From the Field: Hitachi C10RJ Table Saw

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The saw has a 15-amp, 4,500-rpm direct-drive motor with a soft start and an electronic brake that drives a 10-inch blade. With the stand, the 28 ½-inch-by-22-inch aluminum table sets up at 36 inches high. On the model that was tested, the table was dead-flat. The saw is mounted on a rolling stand that unfolds into a four-legged base.

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Until recently, my experience with table saws has tended towards the extremes. For some reason, I’ve used either a small table-top saw like the venerable Makita 8-inch or a big stationary machine that has a cast-iron table and multi-horse motor. The jobsite saws that I had used on occasion were almost as conveniently sized as the table-tops, but lacked the precision and power of the big saws. In particular, fences tended to be flimsy and the size of the table wasn’t an asset. But over the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to get a daily workout with Hitachi’s new 10-inch portable jobsite saw, and I’m feeling pretty good about this middle-market model.

Key Specs and Features
The saw runs a 15-amp direct-drive motor that features soft start and an electric brake and spins the 10-inch blade at 4,500 rpm. With the stand, the 28 ½-inch-by-22-inch aluminum table sets up at 36 inches high. On the model I tested, the table was dead-flat. The saw is mounted on a rolling stand that unfolds into a four-legged base and is easy to set up. Each aluminum leg is unlocked with a spring-loaded button and snaps into place. The front right leg has an adjustable foot to level the saw on uneven surfaces.

The Hitachi engineers designed an adjustable table extension that adds a few inches of bearing surface to the outfeed side of the table. It’s not an outfeed table by any means, but it helps. It gets extra points for having slots that accept the sliding bevel gauge. Speaking of which, the bevel gauge has detents at 0, 15, 22 1/2 , 30, 45, and 60 degrees, and engages the table in a T-slot that doesn’t allow any side-to-side slop and won’t pop out, yet moves back and forth smoothly. Like most bevel gauges, this one is improved by adding a secondary plywood fence. The power switch is set above and behind the big shutoff paddle. The latter is easy to see and especially easy to reach with your knee when your hands are otherwise occupied. Combined with the electric brake, the paddle lets you stop the spinning blade in less than a couple of seconds.

Safety Measures In Place
While on the subject of safety, I’ll note that Hitachi has included the requisite blade guard and anti-kickback pawls, and even provided a storage area for them on the side of the base, where they will live during the lifetime of the saw. It also included a real safety feature that everyone should appreciate and use-–a riving knife. The first step to a safer saw, a riving knife does not get in the way of operation and prevents the blade from binding in the stock and subsequently kicking back the stock towards the operator. This saw’s riving knife is attached to the blade trunnion and its height is easily adjusted with the flick of a lever. That‘s a great, inexpensive feature on any saw, and one that many other saw manufacturers still don’t include on their tools. Oh, and Hitachi has also packaged a brightly visible and functional push stick with the saw.

Plenty of Power and Capacity
The C10RJ has the largest rip capacity of any portable jobsite saw on the market (35 inches to the right of the blade and 22 inches to the left), mostly due to the very positive rack and pinion fence that moves very smoothly without any slop. A paddle lever below the right side of the table locks the fence in place. The fence operates with a range of 27 inches to the blade; to get beyond that range, you detach the fence from the table, move it to the outboard set of detents, and lock it in place. (There are three detents in all--two to the right and one to position the fence to the left of the blade.) It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and I haven’t had to move it very often. Once it’s out beyond the saw table, the fence, L-shaped in cross-section, folds down to create a support surface for the stock. That’s a smart feature.

The rip gauge is easy to read, and best of all, is adjustable, so that you can zero out the gauge if it gets knocked out of whack. I might suggest that a finer-pointed indicator, rather than the 1/16-inch-wide red line, would reduce the impulse to double-check the fence with a tape.

Like many portable saws, the blade height and bevel controls are grouped together on the front of the saw; the height crank is always operable, while the bevel wheel is locked in place. I found that unlocking and adjusting the bevel was relatively easy, but the proximity of the height adjustment crank sometimes gets in the way of the bevel locking lever. Also, the locking lever popped off a couple of times, but I fixed it by tightening its bolt.

For the majority of this test, I used a 40-tooth combo blade. I found that I could feed this saw a steady diet of 1-by and 2-by stock, and it spit out clean cuts all day long. I ripped lots of birch plywood, 1-by pine, poplar, cedar and maple, and 2-by pressure-treated lumber. The motor remained steady throughout, and while not scary powerful, it never bogged down. The cuts were clean, with very little chatter marks from the blade. The company literature states that the saw’s capacity at 90 degrees is 3 1/8 inches. I measured my model’s blade at 3 3/8 inches, which is disappointingly just shy of a full 4x4 rip. At 45 degrees, I measured its capacity at the literature’s claim of 2 1/4 inches.

Accuracy Is Here
If you’re running trim or building cabinets on site, this saw is the way to go. It has plenty of range, and cuts a clean, accurate line. If you’re going to establish residency at a site, an outfeed table would make the saw an efficient one-man operation. Even without an outfeed table, the saw is a stable platform that won’t tip under the weight of a full sheet of plywood. I believe the saw’s strength is working with 1-by and 2-by stock. You can certainly cut thicker stock, up to nearly the 4x4 mark, but the feed rate begins to slow when cutting anything bigger than 1 1/2 inches. (We do have to have reasonable expectations. After all, this is a portable jobsite saw, not a three-phase cabinet saw.)

Dust control is pretty good. The blade area below the table is enclosed by a heavy nylon curtain that contains dust and dumps it down into a chute below. The control elevates to great when you hook a vacuum to the dust port under the back of the table. Except for the minimal sawdust that it throws off the top of the blade, the saw has manners that you can reasonably take indoors. I did find that the rolling carriage could have been beefier – the axle on my test model bent slightly after someone hopped a 6-inch curb with the saw. And while the all-terrain tread on the 8-inch tires is a nice touch, larger wheels would make an easier task of navigating gravel or an ungraded jobsite. Moving the saw indoors could prove challenging; although the table’s width is 28 ½ inches, the fence’s rack and pinion adjustment knob extends out beyond the table by a couple of inches, making entry through some interior doorways a tight fit. One additional small complaint: I know that to save in material costs, many tool manufacturers use an inexpensive plastic jacket material to clad their power cords. But this is a jobsite tool that is often used outdoors, so it would be great for all those builders in northern climes if Hitachi were to spend a bit more for a power-cord jacket that remains flexible when the temperature dips below 40 degrees.

Despite the small caveats, this is a well-designed saw with good safety features, it does its job well, and it’s selling at an affordable price that hovers around the $400 mark, both online and retail.

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