by Dorian Gluckman
SpecsMotor: 15 amps
Blade diameter: 12 inches
Weight: 46 pounds
Baseboard against fence: 6 inches
Crown in position: 7 1/2 inches
90-degree crosscut: 2x10
45-degree miter: 2x6
45-degree bevel: 2x10
The Ridgid R4121 dual-bevel miter saw has the most unusual
configuration I've ever seen: The motor is mounted above the
saw arm and connects to a 90-degree gearbox, which spins a
small belt that turns the blade arbor. This arrangement —
with the motor out of the way — provides greater cutting
capacity against the fence.
Extra capacity is always a plus — but I was curious to
see if there were any drawbacks to the unique design.
As soon as I received the saw, I checked the accuracy of the
fence and miter detents. Everything was absolutely dead-on.
That's a big plus for me because it saves setup time and bodes
well for the quality of the assembly.
Installing the 12-inch blade was easy with the on-board
The R4121 is about the same size as other 12-inch saws I've
used and — at 46 pounds — weighs roughly the same
as my DeWalt 716. Thanks to a well-placed handle, it's
relatively easy to move.
The tool has an easy-to-read stainless-steel overlay miter
scale and an adjustable puck-style laser that lets you line up
your work without starting the motor. Cheat-sheet stickers on
the base provide angle and bevel settings for cutting crown on
the flat — a nice touch. The lower fence is a single
piece of aluminum with sliding upper sections on both sides of
the blade. Another clever perk is an erasable writing surface
for marking repetitive cuts.
As with any 12-inch miter saw, dust collection is so-so: The
bag captures about 30 percent of the dust and the rest blows
onto the floor. Attaching a vacuum helps.
Ridgid includes no side extensions with the saw and doesn't
offer them as an option. The table surface is set at exactly 3
1/2 inches high, so you can put a 2x4 on edge for additional
support. The work-piece clamp is stable and easy to use.
Previous Ridgid saws had full-width triggers (for all fingers)
and a palm safety — an unwieldy arrangement, to my mind.
But the new saw has a handle with a soft surface, no safety,
and a two-finger trigger. It's a much more.comortable fit for
my medium-sized hand.
The saw's bevel capacity is 48 degrees left and right. The
bevel lock is a paddle-shaped lever that's easy to reach from
the front. I prefer this design to front-mounted bevel locks
and their.comlex mechanisms, but the lever doesn't work very
well: It flexes considerably, and the travel is short and
jumpy. Bevel detents — at zero, 33.9, and 45 degrees on
each side — are engaged and disengaged with a
The maximum miter angle is 50 degrees left and right. The miter
lock is a wide paddle — similar to the one on the Ridgid
12-inch slider — with a thumb-wheel in the middle for
engaging the miter detents. To release from a detent, you turn
the thumb-wheel; to re-engage, you turn it back. I found the
design a little cumbersome; I prefer the more conventional
trigger-type release with a separate override.
With its motor mounted on the saw arm, the R4121 transfers
power to the blade with a 90-degree gearbox and a small belt. A
removable cover gives access to the belt and spring-loaded
The R4121 can crosscut a 2x10 at 90 degrees and put a 45-degree
miter on a 2x6. Vertical capacity against the fence is a bit
over 6 inches, but the saw can cut 7 1/2-inch baseboard with a
1 1/4-inch-thick subfence. It can cut crown of up to 7 1/2
inches in position.
A Ridgid 60-tooth ATB thin-kerf blade.coms with the tool. My
dial indicator pegged blade run-out — measured one inch
from the teeth to avoid the expansion slots — at about
0.010 inch. Not bad, but if I were building furniture or
high-grade trim I'd buy a better blade, because thin-kerf
blades like this one have a tendency to deflect when cutting
Miter settings are laser-etched onto a high-contrast
stainless-steel plate. On the fence is an erasable writing
surface for marking repetitive cuts; on the base, a pair of
tables for cutting crown on the flat.
Miter and bevel settings are adjusted with large paddles.
The miter lock has a thumb-wheel for engaging and overriding
detents. The author found both miter and bevel settings to be
accurate right out of the box.
When I first began cutting, I noticed that the motor makes a
high-pitched yowl as it slows, and — despite Ridgid's
claim that the saw has a blade brake — the blade takes a
good two seconds to stop. These conditions didn't bother me too
much; I attributed them to the complexity of the drive
Another quirk, however, was a problem: The laser line moves! As
I lowered the arm to cut, the laser line shifted about 1/8 inch
to the left, then slightly back. Since I was sure there was
something wrong with the laser, I asked the manufacturer for a
replacement. The second laser was accurate right out of the
box, but the beam still moved, though a bit less. Eventually I
discovered that the laser was projecting two beams — one
direct and one mirrored off the blade — and both were
I've had several puck-style lasers, and this was the first one
to lose its calibration during use. We ended up just ignoring
Despite this flaw, I consider the R4121 as good as any other
12-inch dual-bevel miter saw on the market. After many, many
cuts in all kinds of material, I've found that it provides
smooth and effortless cuts day in and day out. And its extra
capacity against the fence is icing on the cake.
Dorian Gluckman is a builder and remodeler in
I bought a set of Bunny Planes shortly after they
were introduced, and now I use them constantly. The tiny
rabbeting planes are great for fine-tuning scarf joints,
smoothing handrail transitions, and taking on tasks too small
for conventional-sized models. In addition to the two planes
— one with a flat sole and one with a 3/4-inch-radius
sole — the $155 kit contains straight and radius blades
from 1/4 to 2 inches and a formed leather holster.
Collins Tool, 888/838-8988,
When conditions make it
too difficult to move material through a stationary planer
— the stuff is too heavy or space is too limited —
consider using a wide power plane like Makita's 1806B. Powered
by an 11-amp motor, the machine's two-blade cutter spins at
30,000 cuts per minute and can make a pass 6 3/4 inches wide.
The tool features a long sole plate for stability and a
graduated adjustment knob for consistent stock removal. It
costs $550. Makita, 800/462-5482,
Although few tools
are more useful to a finish carpenter than a low-angle block
plane, carrying one around all day can get tiring. Lee Valley
has a solution: At 14 ounces, the.comany's 51/2-inch-by-1
3/4-inch Veritas Apron Plane does everything the bigger planes
do — without the weight penalty. It.coms with three
blades: a 25-degree O1, a 25-degree A2, and — for knots
and highly figured grain — a 38-degree toothed version.
Prices start at $83. Lee Valley, 800/267-8735,
Reach Higher — Legally.
It's common for contractors to make their own telehandler work
platforms, but the practice is frowned on by insurance comanies
and often earns citations or warnings from OSHA inspectors. You
can avoid that risk by using O'Reilly Industries' OSHA
compliant Work Platforms. Available in widths from 4 to 16
feet, the baskets have steel-mesh or plywood floors and
full-perimeter safety rails. A 4-foot tool tray ($295) is
optional. Prices start at $1,235. O'Reilly
Need a Lift?
A monster telehandler
can be handy when space permits, but bigger isn't always better
— especially when you're working on tight lots. The
five.comact models in Gehl's CT Series are plenty big for most
residential projects. All feature three-mode steering,
auxiliary hydraulics, and quick-change attachments. Capacities
range from 5,000 to 7,000 pounds and lift heights from 16 to 22
1/2 feet. Prices begin at about $55,000. Gehl,
Working on a site too steep for wheeled
machines? Check out the Igo MA13 tower crane, which erects
itself and occupies less than 12 square feet of space. It can
lift nearly 4,000 pounds when the reach is 22 feet or less, and
almost 900 pounds at its maximum radius (72 feet) and hook
height (68 feet). You can rent one for about $2,500 per month.
Manitowoc Crane Group, 920/684-6621,