Craftsman - BAS 350 (Rating: 4)

I had for years been using an old Delta 12 inch saw that I got on Craigslist. It was wearing out in multiple ways all at once and all the problems were hard to fix since it's long discontinued, plus it only has a 6 inch resaw capacity and for most of what i do eight would be about right.

I did a lot of research, including reviews here, and settled on the Craftsman BAS 350 which is the same as the Rikon 10-321, only @200 bucks cheaper. I was thinking about the Rikon 10-325, but it's more than twice as much. I ended up paying $407 for the Craftsman saw, which the household budget likes.

So the saw comes in a single big box. I was able to get it out of my station wagon and onto a handtruck and into my shop with little trouble. Unboxed it and assembled the base. I needed to use a drift pin to get the holes that mount the saw to the base to line up. One problem: the thrust bearing for the upper guide assembly had fallen out in shipping, and for a moment I thought it was lost. But I found the parts and it was easy to figure out how it went together. I was able to lift the whole saw myself (without the table attached) and set it on my workbench to do some of the assembly. I built a mobile base, and then was able to muscle the saw onto the base and bolt it down. Then bolt the table on.

Things I like

In general, the fit and finish seems very good. The table is heavy, generously sized and checks flat. The unit runs smoothly and quietly. The blade guide lowers and raises smoothly. The saw tracked very well out of the box. The dust port (there are two: a 2 inch and a four inch I'm using the 2) is well placed and very effective. There's a nice little allen wrench holder that screws to the saw so you can keep the adjustment wrenches handy. it ships with the wrenches. The 1/4 blade it comes with is very good. It is orders of magnitude better than my old saw.It cuts better, quicker, and more smoothly

Things I don't like
The lower blade guide is a pain to set-it's poorly designed, I think. I got it set correctly, but it took a lot of fussing and some awkward reaching to hold the hex bolt head in place while tightening the lock nut. The knob for adjusting the blade guide up and down is too small-I want it to have a crank on it. I would turn a replacement on the wood lathe if I could figure out how to get the stock knob off-it appears to be glued onto the shaft. The tension adjustment knob is on top, which is common but a pain, and it would also really benefit from a crank handle. I may be able to rig something. I do wish it had the quick blade release that's on the 10-325. The table insert is a little low and doesn't sit flush with the top. I made a new one out of a piece of Padauk I had on hand. The trunnion casting is a little rough-the table doesn't tilt smoothly

I haven't tried any heavy resawing yet. When i do I'll report back. The work i have done has been a joy. It did bog down once as I was sawing up a large log for our small woodstove.

It's a basic saw with few convenience features and some ergonomic shortcomings but the key thing-sawing-works very well: I'm pretty impressed wth the level of value for the money. I ordered a Rikon fence for it, which hasn't arrived yet. So far, very impressed with the price to value ratio here and with the saw's effectiveness

Note: I added a couple pictures. The two things that bothered me most, once I got the lower guide set up, were the blade tension knob and the guide adjustment knob. The blade tension knob was sort of a pain because it took a lot of turns. I made a simple crank out of scrap and dowels, following a post someone made here. Now I can tension /detension very quickly and easily

The guide adjust knob was annoying-it never felt right, it took too many turns to move it down. It's a small knob glued onto a shaft-there's no way to remove it without destroying it. It has a removable cap, but there's nothing behind the cap but hollow space.

I took a piece of scrap cherry, and started a hole using a hole saw in my drill press. I didn't go all the way through. Then I used a router bit with a bearing guide to rout out a cavity that fit over the existing knob. Then I drilled a 1/4 hole through the whole thing, using a long 1/4 bit I had on hand, and a 1/4 hole for the handle. After that cut it to round, about an inch all around wider than the existing knob, rounded it over with a router bit, and then filed grooves into it with a round rasp.

I clamped the wooden knob to the stock knob and drilled a 1/4 hole through it using the holes in the wooden knob as a guide. Then I filled the cavity of the stock knob with epoxy putty and inserted a 1/4 steel rod though the whole thing, pinning the wooden knob to the stock plastic knob. Turned a new crank knob on the wood lathe and attached. Basically the wooden knob is just a larger knob covering the old knob, and pinned to it. Sounds complicated and it's a little ridiculous, but the saw is much much more pleasant to operate now and the improvements were basically free.

Still very impressed with how well it cuts