By Jeremy Hess
Ridgid recently added a one-handed recip saw to its Fuego line of power tools. Compact and corded, the R3030 is designed to go where larger models cannot and has some features that I wish other saws had.
Operation and Features
Unlike most recip saws, which are grasped from the back, the Fuego is held in the middle. The slim rubberized grip is shaped much like the handle of a screw gun and is very comfortable to hold on to.
The saw's foot is a sturdy nonadjustable wire bale that provides easy access to a twist-style toolless blade clamp.
Good for tight spaces. I found the 4-pound tool easy to use one-handed — even when I was working in awkward positions. It's 3 inches shorter than my full-size saw, which made a big difference when I was cutting inside cabinets and other tight areas. Also, the oversized rubberized trigger was easy to operate no matter how I held the tool — I could squeeze it with my forefinger or with my thumb. This kind of versatility is quite handy when you're cutting things that are hard to get at.
The Fuego's short, 1/2-inch stroke length is ideal for plunging through drywall and making delicate cuts, but it isn't particularly conducive to speed. Although the tool runs at 3,500 strokes per minute, it can't cut nearly as fast as my Super Sawzall. It's designed for easy handling and maneuverability — not speed.
Headlight. Since the R3030 is intended for use in close quarters, it makes sense that it would be equipped with a light. Its work light — an LED — is located on the front of the tool where the foot enters the housing. It comes on when you press the trigger and does a good job illuminating the cut area.
Cord. The Fuego has a 10-foot rubber cord, which is a nice length when you're working off a 6-foot ladder. It has a plug that lights up — so it's easy to spot when it's plugged into the same receptacle as a bunch of other tools — and an attached cord wrap that makes for neat storage and can be used to tie the plug to an extension cord.
The tool is sold in a soft-sided case with room for an assortment of blades; the cord fits neatly inside without cramming.
Ridgid R3030 Specs
Weight (by mfr.): 4.0 pounds
Tool length: 137/8 inches
Stroke length: 1/2 inch
Strokes per minute: 0-3,500
Motor: 4 amps
Street price: $99
Made in: China
I used the Fuego recip saw for several months for a variety of tasks. One project involved removing a kitchen sink from a countertop. The clamps were rusted, and when I tried to remove them with a wrench, the bolts stripped. So I grabbed the Fuego and crawled back under the counter to cut off the clamps. The saw fit easily up behind the 9-inch-deep sinks, and its light helped me see what I was doing. The short stroke length kept the tool from jumping around even though I was holding it with one hand.
Later, I used the Fuego on a commercial remodel job to cut holes in 5/8-inch drywall. The plunge cutting was easily controlled, and I finished quicker than I would have with a keyhole saw. On another occasion, my plumber borrowed the tool and discovered that it was useful for cutting PVC pipe and trimming closet bolts after toilet installations.
Not everybody was impressed. Like any tool, the Fuego handles some tasks better than others. After I loaned it to a carpenter who used it to cut some studs, he reported that it cut slowly and vibrated more than he thought it should. The Fuego is significantly smaller and lighter than a full-size recip saw. The saw comes in a soft-sided case, with a Velcro wrap to secure the cord.
The Bottom Line
This tool is by no means a replacement for a full-size reciprocating saw — nor is it meant to be. Rather, it's a nice complement to a larger saw — useful in tight quarters or for delicate tasks. Any tradesman who uses a recip saw would appreciate its small size and thoughtful features. And with a street price of less than $100, it fits as easily into a budget as it does into a toolbox.
Jeremy Hess is a lead carpenter with Heisey Construction in Elizabethtown, Pa.
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