4" TABLE SAW REVIEW
By: Phil Krol
Wheaton, Illinois
Reprinted with permission

I have had the opportunity to evaluate a new 4" table saw designed and built by Jim Byrnes. Yes, the same craftsman who manufactured those superb draw plates for list members.

I have a well-equipped shop, which includes a 10" table saw, 10 1/2" band saw, 10" radial arm saw, scroll saw, home brew 4" table saw and a 2 1/4" table saw. I mill all of my own model lumber from hardwood billets, boards and occasionally logs (apple and pear). I also have an appreciation for high quality tools and enjoy using them.

My first impression when opening the box was WOW!! This hefty gem, about 30 pounds is beautifully crafted from aluminum in its entirety which includes the base (rubber feet attached), cabinet, table, and except for parts such as fence, shafts, etc. which are steel.

The table measures 10" x 12" by 3/8" thick with 2 table slots (for miter slide), one on each side of blade. The miter slide is absolutely a work of art and unlike anything I have seen on saws small or large, except for expensive after market offerings. This is not a cheap make shift stamping, but rather a beautifully machined protractor with pinned location holes deeply engraved with the degree numbers blackened for better legibility. The degree numbers start with 90 in the center, then on both sides are 75, 67.5, 60, 45, 30, 22.5, and 15 degrees. The bar is polished steel with a close tolerance fit (no slop) in the table slots.

The design and craftsmanship of the fence is no exception. It is made of steel approximately 1/8" thick by 1" wide screwed and pinned to blocks which ride on round polished steel rods located just under the table, front and back. There is a micrometer style adjuster for making micro adjustments to the fence location. While not an actual mic head, it serves the same purpose and for woodworking, is close enough.

I am told a mic head could be fitted for extra cost, but I don't think it is needed and would be a waste of money better spent on extra saw blades.

The fence glides back and forth very smoothly, and is locked front and back with knurled thumbscrews. In addition, there is a 5/8" optional aluminum riser which screws onto the fence, which has locator pins, raising the overall height to 3/4".

There is a removable saw slot insert, which allows one to have several if desired, for zero tolerance with an assortment of saw blade thickness. You would lower the blade, install the insert blank then with saw running, raise the blade cutting the new 0 tolerance slot for blade in use. These could be made form aircraft plywood using the stock aluminum one as a pattern.

The trunnion is massive for a small saw, machined from 1/2" aluminum with a 1/2" arbor in sealed bearings. Raising and lowering the blade is accomplished with a thumb wheel located on front of the cabinet. This arrangement allows micro adjustment of blade height and then is locked tight from further movement with a socket head screw operated with a long T handle allen wrench (provided) inserted through a bushing on the right side of the cabinet. Power is by a 1/3 hp motor, which proves to be more than adequate, and runs quiet and smooth. The motor bearings are sealed, as there are no oil ports.

The motor is mounted on a heavy duty swinging gravity bracket with a pressure spring that maintains uniform belt tension throughout the full range of raising and lowering the saw blade. The belt has multiple grooves that ride on matching pulleys. A 20-tooth thin kerf carbide blade is supplied, and a 40 tooth carbide blade is available for extra cost. Machined flange plates (steel) are also provided and add to blade stability. 4" slitting saw blades with 1/2" holes and of various thickness can be mounted directly to the arbor, and adapter can be made for blades with different size holes. Slitting blades are hollow ground and the teeth have no set. They leave a satin like burnished cut on the wood, but are not suited to cutting large stock.

I raised the 20-tooth carbide blade as high as it would go, 7/8". I turned t he saw on, and it runs virtually vibration free. As a further test of this, a nickel coin remained standing on its edge while on the saw table. I proceeded to rip an old beech board 3/4" thick (actually 25/32) by 18" long and hard as nails. I was absolutely amazed at the ease of these cuts. No hesitation or stalling of the motor, and amazingly, no burn marks on the wood. The 20-tooth blade is well suited to this heavy ripping and the absence of burn marks on the wood is a function of the blade and feed rate. I did the same thing with a piece of birch and hard maple. I didn't bother with other wood, as it has been my experience that if a saw can rip hard maple and beech, it can cut anything. The cuts were smooth and did not require further dressing through a thickness sander as additional milling was going to be performed on these strips with finer blades.

I changed the saw blade to the 40-tooth carbide. Blade change is accomplished either through the opening in the base, or through the insert opening on the table (which allow you to reach the arbor with a wrench. [From the bottom the blade must be lowered to the maximum to be free of the insert when sliding the blade off the arbor. From the top, remove the 4 insert screws and insert, raise the blade as high as it can go, and remove blade. There is a flat on the belt side of the arbor that can be secured with a wrench to facilitate loosening the nut on the threaded end.

Strips cut from the 3/4"stock ranged from 1/16" to 3/8" thick. From these slabs,I cut planks 1/16" thick then 3/64" then 1/32". The 40-tooth blade cuts these very well and leaves a smooth finish. The cross cut is also smooth, but not as burnished as the finish left by a slitting blade.

Actually, for glue joints, the former is better. I can also say it was a real pleasure using the miter slide and not having to check it for square and angles. Just move it to the desired position and insert it for absolute accuracy.

I have an assortment of slitting blades of various thicknesses, which I use for fine work and making gratings. I mounted one that was .032" and started dimensioning some small stuff. Strips 1/16" square, then more at 1/32" square were no problem.

I then wanted to see just how thin uniform cuts could be made, and took a 1/16" slab and was able to rip strips 12" long down to .008" and .006" thick. These bend into a pretzel with no steam and would be perfect for gluing up mast hoops.

The saw performed admirable in all respects. I personally would not use a 4" saw to rip 3/4" hardwood, as I have the 10" saw better suited to this. However, for the model craftsman who is not into woodworking and can't justify full size equipment, this 4" saw is by far the best machine I have seen for a one saw model shop. With the 20-tooth carbide blade, it can rip through any hardwood up to 3/4" thick. With the 40-tooth blade and perhaps a couple of slitting blades, the saw can do micro precision milling on small stock as well.

Jim clearly understands the fundamentals of table saw function as evidenced by his design. The use of high quality materials and the quality of build make this machine a pleasure to make sawdust with. I just cannot find anything about the saw that would warrant a negative comment.
 

Price is about $440
You can contact Jim at: 
 
jim@byrnesmodelmachines.com