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RIDGID’s gone back-to-basics with a quality “compact” 6-1/2″ framing saw targeted squarely at the jobsite — no fancy lasers other bling, just an easy-to-use, durable saw.

Astute readers will recognize this as the saw we’re giving away.  RIDGID was kind enough to send one over for testing, and despite the fact that it was about two degrees above absolute zero here yesterday, we unboxed it and gave it the once over in the shop.  Read on past the jump for our hands-on review.

Unboxing

The Fuego ships in a surprisingly small box that’s packed by an origami master to fit everything in nice and safe.  Ours arrived with no damage.

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It ships with the saw, two blades — one standard, one titanium nitrate coated — a hex key, user manual, warranty information, and a very nice canvas-like tool bag.

Installing the blade is straightforward — just hold down the spindle-lock on top and use the included hex key to remove the outer blade washer and blade screw.  Then slide back the blade cover, slip in the blade, and re-install the screw and washer.  It took us about a minute to install counting 30 seconds of looking around in the box for the hex key — which is conveniently attached to the saw’s shoe.

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The Fuego fits easily in the included bag with room for a few other assorted blades and accessories.

In Use

Write this down: Just because a saw doesn’t have a laser, that doesn’t mean it isn’t feature-laden.  The Fuego looks like a simple, easy-to-use saw — and that’s exactly what it is.  But RIDGID put some serious thought into some of those feaures, and they totally pay off.

Lets start with the cord and plug.  The Fuego has a 15′ power cable, which is significantly longer than the short tail you get with most circ saws.  (I suppose they figure you’re going to cut it off on the second day anyway.)  Fifteen feet seems just right — long enough that you can actually use the tool without having to drag the extension cord into the air, but still short enough to wrap up cleanly.  And RIDGID includes a nice plastic and velcro wrap to keep the cord under control, too.

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The plug features a circular black-on-which silhouette “icon” of the saw — so you can pick it out among all the other identically-black plugs in a busy power strip.  The icon glows red when the plug’s providing power to the tool, which means you can instantly tell if some other fool turned off the power strip when you weren’t looking.

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When we picked up the Fuego, we noticed immediately that it’s light.  We can tell you that it weighs 8 lbs, but it’s probably more meaningful to tell you that you can easily pick it up with one hand.  This isn’t an accident.  In order to reduce weight, RIDGID made the blade guard out of magnesium — remember those zillion dollar lightweight racing wheels? — and formed the blade guard from a composite material. 

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In our experience, the Fuego’s lightness translates directly into additional control.  We found the Fuego surprisingly easy to keep straight when cutting, and it seems much less sluggish than the larger saw we commonly use.  It feels like it pulls through the wood, gliding smoothly and requiring little to no pushing.  Part of this may be due also to the Fuego’s faster motor — running at 6100 RPM as opposed to a more-common 5700 RPM. 

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Another cool feature: the awesome quick-release angle adjusters.  The shoe adjusts from 0 degrees to 45 degrees with a flip of the lock lever, and by pushing a button it’ll adjust right on to 50 degrees.  The cut depth also sets easily with a quick-release and an easy-to-read sliding scale on the back of the tool.

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We were also surprised at how effectively the Fuego cleared sawdust from the cut window in the shoe.  It blew a lot of air, making the cut line much easier to see and follow.  We also had no problem predicting the location of the kerf using the window.

Summary/Conclusions

We were impressed with the Fuego.  It kicked the crap out of our larger, heavier circ saw, and it was easier on our arms in as well.  We’ll continue using the Fuego on projects over the next few months, and we’ll report back later as to how it’s holding up, but we’d heartily recommend it as a solid saw for daily use.

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2 Responses to Hands-On: RIDGID’s Fuego 6-1/2″ Framing Saw

  1. Richard Kelley says:

    This saw looks amazingly great for an old man to accomplish several things this winter! First, I’d use it to build some custom shelves in my garage so I could organize all the “stuff” in the middle of the garage. That would look nice but more important, it would let my wonderful wife drive her car inside. Now you know how many points that would bring me! We get lots of snow here!

    Secondly, it would give me a space to build a great workbench to keep me busy with all kinds of projects around home but also would give more opportunities to serve other old folks like me who need small projects accomplished but are unable to do them and can’t afford to hire the work done.

  2. Stephen Pace says:

    IOn1991 I received a Traumatic brain Damage at the hands of a felon in San francisco and have difficulty handling large framing saws around the home for improvements undersupervision. This saw sounds ideal andwould enable me to perform soem of the work i did prior to my injury.

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