Good enough, but not perfect

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Review by colvinatch posted 12-24-2012 04:25 PM 11400 views 3 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Good enough, but not perfect No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

First, for what it’s worth, I have a Masters degree in functional design (woodworking) and studied under a master woodworker for 4 years. In our school shop we had large industrial 1960’s and 1970’s vintage Delta and Powermatic tools that had as much iron and steel in them as a Mack truck, so I know how a real saw is supposed to work, look and feel. Flash forward 15 years… For five years I have been using a crappy entry level ($100.00) table saw and it is simply god awful, I sandbagged it to weigh it down, this to prevent it from jumping when switched on, I re-enforced the fence, installed high quality blades for smoother better cuts and made sleds and jigs all to attempt to improve the safety and functionality of the saw. These measures were a lot like trying to fashion a silk purse from a sow’s ear, no matter what I did this $100.00 contractor saw was a cheap, noisy, under-powered entry level machine.

I decided that, given the amount of large, thick stock I was cutting, I needed a heavier, better quality saw. I did A-LOT of research, trying to keep my budget around $600.00 as it was all I had to spend at present. It quickly became apparent to me that saws in this price range are a series of compromises. If I wanted a decent entry level saw I was going to have to spend between $1000.00 to $1500.00 or accept some of those compromises.

It came down to the Grizzly versus the Porter Cable versus the Ridgid, all weighing it at between $530.00 and $700.00ish. The Porter Cable lost out immediately due to numerous online complaints about the plastic trunion gears breaking and people not being able to get replacements thereby crippling their saws. Note to Porter Cable: if you are going to make saws with plastic gears at least have a lot of replacements handy! The Grizzly looked great and I was headed that way but the Ridgid won out when Home Depot lowered the price to $499.00 AND accepted a 20% off coupon from Harbor Freight bringing the cost of the saw down to a very reasonable $400.00 plus tax.

First, this is a heavy beast, I had to use the front end loader on my tractor to get it out of the truck. Assembly was straight forward and relatively easy, it took about 4 hours all in. Lifting the saw onto its’ legs required the use of a block and tackle as the unit’s total weight is just a little north of 250 lbs.

After assembly and tuning the saw I took note of the various features and their functionality: The fence is ok, accurate enough but it has no micro-adjuster, smooth, but not smooth as silk, it is solid enough but still feels just a little flimsy and cheap. The cranks are not at all as solid and smooth as those on more expensive saws, (compromises) but they feel solid enough and work well. The blade was aligned accurately front to back with the miter slots straight out of the box (within .002), the fence alignment needed some tweaking but is now dead on with a slight tow out (.002) on the out-feed ideal for hardwood, the stamped steel wings seem cheap and should be made of cast iron, again more compromises.

When running this saw is amazingly quiet and has plenty of power, My first cut was a piece of 8 quarter cherry; with the high quality blade (a Forrester WW II) I installed on this saw and it sailed right through it without any burn, tear-out or even noticeably straining of the motor (note to beginners: the blade IS the saw, toss the one that comes with any saw and splurge on a very high quality blade, it absolutely makes a WORLD of difference in how a saw operates).

There is very little to no noticeable vibration, this saw passes the standing nickel test with flying colors. The cast iron table is solid and good enough, about .001 off being perfectly flat (again another compromise). The riving knife is fine, it should be a little thinner to work better with a thin kerf blade. The anti-kickback pawls are clumsy and look as if they will scratch the wood, I don’t like them anyway and won’t use them. The blade guard is solid and is easily removed and when re-attached properly it seems to stay put. Dust collection is excellent with a large square funnel creating the bottom of the cabinet with the bottom of the funnel being where you attach the shop-vac or dust collector hose, this could stand a 90 degree turn adapter for easier access, but that can easily be added with some PVC.

For me this saw’s best feature are the retractable casters, like the Porter Cable saw, you push the foot pedal down to extend the casters allowing the saw to easily glide around the shop, this was a must have as I work in a very small space and am constantly moving my saw around to work with other tools and projects. These too, seem plenty solid however they drop the saw with a pretty substantial thud so when lowering I try and take it easy on the on the drop to keep from jarring the blade out of alignment.

The star rating on sites like this is relative to where you are coming from in your wood working journey, rated against my old entry level Ryobi saw this is a fantastic machine, a Cadillac with a big V8 motor and leather trim, definitely five stars. Compared to a Powermatic or high end Delta, this saw is not as fantastic, it seems more like a Toyota sedan with a standard trim package that only rates 3 stars.

When all is said and done this saw is what it is, a collection of compromises that come together to produce a fairly solid, accurate, powerful enough tool that gets the job done safely and efficiently. For the $400.00 to $600.00 market this saw is excellent, probably the best in that price range, you will have to spend upwards of $750- $1000.00 to see a marked improvement in performance and tolerances from a saw. I look forward to many years of smooth cutting with this saw.

View colvinatch's profile


13 posts in 3101 days

21 comments so far

View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 3366 days

#1 posted 12-24-2012 05:00 PM

Glad you are happy with the saw! I’ll be buying it soon, so I love seeing good reviews for it. How did you get Home Depot to take the HF coupon? I thought they no longer did that, on terms of HF “not being a real competitor”. I’ll have to try it with my local HD when I go to make the purchase.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 3806 days

#2 posted 12-24-2012 05:53 PM

I agree with everything except the “compromise” of the .001 out of flat table. Personally, I think .001 deviation on ANY saw is truly remarkable.

I have the same saw, bought last year, and your review, barring the mention above is spot on. Thanks for doing such a great job on that.

I also came from a crappy entry level saw that I used for over 20 years before buying the Ridgid. It is like going from a corvair to a caddilac. The first thing I made on it was a small box with all 45° mitered corners, including the bottom. I was amazed when it went together perfectly. Wasn’t used to that.

I would add one thing to your review, and that is the miter gage. Really lousy accuracy. I got tired of it and bought a Micra as a replacement.

Overall, I’m sure you will enjoy that saw for years to come, just as I plan to enjoy mine.

-- -- Don from PA

View Jeff's profile


548 posts in 4313 days

#3 posted 12-24-2012 06:23 PM

I wouldn’t give it three stars just becasue it’s not the same as a very much more expensive saw. How does it compare against similarly priced contractor saws? I have the older 3650 version and sure there’s always a better saw for more money out there. But for my uses my old 3650 rates at least a four if not a five.

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4696 days

#4 posted 12-24-2012 06:43 PM

Seems like your realize this is a good value for what it cost and most of your review is positive.


View kdc68's profile


3010 posts in 3395 days

#5 posted 12-24-2012 07:39 PM

I am in a similar situation. The choices for me are the Ridgid and either the Grizzly 713 or 691 contractor saws, although they are more like hybrids. I have the $$ now for the Ridgid, but would be willing to spend the extra to get one of the Grizzly’s. I too ruled out the Porter Cable for the plastic gear. I ruled out cabinet saws for the most part because my shop is in the basement of my house. I don’t see how about getting a cabinet saw down the stairs. I would like to know what Grizzly you were looking at?

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3912 days

#6 posted 12-25-2012 12:43 AM

Thanks. Good review. In my limited experience I have found that Ridgid products are very good when it comes to value. There are better saws but for me returns diminish too quickly for the expensive saws. I’ve got the TS3660. An older version of your saw and I can’t imagine needing anything better. Lot’s of orange in my little shop.

And welcome to LJ’s. That’s a lot of saw for $400.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View colvinatch's profile


13 posts in 3101 days

#7 posted 12-25-2012 01:53 AM

Thanks for all the replys, as for the 20% off coupon, I asked the sales clerk, he said ok and went off the get my saw. The manager came around and said that the best he could do was $50.00 off, then I waited, and waited, and waited and 45 minutes later… no saw. They had to hunt the kid down and discovered that he had left because it was time for him to clock out. The manager then said… OK, take 20% off! The Grizzly I was looking at was the G0715P for around $725.00 plus shipping.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3809 days

#8 posted 12-25-2012 03:04 AM

Nice review and good work getting the “Big Orange” to take the HF coupon! I did that on a Ridgid shop vacc and they didn’t act like they wanted me coming back! One question: are you using a full kerf WW II blade to cut that 8/4 cherry (rip or crosscut)? I guess that’s 2 questions!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View kdc68's profile


3010 posts in 3395 days

#9 posted 12-25-2012 03:48 AM

Thanks for the reply. Good for you that the small fiasco paid off for you as an extra $100 in your pocket

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View EEngineer's profile


1137 posts in 4732 days

#10 posted 12-25-2012 04:00 AM

The cast iron table is solid and good enough, about .001 off being perfectly flat (again another compromise)

Ahahahaha! You are doing woodworking, not machining! No woodworking saw does better than .001” flat!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3633 days

#11 posted 12-25-2012 07:47 PM

I have owned one of these for a few months now, also upgrading from a Ryobi BT3000 that served me for over 12 years. I did the same thing, all the investigations, and ended up where you are, the Rigid 4512. So far, absolutely no complaints. I put on a CMT 50 tooth, one of those with the PTFE coating, and it performs easily with all the crazy exotics I have to cut for my guitars and jewelry boxes.

I’ve spent time on Powermatics, 5HP units, and yes, they are more powerful, probably more accurate, more cast iron. But when I can get within a half a hash on my Starret ruler, (maybe two thousandths of an inch), I’ll take it. I don’t use my table saw as a jointer, so it needs to get the wood within a few thousandsths, and that it does.

One complaint with mine was I found the left miter slot to trail away from the blade .003 of an inch the depth of the table, front to back. No biggee since I mainly use the right hand slot, but it still annoys me thinking about it. Wasn’t enough for me to take it back. Too heavy and too much trouble. As far as the table, I also built the additional table they suggested, and a further 36” long table to the right, which became an assembly table since I also am in a small shop.

Overall, with my military discount, (10%), I walked out with it at $450, and although assembly for me was also about four hours, and who thought building a saw upside down was a good idea?, I love it. I hope to have it for the rest of my life.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4217 days

#12 posted 12-25-2012 09:36 PM

I have had the 3650 and never regretted the purchase. Tables are all cast iron and I added a router table on the right end that gives me plenty of support for large pieces.
The fence operates like a swiss watch. I glides like butter, zero wobble, and super accurate when using the scale.
5 stars.

I can’t say enough about Ridgid products, price to functionality.

(On my home page I did a story on the router table add-on, under projects)

View Duality240's profile


33 posts in 3128 days

#13 posted 12-26-2012 02:24 PM

I won’t even bother to review my R4512 as I would have said pretty much everything you said. Great review. My two biggest complaints are how hard the saw drops when you lower the wheels and how cheap the miter gauge is. I will be replacing the miter gauge but I haven’t figured out a workaround for the retractable casters. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

-- I've been doing this for years but I am still a newb

View colvinatch's profile


13 posts in 3101 days

#14 posted 12-26-2012 06:02 PM

I didn’t mention the miter gauge because I plan to replace it right away. As for the casters, I balance myself on one foot, (more like the heel of my right foot), place the left foot on top of the pedal and use my toe of my right foot to push up the release, then I catch the release with the left foot and let it down very gently. Awkward but it works.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4217 days

#15 posted 12-26-2012 07:44 PM

Wonder why they changed the mechanism from the 3650?
It works smooth and gentle.

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