By Dorian Gluckman
I bought the Jet 708315BTC because I wanted to supplement my regular job-site table saw with a portable model. Although roughly the same size as the DeWalt 745 and the Makita 2703, my new machine — at $230 — was a lot less expensive than either of those portables.
Blade diameter: 10 inches
Weight: 52 pounds
Maximum depth-of-cut: 3 inches
Rip capacity: 24 1/2 inches
Jet Tools Despite a modest table (28 by 18 inches), the saw can make rips of up to 24 1/2 inches wide when the extension wing is used. The wing is supported by steel rods held in place with two thumbscrews. For wide rips, the author always double-checks that the fence is parallel to the blade.
The Jet is belt-driven, which is unusual for a benchtop table saw. (Most benchtop models are direct-drive.) It comes assembled from the factory. I discovered quickly that checking the fasteners is a good idea — many were loose on my tool. Most of the adjustments for truing the saw are straightforward, but a few require getting to fasteners that are only barely accessible. As a result, the process took me more than an hour. Happily, once the tool was dialed in, it stayed that way.
The Jet's best feature is its portability. At 52 pounds, it can be lifted, carried upstairs, and hauled in and out of the truck easily — even by a small person.
The table is 28 inches by 18 inches; a 5 1/2-inch movable extension on the right side gives it a surprising 24 1/2-inch rip capacity. The saw also has a small outfeed extension on the back that's useful for smaller stock.
The rip fence is the usual clamp-down style. The attached scale is pretty accurate for smaller rips, but the extension isn't always parallel to the blade during wider cuts, so I always double-check the fence with a tape measure.
The miter gauge is cheaply made — and unfortunately, the miter slots are oddball sizes, so using aftermarket featherboards or a better miter gauge isn't an option.
There's a place on the side of the saw to store blades and a cord wrap on the back. There are also spots for storing the miter gauge, fence, and wrenches. But the saw has no dust-collection provisions of any kind. While I don't necessarily expect elaborate dust collection on a $230 saw, the maker could at least have molded a hose port in the saw's plastic base. The Jet's belt-driven blade reduces vibration. Like the blades on most modern portables, it tilts to the left.
The on-off switch is located at the lower left on the front panel. A single crank controls depth-of-cut and bevel angle — not a great setup, in my opinion; I'd gladly pay extra for a separate bevel crank. The blade guard is unexceptional and works okay. There's no riving knife — just a normal splitter that's part of the guard.
The saw does not come with a zero-clearance insert, nor can you make one, since the throat plate covers only the right side of the blade. A big gap to the left of the blade is not covered by anything, and the plate itself also has a large gap, so you need to be extra careful with thin stock.
I found that the blade will descend on its own slightly during blind cuts. Maybe a lock on the blade-height adjustment would be helpful. I didn't try a dado cutter because I didn't think there was enough power to use one safely. The rip fence is adequate for general use, but mine tends to have a little "toe-in," which can cause burned cuts; I've learned to cock the fence slightly as I clamp it down.
The Jet is relatively quiet and vibration-free; it seems less shrill than most portable saws I've used. It comes with a 40-tooth thin-kerf blade that's good for most job-site tasks but unsuitable for fine carpentry or furniture-making. Theoretically the saw can cut stock 3 inches thick, but I found ripping 2-by lumber to be slow and arduous. Cutting 3/4-inch hardwoods was slow, too, but at least the cuts were clean and generally free of burn marks.
The saw's sweet spot is 3/4-inch — or thinner — plywood and softwood, which it cuts with relative ease. Given the machine's limited power, I recommend sticking with thin-kerf blades. Because of gaps on both sides of the blade, cutting narrow stock is difficult — and the saw's cast-aluminum top makes it impossible to use a shop-made zero-clearance insert
This saw definitely has some flaws. The odd-sized miter slots and the lack of dust collection were particularly bothersome. Of course, the price is at least $100 less than the next pro-quality competitor — but I have no doubt that a more expensive version with better design and dust collection would be more attractive to finish carpenters.
Still, for general carpentry and nonprecision work, I consider the Jet's low price, minimal vibration, and excellent portability big pluses.
Dorian Gluckman is a remodeler in Birmingham, Mich.
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