I’m mainly a trim carpenter and custom cabinet builder, though I’ve built my fair share of decks and other things for years. Most of the work I do is in my 300-square-foot shop. Obviously, space is at a premium, so my go-to for ripping is a compact, portable table saw set up against a wall. I use it mainly for ripping face-frame material and smaller, repetitive rips. I don’t cut larger pieces of sheet stock, so the Ridgid R45171 table saw’s smaller footprint is actually not a bad thing for my shop use. I put the saw through several active weeks in my shop and here’s what I learned.
Out of the Box
Out of the box, the riving knife needed adjustment and the fence wasn’t parallel to the blade. I eventually fixed both problems, but it took a while. The rest of the assembly was simple and I had the saw up and running quickly. My first impression of the tool was that it seemed to be built as well as the saw it replaced—not always the case with new models.
I cut a lot of poplar and maple for my builds, which are more often than not mantels and built-ins. I also build a fair amount of butcher block and need to rip hardwoods, not just MDF or FJP. The unit seems to have good power. I loved the soft start, which saves me the occasional hassle of the dust collector (check out this review of Ridgid’s awesome ProPack vac here for collecting other forms of dust) and saw firing up together and tripping a breaker.
Adjustments and Features
After squaring up the fence, I found that using it was frustrating, particularly the pointer for the onboard rule. It moves easily even after tightening. Adjusting it was not easy either. Every time I tightened the screw, the plastic pointer moved. Underneath the fence, the plastic-poly rail glides don’t look like they can take too many hits or drops; I couldn’t test this, so this is simply my first impression.
The switch is a good size and seems to be in a similar spot as on my old saw, so I didn't need to retrain my muscle memory.
The stand is included in the purchase and is a nice plus. The stand is flat-packed with a dozen or so nuts and bolts and is standard for most saws on the market.
The blade height adjustment is smooth. It’s easy to switch to fine-tune the bevel angle as well. I didn't use the miter gauge for my work, but it is a standard style that is given out with these portable saws. The dust collection was slightly better than on my old Ridgid but still could be improved on.
The blade guard/riving knife combo frustrated me a bit. I like to have my blade only slightly higher than the material being cut. However, to allow the guard and anti-kickback pawls to be used with the blade in that position, the riving knife would need to be redesigned so it was positioned higher on the saw. You would also have to open up the throat plate every time to adjust the height of the riving knife when switching from a full cut to a partial cut (rabbit/dado.) The riving knife does work as needed when adjusted, and the quick-release lever for it worked flawlessly the few times I needed to switch heights and take it out.
The blade that came with the saw is decent for rough work, but I wouldn't use it for finish work, so I switched in a new finish blade for testing. If you plan to use the saw for finish work, I’d recommend doing the same thing.
As I said, I mainly rely on my table saw in my shop, but this one is easy to move when needed, especially with the stand. I like the tabs on the edge of the table for storing the saw vertically, whether that’s in a truck, van, or shop.
Despite some frustrations, it’s a good saw for the money and included a stand. I hope to get a lot of use out of mine.