with Ryobi's 28-gallon shop vacuum. In "flotation" mode, the vacuum (used as a blower) creates an air cushion across the table surface, making it easier to maneuver large panels. Changing from cushion to suction turns the table into a vacuum clamp.
So how does it handle? The saw cuts precisely, with enough power to handle 8/4 maple if you nurse the cut by slowing the feed rate. The saw's fence, which locks down on both the front and rear rails, is very solid. Blade
When Ryobi engineers designed their BT3000 Precision Benchtop Cutting System, they crcatcd a tool that occupies its own category—somewhere between a 10-in. benchtop tablesaw and a contractor's saw. Unlike most benchtop saws, the BT3000 has a sliding crosscut table and a belt-driven arbor. But instead of the cast-iron construction of a contractor's saw, the Ryobi has a lightweight aluminum table mounted on its sheet-metal cabinet. It weighs a modest 75 pounds.
Don't look for miter slots in the tablctop—there aren't any. Instead, the basic saw has a pair of tabic modules that can be positioned on either side of the fixed table that houses the blade. One module is the sliding table; Modular components and innovative accessories—including a the other acts like an exten- vacuum-powered "air flotation table"—make the Ryobi sion wing, and is designed BT3000 unique among tablesaws. to accept an optional
mounting kit for a router or jigsaw.
Options abound, supporting Ryobi's contention that this machine is really a "saw system" with components that can be added and repositioned, providing an array of configurations and functions. In addition to expected options like zero-clearance throat plates and a steel stand, Ryobi offers items like a folding extension table, miter clamp kit, fcncc-rail extensions, and a dust bag. If you really want to get fancy, there's even an air-flotation table designed to work tilt and height are set with a single handwheel and control lever—the same adjustment system you find on conventional benchtop saws.
In action, the crosscut table slides somewhat stiffly, but diis didn't cause
any problems. However, stops on the table limit maximum crosscutting width to 16 in.; and with no miter gauge slots, you can't use a shop-made crosscut jig to increase this capacity.
On the plus side, the crosscut table includes a generous 18-in.-Iong miter bar that supports stock much better than ordinary miter gauges. And a large, easy-to-read scale lets you adjust the miter bar up to 45° in both directions with great precision.
Dust collection efficiency was very good when we connected the saw's dust port to a dust collector, but dropped off somewhat with the dust bag connected to the port.
Our first air table was dished about XA in. in the middle, but a replacement air table worked better, letting us push large plywood sheets past the blade with much less resistance than on other saws. The suction mode clamps a work-piece tightly enough for safe sanding or routing.
Overall we're impressed with the BT3000—not because it's a saw for everyone, but because Ryobi started fresh and designed a new tool with modular components and well-integrated accessories. The BT3000 isn't for production woodworkers or for those accustomed to the stability, durability, and jig potential of a cast-iron saw tabic. But it's a good bet as a first tablesaw, or if you want to "move up" from a less versatile bench-top machine. The BT3000's router-table option, along with other accessories, make it an attractive choice for woodworkers interested in "growing" a workshop, one accessory at a time. (Price: saw: $550; flotation table: $99) Ryobi America, Dept. AWT. 5201 Pear man Dairy Rci, Anderson, SC 29625, (800) 525-2579. Circle #629
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