Ryobi BTS20 folding-base portable table saw - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-04-2008, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Ryobi BTS20 folding-base portable table saw

This Ryobi BTS20 portable table saw has been replaced by the BTS21 version, but it certainly ought to be available used in some locations.

I have not worked with the new version, but the main characteristic I noticed with the Home Depot display model appears to be that the folding stand has been changed from a round-tube design to a square-tube version. The saw itself has cosmetic changes, and the fence on the newer version seems more cheaply built and lightweight than the already lightly built one on the earlier BTS20.

The specifications are fairly basic: 5/8-inch arbor, cutting depth at zero degrees 3 5/8 inches, cutting depth at 45 degrees 2 1/2 inches, 4,800 rpm spin speed, left-tilt blade, and a net weight of just under 92 pounds. I would prefer a slower blade speed, but speed is what you need to get decent power with a 15-amp universal motor. The thing comes with a miter gauge, but the thing simply cannot ride in the groove with enough stability to do really good crosscuts. For that kind of work, I use a Ridgid sliding compound miter saw, anyway, which can cut boards 13 inches wide. The right side of the table can pull out from the main section (the main section is cast aluminum and the pull-out section is sheet steel), and this gives you a 27-inch ripping capacity. The pull-out section is released by two small knobs underneath and is less slick than similar operations with competing models.

Deficiencies notwithstanding, this BTS20 model that I own is really quite nice. The stand itself is slick to set up and it is quite stable. One of the legs has an adjusting extension that you can use to stabilize the saw on uneven surfaces. The only problem with the stand is that once it is into position you cannot roll the saw around. You have to collapse it back to storage size to roll it somewhere. Saws like the Bosch and Ridgid models can be moved when they are raised into operating position.. Of course, some other jobsite saws do not have wheels at all, so you have to carry them and secure them to non-rolling stands.

The BTS20 got some good reviews a while back in one or two woodworking magazines (each of which were comparing it to some competing models, and each of which were fully aware of the limitations of such saw types in general), and also got a good review a while back in Consumer Reports (which also compared it to several competing models). Only two jobsite saws in the Consumer Reports review topped this Ryobi unit, and both of them (the Bosch and the Ridgid) cost considerably more. I paid $220 for mine at Home Depot.
The BTS20 has a few other faults. For one thing, the table’s lead-in area in front of the blade is too shallow (compromising crosscutting work), which is odd, given that the saw has a pull-out stabilizer in the back that gives the user a lot of support behind the blade. They could have moved the blade back a bit and still have had plenty of rear support, thanks to that stabilizer.

Another problem is the insert. It fits into a very shallow cutout, which makes it essentially impossible to build a zero-clearance cutout that is stiff enough and will stay safely in place. You are stuck with the factory-built insert, and that item has problems of its own. It is held in place by one screw at the front, and the back section has tongues underneath that catch on tabs that hold the rear section down. The problem is that they do noit hold the thing down well at all if you want to be able to remove it easily for blade changes, and so workpieces can ride up a bit on the insert as it rises above the table surface. My solution was a lucky one. I discovered two screw holes under the rear section and I drilled out the insert above the holes, countersunk the drilled holes just enough, and then cut two correctly threaded screws down in size enough so they would work in those factory holes without coming up against the motor-frame assembly underneath. (See the second photo for the new-screw locations.) This stabilizes the insert nicely.
Unfortunately, the insert, as tightened down, was then pulled slightly below the table level, so I installed some thin-strip, stick-on spacing materials underneath to get the insert to be exactly flush with the table top. In addition, behind the insert, on the back of the table surface, was a small recess that tended to snag workpieces, and I did some shallow filing work on it to eliminate that problem. The result was an insert that, although not as refined as a zero-clearance job, at least was not acting up as before.

Another problem involved the anti-kickback grippers. I have never liked such things (look at them cross-eyed and they scuff your workpiece), and so one “fix” I did was to drill out the rivets that held them in place and reinstall the also attached blade guard with screws. The blade-guard itself was also problematical, being bigger than necessary to guard the blade. The front part stuck out further than necessary, given that there was also an internal baffle. I cut the guard back to that internal baffle and beveled it a bit, and the result was no change in guarding abilities, but with the weight and sized reduced enough to make the guard a bit less intrusive. Most of the time I leave the guard in the raised position, anyway. The blade-guard assembly itself can be removed for non-through cuts, and to do that you must remove the insert and loosen two screws. The screws also hold tapered shims in place and you can configure those shims to get the rear blade guide to center up right behind the blade. Unfortunately, like so many saws, the guide does not ride up and down with the blade, so the usual anti-kickback precautions need to be taken when ripping. I have not tried a dado blade in this saw, but I get the impression that the arbor and insert are not large enough to accommodate one.

While it looks like I am carping about the limitations of this machine, this saw works very well when one considers its small size and price. Although no longer available as a new item at Home Depot, no doubt used samples will still be available used here and there, and hopefully the replacement BTS21 works as well. On the other hand, assuming after lots of diddling with the few adjustments it has, that it can do work as well as a good contractor or cabinet saw is pointless. However, when you need a low-priced saw that can be folded up and pushed into a small shop or garage corner, it is hard to beat for the money.

Howard Ferstler
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-04-2008, 11:34 PM
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I have a different brand with a folding stand, I love
it, it is sturdy and quick to fold. It also has wheels.

With a small shop is is heaven sent!
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-05-2008, 04:46 PM
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One thing I need to disagree on here regarding the BTS21 is, I have had hands on experience with the BTS-20 and BTS-21. The BTS-21 appears to have gone some sort of production change, the first models I saw at home depot had a very light, flimsy fence that barely locked on to the front rail. The one I got, and all of the newer ones, inlcuding the Craftsman variant have a MUCH heavier, solid locking fence that squares up real nice. The BTS-20 fence I used was much lighter, and did not seem to lock tight to the rails...

In all honesty, I think it was production run changes or something. And overall, I do NOT think the BTS-21 is in any way, an improvement over the BTS-20.

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-09-2008, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhost View Post
One thing I need to disagree on here regarding the BTS21 is, I have had hands on experience with the BTS-20 and BTS-21. The BTS-21 appears to have gone some sort of production change, the first models I saw at home depot had a very light, flimsy fence that barely locked on to the front rail. The one I got, and all of the newer ones, inlcuding the Craftsman variant have a MUCH heavier, solid locking fence that squares up real nice. The BTS-20 fence I used was much lighter, and did not seem to lock tight to the rails...

In all honesty, I think it was production run changes or something. And overall, I do NOT think the BTS-21 is in any way, an improvement over the BTS-20.
I mostly agree. I recently did look at a BTS-21 at Home Depot and the fence was most certainly lighter in build than the one on my admittedly older version BTS-20.

Yep, apparently there are at least two versions of the BTS-20 and perhaps the later version had a lighter fence than the older model I have. I know there were some differences, because one woodworking magazine reviewed the saw (along with some other brands) and it was slightly different from the BTS-20 I own.

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post #5 of 7 Old 12-23-2008, 12:56 PM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but from the looks of it, the BTS-20 and BTS-21 seem to share some common components, and differ in some critical areas.

The similarities appear to be...
#1. Motor
#2. Switch.
#3. General stand design, although not specifics.
#4. General dimensions and purpose.

The differences between the two are pretty apparent as well.
#1. BTS20 uses standard miter slots and gauge, the BTS21 uses a sliding miter table. (Which has been very nice when used, but poses a LOT of problems too!).
#2. The BTS20 seems to have a T-slot in the top of the fence just like the SMT fence on the BTS21. This can be VERY useful for jigs, sacrficial fences etc... The BTS21 lacks this...
#3. The BTS20 uses round legs, the BTS21 square.
#4. BTS20 has an aluminum table with a stamped steel wing, the BTS21 is all aluminum.
#5. BTS20 has independent tilt and elevation controls. The BTS21 are combined. Not saying either is better or worse, just different.
#6. BTS20 appears to have smaller wheels than the BTS21.
#7. BTS20 appears to lack the cord wrap of the BTS21.
#8. Not certain of the BTS20, but have heard the table extension lock is a thumb screw instead of a lever like the BTS21.
#9. Again I am not certain, I am going by what I can see in the photo on this one because I do not recall the floor models of the BTS20 I saw, but... I do not believe the saw has on board storage for extra blades where the BTS21 does...

Overall both saws appear to be competent enough for what they are. My BTS21 gets a LOT of use in my shop, and tossed in the back of my truck, and taken to friend's places to do fast repeated cuts for large projects... The cuts we have done with this saw have all been very nice and accurate cuts, any deviation has been due to operator error, and not the saw...

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-26-2008, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhost View Post
Correct me if I am wrong, but from the looks of it, the BTS-20 and BTS-21 seem to share some common components, and differ in some critical areas.

The similarities appear to be...
#1. Motor
#2. Switch.
#3. General stand design, although not specifics.
#4. General dimensions and purpose.

The differences between the two are pretty apparent as well.
#1. BTS20 uses standard miter slots and gauge, the BTS21 uses a sliding miter table. (Which has been very nice when used, but poses a LOT of problems too!).
#2. The BTS20 seems to have a T-slot in the top of the fence just like the SMT fence on the BTS21. This can be VERY useful for jigs, sacrficial fences etc... The BTS21 lacks this...
#3. The BTS20 uses round legs, the BTS21 square.
#4. BTS20 has an aluminum table with a stamped steel wing, the BTS21 is all aluminum.
#5. BTS20 has independent tilt and elevation controls. The BTS21 are combined. Not saying either is better or worse, just different.
#6. BTS20 appears to have smaller wheels than the BTS21.
#7. BTS20 appears to lack the cord wrap of the BTS21.
#8. Not certain of the BTS20, but have heard the table extension lock is a thumb screw instead of a lever like the BTS21.
#9. Again I am not certain, I am going by what I can see in the photo on this one because I do not recall the floor models of the BTS20 I saw, but... I do not believe the saw has on board storage for extra blades where the BTS21 does...

Overall both saws appear to be competent enough for what they are. My BTS21 gets a LOT of use in my shop, and tossed in the back of my truck, and taken to friend's places to do fast repeated cuts for large projects... The cuts we have done with this saw have all been very nice and accurate cuts, any deviation has been due to operator error, and not the saw...
The BTS20 does have blade (and blade-wrench) storage on board. There is a circular recess under the sheet-metal extension area that has a twist knob and shaft. There is also a cord wrap on the back side of the saw. The table extension is controlled by two lock screws underneath (with small knobs) that is awkward to use, but at least stable once the screws are tightened.

The miter gauge on the BTS20 is really not of much use, because there is so little table area in front of the blade and the gauge does not really fit tight in the slot. For miter work with a table saw a home-built sled is obviously the way to go. However, with a saw this small a sled of that type is probably not workable. For cross cutting and miter work I have that big Ridgid 1290 sliding compound miter saw that I reviewed elsewhere on this site.

Howard Ferstler
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-27-2008, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BHOFM View Post
I have a different brand with a folding stand, I love
it, it is sturdy and quick to fold. It also has wheels.

With a small shop is is heaven sent!
That's for sure. My shop is a one car garage in our basement that my wife likes to park in. I have to move everything back into a small section of the shop, all packed in too tight to use for her to park. If it weren't for the folding aspect of my TS there's no way I'd be able to have one. Luckily, I have a quarter of the entire basement for my workbench and such so there's room to pack a lot in.
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