Skil 3600-02 Flooring Saw - Review
It's always nice when a tool company releases something that we've never seen before. And that's exactly what Skil has done with their unique flooring saw (unique, that is, until Ryobi recently released an identical tool, our thoughts on that one here).
The point of the flooring saw is that it tries to be a one-stop tool for your flooring needs. In order to do that it needs combines two functions; cross-cutting a la miter saw and ripping a la table saw. Because flooring material is relatively thin and rarely gets any thicker than 3/4", the design of the Flooring Saw can be a miniaturized affair. No need to slice up a 2x4 here.
Skil was nice enough to send a sample our way and for over a month we've been using it, and not just on flooring either. Read on...
So while the basic functionality of this tool brings to mind those funky European table saw/miter saw combos, the actual design is totally different. The Skil consists of a platform with an attached circular saw that slides along two rails which go the length of the base. In order to rip a piece of flooring, the saw locks into the rail and a removable fence is attached to the platform parallel to the blade. To switch to miter saw capabilities, you have to unlock the saw, allowing it to glide freely, then remove the fence and replace it perpendicular to the blade. There you go. The saw has a traditional trigger switch for the miter saw function and a front switch for table saw mode.
As you can see, the fence is a crucial piece of the puzzle. It attaches to the platform with a threaded knob and has tabs which lock it down in the correct location. When it's in miter-mode the fence can be pivoted from 0 to 45 degrees allowing you to make all of the necessary angled cuts. In table saw mode, it is capable of ripping a piece to about 8-1/2".
The whole thing is less than the size of a college student's art portfolio and weighs about the same, 25 lbs. There is also a dust collection bag as well as a vacuum hook up. The saw uses a 4-3/8" blade, which isn't the most available size, but it's not the worst either.
So to test the tool, we started feeding flooring through it like it was our job (which it sort of is). When we first saw the tool, our initial concern had to do with power because the saw itself seemed a little tiny. But after using it, those concerns are gone. The 7amp motor had no problem handling the 3/4" oak that we shoved through it or the prefab flooring with the thin metal sheeting on the underside. The miter cuts were accurate as were the rips, and it looks like the tool is machined in such a way that it's very unlikely the fence will fall out of true.
Our only gripe with the flooring saw is that as fast as the switch from miter fence to rip fence is, we wish it was faster, like maybe done with some kind of quick-release clamp. It works fine as is, but the knob can get a little tedious, particularly if you're in a situation where you're going from rip to cross-cut to rip to cross-cut, etc.
Beyond that though, we actually think that Skil might be underselling this item. If we were in charge, we'd be spreading the word that it can also work as a mini-trim kit or a combo tool for the beginner. Who knows what you'd call it, maybe a Rip/cross/flooring/trim/DIY workstation (probably not)? But think about it, say you only have to case out a door and run some baseboard in a closet. Why bother pack up the table saw and the chop box when you can take this thing? It hardly takes up any room in the truck and the saw is certainly powerful enough. The only thing it really can't do is rip down small pieces (the fence only moves to within 1" of the blade) or rip at an angle. But those really aren't standard trim operations. And as for the beginning DIYer, this looks like a great place to start. You get a lot of tool, for a good price.
And what exactly is that price? About $150. It's not free, but it's a worthy investment and one that could appeal to a wide range of folks, not just flooring guys.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at November 8, 2010 11:55 AM