WOODWORKER++ TS-3650 Review


RIGID TS-3650 Setup diary & review

The Background

Recently I purchased a RIGID TS-3650 table saw. I researched for months using magazine articles and woodworking forums as guidance. I decided the TS-3650 was the saw for me. This page documents the table saw acquisition, assembly and a brief review. Overall it took about 7 hours to completely assemble and setup the table saw. Once all of the bolts were tightened and the alignment completed the saw whirred to life. So far I have been extremely impressed with this saw. Weighing in at around 300 lbs this thing is rock solid. The cast iron table and wing extensions are blemish free, as were all painted surfaces. There were no missing parts in the packaging. The biggest issues I had were with the instructions. The instructions seemed hastily written with not enough detail in some critical areas and too much in other non-critical areas. I have tried to document my table saw journey. Hopefully this document will help the next person that has to assemble this saw.

The Acquisition

The city in which I live has 3 Home Depots. Before I purchased the saw, I had a few questions that I wanted cleared up. I stopped by the Home Depot nearest to my house with the intent of leaving with a table saw. The only person working the tool department may have been 17 years old. He could not answer any of my questions. Not only could he not answer my questions, he made no attempt to locate someone that could. This was definitely not the place to buy an expensive item. A few days later, I took my adventure to the second closest Home Depot. The gentleman working the tool department was more knowledgeable about the RIGID warranty, the table saw, and he didn't know of any RIGID table saws being returned to his store. So far, so good. Unfortunately, he had no idea bout the financing options available at Home Depot. I did not leave with the table saw. A couple of weeks passed. During that time I researched RIGID's warranty, and Home Depot's financing options. My wife and I traveled to the third and furthest Home Depot in town one rainy Sunday morning. Upon entering the tool department an older gentleman ask us if we needed help. He came to us. That was unusual. My wife told him that we wanted a table saw and pointed in the general direction of the saws. He said no problem and asked which one we would like. I spoke up and said "The TS 3650". His face immediately lit up and he said "Oh! You want the GOOD table saw." I knew this was the right place. The gentleman answered all of my questions about the saw, the warranty and the financing options. He told me it would take hours to assemble and setup but once it was finished it wouldn't need adjusting for years. In my research of this saw I saw numerous warnings about the TS 3650 coming in two boxes and Home Depot employees not knowing. This gentleman knew. 2 other gentleman helped load the heavy saw into the back of my Jeep. One spoke up and said "This is an awesome saw, you're gonna love it. Everyone that gets this saw raves about it." He also said "Just remember it will probably take you most of a day to get it assembled and setup, but that's normal." He then asked me if I had any help to get the saw out of the Jeep, since it took 3 grown men to load it. I told him no. He said "Just open the box in the back of the Jeep and take the parts out. The table top comes in 3 sections and they're the heaviest. You can get those out one at a time, and the motor too. That way you don't have to break your back." What a great idea, and what a knowledgeable staff. The next time I need to buy an expensive item from Home Depot, I will be sure to take the 20 minute trip to the location with the knowledgeable staff. Over all my experience of purchasing the saw was great. It was so great in fact I bought the 16 gallon RIGID vacuum to go along with it.

I backed my Jeep part of the way into my garage and opened the back hatch. I followed the advice of the gentleman at Home Depot and opened the box in the back of the Jeep. The cast iron wings were on top packed in styrofoam. I removed them and placed them on my workbench. I then proceeded to remove the other pieces. Everything came packed in styrofoam and plastic wrap. Screws, bolts, washers and nuts came in convenient blister packs. I opened the instructions and began to follow the directions for assembly. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Assembly & Setup

Assembling the saw base

The base of the saw is comprised of 4 legs, a couple of aprons, and two stiles. Assembly was fairly easy, the hardest part was trying to hold the front and back legs up to connect the stiles. The legs are constructed out of rigid sheet metal. The bolts are pan head, and have a square on the underside of the head that fits into a square on the legs. Only a wrench for the nut assembly is needed for tightening. After the base has been assembled, then the leveling feet were attached.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attaching the base to the body

The body of the saw is in the very bottom of the box. All pieces of the saw must be taken out before you can remove the body. The body of the saw also includes the cast iron top. This piece is heavy and I really should have had help to get it out of the box. When I pulled the body of the saw out of the box I noticed that there was a piece of wax paper on the cast iron top. The cast iron top and extensions had been covered in a packing grease. I placed the body top down on a piece of cardboard as the instructions had stated. I placed the base of the saw onto the body and attached it using the provided bolts. Assembly was fairly easy.

  

Installing the table wings

 
Installation of the table wings was one issue I had with the instructions. The instructions recommend installing the wings while the table is face down. This was one piece of information I had missed in my forum research. I followed the directions and installed the table wings before turning the table saw up right. This proved to be a mistake. People in the forums suggested that it was better to attach the wings after turning the table upright and I tend to agree. If I had to do assembly over I would definitely install the wings with the table upright. Once I had the wings installed I had to turn the table saw upright. This is where the forum advice would have been handy. I was able to turn the saw upright by myself but it was no easy feat. The instructions also state to install the adjustment handles while the table is upside down. I did not do this, because I thought they may get broken if something went wrong turning the table. My research in the forums proved that other people came to the same conclusion and installed the handles only after turning the saw upright. After turning the saw upright installation of the handles was easy and straight forward.

Once the saw was upright I used some low odor mineral spirits to remove the light coat of packing grease that covered the table top. This only took a couple of minutes. I made a point to touch the cast iron top as little as possible until I could get it protected.

Alignment of the wings was pretty straight forward. The instructions did a good job of documenting the steps to follow to ensure that the wings were aligned along the top and front of the saw. The process would have been easier with a little help, but even without help I was able to accomplish the alignment within 15 minutes.

 

Assembling the Hercu-Lift system

This portion of assembly was by far the worst. Up to this point I had been doing ok finding the required bolts and pieces to assemble. This is where the instructions were lacking. This is also where I discovered I did not have the right kind of wrenches for installation. I had been using metric wrenches for all of the previous assembly but the instructions give bolt and screw thread sizes in SAE. I thought I had made a mistake this whole time by using metric wrenches and was very thankful that I had not rounded over a bolt or nut. I immediately went to the closest box store, which happened to be Lowe's, and bought a set of Kobalt SAE box/open end wrenches. I also bought a couple of adjustable wrenches. When I got back to the house and re-started the assembly of the Hercu-Lift system I noticed that the SAE wrenches fit very loose on the bolts and nuts. Here is where the RIGID instructions failed. They give a bolts thread measurements and length in terms of SAE. But the head of the bolt and the nut size is actually metric. As it turns out this is another aspect of assemebly that I had missed in my previous research on TS 3650 assembly.

Finally, I had completed the assembly Hercu Lift of the two piece Hercu-Lift system. Now it was time to install it in the base. At this point the instructions failed again. Each bolt on the base of the saw had to be loosened to allow the Hercu-Lift system to be installed. In my opinion the base bolts should have only been hand tightened in previous steps. Once the lift was installed, all of the bolts in the base and in the Hercu-Lift system had to be re-tightened. This was a minor annoyance but it did cost me about an extra 45 minutes. The feet had to be loosened to allow for height adjustment. I never really got the Hercu-Lift system to work like I thought it should. Once I had the saw leveled out and in place (more on that later), if I pressed the pedal to engage the Hercu-Lift system it does not lift the saw enough to roll. I am sure it is an adjustment issue that I have not figured out how to do. So, if anyone out there can give me some hints I would appreciate it. The casters easily hold up the table saw's 300 lbs and allow for easy movement when the feet are up high enough.

  

Installing the rip fence rails

The rip fence rails come in a separate box than the table saw. That is the box that some employees at Home Depot forget to send along with the customer. Like the rest of the table saw the fence rails are wrapped in plastic. The instructions are fairly detailed on the installation of the rails. I had to use a few of the shims included in the blister pack to get the rails flush with the table's edge. Once the rails were installed I added the rail support bar. When the rail installation was completed I set installed the fence and adjusted it to be accurate with the tape included on the fence. In all I spent probably an hour for assembling and adjusting the fence system. It was at this point that I put two good coats of Johnson's Paste Wax on the top. The paste wax did a wonderful job of making the top slick and it will protect from rust.

 

Adjusting the blade

Blade adjustment turned out to be fairly easy. Following the instructions, I used a machinist's square to ensure that the front and back of the blade was square to the miter slots. The most difficult part about adjusting the blade was loosening the trunnion bolts. That required climbing under the table saw to reach the 6 trunnion bolts. Total blade adjustment took only about 30 minutes.

 

Assembling the blade guard

The blade guard assembly was quick and painless. The instructions showed exactly what to do. Assembly took about 10 minutes.

Mounting the motor

My research on the forums showed that some people had trouble mounting the motor and aligning the belt properly. I followed the instructions for aligning the motor and belt pulleys. The belt guard was a snap to install. I mounted the motor and then installed the belt. The motor would have been a little bit easier to install with a helper but it would have only saved about a minute. In all I spent probably 30 minutes mounting the motor.

 

Mounting the On/Off switch

The On/Off switch for the TS 3650 canSwitch Mounted be mounted on the right or left of the saw. I chose to mount mine on the right hand side. RIGID provides something similar to nylon ties for routing the wire to/from the motor and switch. I do have one complaint about the way the wire mounts. The wire mounts at the front and back of the saw body directly under the table top. There is only two points of support for the wire. The wire tends to sag in the middle right above the tilt handle. I wish there were another mount point in the middle of the for the wire. Other than a slight sag, I was quite impressed with the way the wiring came together. Overall, installing the switch took about 20 minutes.

Attaching vacuum

At this point I unpacked the RIGID 16 gallon vacuum and attached it to the built in dust collection port on the bottom of the saw. The vacuum required little assembly and was ready for operation in about 10 minutes.

Double check

Assembly was complete. I went backFuzzy Image through the instructions and double checked that all of the bolts were tightened and that the fence, blade, motor, and pulley were all aligned correctly. Time to start the saw! Sorry for the fuzzy pic.

 

 

 

Review

Initial thoughts

I turned on the saw without the vacuum to get an idea of how noisy it would be. To my surprise it was very quite. Much quieter than other contractor saws I have heard. From my research the grooved automotive type belt is part of the reason the saw is quiet. The lights dimmed some as the saw spun up, with a slight whir coming from the teeth on the blade.

The first cut I made was a rip of a 24" piece of sitka spruce. I had joined the spruce to ensure that I had a flat reference. I ripped one side and measured the thickness across the 24" length. The saw was dead on the entire length. I have had some experience setting up machinery before, so it is not new to me. That being said, I am still very impressed with how easy this saw was to setup and align. I made multiple rip cuts of spruce and they all were dead on. I have yet to get a chance to rip a hardwood, but I have 93 bft of hard maple waiting to become a workbench. I did cross cut some hard maple. The TS 3650 cut through the slightly figured maple with no problems. I used a moderate feed rate and the saw never hinted that it was straining.

For now I am using the general purpose RIGID blade that came with the saw. I have been researching which blade to purchase next. Honestly, I am not wild about having 2 different blades for rip and cross-cut. I do plan on doing a lot of ripping, though. I think I will end up buying a good general purpose blade and a good rip blade. That is my current plan.

The RIGID fence that comes with the saw is awesome. Currently, I do not see the need for me to upgrade the fence. The miter fence leaves some to be desired. I plan on building my own cross-cut sled soon. A cross-cut sled will provide me with what I need most. Some day I will upgrade to a better miter fence, but for now mitered corners are not in my future.

The Future

There are a couple of accessories I would like to add to the saw. Two that have already been mentioned are a mitre fence and a new blade. The one accessory that is not mentioned is a router table extension. There are a couple of manufacturers that make router tables that will fit the the TS 3650 quite nicely, although they are quite an investment.

Conclusion

I like it

I am very satisfied with the TS 3650. I have only had it a few weeks, and yet I am still very happy with it. I would not hesitate to recommend this saw. I have not owned a cabinet or hybrid saw so I can't compare to those, but I do know for the money this saw is hard to beat.

Resources

Product information

Here is where you can find out more information on the RIGID TS-3650

Home Depot

RIGID

Forums

These are the forums that I scoured for information on the TS-3650. Everyone that I ran across on these forums have been helpful.

RIGID Forums

Woodworking

Saw Mill Creek

Contact Me

Tips, corrections, or questions

Feel free to email me with any of the above.

nayzer76@gmail.com 

Copyright 2007. All content on this page is mine. Please do not reproduce this page in whole or in part.