As a former BT3000 owner, I feel compelled to chime in here. I bought the BT3000 as my "first" table saw and it took me about two years to outgrow it. The saw is cleverly designed but has a number of drawbacks. The working surface is rather small, and all that adjustability, especially the sliding rails, works against you. Every time you move the rails, you destroy the relationship of the ruler scale to the blade. One of the whole points of having a scale on the rip fence is so that you can set the scale to the measurement you want and cut with confidence.
The rip fence itself is quite good. It slides easily, locks tightly at both
ends, and stays square.
The sliding table is another weak point. Since it's held to the rails by four plastic cam clamps, every time you move it, you have to re-square it to the blade. I got so I never made a cut on the Ryobi without first checking the miter fence setting with a framing square. And, of course, it's not just the miter fence setting, it's those four clamps. If they're not perfectly set,
your work drifts towards or away from the blade as you cut.
In some ways, it's not really a table saw, but more a powerful circular saw turned upside down under a table, with a tilt and height adjustment. Oh yeah-- that was a pain in the neck, too. You have to throw a lever to switch the wheel from height to angle instead of having a wheel for each adjustment. The motor is a universal motor, which is very noisy. It also isn't as
powerful, despite the ratings, as the usual 1.5 HP table saw with an induction motor.
The worst part about the Ryobi, though was its non-standardness. All those cool add-ons that use the miter slots on table saws are useless, because the Ryobi doesn't have miter slots. Ditto for throat plates--gotta make your own, no aftermarket suppliers.
Don't get your hopes up about the built-in router table; it's unsatisfactory compared to a simple plywood table with a router hung upside down under it. And the add-on router fence kit is pure junk.
The one thing I'll say in defense of the BT3000 is that it had superb dust collection. The blade is partially surrounded by a plastic shroud under the table, which leads to a 2 1/2" coupler in back. A shop vac gets 90 percent of the dust.
I'm not sure this was a good "first" saw. I bought mine new, and discovered after the fact that I could have bought a Jet contractor's saw for the same money. Used contractor's saws don't appear to be all that plentiful, nor do the prices seem to be all that interesting. If you want to keep the price below $400, you might want to consider the Delta Contractor II. While it
doesn't even come close to the Delta or the Jet contractor's saws, it's a better saw than the BT3000. The Grizzly 1022Z may be a good low-price choice, too.
- Bill Machrone