Cheap and does what I need it to do

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Review by lumberjoe posted 04-26-2012 12:48 PM 6143 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Cheap and does what I need it to do No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I picked this up at Home Depot a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I only have a benchtop table saw. That means no cross cutting or ripping sheet goods. There is only 6” in front of the throat, and anything that small gets cross cut on my sliding miter saw. So why on earth would I buy a 40.00$ saw? Well, read below. I will say this has seen some fairly heavy use in the past few weeks. Here are my observations:

1 – The blade. This is a large reason why this saw got 3 stars. Out of the box, it is probably useless. It comes with a 20 tooth steel blade. That blade is still in the protective packaging. My wife wants to make me something for my shop for me. I am going to give this to her to make a clock out of. I also bought a freud diablo 40 tooth blade at the time of purchase, so really this is a 55$ saw.

2 – Setup Pretty easy. there is a spindle lock that works really well. The included wrench stays securely in the base during operation. The blade is very easy to install/remove. Out of the box, the sole very flat, but was not 0 degrees with the blade. Unlike the crappy skil I am replacing, this is adjustable on the ryobi. I was able to square the blade by loosening a set screw. The setting holds well because there is also a nut to keep it secure. Another large reason for 3 stars is the adjustment doesn’t hold when the cut depth changed. It is easy enough to adjust, and I never will because I will never be cutting anything thicker than 4/4.

3 – Power Although 12 amps is a little on the low side, I was not able to bog down the saw, even cutting 4/4 hard maple. The wood didn’t burn either. I attribute this mostly to the blade. Yes, I had to cut beautifully figured hard maple with a circular saw after glue laminating a table top. I’m sure someone somewhere is cringing right now.
In addition I ripped down the middle of a 4 foot long by 14” wide scrap of 3/4 birch hardwood ply. No bogging, the blade did not wander, it stayed true against an edge guide the entire cut. I also had no tear out on the veneer. I did tape the bottom cut line and cut the piece on top of MDF, cutting into the MDF slightly and supporting the entire piece. I was really impressed the saw stayed right on the fence and did not wander. That is always something my old skil would NEVER do. Cross cutting the ply did produce some tear out, but I did not have the MDF under the cut, just tape. The MDF must be the key.

4 – Features None. It’s just a saw. There are no battery powered lasers that are horribly inaccurate, no cumbersome dust collection that doesn’t work anyway, and no edge guide that I have no idea how you would use while still clamping down your work piece. A case of any sort would have been nice though.

5 – operability – as expected for 40$, this thing is a screaming banshee. I won’t be using this tool past 20:00 in fear of pissing off all my neighbors. It’s not very light, but I also would not call this heavy (I am a 5’7” 170lb professional nerd, so take that under advisement). It has a slightly soft start and doesn’t “torque twist” at all. Upon releasing the trigger, the blade decelerates rapidly, which I like. I really like the handle and trigger design. It’s very comfortable. There is no safety switch/trigger lock, but the trigger itself is what I would refer to for lack of a better term as “double action”. The cord is long enough, but I wish it were a soft rubber like my skil.

6 – Overall Not too many bad things to say, so why 3 stars? Because I do not do the things a circular saw was meant to do. I’m not sure how long this would hold up being tossed around a pick-up bed and cutting hundreds of feet of dimension lumber. For my specific needs noted above, this saw performs beautifully. Again, I would have given it 4 stars had it come with a carbide tipped 24 tooth blade, and the sole would hold the 0 degree setting though blade depth changes.
I honestly wanted to hate this saw. I had budgeted spending about 100$, and would have liked to return this in exchange for the dewalt or makita I had done weeks of prior online research on. When I gave the display item a good once over and found it was adjustable the ways I needed it to be, I took a gamble. In this case it paid off. Now I get to go back to my local saw mill this weekend with an extra 60$ in my pocket.

And why is this not 1 or 2 stars? I am used to dealing with tools on the inexpensive side. One day I will find out what it is like to be able to rely on a tool to be set up correctly and retain those settings, but that day has yet to come. With some care and continuous adjustments which this saw does make provisions for, this produces accurate and efficient cuts. If you are looking for a “set it and forget it” solution, keep looking.


View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3023 days

10 comments so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3844 days

#1 posted 04-26-2012 06:35 PM

At the risk of committing heresy, I’m going to say that Ryobi tools are pretty darned good for their price. They aren’t really intended for the high and heavy use crowd, but they’re quite adequate for the the needs of the DIY’er and even some pro users. My SIL has one that gets used 3-4 times a year. When I’ve watched him use it, his problems are more due to his inexperience with a circular saw than any shortcomings of the saw itself.

As far as the stock blade, no circular saw comes with a glue joint quality blade. Stock blades are always general purpose blades which will be fine for 90+% of the users.

IMO, only a fool would assume that all of the adjustments are dead-on right out of the box. I always go thru all of the adjustments before I plug in a new tool – if for no other reason than getting familiar with how they all work.

I can’t think of any tool that is really “set and forget”. They all need to be checked from time to time. If you’re throwing them in the back of a pickup every day, the frequency of checking goes way up. – lol

Unless you beat it to death, your saw will last you for years.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4352 days

#2 posted 04-26-2012 06:50 PM

Thanks for the Review. Low end tools are better than no tools. You can’t expect much from them and sometimes your surprised how well the work and how long they last and other times your surprised that the didn’t even survive their first time they were used. If you can afford a better tool it’s better to invest in a good tool that will last long term versus buying several cheep tools that end up costing more in the long run. I’ve bought cheep tools for just one job instead of renting it, and so far that has worked out.


View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3023 days

#3 posted 04-26-2012 07:24 PM

Sawkerf, thanks for you input. By constant adjustments, I mean I recheck after almost every cut. I haven’t needed to adjust it yet, but I still don’t really trust it enough not to check. I also do not ever use a non-carbide blade. They dull very quickly and are downright dangerous in my opinion. Nothing binds and kicks like forcing a dull blade.

a1Jim, I almost don’t agree with low end tools are better than no tools. While new to woodworking, I am a very skilled mechanic. You couldn’t pay me enough to work on a car with a budget grade socket set. The money I saved in tools would quickly disappear the first time I rounded a bolt holding in a ball joint, then couldn’t get anything in to cut/drill it out (ask me how I know this). I am all for buying quality tools and have the means to do so. I also am not one to assume a yellow, red, or orange tool is better quality than a blue one just because it costs more. If you fully understand and can accept the limitations, sometimes the savings really pay off. As I said, the 60$ I saved over the dewalt is going to net me 22 more board feet of soft maple at the mill this weekend. I am in the process of replacing a lot of my “cheap” tools now, like the table saw and router. Those will be very expensive, but warrants the expense due to the precision I require from them, and the sheer amount of use they will see. The “cheap” tools served me very well, I have just grown beyond their intended purpose. I’ll also be able to recoup a lot of the investment and help a fellow newbie catch a break on some well maintained starter tools by selling them.
In this case, I am not framing houses or building decks for a living. For now, this little saw cleans up the ends on my laminated table tops and is accurate and efficient at breaking down sheet goods.

Reliability has yet to be determined, but I’ll update the review accordingly if anything crops up.


View MikeGo's profile


76 posts in 3278 days

#4 posted 04-26-2012 08:10 PM

I have that saw and it`s been great what I do. For the price of $34.00 two years ago and still works fine. If I had any cons to the saw it would be the blade it self (cheap).

-- Mike, Marietta,ny

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4007 days

#5 posted 04-27-2012 03:14 AM

Good review, not gushingly happy with a purchase and overlooking flaws, not seething at a minor flaw on a cheap tool. Good info on the saw. IF I ever manage to kill my Skill I might just snag a Ryobi.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3746 days

#6 posted 04-27-2012 05:49 AM

I don’t look at a circular saw as a “get by” type of tool. I consider it an essential tool. With the proper guide it is the best way to cut large sheet goods. Why would I want to hoist a heavy 4’ x 8’ sheet of material up on a table saw, even if it was a $3000 unisaw.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 04-27-2012 01:39 PM

I bought this saw to cut Hardie board, as I didn’t want the cement dust killing my ‘good’ Skil. The Skil has long since died and the Ryobi is still working fine. Gotta check the depth of cut often as the wing nut that affixes the sole plate loosens very easily, but for deck work or whatever it’s fine.

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 4295 days

#8 posted 05-03-2012 03:40 PM

Generally, when using a saw of this kind you are not looking to do precision work. I suppose, using a protable clamp-type fence, you could do some precise ripping or crosscutting, but usually for that kind of work you use a good table saw or even a good miter saw.

Most of those who use saws of this kind (be they pros or amateurs) are doing carpentry, and for that kind of work just about any hand-held circular saw will do just fine, provided of course that it holds up and that the blade is a decent one, including being decently sharp. (Note that I said decent, because even with blades it is not really necessary to have a super blade to do most of the work saws like this are designed to do.)

I am a stickler in some ways, however. For example, I much prefer to have the blade on the left side of the unit instead of the right side, because that makes it easier to see the cutting line. Admittedly, you get more sawdust kicked back into your face when you do this, but that is a problem I have been able to handle.

As such, I have two circular saws. One is a Skill Mag 77, which is too heavy, but which also has the left-side blade and cuts like crazy. Great saw, and the blade I use is a Freud Diablo, because the blade is not really all that expensive and it handles pressure-treated lumber well. The second is a Craftsman trim saw, which has a 5.5-inch blade that is also located on the left side. When doing light-duty cutting that little Craftsman is my choice, but when having to mow deep through lots of wood the Skill is put into action.

I own a lot of Ryobi tools myself, by the way, and have no problem with the product line at all. Don’t own the circular saw, though, because the blade is on the right.

Howard Ferstler

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3023 days

#9 posted 05-03-2012 03:47 PM

I should have mentioned that was one of the contributing factors as I am left handed


View demonjames's profile


2 posts in 2618 days

#10 posted 05-09-2013 06:02 PM

I have this saw as well. I had some problems with the blade (obviously) when trying to cut some thick MDF, it bogged down quite a bit and the blade smoked. I bought a 2 pack special of Diablo blades, haven’t swapped them out yet but am eager to. I like the saw, it seems to cut 2×12s fairly well, that was the reason I bought it in the first place.

-- Don't cut off a finger!

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