.00.

Unlike the stock rip fences of these other TS's of the same price range, the Ryobi's stock rip fence works very well. Furthermore, since it locks down rock solid, it can also be used as an accurate and solid base for other sliding jigs. I understand Ryobi is also coming out with a micro adjuster for their rip fence.

Compared to the standard miter gauges on the other TS's of this price range - even when modified/faced with wood extenders to better support the work piece - the sliding miter table is, hands-down, a much more effective means to achieve accurate cross cuts and miter cuts of stock up to 16" wide.

By eliminating much of the friction/drag of both the miter gauge and work piece on the table, the sliding table smoothly glides the work piece into and through the blade in a much more controlled motion throughout the cut. It is a real pleasure to use; particularly in fine line work.

Despite it's many detachable parts and my use of it cutting heavy, rough sawn oak material, plus, my frequent transport/movement of the entire saw, the Ryobi BT 3000 holds it's settings very well. Overall, the saw can be tuned to very exacting, "bang-on" tolerances and it maintains these settings/"bang-on" tolerances very well.

In sum, through heavy use the saw has unequivocably eliminated my original concerns of it's delicacy and inability to hold it's settings. Furthermore, it's consistently clean cuts and the silky smooth movement of the fence and sliding miter give it a nice feel that supports it's "precision cutting system" label.

Safety

In my view, besides the blade guards, the most important safety item on a TS is a well-placed easily operated on/off switch. The Ryobi has the largest, and easiset to use switch that I have ever seen on any TS, bar none at any price range. When the sh*t literally starts hitting the fan I don't want to be dodging flying debris while groping around under the table trying stop the saw.

The wide flat surface area of the Ryobi's "off" switch makes it easy to reach under the table and slap off fast - NOW - w/o taking one's attention from any potentially dangerous" developments" on the table surface.

Dust Collection

The Ryobi's blade is fully enclosed under the table in a cowling which feeds into a cast aluminum dust chute which, in turn, fits standard Shop Vac hoses. In addition, the Ryobi provides a switched 110V recepticle that is activated when switching-on the saw so that the shop vac turns on automatically with the saw. With Ryobi's close clearance throat insert and with a shop vac attached, saw dust is virtually eliminated. The other TS's of comparable cost have nothing for dust collection.

Recently after my friend cut up a couple of sheets of particle board on his Delta CS TS, he called asking me to inquire of rec.ww if anyone had Delta CS TS dust collection plans. I understand , the Delta can be rigged for dust collection. that with an enclosed bottom cabinet and foam inserts around the other Delta TS cabinet openings. The Ryobi, comes with built-in dust collection ability lacking only a simple shop vac.

Versatility

With it's detachable/moveable tables and fence guides, the Ryobi can be configured to cut with equal versatility and cut capacity on either side of the blade. One of the detachable tables includes an aperature for mounting a router eliminating the need for a separate router table. If bought separately similar TS router extension tables for the Delta cost about $140.00.

Furthermore, by unplugging the TS from the switachable recepticle and then plugging in the router, the easily accesible and safe TS on/off switch, mentioned above, can be used to activate and turn off the router.

And as mentioned the Ryobi is much more transportable/movable than it's competitors.

Unfavorable Reports

Since the Ryobi BT 3000 has not been on-line for many years, the proof of it's fundamental reliability is still in the pudding. However, I have heard one ex-user report multiple belt failures.

Lack of a miter gauge slot is the most frequent criticism reported. However, I understand that Ryobi is coming out with a detachable table which has parrallel miter slots.

I just made a combination jig for; tenoning and box joint cuts, plus, panel edge cutting/slotting and/or panel edge beveling/panel raising. This jig rides on a sleeve which envelopes and slides on/over the rip fence. Since the Delta's stock fence has adjusting screws protruding along the top edge preventing anything from sliding on top, this jig could not be used with the Delta.

Alternatively if you decide to buy the Ryobi, you may want to get the miter slotted table in order to use the Delta tenoning jig ($90.00 +) and/or the Woodcraft box joint jig ($95.00+).

Others have reported problems with the need for frequent re-adjustment of the Ryobi's settings. However, my own and others' experiences reported here seem to flatly refute these reports. It should be noted that the Ryobi is a fundamentally different TS than what many are used to handling and setting-up; particularly with the inclusion of the sliding miter table which requires additional settings that most former table saw users would not be familiar with making.

For example, the Ryobi has a basic set-up sequence which, if done out-of-sequence, will result in the whole sliding table and miter gauge works being out of wack. The sliding table must first be set to slide precisely in parrallel with the blade, then the miter gauge can subsequently be set 90 degrees to the blade.

If the sliding table's "parallelism" is not set first, then although the miter gauge may align at 90 degrees at one point of the slide, it will be off kilter at all other points along the slide.

Since the manual is so well illustrated and easy to follow, and the actual adjustment process is really very simple (if the manual is followed), it is difficult to understand how the basic set-up could be fouled up - unless there was a lack of understanding of the necessity to proceed in proper sequence as explained above. I suspect this may be the case with those having trouble keeping the Ryobi set properly.

Alternatively, if the Ryobi's set/adjustment screws were prone to self-loosening under operation, then I could understand the need to constantly re-adjust the saw. But I have never heard of this problem of the Ryobi's adjustment screws coming loose.

To the contrary, in my experience the saws' adjusting screws and hex nuts have always remained tight with the settings that I had originally dialed in. With the Ryobi I had no one to blame for it's settings and/or inaccurate cuts but myself.

I've read that some unfavorably evaluated the Ryobi's universal motor and prefer continuous use motors instead. I don't know the difference and would appreciate any FAQ source or material on this subject.

For all I know this could be a liability in the long run. But I also read that the Delta comes with a universal motor as well.

My own pet peeve with the Ryobi is that the throat plate sits about 1/64th below the table surface. When making thin rips on work pieces narrower than the throat plate, the piece lurches into this slight, 1/64" recess if you don't keep extra pressure on the piece against the fence. It's not a problem that I encounter very often but it's an annoyance nonetheless. I guess I could glue shims to the reverse of the throat piece to bring it up flush.

Lastly, I've read one rec.ww member write that he had compared the Ryobi with the others of the same price and decided against the Ryobi based on a report that the noise ouput of the Ryobi motor was higher than the others.

No doubt, when you wind up the Ryobi you definetely are made aware by it's serious aircraft-like whine that, despite it's smooth apperances, this machine is as potentially dangerous and nasty as any of it's competitors. I personally like this high-tech, high pitch nasty whine and only wish my monster Shop Vac didn't drown it out.

Be forewarned that the Ryobi BT 3000 is subject to considerable criticism in this newsgroup; Most of which criticism is flatly refuted by my own and others' favorable experience with the BT 3000.

If properly set-up and handled, it is a fine wood cutting machine for the money. Don't let it's smooth looks deceive you. It's a hard working machine that has easily handled everything that I've ever thrown at it.

I suspect that the BT 3000's fresh concept has drawn a certain degree of defensive type of criticism by merely challenging the accepted American TS icons which, after all, are fine basic saws that have rightfully earned the loyalty of many here in rec.ww who grew up using them and who are still using to this day.

Conclusion

I believe that due it's light weight and transportability, it's ability to hold it's settings so well under heavy use, combined with the standard features included in the basic package not available with other comparably priced CS TS's - the Ryobi will eventually become the contractors' choice for an on-site table saw.

Therefore, I would be surprised if the Ryobi has not challenged Delta and Jet to similarly take a fresh look at their CS table saws with a view towards engineering into their basic saws the consistent cutting accuracy, superior safety, plus, wider cutting platform versatility available for the same price on the Ryobi BT 3000.

Finally, I believe that by re-defining the basic CS TS to a certain degree, the Ryobi BT 3000 will spark the other manufactures to launch a whole new generation of CS table saws.

For the record, I am not a Ryobi spokesperson. Just a loyal fan of my hardworking and reliable BT 3000.

Phil Bonner, wudwrkr@ix.netcom.com


Back to The Woodworking Times