Several months ago we were asked to test a prototype of Skil’s new flooring saw. I had an installation of 1100 square feet of flooring waiting that I needed to get done before spring 2010, so we agreed to use the new saw and run it through its paces. When the saw arrived, Matt Weber and I both picked up the saw and wondered if maybe the saw had been shipped in two different packages. It was that light. We opened the package and everything was there, but the saw itself was smaller than we expected and Skil used an aluminum base to save weight.
The secret to the diminutive motor is Skil employed a high rpm motor, similar to a grinder motor that turns in the neighborhood of 11,000 rpm. Faster motor equals a faster blade rotation, which means more teeth contacting the wood at any given instant. This results in a saw achieving fine cuts with a small diameter blade with fewer teeth than if you were using a lower rpm motor. The saw exceeded expectations in its performance.
The flooring was bamboo, 5/8 inch and cherry, 3/4 inch and the Skil Flooring Saw handled both with ease. Bamboo flooring is notorious for its ends fraying when cut due to its fibrous nature, but there was very little tear out using the Skil. Bamboo is not hardwood, it is a grass, so to test the saw on true hardwood flooring we used solid cherry. We also tested the Flooring Saw on laminate flooring and engineered flooring and it handled both with the same efficiency as the hardwood.
The unique feature of the flooring saw is its ability to handle both cross cuts and rip cuts by merely changing the fence. Changing the fence orientation is a simple operation involving only one knurled knob being removed. Rip cuts are necessary when the full width flooring planks are too wide, usually the last row installed or when you encounter a wall in the room interior. You merely measure the width of the gap, allow a gap for expansion, and transfer your measurements to the fence. The saw base has widths stamped into it to make this task simpler. You run your flooring plank through lengthwise and repeat. To return the saw to its crosscutting setup, remove the knurled knob, pick up the fence and reattach it to its perpendicular position, a very simple operation. The saw was also used on molding cuts to check its miter function, and for cutting wainscoting. By this time it was no surprise that the flooring saw cut fast and cut clean even on these tasks it wasn’t designed for.
So if you are thinking back to days when we asked our radial arm saws to handle tasks like these and those results maybe weren’t always what we hoped for, the flooring saw will be a pleasant surprise. However the Flooring Saw is intended for cutting, well,flooring, so don’t expect it to cut dimensional 2x4s and such it’s not going to happen. Nor will it handle stair treads that exceed the stated material thickness for the saw. But for thin material, less than 3/4″ it is a beast. Its light weight has made it a favorite. Contractors will love the saw for the many tasks it can perform and homeowners can finally achieve professional quality flooring cuts without sinking more than a thousand dollars into a miter and table saw. Quite frankly, why rent those two saws when you can purchase the Skil Flooring Saw for just $159.
Look for the upcoming article for the whole story. The Skil Flooring Saw will be available at your Lowe’s stores and other Skil resellers.