The Big Foot 10 1/4-inch beam saw is a high-quality tool hand-built in the U.S. around the same proven motor housing that powers the classic Skilsaw Model 77 wormdrive saw. It’s got plenty of power, and for such a large saw, it is fairly light (just under 16 pounds), has great balance, and runs smoothly. That’s all good, but the game changer for me has been the Big Foot swing table, an optional accessory designed specifically for this saw.
With a 3 7/8-inch cutting depth at 90 degrees, the saw can cut nominal 4-inch lumber in a single pass, ideal for cutting posts and beams and making it a great asset for fencing contractors, deck builders, timber framers, and others who cut a lot of posts and heavy timbers. Production framers like Tim Uhler, who reviewed the Big Foot saw for Tools of the Trade in 2016, live and die by productivity; that’s why they like it, too. Although they don’t cut as many 4-by timbers as those other specialized contractors, they’re always looking for ways to shave a few minutes off every task. They can stack their wall plates, for example, and cut two at a time with the Big Foot saw.
I don’t live in the same world as those specialized contractors. I build additions and remodel existing spaces, typically working on houses that are 50 to 100 years old and sit on narrow, urban lots. In tying into and refurbishing old houses, I run into one problem after another. Usually, the house is neither level nor square. I often find rotten wood and termites. As I work, I have to protect the interior of the house from rain and keep the occupants of the house safe and as comfortable as possible.
Because of these and other challenges, my jobs usually proceed in fits and starts. I’ve learned to take the bitter with the sweet, however, and grind through the problems as they crop up. Steady progress, not blazing speed, is my goal, and I buy tools that solve problems and maintain a high level of quality. In my world, the ability to cut the occasional post in one pass rather than two does not loom large.
For that reason, I never felt the urge to buy a beam saw. All that changed, however, when I saw that the Big Foot beam saw could be fitted with a swing table that adjusts to a 75-degree bevel and can cut nominal 2-inch-thick lumber at 67 1/2 degrees. No other saw that I know of has these capacities.
This ability to cut very acute angles might seem to be an exotic feature, but I’ve found it to be extremely useful at key points during my jobs. I use it to do things like make the bevel crosscuts needed for the level and inclined plates used when framing a gable-end wall. On a 6-in-12 pitch, those cuts would need to be 63 1/2 degrees. I also use it to make the compound miter/bevel cut needed for an octagonal roof. At the tops of the hip rafters, the saw would have to be set to 67 1/2 degrees for those cuts. I also use it to rip the bevel along the length of the sleeper in a blind valley. On the one shown here, I ripped the sleeper at 61 degrees.
The Big Foot beam saw with the swing table is not a tool I use every day. When I need to cut acute angles in nominal 2-inch lumber, though, it solves the problem and moves my job forward.
The swing table fits only on Big Foot beam saws. If you already own a Big Foot saw, you can buy just the swing table for about $150 and change out the table. Replacing the original magnesium table that comes with the beam saw with the steel swing table is a simple job that takes about 10 minutes. If you’re starting from scratch, you have to buy both the Big Foot saw, which goes for $330, and the swing table for a total expenditure of $480. bigfootsaws.com
Photos by Matthew Navey