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Here we go with another new tool from Rockwell that can make a nice holiday gift for your homeowner or other DIY enthusiast . The Versa-Cut mini circular saw. Opening up the box I find the Versa-Cut saw, a pair of allen wrenches in a holder attached to the power cord, an edge guide, a non-marring base cover, a carrying bag and a set of 3 blades for cutting wood, thin metal, aluminum and tile.
Looking over the features I found the saw’s laser guide, mounted on top of the saw so I am expecting it to show right on the cut line. The Versacut has a plunge system that allows the saw to get to full speed before cutting, this helps avoid kick back. The Versacut also has a safety switch and a vacuum attachment.
My first impressions of the saw were on the good side. The weight of the saw was about what you would expect for a tool of this size (4 lbs). The hand grip is a good size, even for my smallish hands. The plunge spring tension feels just right and should allow you to cut smooth and steady whether you are cutting from the edge or in the middle doing a plunge cut. The high impact body is made from a light weight yet strong composite. The adjustments feel good and strong, I doubt they will shift during operation. Moving to the workbench, it is time to give this saw a workout.
Changing the blades is fairly easy; just removing an arbor bolt with the 2 included allen wrenches. Placing the woodcutting blade on to the arbor I tightened down the bolt and went looking for some wood pieces to try out the saw. First I cut through some ¾ inch plywood. No surprise there, it cut through the plywood easy with only the tear out you’d expect from a circular saw. Next I clamped a ¾ inch piece of oak. Scribing a line on the board with my beautiful Marbles Square, I lined up the laser to see how accurate I could cut the oak. I pushed down and forward cutting into the solid oak. It cut easily through the ¾ inch oak. The max depth the Versa Cut can make is a 1 1/8 inch depth. Unfortunately this is not deep enough to cut something like a 2x4. Next, I pulled out a piece of 1 ½ inch oak. I know it won’t cut through thisbut I wanted to see if it would bog down in the thick hard oak. Again the Versa-Cut cut through the material without bogging down.
Okay this mourning I learned something. The laser is operated by a pair of button batteries and not through the power cord. I learned this because I left the laser on and by this morning the laser was dead, so I guess that means the laser has less than 12 hours of on time. Whichshould be a long time when you break it down too each cut so that isn’t a problem, just remember to turn it off after you finish working or expect a trip to find these batteries.
Now it was a challenge. I wondered if I could find any wood that the saw would not be able to cut through very easily. Finding a 1” thick piece of ebony I thought to myself this should do it. The cut took a little harder push on the part of the operator but it cut through the ebony nearly as easy as the oak. I am sure there are types of wood stock out there that this saw would have trouble with, perhaps a piece of 1” Epi or some other hard wood. I will do my best to get a piece of Epi to try a cut, if I do I will post an update after the review is posted. One of the features is the plunge depth adjustment. Giving you the ability to set the depth of cut is a nice ability.
To test the Versacut’s accuracy, I scribed a line down a sheet of 4’ x 4’ x ½inchplywood using my sheet rock square. I lined up the saw this time without the laser, dead batteries remember? I pulled the trigger and started my way down the plywood. Holding steady to the line I walked the saw down the line cutting through the plywood easily, its only ½ inch after all. Once I had finished I laid the square back onto the plywood. The results are very good, only a little drifting off the line measuring less than 1/8 inch. Keeping the saw on the line was fairly easy but the 3 ½ inch blade could drift easier then a skill saw using a 8 or 10” blade. But only if you don’t cut carefully.
Changing to the tile blade I clamped a 4 x 4 piece of tile into my Rockwell SheetMaster (see the review in tool reviews) to hold the tile very still. I also placed the non-scratch base plate cover to avoid any marks on the tile from the metal base. You have to take the extra depth into consideration when you set the plunge depth should you need to prevent any under cutting. Adjusting my plunge depth to just over ½ inch, since I was not using any liquid to keep down the dust I grabbed a facemask to protect my lunges. I made a few cuts on a piece of tile I found in my garage left over from some project the previous owner had undertaken. The cuts were slow and hard but with a steady hand you can cut a nice line. I tried to do a plunge cut which turned out to be easier then I thought. I expected there to be some movement. Although it is hard to see where you are cutting, this is solved by extending your lines. Simple measurements will put you right on the money. I don’t feel this will replace a tile saw for larger jobs but the occasional repair cut this saw is ideal. I am not saying this saw couldn’t handle it, I just prefer a wet saw when doing a lot of cuts. When I have another tile job to do I will give this saw more of a workout and see how it does. I will keep you informed. I hate to say it but making 10 or 12 cuts on the tile isn’t a great test. It does however give me a good look at its capability and potential. This is a good saw for cutting tile that is easy to see.
Searching my shop for something made from metal so I could try out the metal cutting blade. I decided to try it out on a 2x4 support a flat piece of metal with another piece at a 90 degree downward. After changing the blade I clamped in the metal piece. I started slow which is pretty much how to have to cut metal with this blade and saw. I made a few cuts to see how it felt and it easily cut through this 16 gauge sheet metal. Again the perfect saw for the occasional cuts a homeowner would need to make. Quick cuts is one of the better features of the Versacut, having the ability to quickly bolt in the proper blade, plugging it in and you are ready to cut, its just that simple and I like it that way.
Next I wanted to test Versacut’s ability to keep the saw dust down. I went to attach the hose connector to a hose going to my Ridgid dust collector. Try as I might, I simply could not find a combination of adapters that would work with the hose system I am using. So I pulled out a shop vacuum and it connected just fine. I ripped into some more of my oak, the tile, and my metal bracket. Surprisingly the dust disappeared. It did leave a little on the floor but nothing much to worry about. I had some trouble keeping the hose onto the adapter included with the saw, but a little adjustment to the angles of the adapter seemed to solve the problem.
The next few days I cut everything from ¾ inch oak plywood, 1” maple, ¼” MDF, ¾ MDF and 1 ½ inch oak and each cut went easy and accurately. Also I cut off about 20 pieces off one of my oak boards and then 5 4’ long cuts off the plywood to see how the saw felt under repetitive use. My hands were a little tired from the vibration but less then using my 7 pound circular saw would have been.
I can see the Versacut could be the first thing I would grab for a quick cut or trim on any project where wood, tile, or metal needs to be cut. I feel this saw could even replace my skill saw for cutting plywood and other sheet goods. Cutting metal is something I rarely do so it’s hard to gauge the importance of the Versacut in that situation. But it performed well cutting the metal of that gauge. Tile cutting is something I have done a reasonable amount of, I am just not sure this can replace a tile saw because the visibility of a tile saw for making cut outs is hard to beat. But if you are cutting a repair piece here and there this is a great replacement for going out and buying or renting a tile saw just for a few repair cuts.
Overall I really liked the Versacut. Cutting wood it performed well beyond my expectations. With the addition of cutting tile, aluminum, thin metal or plastic make this the ideal tool for any homeowner or even the occasional home shop woodworker. The price of the saw (right around 129.99) is excellent considering the craftsmanship, capability and performance of the Versacut.
Do I recommend the Versacut? That’s an easy yes. But, if you are a serious woodworker I don’t see the Versacut replacing the array of power tools traditionally in a workshop. Even then you might use it more then you think. Visit Rockwell's website click here
(Update 7/11/2012) I loaned the VersaCut to my father to use so he could see how it works. I aske4d him to give me his comments so I could post his opinions. He found the saw quite nice although there is a couple points he didn't like or found to be difficult to work with. First he said that the VersaCut was nice to work with. Secondly he noted that the double safety switch was just to difficult for him to press with enough force that he mentioned that if he owned one he would duct tape the second safety switch in the down position. Both he and I realize that this is a safety feature that needs to be on there. Third, he found the plundge an interesting feature but it took him quite a while to get used to. Also he mentioned that the plundge would stick from time to time and required a good deal of pressure to make it plundge, and at times this extra force would make the saw jiggle enough that the cut was not perfectly straight. Lastly he noted that like myself he didn't really like the fact that the VersaCut is too small to cut a 2x4 although not a deal breaker but this feature might have been a good feature to have. We both understand that this would of course alter the complete size of the tool. So I guess over all he did like the saw but the aforementioned problems would make him unsure if he would want to go buy one for himself. He did add that if he ever needed one he would just borrow mine.. Gee thanks Dad. As always if I obtain further comments or information I will post updates to this article.
Available now from Rockler
|Rockwell VersaCut Circular Saw
The Rockwell VersaCut Circular Saw packs the power of a much larger saw into a one-handed tool that cuts wood, flooring, plastic, tile, slate, and metal. With blades sized at just over 3'', it can't b..