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A fine new tool in the workshop

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Like many people, I love good quality tools. One of the most important tools we have in our workshop is a mini table saw with a 4″-diameter blade. We use it all the time, on pretty much every project we build. Occasionally, we use the full-sized table saw to cut large material, but in general, we prefer the 4″ mini table saw because it’s easier to work with, quieter, safer, and more precise. Thus far, we’ve used two Proxxon models, which is a German company that makes excellent small power tools for model builders. I’ve really enjoyed using their tools over the years. I have always considered their 4″ table saw the best on the market. Until now.

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Earlier this year I read an article about Jim Byrnes, the founder of Byrnes Model Machines in Orlando, Florida. Jim and his crew hand build high-precision mini-table saws for model builders, especially model ship builders. I studied his machines online, read everything I could about them, and then finally contacted Jim with a special request. I wanted him to build me one of his 4″ table saws, but I needed a table and fence that could make up to a 6″ wide cut (other mini table saws can’t cut this wide).

Jim took up the challenge, made the machine in his shop, and I received the package today. It is a truly fine piece of high-precision machinery. I’ve only done a few test cuts, but I’ve already fallen in love with it. It’s by far the finest, most precise power tool I’ve ever used. I’m extremely happy with it and can’t wait to get into some serious projects with it.

Why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways…

First, its smooth, shining, machined metal surfaces immediately strike you as being ultra high quality. The Proxxon, for all its positive merits, had an aluminum table, but otherwise was mostly plastic.

Second, the all-important fence on the Byrnes is far superior to the Proxxon. The Proxxon fence never struck me as completely square and it was often frustrating to work with. I would get my stock in position, but then when I tightened down the fence, the fence would move slightly off square, which wasn’t a good feeling. On the Byrnes, the fence slides wonderfully and seems perfectly steady and square. The Byrnes also comes standard with an excellent, well-thought-out miter gage with set pins for the common angles.

I also selected the “Micrometer stop” option, which provides a true micrometer built into the saw so that you can make very fine adjustments to the fence position.

Thirdly, the saw is just a pleasure to use. I love the smooth movement and tight fit of all the components, and it’s extremely quiet and vibration-free when it cuts.

Finally, I love the old-school feel to this machine. It has a classic steel ON/OFF toggle switch on the front and various knurled brass adjustment knobs. Everything about this machine says MADE IN AMERICA with personal pride and true craftsmanship. A few years ago, if you had told me that I would someday write a review of a table saw, I would have thought you were crazy. But this saw is inspiring. 🙂

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Comments (8)

  1. Cosme Baltazar
    May 23rd, 2013

    I really like the look of that small table saw, it’s designed very well

  2. Ruben Rosario
    January 25th, 2014

    What a beautiful piece of machinery. Is it one of kind or
    is it possible to buy one just like this from Byrnes?

  3. admin
    January 25th, 2014

    Ruben: This particular design of the table saw is a one-of-a-kind that I commissioned Jim Byrnes to make for me. The main thing is that the table and fence are a bit larger (than his usual saw) so that I can handle up to 6″ wide material. I’m also using a metal cutting blade rather than normal wood cutting blade. However, all the saws Jim makes are beautiful and at this level of quality. His “standard” model looks identical to this, but is limited to 3.865″ in width. He builds these saws for guys who build tiny models of ships. He himself is a ship modeler. If you are interested in a precision, American-made mini table saw, I would highly recommend his saws. Proxxon and Micromark are good little saws, but they do not compare in quality to a Byrnes. Not even close. Here is his website: http://www.byrnesmodelmachines.com/tablesaw1.html?id_mm=0125MM356347
    If you are interested in tools, you may want to look at our “Tool Photos” slide show here: http://beatty-robotics.com/project_categories/tool-photos/?post_type=project

  4. Chris
    March 10th, 2015

    Great review. I have owned the Brynes saw for about 10 years now and is my go-to tool for all things modeling. I had not however thought about using it for cutting metal. I do live steam engins and boilers to make RC steam launches. Thanks for the tip. Do you vary the power to lower the RPM when working metal?

  5. Robert
    March 10th, 2015

    No, I do not vary it. I’m generally cutting pretty thin aluminum, so it works all right for that.

  6. William Maner
    April 12th, 2015

    I to have a Byrnes saw. I use it all the time for both wood and metal, usually brass. I get my metal cutting saw blades from Victor Machinery in Brooklyn where the sell them as metal saw blades for jewelers. The only thing I do different is to wear a full face shield when cutting metals. For wood I find safety goggles and a dust mask enough. Saw can cut to 3 decimal places all day long. aside from cleaning it out every so often the only regular maintenance is to wax the table top and fence face once a week with a good floor wax just as I do with full sized machines.

  7. Capt. Earle C. Reuben
    June 10th, 2015

    Good day,

    How do I go about ordering this machine. I live in Indonesia and could you arrange to deliver it.

    warm regards,
    Earle.

  8. Giedrius
    October 28th, 2015

    Hi guys,

    Question to William – you have mentioned cutting brass with this table saw. what dimensions? I am looking for a tablesaw to cut bars up to 1 Inch thick. My usual size ist 10x10mm though. Since brass is harder than aluminium doesn’t it damage the surface of the table? Did you have any issues on cutting metal – e.g. a kickback because you were proceeding with cutting too fast. Thanks for the reply.

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