Review By Dean Bielanowski  Ryobi Website - http://www.ryobi.com.au


Ryobi EMS1830SCL
Slide Compound Mitre Saw

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

A compound mitre saw is, without doubt, an extremely useful power tool in any workshop, or on any worksite where wooden materials are being used. It allows the user to quickly crosscut, bevel and mitre pieces without spending hours marking out angles and setting up a circular saw and guide rails to cut them with...

After having owned a smaller 10" Ryobi slide compound mitre saw previously from their "standard" range, I was keen to take a look at their new flagship model from their "Professional Series" line, the EMS1830SCL 12" Laser equipped, Slide Compound Mitre Saw... whew, what a mouthful!

Note to USA/Canadian Readers: This model saw is not available in the USA/Canada as yet under the "Ryobi" name, however, Ridgid offers a model match in the USA/Canada and is available from Home Depot (Model number MS1290LZ).

Professional Series Line
We have reviewed several items from the new Ryobi Pro series range now on this site, and we continue to receive emails asking about the quality of this line of products. Given that we take a non-biased approach to tool reviews, I can quite honestly say that the quality of many of these pro-series range products is quite high and competes with many of the "big name" brands on the market. The Pro Series line is made for industrial or frequent use and the difference in quality is quite apparent over their standard series of home user/DIY tools.

With that being said, I have come to expect good things from any new Ryobi tool marked with the "Pro Series" label, so let's see if this new mitre saw lives up to that reputation...

Basic Specs & Motor Features
The EMS1830SCL (from now-on termed just as 1830) is certainly a fair sized saw. It features a 12" blade (305mm) allowing it to cut larger workpieces in a single pass. Typical applications may include cutting fence posts, logs or larger wooden blanks or materials, and everyday cutting of virtually any size material smaller than this.  I routinely use the 1830 to cut larger diameter turning blanks to length or trim the ends to square before mounting on the lathe, as well as for cutting down longer lengths of large timber. That extra inch or two capacity may not be needed for everyone, however, it is certainly handy to have for those times when it is needed. There are some downsides to a larger blade, and these include a higher replacement blade cost and occasional issues with potential blade flex. In general, with a good quality blade fitted, and with a good quality sharpening service available locally, these issues are not really a major factor. We will discuss these further on in the piece.

The 1830 is outfitted with a 1800W motor, which is close to 2 1/2 horsepower. This is plenty of grunt for a mitre saw. I've used many smaller motor saws in the past and I have rarely been able to bog them down under load. As long as you take the cut carefully, you should never have any problems. Even when cutting to the full 5-6" depth on the 1830 and making the cut fairly rapidly, I couldn't bog it down. There was, naturally, a little strain on the motor in doing this, but the speed of the cut in this case was purely for testing purposes. In general use, the 1800W provides more than enough power.

What is different to many other mitre saws, and new to Ryobi, is that the 1830 is a belt driven saw, with the motor located above and behind the saw head/blade assembly. This offers advantages when making beveled cuts as the motor is not going to get in the way. There are several other belt driven mitre saws available from other manufacturers, and some that offer reduced noise during operation. The 1830 will still require hearing protection, however, it is perhaps 15-20% quieter than my other 1800W non-belt driven mitre saw, as an estimate. The soft-start function is another user-friendly feature. On larger motor saws, they can really 'kick' into action. Soft start provides a fast, but more gradual motor power up that is a little easier on the hands as it eliminates that small 'jolt' you get in the machine when you first power up the tool.

A blade brake is fitted to the saw which should stop the blade spinning in under six seconds. This helps eliminate wasted time between cuts. While some may raise the head of the blade before it stops spinning following a cut, this can be dangerous and can ruin a nicely cut edge. Any blade wobble is exaggerated as the blade slows down. Therefore, you should hold the saw head in the down position until the blade has completely stopped to reduce the risk of re-cut damage or off-cuts being caught and thrown around.

No load speed is 4,400 min-1 , it has a 1" (25.4mm) blade arbor and has a total weight of 31kg. It is certainly a hefty saw weight wise, but it can be lifted by one person if you have good lifting technique, and a little brawn! The saw head can be locked in combination with the depth stop, allowing the top handle on the saw to be used safely as a carrying handle. A two person lift (if available) is recommended. For the home workshop, you probably only need to lift it up onto its stand or mitre bench only once anyway before securing it down.

The 1830 is fitted with a 60-tooth TCT tipped 12" blade. It is a fairly reasonable quality blade to be included as standard and is quite sharp, although after it wears out, or is past re-sharpening, you might like to fit a higher quality blade. 305mm (12" blades) are certainly not cheap, so taking them to a good re-sharpening service will save you a few dollars. We like the CMT and Irwin range of wood-cutting mitre saw blades. They have proven themselves on many occasions in our workshop.

Laser
The 1830 comes equipped with a pre-fitted laser alignment guide. This is the type that replaces the standard blade arbor nut, as opposed to a retro-fit unit like the Laserkerf which is reviewed elsewhere on this site. The laser operates when power is applied to the saw and the blade begins spinning. It is triggered by an internal centrifugal switch and operates on 3 button cell style batteries which are replaceable. It projects a solid laser line onto the workpiece indicating where the blade will cut. I could not find any adjustment features on this type of laser line generator, and nothing to indicate it could be adjusted in the manual, so I was hoping it would accurately predict the location of the saw cut. Surprisingly, it was very accurate in this task, at least on my unit (see photo in right column). Lasers are a handy feature for quickly aligning your workpiece to cut, however, you should check the accuracy on an ongoing basis if you are going to rely on it for fine cabinetry work, or where absolute precision in cuts are necessary. I find I can rely on it on over 80% of my cutting tasks. It certainly saves a lot of time, eliminating the need to 'eyeball' the blade against the marked cut line continuously. If there is a disadvantage to this type of arbor mounted laser, it is that the blade must be spinning before it is activated. This doesn't really pose any danger to the user, as long as the blade guard is kept covering the blade while you align the workpiece, however, it just means that the saw is running for that few extra seconds. The laser can be removed if you do not wish to use it and an outer blade flange is included in the package for this purpose. The inclusion of the laser device also slightly reduces cut depth capacity. A small tip... The accuracy of the laser is best when the saw head is in the upper position. As you lower the saw head, the laser becomes less accurate in relation to the actual cut line, so when set your workpiece up referencing the laser line, do so when the saw head is not fully plunged down close to the workpiece.

Slide Component & Cutting Capacity
"Do I need a sliding mitre saw?"
It's a question that is often asked by woodworkers on newsgroups and forums. Unfortunately, there is no one answer that applies to everyone. It is mostly a task-orientated question. Depending on what you plan to make, build or use the saw for, will depend on whether you need this feature or not. Personally, when readers email me and ask this question, my generic reply is... "If you can afford the extra dollars for a sliding saw, buy it!" Why? Simply because, unless you know that you absolutely DO NOT need a sliding feature at any time now, or in the future, chances are that at some stage, you will have a need for it... AND... a sliding saw can be used just the same as a non-sliding saw when you lock the sliding feature. Additionally, some sliding saws, like the 1830, allow you to make rebate/groove/dado cuts not possible on non-sliding saws.

The larger physical size of the 1830 affords it greater cross, mitre and bevel cutting capacity. In fact, it exceeds the capacity of similar 12" slide compound saws like the Bosch and Makita models. In both cases, the 1830 offers around 30mm (around 1.2 inches) more width cutting capacity in all types of angles and bevels. Here are the listed figures for the 1830:

Mitre Bevel Max. Width of Cut Max. Depth of Cut
90 90 343mm 111mm
45L/45R 45L 242mm 64mm
45L/45R 45R 242mm 42mm
45L/45R 90 242mm 111mm
90 45L/45R 343mm 64mm/42mm

One of the problems I suffered with my old Ryobi sliding saw was that the slide action was not overly smooth at the back end of the extension. It was only a single bar sliding saw. The 1830 features offset dual sliding bars mounted above the table for improved stability. This above table sliding feature is similar to Bosch and Hitachi models, whereas Makita's slide from under the table. Slide action is very smooth throughout the whole range of extension thanks to the quality, sealed ball bearing slide mechanism. A slide lock knob allows you to lock this feature to be used as a standard, non-sliding compound mitre saw. The dust collection bag and frame is designed to sit on the slide bar, but we will look closer at that later. I wouldn't say it slides as smoothly as the Makita LS1013, but it's very close!

Angle Adjustments
Mitre saws are aptly named because this is the function they do best! Almost every mitre saw you can buy will allow you to cut up to 45 degrees in either direction. Square cuts at 0 degrees (sometimes also referred to as 90 degrees) and 45 degree cuts are most common for general woodworking. When compound mitre cuts are called for, this is when the full range of angles between 0 and 45 degrees are required, depending on your needs. Cutting Crown Molding to fit corners is a good example where both mitre and bevel settings are required.

The EMS1830SCL has a much wider mitre angle setting range than many of its competitors. It can pivot left and right up to 61 degrees! Why would you want to cut more than 45 degrees? An example may be applying trim/base trim to walls where the joint angle is not exactly 45 degrees (this is very common - check some wall corners around your house for square), hence you need to cut one mitre at 50 degrees and the other at 40, as an example. While you can make up jigs for a standard 45 degree mitre saw limit to accomplish this, its much easier to have these uncommon angles available to cut with no fuss on your saw. It is often much safer as well.

The table pivoted very smoothly out of the box, although you can make adjustments to either tighten or loosen the table to make it pivot easier, or stop it pivoting too easily! Instructions are provided in the printed manual for this adjustment.

The pivoting table on the 1830 features a number of hard detents at commonly used angles. On this model, these angles are (in degrees); 0, 15, 22.5, 31.6, 45 and 60 in both the left and right directions. 31.6 degrees is a common angle for crown molding, I am sure you can figure out what the other angles may be used for.

At the front of the table are the means to lock the table in place, and engage/disengage the detent locking mechanism. To lock the table at any angle available, pivot the table to the angle required then simply push down on the large black mitre lock lever at the front of the table until it 'clicks' into place. To unlock, you simply raise it, and the table can be pivoted freely again. The mitre index thumbwheel (which is the detent engage/disengage wheel) is surrounded by the mitre lock lever. When the wheel is rotated toward you, it disengages the mitre lock, so when you pass over the common detent angles mentioned above, the table will not lock in place. This allows you to lock the table at any angle, and stops the detents engaging if you are setting angles very close to the detents - 44.5 degrees for example. Rotating the thumbwheel away from you /toward the table engages the detent feature. Now when you move your table left or right, it will engage a common angle detent as you pass that figure and lock the table at that angle. This is very useful for setting the table quickly to a common detent angle, again, 45 degrees being perhaps the most common one you might use. Applying the black mitre lock lever then sets it in place and the table cannot be moved. The thumbwheel is a neat little feature and very easy to use, although it may take a short period of time to get used to if you use a similar detent locking feature on your current saw. Is it any easier to use than any other saws? Probably the same. I have a Bosch 12" which uses a spring loaded lever to disengage the detent locks, and it's just as simple to implement.

Setting up the saw when you first receive it (and checking it regularly) is one of the most important aspects to ensure accuracy. The 1830 manual explains setup in detail and goes through all the required task to ensure the fence is set square to the blade, blade is square to table etc etc. I pulled my trusty square off the pegboard storage, set the mitre saw to 0 degrees out of the box, lowered the blade and checked it for square. Bingo! It was right on the money. I then checked the 45 degree setting and again it was spot on. I also checked the other common angles using the Veritas Poly Gauge and all came up trumps. Again, if you find yours is not set perfectly out of the box, instructions are provided for adjustment. 

In use, accuracy remained high when cutting angled components. I have cut a few mitre joints and photographed the results for your perusal in the right hand column.

Bevel Adjustment & Fence Features
The 1830 allows the user to tilt the saw in both left and right directions. With the motor sitting up top, it means it will not get in the way as you make the cuts from either angle. You can tilt the saw head from 0 to 47 degrees each side. 0 to 45 degrees is standard range on most saws, and some only allow titling to one side. Pivot movement can again be loosened or tightened as required. Out of the box I found the bevel pivot to be a little too tight. I adjusted it easily in about 30 seconds to loosen it allowing the head to pivot more easily. Bevel adjustment also features a detent locking system. It utilizes a small bevel index pin which is spring loaded and can be pulled out and rotated to stop engaging of bevel detents, or released to engage detent indexing. Bevel detents are located at 0, 22.5, 33.9 and 45 degrees.

To tilt the saw and cut at 45 degrees, you will have to move the top part of the fence out of the way, as the blade guard tends to hit it. At the back of each fence are two twist-knob clamps which, when loosened, allow you to slide the top portion outwards providing the clearance required to cut the larger bevel angles without interference from other parts of the saw, and to ensure the blade does not strike the fence. These are easy to adjust and the fence is milled on the end nearest to the blade at an angle to ensure clearance of the blade. These can then be slid back to the normal position for 0 degree or non-beveled cuts.

While we are on the subject of fences, it might be a good idea to make yourself a zero-clearance fence if you are going to be making a lot of cuts at a particular angle. You can make this out of most any wooden or wooden composite material or a machine-able composite like HDPE, UHMW or similar. A material that does not expand/contract much, or is not prone to warping is ideal. The standard fence will not support your material as well as a zero-clearance fence can. This will help prevent chipout on the back side of the workpiece as the blade exits it. There are 2 holes milled into the left and right sides of the fence to allow you to mount your own fence, jigs, or to retrofit whatever other attachments you may require. I made 2 fences, one for 0 degree (90 degree) crosscuts, and another for 45 degree mitre cuts. These are the angles I personally use most often. Simply screw a board against the fence, make the cut. This establishes a kerf and splits your board into 2 parts. Since it was already secured by screws in pre-determined positions, you can then attach both pieces at a later date, ensuring the same width kerf is present and maximum support is provided right next to the blade. For picture frame mitre cutting, this is almost essential! You may need to countersink or relieve the face so there are no projections on the face of your custom fence, however, securing it from the reverse side with some small wood screws is much easier. Fence height reaches up to 5 inches maximum, allowing most crown molding to be cut effectively and safely.

Blade Guard
Perhaps what is notably missing from the EMS1830SCL is a power-release switch. On most mitre saws you have a switch or button that will unlock the power switch to allow you to spin up the blade for the cut. The 1830 does not have this. It almost sounds worrying! What the 1830 does have however, is a blade guard release lever. You can apply power to the 1830 with the press of a single button, but to lower the head and expose the blade, you must first release the blade guard lever. Your hands are protected while the blade guard is fully engaged. So, unless you were being absolutely reckless and playing around with hands on the blade and then fired up the saw, you have nothing to worry about. As almost every machinery manual mentions... Never touch or handle the blades unless the power cord is disconnected!
Wise advice indeed...

Plunge Action
One feature of mitre saws I like are the "D" style horizontal drop handles. I find these much more comfortable to use than vertical handles and your hand is less prone to slip as you begin the plunging downward action to make a cut. The plunge spring and mechanism on the 1830 is quite smooth, sporting a spring of similar quality to the Bosch GCM12(3912) model we have reviewed in the past. I found that after a little use, the spring loosens up slightly, and makes the plunging action even smoother. Their can be a tendency to apply lateral force to the saw head affecting cut accuracy with these type of handles, however, the 1830, while not perfectly rigid, offers a high resistance to lateral movement when performing this task. As long as you are aware of the fact, particularly with bevel cuts more than any other, you can reduce the occurrence of any accuracy issue it may cause. This is the same for most other mitre saws on the market.

Depth Stop
This is a feature I wish I had on other slide mitre saws I have owned in the past. A depth stop feature is a sensible addition to a slide mitre saw. Why? Because it allows you to cut rebates, dados, grooves, rabbets... whatever you want to call them! The depth adjustment cam is somewhat of a deformed "D" shape, the curve in the cam allowing the variable depth adjustment as you rotate it around. It does have a limitation in that you have to drop the saw down a few inches before the depth stop will actually become effective, but I can only imagine a few isolated cases in which this may cause a problem. Past this point, the depth is adjustable infinitely until the blade runs below the table, and hence, makes a through cut. The adjustment cam is marked along its curved side with letters A through to F, allowing you to set a repeatable depth adjustment at a later date, assuming you set it to one of those points. A spring loaded thumb screw locks the cam into the desired depth position. Interestingly, during the tests I discovered that I needed to attach a sub-fence to pack it out a little further because at the back end of some test dado cuts, I found the saw blade wasn't reaching to the full depth giving a curved end to the cut. Attaching a 1/2" pine board to the fence solved that problem for these type of cuts. 

The same depth adjustment cam also performs another vital task, and that is holding the saw head down. There is a hole milled in the cam which positively locks into a round extension of the main saw head assembly. When locked down, it is virtually impossible for the saw head to disengage and let the head loose, which would no doubt likely cause injury or one heck of a shock! The difference with this design is in the level of confidence is brings to the user. You probably all have, or have used saws with pin-type head locks, and when most of the saw weight rests on this pin, which is often a little flimsy in design, it just doesn't feel safe to cart around by the handle only with all the saw weight resting on this piece of metal. The head locking feature on the 1830 is certainly worthy of note.

Hold Down Clamp and ZCI
Another safety feature common to many higher quality saws is an integrated hold down clamp. These come in many forms. On the 1830, the hold down clamp is what I would call traditional form. It employs the street light, overhanging type design with a twisting screw down clamp. It has quite a large clamping head on the end to provide more even pressure, and less marring of your workpiece. Most notably, the best feature of the clamp is the quick release button on the side. When pushed, this disengages the threads of the clamp allowing you to slide it through the full range up and down very rapidly, instead of having to twist it hundreds of times to set it up for a differing height piece. I have not seen this feature on any other mitre saw clamp to date, although I haven't yet seen every other mitre saw available around the world, so it may not be unique.

In the base surface of the table is a hardened plastic adjustable clearance insert. It is composed of two parts, one for each side of the blade and is adjustable left and right to decrease, or increase the width for the blade to pass between. Using a small screwdriver, you can adjust this clearance insert right up close to the blade to provide support to the underside of your workpiece and limit splintering or chip-out. Alternatively you can widen them to make clearance for a 45 degree bevel cut if needed. It is useful to set these up correctly for best cutting results. Alternatively you can make your own if you wish out of any suitable material if you accidently damage the supplied inserts.

Dust Collection
It's always a big issue with mitre saws and there is yet to be a mitre saw with exceptionally good dust collection features as standard. The nature of the machines make dust collection difficult, and its even worse with slide mitre saws in general, as you cannot locate your extraction devices close behind the machine, unless you bring hoses in from the sides, but then you often need to move them around when you want to cut a mitre, or they get in the way of a bevel cut. Therefore, a good mitre saw design with dust collection in mind is often rated as how much actually reaches the duct collection bag of the saw. Its very difficult to measure this, so my opinion will only be on a qualitative/observational basis. If you have read the review of the Bosch GCM12 saw, I noted that the design encouraged a fair portion of the created dust to fly into the bag. Overall, I'd have to say that the 1830 is equally effective as the Bosch in this department. Collection is somewhat improved if a dust extraction system is fitted to the outlet. What is noticeable on the 1830 is the size of the dust collection opening. It has an inside diameter of 2 1/4", which is quite large in comparison to its many competitors. I think the Bosch is only a little over half this measurement. When hooked up to a shop vac or dust extractor, the 2 1/4" port can pull in more dust from the immediate vicinity more effectively.

A dust bag is attached to a metal dust bag frame, which is designed to sit on top of the slide rails. I found the dust bag was stitched up a little too tight and had a bit of difficulty getting it on to the frame and doing up the zipper on the bottom. An email to the Ryobi rep indicated this was not a common issue, so perhaps I just received a poorly made bag. I only attached it for the sake of the review anyway. I'll be attaching my dust extraction system direct to the port thereafter. When the dust frame/bag is fitted, it slightly reduces overall slide cut capacity by about 10mm. There are aftermarket devices you can buy to enhance dust extraction on mitre saws, although most are expensive. Generally, you have to do the best you can to figure out a way to collect as much dust as possible, or wear a face mask or respirator if using it in enclosed areas!

General construction, use and overall opinion
The 1830 is mostly metal construction with only a few plastic parts. Of the plastic parts, including the bevel lock and adjustments, mitre lock and adjustments etc, each is constructed of high strength plastic, so you wouldn't expect anything to easily break and the parts certainly proved to be rigid in use. It makes sense using these strong, lightweight components in areas not affecting accuracy of the machine as it keeps overall tool weight down. The 1830 is very stable in use. I keep it locked down, but for testing purposes played around with it sitting on a table without securing it. It's large base plate means it is difficult to tip, and the center of gravity of the machine at no point falls outside its base of support, again ensuring stability and safety. The higher weight keeps tool vibration down as well, although it does make the machine less ideal for portability.

In use, the 1830 was comfortable to use. All adjustment features seemed intuitive and uncomplicated. Accuracy on a whole was commendable and the laser line generator does come in handy, although not as effective in bright, outdoor environments. The repeatability in common detent angles is high and the 1830 retains alignment well. I checked again after four weeks of use and the angles were still spot on with the square/poly gauge. Most proof is in the results, so do take a look at the results we achieved with a variety of cuts in the right hand column.

Retailing at AUD$999.00, the Ryobi has put itself up against some stiff competition with Makita, Bosch and Hitachi having saws in a similar price range, although the 12" Ryobi slider is still the cheapest of the bunch. I think the Makita LS1214 still has a slightly smoother slide function, yet the Ryobi has a wider mitre angle range, plus a more intuitive clamp system. The Ryobi is missing support arms however.

I haven't really used the Bosch or Hitachi saws enough to pass comment in comparison to the 1830, however, I think all brands have come up against a newly designed saw at a competitive price that has some innovative features which are sure to raise some eyebrows.

I can't say everything about this saw is the absolute best available and given that it is the first model of such a newly designed saw, it has a few teething problems - all of which can be fixed relatively easily. However, it does rate well against the competition and is certainly worth spending some time looking at this saw before making a purchasing decision. You might even want to check it out at a retailer next time you are there. The Ryobi EMS1830SCL is available in Australia from Gasweld, Total Tools, Glenfords and most Mitre 10 Home and Trade stores, or it can be ordered in to most Mitre 10 stores. I have also spotted it online from a new Zealand retailer for all our NZ readers. Do a search online for "EMS1830SCL".

In the USA, The saw is available from Home Depot under the Ridgid label (Model MS1290LZ) and is priced at US$547.00 at time of review. 


 

Ryobi EMS1830SCL Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The top carry handle, trigger handle and blade release lever.


The standard dust collection bag is ok, but hookup to a dust extraction system will be better.


Offset twin slide bars provide a smooth sliding action.


Closeup of blade arbor showing the laser line generator device installed.


At 2 1/4" inside diameter, the dust extraction port is larger than on the 1830 than on many other saws.


Black mitre lock lever and yellow mitre index thumbwheel are easily accessed at the front of the table.


Anyone for 61 degree mitres? The scale does go up to 65, however max angle is 61 degrees.


The depth stop and head hold down mechanism are worthy feature inclusions.


The bevel angle scale.
Bevel cuts from 0 to 47 degrees are possible left and right!


The ability to move the work clamp up and down rapidly with the quick release button is extremely handy to speed up your work.


The laser is fairly accurate when the saw head is in the upper position.


Good results for a 45 degree picture frame mitre cut.


The depth stop and sliding feature allows you to cut grooves, rebates and dados...


...however in some instances I had to use a sub-fence to position the wood closer to the front of the table to ensure a level-depth dado style cut all the way through. Here I added a pine board secured from the back with screws, This also goes a long way to preventing chip-out on the back side of the cut during normal through cutting operations.


Did somebody order a bevel?
 

Cutting/Trimming and squaring up ends of logs for turning on the lathe.

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