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The Takeaway: Give Ryobi credit for recognizing the need for a cordless power tool to help homeowners install flooring. In this case, the company developed the PGC21B, a unique form of cordless circular saw supported on a work surface and rails. Our tests of the saw show that it easily makes both rip and crosscuts in vinyl tile and planks, laminate floors, and hardwood.
- Combines rip and crosscut capability in one tool
- Accurate and simple to use
- Compact and lightweight; easy to move around
The Best of Both Circular and Table Saws
Laminate flooring is easy to install, provided you have the right tools. Since it’s important to stagger the lengths of flooring so butt joints between pieces don’t line up, you need to be able to quickly and accurately crosscut the material. This requires a miter saw. A cordless miter saw is better for this than a corded saw—it’s easier to move around the room as you work since it’s not encumbered by a power cord.
Next, you need to rip the flooring to width at the room’s perimeter. You need a table saw to do this. Yes, you can use a circular saw or a jig saw, but it’s not easy. Laminate flooring is not rigid material, and it’s difficult to support it and rip it to width at the same time. A table saw solves this problem because the material is supported as it’s cut.
Ryobi addresses the need for both tools in one compact machine, a 5.5-inch cordless saw powered by an 18-volt battery and motor. It’s a remarkable piece of engineering that can rip flooring up to 15 inches wide and rip or crosscut material up 3⁄4 inch thick. The saw is mounted to an aluminum work surface and rail, and it slides back and forth on a ball bearing carriage, or it can remain fixed in place.
Here’s how it works. The aluminum work surface has a guide built into it. Position the guide at the end of the work surface, lay the flooring against the guide, then slide the saw along the rail and over the flooring to make a crosscut. Move the guide parallel to the saw then use the locking lever to fix the saw in position. Now slide the flooring under the saw (and through its blade) to rip the material to width.
Designing in Portability, Cleanliness
Table saws are great, and so are miter saws, but even models designed specifically for portability are really not that easy to move around. This tool is. Lock the saw in the rip position and pivot the stop to the side, then lift the tool using the handhold molded into the aluminum work surface. The whole thing weighs about 16 pounds with a battery installed.
Keep dust under control while you work by either using the dust bag or, for more thorough pickup, remove the dust bag and attach a hose from a shop vacuum. In our tests, we found both methods work well. In fact, the tool is notably cleaner ripping and crosscutting laminate flooring than either a miter saw or a table saw. And it’s a lot easier to move around and store than either.
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