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  • cwsmith
    commented on 's reply
    Your reference to "depth of cut" I think needs to be clear. The "depth of cut" is usually referenced as the thickness of the stock that the blade will cut, or at least that's how I was taught. Both the BT3 series and the RTS will cut a 4 x 4 piece in a single pass. For cross-cutting, the concern is how much table room there is on the front of the table to provide support before you start the cut. I'd have to go out and measure both saws, but I think the advantage goes to the BT by a inch or two.

    With any table saw, the "length" of the cut is only limited by the room you have to feed and support on the out-feed side. Roller stands, extension tables, etc. expand those possibilities. The whole idea is to support the stock you are working with so that it goes in a straight line IN and OUT, and you can guide it with some precision against the fence. If your support isn't enough to do that, then the stock will bind on the blade, damaging your cut, possibly the blade, motor, and most importantly YOU! Binding causes kickbacks! Likewise you in-feed and out-feed needs to be such that the stock doesn't lift or drop from the table while that blade is cutting.

    Finally, dust collection: Both the BT and the RTS have dust collection ports... actually the same size port. I honestly can't make an argument either way for which is best, as I simply don't pay attention. Both saws require a bit of dusting up after use. But, let me tell you, they are much cleaner and dust collection far more efficient than my Ridgid CMS!


  • cwsmith
    Rational? Yes, but by your earlier description, "I'm a hobbyist (retired), not a professional, and most of my woodworking is just around the house fix-it/build-it jobs right now." I would think that even the RTS would be sufficient, especially in consideration that you mention that one might be available, while a BT3 is not immediately so.

    However, you are the only one who knows what your schedule and budget is. You also didn't mention whether you actually have a shop area or are working in limited or temporary space which may or may not allow for a permanent location of your table saw.

    Regarding a couple of points about cross-cuts, even with a sliding miter table, I think that the length of the stock you wish to cut is pretty limited on a table saw, even with the advantage of an SMT. Anything beyond six to eight feet is cumbersome to handle as there is often a good length of board sticking out from the table and therefore unsupported. Frankly I limit myself to four feet or so. From my perspective and experience, cross-cutting requires support of the board as you push the stock into the blade on a cross-cut. Any unsupported length have hanging out there in mid-air can prove to ruin your cut, and also posed some danger in the way of a kickback. That is where a miter saw or a Radial Arm Saw has an advantage, because the stock is stationary and it is the blade that is pulled across the stock.

    As far as 'ripping' on the table saw, you're limited only by the room you're operating in. In my basement shop, I've got about 10 ft on the feed side of the saw and 12 ft or so on the outfeed side. When ripping, it's more a matter of room and as long as you don't push the saw too hard, you could probably rip any number of feet as long as you can support both the in-feed and out-feed lengths. The thing with either Ryobi model is the weight of the stock as these are relatively light weight structures when compared with a big cabinet saw. They also have smaller 'universal' type motors rather than the more powerful 'induction' motors of a cabinet saw. You don't ever want to be feeding a stock that begins to approach the weight of the saw itself... like a full sheet of 3/4 ply. That can be dangerous!

    Again on cross-cutting and miter saws, I have a decent 10" Compound Miter Saw, but it will only cut a piece about six-inches wide. Good for molding, door cases, etc., but that's about it. Great for small crosscuts, because I have an adjustable CMS stand, which gives the stock good support. But like I said, it's limited to about six-inches. If you want more cut capacity than that, you will need a Sliding Compound Miter Saw (SCMS). That will give you 12 to 14 inches depending on model and size.... BUT, you can't rip or make shallow cuts like a rabbet. It's good for straight and compound thru cuts and that's about it, so they're pretty limited for things you might want to do.

    In my shop, I also have a Radial Arm Saw, which can cut 15-inches. Not sure if they're even made today and they do have a reputation of being dangerous with many people. In my opinion, that reputation is only because too many users don't understand them and use them improperly. I was taught how to use the RAS in high school (1962) and I bought my RAS in 1973. Frankly it is my favorite tool and IMO, the best saw I have for cross-cutting, rabbets, and compound cuts. I used to do a lot of ripping on it, but since buying my BT3100, I don't use the RAS for ripping... the table saw is far superior in that respect.

    So, IF you are only going to buy one saw then by all means buy a BT if you can find one in good condition and at a fair price ($150 - $200?). If you can't, then get the RTS or look at other models. The CMS? Well, I think that is pretty limited and personally I can't imagine a whole lot that you could build with just that... maybe a birdhouse or odds-n-ends shelf? (I should point out too, that dust collection on a miter saw is horrible.. at least with a table saw and a decent shop vac you can do a fairly decent job.

    Track saws are another story... I don't have much experience there. I do use a "factory edge" piece of stock that I clamp into place as an edge guide to use with my 6-1/2 inch cordless circular saw. Great for reducing sheet stock to a size better fitted for final cutting on the table saw. Safety is ALWAYS the main factor and you want to get your stock down to a size that is easily handled on whatever saw you are using. You don't want to tip or bind your table saw trying to push a piece of large and/or heavy stock through it. That is especially true if you're working all by yourself, where you need to provide stable support on both the in-feed and out-feed sides of your saw.

    I hope this helps,

    Last edited by cwsmith; 07-29-2019, 07:15 PM. Reason: Clarity.

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  • LDog
    Thanks for the above responses. I understand now how the BT and RTS compare. The Al case and sliding rails alone seem like a big differentiator. If I opt for a table saw, I’ll get the BT over the RTS (assuming I can find one).

    My thoughts on getting a BT table saw vs miter+track saw: A miter saw typically has a max cutting depth of 8-10 inches. The BT has much more than that - 14-18 inches? So the BT would be a better cross-cut saw. In terms of ripping, my intent is to use the sliding table and not the fence (for safety reasons) – so I could also rip 14-18”. I don’t intend on ripping panels, but if I need a larger cut depth the track saw would come into play – but I really think the BT sliding table could handle most of what I need, probably all of what I need. In addition, a table saw has some advantages over a miter saw, for example non-through cuts/channels, etc.

    Is my logic above rational?

    Anyone know what the actual max cutting depth on the BT sliding table is? I’m only guessing 14-18” - I couldn’t find it online.

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  • mpc
    The fence rails on the BT3xxx saws can be slid left or right when needed. Thus you can have large rip capacity left or right of the blade. The sliding miter table and the accessory table (the one with the hole in the top) can be mounted anywhere along the fence rails as well - side-by-side to the left or right of the blade for example. Again, this lets you customize the tabletop to best support larger workpieces.

    It's generally recommended to make bevel cuts with the blade tipped AWAY from the rip fence. That way the portion of the workpiece underneath the tipped blade is free to move away from the blade instead of getting jammed. Jamming happens when the workpiece bends/flexes a bit (warps) after the cut from internal wood stresses or is turned every so slightly as you push it. When it jams... the back teeth of the blade - coming UP from the tabletop - grab the work and try to fling it back at you violently - that's one form of kickback. Dangerous. With the BT3xxx rail setup, you can slide the rails to the left and move the fence to the left of the saw blade to avoid trapping the workpiece this way. Can the BTS or RTS saws do that? I imagine the fence can be moved to the left of the blade but there isn't much available travel on the BTS/RTS saws. On the BT3xxx saws, the rails can be moved so the rip/bevel capacity to the left of the blade can be nearly three feet. Many other brands/types of table saws now advertise "left tilt" blades which means the blade tilts away from the normal to-the-right-of-the-blade fence position removing the need to move the fence to the left side of the saw. Are the BTS or RT saws "left tilt?" The BT3xxx is "right tilt" like most older saws which is why you have to shift the fence to the left side.

    The BT3xxx fence mounting rails include channels for add-on accessories using T-nuts to hold the accessories. These can include brackets to lengthen the stock fence rails for increased rip capacity for example. Or you can hang infeed and outfeed supports from the rails. See my posts in the thread Table Saw Super Sizer and infeed/outfeed ideas for pics of my infeed and outfeed tables as well as the gizmo I created to attach them to the underside of the BT3xxx fence rails.

    Some folks question the lack of miter slots on the BT3xxx saws. I suspect the same issue exists on most (all?) of the BTS and RTS saws too. Basically: the saw blade on Ryobi saws can NOT be adjusted laterally like most table saws. For most saws, the miter slot is the master reference - everything on the saw gets adjusted to be parallel to it: the saw blade and the rip fence. On the Ryobi saws, the blade is the reference. It likely is NOT parallel to the sides of the tabletop either... which doesn't matter. The sliding miter table and the rip fence are aligned to the blade instead. You can mount miter slots though to the rails - on either or both sides of the blade (numerous examples exist on this site) - as long as you mount them parallel to the blade. Then "normal" table saw jigs, sleds, etc. can work on the BT3xxx saws. On the BTS saws that I'm aware of, the table tops do NOT separate from the fence rails - ergo you can't move the sliding miter table an inch or two to the left to make room for an added miter slot like you can on BT3xxx saws. I don't know about the RTS saws but a quick glance at the PDF owners manual leads me to believe the tables can't be moved...

    The unique ability to slide the fence rails left or right on the BT3xxx saws, and the ability to re-arrange stuff clamped to them including the sliding miter table and accessory table give the BT3xxx saws a lot of flexibility. I'm not aware of any BTS/RTS model with similar ability. The BT3xxx is mostly aluminum construction, not plastic, so I would expect BT3xxx saws to be a bit more rigid and durable long-term. My other concern is with the folding wheeled stands on many of the "jobsite" saws: how rigid are they? The ones I've checked out in Home Depot and Lowes haven't been particularly stiff. Thus, when trying to maneuver a larger or heavier workpiece, I could see the stand flexing/twisting in reaction to my forces trying to hold the work against the fence. If the stand twists half-way through the cut that could easily result in the back part of the blade snagging the workpiece and kicking it back again. A few folks on this site have used saws with the folding wheeled stands and have been satisfied with them so my concern may be overblown.

    A big part of the decision process involves what kind of work do you plan to do? S4S boards only? "Natural edged" or wavy edged boards? Sheet materials? Sheet materials are often large, heavy, and awkward... the adaptability of the BT3xxx rail and tabletop pieces helps a lot with sheet material because you can adjust the table top to match the cut line and thus support the work on both sides of the blade. A decent circular saw, with a quality aftermarket blade, combined with a "saw board" is one way to handle sheet goods using the logical "if the workpiece is too heavy to move to the tool, move the tool to the workpiece instead." The new hot-ticket item in woodworking are the track saws: basically fancy circular saws with special flat tracks to guide them in a straight line. Awesome for sheet materials and even rip cuts on large/heavy boards or "natural edge" stock that doesn't have a straight edge to run against a table saw's fence. Many folks think a track saw plus a good compound miter saw can replace table saws. And routers can be used, with easy-to-make jigs, to create dados and grooves that would otherwise be done on table saws. Track saws though struggle with skinnier boards - such as trimming half an inch off the width of a 1x4 board. If the flat track can't "sit" on the board nicely it'll be trouble... this type of rip cut is a table saw's strength. (the track saw setup can be used on such skinny boards... just need a second board to help support the track and some clamps)

    Last edited by mpc; 07-25-2019, 02:41 AM.

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  • LDog
    Thanks for your response CWSMITH.

    LCHIEN, what makes the BT more flexible? What can you do with a BT that you can't do with a RT?

    (does the BT have a dust collection port where the RT doesn't? Is that one differentiator?)

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    I think the RTS31 belongs in a different class: small, portable, direct drive.It does not have the ultimate flexibility of the BT3x family.

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  • cwsmith
    I have a BTS-21, which I have had for about ten or twelve years now, IIRC. So, your saw is newer than that one. As I recall, the model after mine (not sure of that model number) had a slightly different folding carriage (round tubing instead of square), and it had the updated OSHA-approved removable blade guard. I also have a BT-3100 which I love, but the portable more than serves its purpose and I often use it out in the garage (my BT-3100 is in my basement shop), and I've found myself using the portable more in these past years as the wife doesn't care for the smell of sawdust in the house.

    About the only similarities is their usability, as I enjoy both saws and find them accurate enough for my use. The front and back rails on the BT3-series I like better, as they can be moved right or left to allow for expanding the rip area on either side of the blade. With the portable, the scale slides as you open the extension only to the right side of the blade (there is no back rail). That moving scale on the portable's rail always makes me think twice; but as a matter of good practice, I always measure from blade to fence anyway! The BTS and RTS portables have their SMT in fixed (built-in) position on the left side of the blade, while the BT3's SMT can be positioned on either side of the blade. Of course the BT3 has many other out-standing design functions (a more expanded discussion, perhaps). About the only component that is really similar is the fence on the SMT, and of course the blade... beyond that, everything is different!

    YES, the RTS-31 is newer than the BT3-series, and I would say came out after the BT3 was discontinued. While I think the BT3 can handle larger sheets of ply, personally I'm not comfortable handling 4 x 8 sheets of anything on either saw and I always cut them down to a better-handled size. The blade capacity is the same, as I recall, and the motor, though different, is the same RPM (about 5,000 RPM). The one weak point (IMO) of the BT3 are those twin drive belts which are way-to-expensive, and very hard to find; you don't have that problem with the portables!

    I should again point out that on the BT3-series saws, the SMT can be removed, or moved to the right side of the blade. Normally it is on the left side. On the BTS-21 and RTS-31 the SMT is NOT removable, but is designed as an integral part of the table, where it tucks into the table quite nicely and can be locked into position there for moving and stowing of the saw. (I don't think it is removable at all, at least I've never tried.

    On the BT3, the rip fence positions on a front and back rail (both of those rails are adjustable left and right),, the fence on the portable saw is shorter, mounting only on the front rail with the rear lip of the fence, mounting on the back of the adjustable table top. The portable table top is split, so that the right side extends out to increase the capacity of the surface. So, between the main table and the extension table, there is not a rear ledge (that space is empty except for the extension rails), so you can't place the fence in between the main table and the extension.. You always have to have to position the adjustable extension so that the fence can lock onto it when extending the width capacity; and when you do that, the scale slides with it. With the portable's SMT, one advantage I've found over the BT3 is that it's fence can be placed in either of two positions. In the back position, it offers some capacity advantage.

    Overall, I have been very pleased with both of these saws and while I might want to use my BT3 for more precise projects, the portable has shown me no challenges in precision and I very much enjoy using it. Big advantage is that it is a lot easier to move to where the work is being done, and that often means over to my son's, neighbor, or even out on the deck when I can be closer to whatever project.

    I should point out that by BT3100 costs me about $300, when I bought it on clearance. With a discount, I think I paid slightly less than that for the BTS-21. The BT3100 was a steal at that price, and certainly the BTS-21 proved to be a great bargain. I later added a Herc-U-Lift and the accessory kit to my BT, but I haven't seen any optional accessories for the BTS or RTS.

    I hope this is helpful,

    Last edited by cwsmith; 07-20-2019, 07:07 PM. Reason: Second write, hopefully to make things clearer, also took care of a few dropped letters.

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  • LDog
    started a topic Rts-31?


    Hi, 1st post,

    I find myself wanting a sliding table saw due mainly to the safety aspects. I've been looking for a while for a BT3xxx. No luck yet - but an RTS-31 came into view and I'm wondering about how this compares to a BT3xxx. From some research I know it is a portable saw, which I assume means lighter, smaller, and with wheels. But are there any woodworking limitations compared to the BT3xxx? Is the RTS-31 a newer Ryobi product than the BT3x? (I only ask because the blade guard looks more modern). Are reliability and build quality comparable?

    Thanks in advance.

    PS - my current table saw is a broken Shopsmith (sad). I don't expect to revive it, so I'm looking at my options (even considering skipping a table saw and getting a track-saw and a compound miter saw instead, but something tells me I'll need a table saw no matter what.).

    I'm a hobbyist (retired), not a professional, and most of my woodworking is just around the house fix-it/build-it jobs right now.