Over the last few years, there have been quite a few changes
to in-line circular saws. Manufacturers have made them lighter
and more powerful, and have added many features. About a year
ago, I tested eight in-line saws for an article in JLC (see
"Wormdrive Saws," 2/04). Ridgid had just gotten into the
power-tool business and did not have an in-line model for us to
test. Later in the year, however, the company introduced the
R3210, its first wormdrive saw and the tool my crew and I
tested for this article.
Ridgid did not skimp on features when it designed this saw. The
R3210 has a 15-amp motor with oil-bathed gears, an aluminum
base plate, and a magnesium housing and guard. The grip is
overmolded rubber; the depth and bevel locks are oversized to
make them more comfortable to use. The saw has a folding rafter
hook and a 12-foot cord with a plug that lights up when the
tool is live.
Power and Weight
The first time my crew tested saws, we learned that certain
tasks quickly separate the best models from the merely average
ones. One such task is roof cutting. If the tool is good for
that, then in my opinion it's good for everything else.
The first day we had it, we used the Ridgid saw to cut 2x12
rafters and 13/4-inch LVL material. We were working on a 12/12
roof, so the tool needed to make the 45-degree plumb and level
cuts as well as the 45-degree bevel cuts on hips, valleys, and
jacks. When I cut the LVL material, the R3210 powered right
through. The motor felt and sounded a lot like the hypoid gear
motor on Makita's 5277NB, a saw I like because it runs very
smoothly. Compared with the models we had tested previously,
this one felt as though it had more power.
At 14 pounds, the Ridgid saw is lighter than average for an
in-line model. It's not the lightest one you can get, though.
That distinction goes to DeWalt's 13-pound DW378G. (There are
two other 14-pound saws, as well: the Bosch 1677M and the Skil
The weight and balance of the R3210 make it easy on the arm and
comfortable to use. The overmolded rubber grip increases the
saw's comfort level, too; it provides padding and makes it
easier to hang on to the tool when it's wet, with or without
Ridgid R3210 Specs
Weight: 14 pounds
Maximum bevel: 51.5 degrees
Maximum depth of cut at 90, 51.5, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", 1
9/16", 1 3/4"
Blade diameter: 7 1/4"
Street price: $169
Ridge Tool Co.
The maximum depth of cut is the same for this saw as it is for
the Makita: 2 3/8 inches at 90 degrees, 1 3/4 inches at 45
degrees, and 1 9/16 inches at maximum bevel. It's worth noting
that these distances are almost 1/4 inch less than you can get
with the Bosch 1677M or the Skil HD77M. On occasions when an
LVL had swelled because it was left out in the weather, the
Ridgid did not cut all the way through on a 45-degree bevel.
However, the saw didn't come up short by much, and it took only
a quick slice of the utility knife to sever the remaining wood
is a true wormdrive: Its hex fitting is the oil plug. The black
button at the center of this photo is a spindle lock for
changing the blade.
The R3210 tilts a little bit further than other in-line saws.
Whereas the steepest angle we could cut previously was 50
degrees, the Ridgid cuts 51.5 degrees. There is a certain roof
design we frame all the time, and the cheek cut for some of the
jacks is 51.34 degrees. In the past, we cut them to 50 degrees
and called it good. With this saw, we can make the cut at the
actual angle we want.
handle makes the saw easy to grip. The screw that secures the
blade takes a hex key, which stores in the back of the handle
just below the cord.
Adjusting bevel and depth. I appreciate how easy it is
to adjust the bevel on this saw. Like many other framers, we've
spent a lot of time using Skil's wormdrives and, more recently,
the Bosch version of those tools (Skil and Bosch are part of
the same company). One problem we have encountered with these
very popular models is that after they have been dropped a few
times, the base won't tilt to 45 degrees or beyond unless you
tap it with a hammer or change the depth setting of the blade.
This wasn't the case with the Ridgid. After it took a few
falls, the depth and bevel setting mechanisms continued to
The bevel gauge is clearly marked and the
blade tilts to 51.5 degrees.
The base plate. The one concern I have about the
durability of this saw is that the base plate is made from a
smooth piece of aluminum. The only other in-line model with a
flat base of this type is the Skil HD77M, and its plate, which
is made from magnesium, sometimes bends if you drop the saw.
The plate didn't bend on the Ridgid, and I don't know if that
was just luck or if the aluminum holds up better than
magnesium. I'd prefer for the base to have wafflelike
reinforcing ribs, like the models from Bosch and DeWalt. We
never managed to bend one of those bases, although we did break
one when the saw took a fall from two stories up.
The R3210 compares favorably with all of the in-line saws I've
used. It feels more powerful, has every feature you could ask
for, and is competitively priced. We didn't have the saw long
enough to assess its long-term durability, but it seems
well-made, and those oil-bathed worm gears have a reputation
for holding up.
I do have a couple of minor complaints. The locking lever on
the elevation bracket tends to work loose unless you tighten it
more than you would with another saw. And the guard snags every
once in a while on steeply beveled miter cuts — not
often, but enough for me to notice.
Other than those quibbles, I was very happy with the Ridgid saw
and will probably buy one when this test is over.
Tim Uhleris lead framer for Pioneer Builders Inc.
in Port Orchard, Wash.
Toolsby Patrick McCombeSuper Sawyer.
lunchtime bull sessions turn to favorite demo tools,
Milwaukee's Sawzall always tops somebody's list. Dubbed the
6523-21 Super Sawzall, the newest version of the venerable demo
tool has an eight-position rotating handle and a more powerful
13-amp motor. Complete with orbital cutting action, the new saw
boasts a 11/4-inch cutting stroke and a variable-speed trigger
that delivers up to 3,000 strokes per minute. Other features
include a toolless blade clamp, a gear-protecting clutch, and a
vibration-dampening transmission. I found the 6523-21 on the
Web for about $200. Milwaukee
Kick-Ass Bar. Stanley sent
JLC a FatMax 36-inch Wrecking Bar shortly after introducing it.
Few tools, I have to say, have generated as much interest
around the office as this good-looking bright-yellow crowbar.
Instead of the hex-shaped tool steel commonly used in these
devices, the bar is forged from steel with a rounded shape.
Stanley calls it a "tri-lobe" design and says it makes the tool
stronger and more comfortable to hold. The bar also comes in
14- and 24-inch sizes; all three versions cost less than $20
apiece. Stanley, 800/782-6539,
Dawg Pound. When remodeler
John Foley couldn't find the right tool for removing drywall,
he went straight to the Dawgs — the Demo Dawgs. The
professional-grade tools in his new line promise to be among
the most versatile available. Suitable for knocking down
drywall, beating out studs, ripping up plates, removing strip
floor, and even digging up landscape plantings, Demo Dawgs come
in three sizes: the 16-inch Puppy Dawg ($30), the 20-inch Mean
Dawg ($50), and the 30-inch Big Dawg ($60). All sport steel
handles and padded grips. Demo Dawg,
Drill Bits &
DriversYour Friend Lefty.
breaking a bolt or fastener weren't bad enough, drilling it out
so you can use an extractor often makes the situation even
worse. The problem is that conventional right-handed bits tend
to tighten the bolt further, increasing the possibility of
breaking the extractor. Believe it or not, a left-handed drill
bit — which admittedly sounds as ridiculous as a
left-handed hammer — is the right tool for the job.
Irwin's Left-Hand Black Oxide Drill Bits and Left-Hand Cobalt
Drill Bits won't tighten the broken bolt as you drill (in
reverse), and frequently they'll remove the fastener. Just make
sure to buy these babies before you need them or you'll have to
endure the strange looks of hardware-store employees as you
explain the concept. The bits come in sizes from 1/16 to 1/2
inch; prices for the black oxide bits (part no. 62304) start at
about $2.70. The 3/8-inch cobalt bit shown (part no. 30524)
sells for about $12. Irwin
Sheet-Metal Hole Saw.
Recently, I had the unfortunate task of drilling holes in
light-gauge metal studs while running some wire. I wasn't
expecting it to be a big deal, but soon discovered that the
metal would heat up and deform very quickly, making it
surprisingly difficult to get through. The job, I suspect,
would have been easier with a Carbide Hole Cutter from Lenox.
Designed specifically for sheet metal and stainless steel, it
has a split-point pilot bit to prevent walking and an attached
spring to eject the slugs. According to Lenox, the tool's
precision-ground teeth cut faster and last longer than the
teeth on other hole saws. A 7/8-inch carbide hole cutter
— the most popular size — sells for about $36.
Tight-Space Turner. Looking
for a way to turn fasteners in all those tight spaces? Check
out the cool new Model 49-22-8510 RAD (right-angle drill)
Attachment from Milwaukee. It features a sturdy-looking,
all-metal housing and an adjustable secondary handle for added
control. Designed to accept 1/4-inch hex-shaped drill and
driver bits, the attachment comes as part of a kit that
includes the most common Phillips and square-drive sizes and a
1/4-inch-drive socket adapter. Even if you need this tool only
occasionally, it seems like a good thing to keep in the drill
case. It costs about $50. Milwaukee,