Ryobi BT3100 Table Saw
With Attached Router Table Review
THE ALL-AROUND BEST TOOL THAT’LL
BOATBUILDER ON THE WATER, THE QUICKEST,
EASIEST AND CHEAPEST WAY!
Greetings my Duckworks Ducklings,
I will endeavor to explain my reaction to this fine woodworking
instrument. I actually asked Chuck Lienweber if I could review
the new BT3100 Ryobi 10’ table saw system for you DuckWorkers.
So with the help and great information from a few very nice
folks from Ryobi and their marketing division, my wife and I
went to Home Depot and picked up the Ryobi giant box with the
smaller accessory box and router. A few holdups caused a delay
in writing about this fine saw.
The first setback was a pre-planned trip to the
coast with some of our dearest friends. Our separate anniversaries
fall so close together it’s uncanny and it was my first
vacation of sorts in over five years. Under the guise of shopping
for yard sales there I had an opportunities to price out large
quantities of Port Orford Cedar. I was able to pick up a fantastic
cedar burl. The Port Orford Cedar will be among the largest
quantity of wood types in my next vessel I build for cruising.
Next, my wife’s uncle passed away. His funeral
was very close to Port Townsend, Washington. So the saw box
remained unopened and my excitement was overshadowed by the
grief of all the family members. I rented a very nice car for
my wife to drive so this trip would not kill me following so
close behind the anniversary trip. This realization of family
members on my wife’s side provide a great reason to go
to the Port Townsend more often and even attend the wooden boat
festival. My aunt in-law has invited us to stay with her family
in their boat house with a very nice cruiser.
After arriving home, I enlisted my wife’s
help to take the table saw beast box to my workshop for assembly.
I found I needed to assemble it in a very controlled fashion.
The first thing that drew my attention was the completely flawless
powder coating of all the outer metal parts. On occasion I’ve
put together a few hot rods and had various pieces powder coated
but this coating was so flawless and uniform that if I had taken
them to my friends shop for powder coating the price would have
been well over $300.00!
I realize production lines cut cost usually at
the expense of quality. Nothing was shoddy and every part fit
tight in a very well planned manner. I turned the power unit
over, and to my surprise there were two drive belts not just
one like some cheaply made saws. In addition, the blade enclosure
didn’t let sawdust fall everywhere just like the higher
priced saws have done. DeWalt also has a similar blade enclosure,
a single drive belt, but for $1,449. This DeWalt DW 746K Model
has an extended table covered by that cost too. However, I have
it on good authority that Ryobi may offer an extended table
kit around the holidays. So basically the difference between
the Ryobi and DeWalt is a thousand dollars and some cast iron.
With the exception of cast alloy instead of cast iron, I felt
as if I was working on a fourteen hundred dollar saw!
I set the saw up with meticulous attention to
detail this was a saw right off the shelf from Home Depot. A
saw like you or I could buy any day of the week. It also has
a sliding miter table, again something found only on very expensive
saws. With my purchase came a coupon for a free attachment kit
(normally priced at $99). It’s not only designed for the
BT3100, but also Ryobi’s earlier model BT3000. As they
say, the devil is in the details so I pressed on with the assembly.
When I raised the blade and put my dial indicator against the
blade I checked for blade run out and thrust bearing play. ZERO.
I checked and verified the dial indicator was in perfect working
order on my 12” radial arm saw. I now know it needs a
tune up due to end play. The assembly manual is quite thorough
for the BT3100 and emphasizes setting up the saw to perfection.
Going through those steps is not tedious when you consider you
have a very advanced wood working system in proper working condition.
It’s so much better than a hand saw since using a typical
hand saw would actually kill me.
The accessory kit has a nice variety of options
including wheels for tilting moving the saw. The best option
I have found is the Router Table adapter. Of the two routers
that Ryobi offers to fit this machine, I chose the RE180PL plunge
router. It was awarded Editors’ Best from a field of five
in the prestigious magazine, Popular Woodworking. A router with
soft start, variable speed, ½” and also ¼”
collets, 2HP and amazingly costs under $100.00! The clearance
to mount a router necessitates the use of a wooden insert 1½”
thick by the appropriate width for the particular router. I
opted to use oak and I finished it with Varathane because I’m
tired of just plain oil finishes. I guess everyone has to have
The rip fence must not have interference with
the wood because it holds all the router guide fences and adjustment
knobs for the router guards. It also has a tube guard that I
hooked up to my 6 ½ hp shop vacuum. It really cuts down
on the clean-up. The rip fence is very tight and feels very
smooth as good as it is. I would not spring for any after market
fence. Ryobi has placed enough technology in this rip fence
for anyone to adapt any type of jigs or feather boards .
After deciding to make my spacer for the router
table from oak, I used the sliding table feature that’s
primarily for miter cuts. I simply lined up the table for a
90 degree cut. The oak cut “like butter” with the
standard 36 toothed carbide blade and zero clearance blade insert.
I may eventually try the Matsushita blade but the stock blade
cuts through 4X4 dimensional oak without even the slightest
I want to build a George Buehler boat design called
Pilgrim and with the BT3100 half the battle can be done. I have
plans to build the P.C. Bolger Brick for fun and teach my wife
how to use this great table saw. My wife majored in theatre
arts in college. In the local community theater she has directed
many plays and built sets so she has had to use power tools
already. Getting the better half involved is any man’s
The saw cut large dimensional oak like butter
and I will be exploring many new jigs for the sliding miter
table as well as the rip fence. I ripped an 8’ piece of
red oak 4”X12” into 1”X4” strips just
to test the saw and it never bogged down or strained without
leaving any burn marks. What a joy!
The Router Table Attachments, Kit & Contents
As I said before I used Ryobi’s plunge router
for the router table. It’s a 2 HP router with a soft start,
variable speed, 1/64” micro adjustment fine depth settings
and an automatic load compensator to maintain its many variable
speed settings. The router is selling at Home Depot for under
$100, comparable routers sell for hundreds more. The router
has a flat side on its base providing greater accuracy on cuts
when not used on the router table. The rip fence is used to
mount the router hardware and the kit comes with five different
throat plates. I tried out the router table and it works very
well. My other routers only had ¼” shanks and it
seems all of the best bits I’ve wanted have only been
in ½” shanks. Ah, a new reason to buy more tools,
isn’t life sweet!
All in all the table saw with the accessories
kit make an amazing deal with it’s great dust collection
bag, router table kit, accessory Miter table with two ¾”
slots, two zero clearance saw throat plates, dado throat plate,
special adjustable project clamp for the sliding miter table
(almost as amazing as me writing this sentence!). Add to this
very clear instructions in three languages. I became really
confused when my box fan switched me to the Spanish section.
Every once in a while something comes along that should not
be as good as the price tag implies in this modern world. The
Ryobi BT3100 is that contradiction, with features found only
on other very expensive saws and envelope pushing technology.
Fully loaded with the optional accessory pack and router it
will cost at the very most just under $600.00. Sometimes they
offer coupons as in my case that makes the sale even sweeter.
They didn’t forget those of you who own a nice router
now though. Ryobi makes a universal plate to mount just about
any brand on the saw’s router table. With that don’t
forget the special lock-down adapter for the router table that
usually only has a single locking device. If the table ever
became loose from omitting the added lock it could ruin your
day, year or life. Wood is the cheapest part in that circumstance.
I suggest any one who needs a very accurate table
saw and doesn’t want to pay through the nose try out the
Ryobi. Home Depot has a very liberal return policy but once
you buy this saw I’ll bet you return for more attachments,
not to return the saw. It and the router get a ten out of ten
score from me. Ryobi is making great tools for boat builders
and they make sure you can buy better wood because you have
saved so much buying their great products.
Pictures And Testing The Dado And Shaper
Several pictures were taken, but my shop is all
metal and this heat wave in our high desert home has turned
into a sauna I think I’ve lost 10 pounds just from sweating.
I have a water mister system outside who’s manufacturer
claims keeps the temperature down by 20 degrees, but a hot metal
building is hotter than hot and that only brings the inside
temperature to well above the century mark. I took pictures
of the shaper and dado in action late in the afternoon only
to find out my digital camera doesn’t work when the temperature
gets that high. It just refused to function, which should have
been a hint. I have had the dado and shaper
since the sixties and the price tags prove there
is inflation, but I since I’ve discovered routers I’ve
never had the need to use them. Being rusty on the setups I
did use both of them for the test and they worked fine. I kept
having to wipe my pouring sweat off the wood and the saw. The
camera has a remote control to take pictures but it may have
also have been malfunctioning because of my grimacing face.
In testing I also used the zero clearance plate but I found
some of the directions almost impossible to do without breaking
the plastic plate. I have resigned myself to figuring out a
way to make a slot for making beveled cuts without using their
directions. I guess I have been a rebel for some time but there
must be a better way to cut the slots. In corresponding with
other wood workers they claim that a five horsepower Grizzly
or a rebuilt Delta Unisaw at $1,500.00 are much better saws
and to this I might possibly concede, but I couldn’t move
either of them around in my shop. My wife would also divorce
me for that indulgence when the Ryobi can do 95% of what the
others do because it is not a toy.
Prior to Ryobi’s introduction of a bench
top planer the experts thought that only huge cast iron planers
could do a proper job. Now there are no less than five copycat
bench planer manufacturers. Ryobi has proven that engineering
with lighter components can allow the common man to have machines
with accuracy that was once relegated to large cabinet shops
or more wealthy woodworkers. That is why I have given both the
BT3100 table saw and the RE180PL plunge router my A+ rating.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
They are calling for hotter temperatures tomorrow
so I may bring my other projects inside the air conditioned
house while my wife is a work...the house should smell very
good with Cedar shavings everywhere.
A glimpse from John’s Tool Crib.