April 4, 2007

Ridgid Fuego 6-1/2" Framing Saw - Review

Fuego.jpg
We were pretty thrilled when Ridgid sent the Fuego along for us to test out. It’s a unique idea, and the first of its kind: the 6-1/2” framing saw. It’s lightweight, powerful, durable, and loaded with more features than James Bond’s Aston Martin.

We’ve been punishing this saw for about a week now. We’ve cut every piece every piece of wood that crossed our path. We measured the accuracy of the bevel gauge, the depth setting, and the kerf lines, and, yes, we dropped the thing. Not a casual, accidental, elbow knocks it off the workbench onto a pile of tarps drop. Nope. Ridgid said that the Fuego’s composite plate can withstand a fall of one story, so we heaved it up to a healthy height and gave it a full-on, nose to the earth, 9.8 meters per second squared, watch it go, drop.

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First, though, a quick overview of the tool and its many features. The foremost, of course, is its size. To give an idea of just how compact the Fuego is, we took a shot of it next to our old warhorse of a Makita. The picture doesn’t even do it justice, really. It’s worth going to Home Depot and giving the tool a heft. Not only has Ridgid shaved about five pounds off of a traditional framing saw but they’ve undercut the standard circular saw by about two pounds, which is really quite a bit when faced the prospect of heaving the thing around for eight hours.

The Fuego has a bevel capacity of 50 degrees, with a helpful stop at 45, and a nice little built-in dust blower to keep the cut line clear. In addition, the depth adjustment has easy to read measurement markings on it (with stops) to allow for a quick setting. The cord has a Velcro strap attached for easy wrap-up and the plug even has a light on it indicating when it is live, which is good for when you have to play the “is the breaker on or off?” game. So, the saw looks nice and sounds nice, but how does it work?

Fuego_back.jpgFuego_blower.jpg

To really get a feel for the Fuego, it’s worth comparing it, not only to other framing saws, but also to the newest line of battery saws. In a way, the Fuego splits the difference between these two. It’s a nice compromise actually; the power of Vin Diesel with the size of Elijah Wood.

When looked at against the DeWalt Framing Saw, you can see that the Fuego has a considerable bite to it. While not as strong, it’s plenty strong enough, having 12 amps to the Dewalt’s 15. We had no problem burying the saw into a 4x4 and, really, how much more strength do you need? It’s like the new line of 36-volt tools. How often do you run across situations where an 18-volt, or even 14.4-volt drill doesn’t cut it? Not that often. So, it’s a matter of trading off the weight (the DeWalt is 13 lbs, the Fuego is eight) for less power, that, actually, is probably enough anyway, at least for the average user.

fuego_cord.jpgAs far as a comparison to the smaller battery drill, the Fuego fares equally as well. Obviously, the fact that it needs to be plugged in greatly diminishes its maneuverability when compared to a battery drill, but, since the Fuego is so small, it’s not like it’s bound to the cutting station. The Fuego is just a little bit heaver than a battery saw, but when it comes to power, it far out distances the cordless tool. Another bonus against the battery saw is that there is no dealing with the agonizing slow death of a battery. Many fine boards have been checked irreparably due to a slowing, sputtering blade.

So it’s sort of a win/win situation for the Fuego (not to mention the Fuego owner). You’ve got nearly the power of a giant framing saw, but it’s not so heavy that you go home at the end of the day looking like a fiddler crab with one massive, overworked arm. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got a small saw and you don’t have the hassle of recharging batteries, dying batteries, or the problem of not having enough gusto to get through the piece of hardwood.

Fuego_front.jpgIn our tests of the Fuego, we verified all of the facts listed at the Ridgid website. The saw is, indeed, capable of cutting 1x stock at a 45 degree bevel. In fact, it overshoots the mark by 1/8”, making it capable of also cutting through 2x at the 50 degree mark as well. The stops on the depth adjustments are dead on and we now look forward to slicing through sheathing and sub-flooring without having to deal with getting a tape measure out or finding a scrap of plywood to measure against.

The little blower works great, keeping the cut line completely free of debris, and the saw feels great in the hands and is easy to maneuver, particularly with the kerf markers on both the front and back of the shoe plate. We also really liked the fact that the handle was seated to the rear of the saw, a subtlety that we have come to appreciate, as opposed to riding up more on top of the saw. We feel this situation gives us more control and, at the very least, a fighting chance if it kicks back.

Rigid also states that their composite shoe can withstand a drop of up to one story. So we did just that. We took it by the cord, climbed up on a sawhorse, held the saw up high (about 7-1/2’) and let it go, making sure that it would land on the front corner of the shoe. It hit the pavement with a cringe-inducing crack. We couldn’t see anything from our vantage point, but it didn’t sound good at all. When we inspected the Fuego, we were pretty surprised. Was it completely unscarred, good as new, shiny and perfect? Of course not. Was it shattered, cracked, and unusable? Nope. It had three things going on; a very slightly crushed foot plate, a healthy little scrape on the pommel, and the bevel setting wouldn’t tighten anymore. The dent on the foot plate didn’t interfere with any cutting action, the other scrape just added character, and the bevel setting was fixed with a quick tighten of a screw. For as hard as the tool hit, we consider the damage to the shoe to be very minimal. So yes, Ridgid’s Fuego can withstand a drop of at least 7-1/2’. This, we know for sure.

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Overall, we couldn’t be more impressed with the Fuego. It’s a little workhorse and is the first in an entirely new direction of circular saws. Not only is it's size a tremendous asset, but it comes equipped with all the right features, none of which are superflouous. Ridgid obviously has put a lot of thought and time into this tool and it shows.

The Ridgid Fuego retails for around $140 (another thing we liked about it) and comes with a nice carrying bag, complete with outer pockets, and a fine kerf (1/16”) 6-1/2” blade.

At Home Depot

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at April 4, 2007 11:01 PM

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Recent Comments

I think you mean 2x when referring to the depth of cut testing.


Posted by: Michael at May 15, 2007 10:29 PM
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