Tool Review: Firestorm FS200SD / Black & Decker BDTS200 10" Table Saw

Are bottom-of-the-line bench top table saws a worthy investment for the homeowner and DIYer?. Maybe, but maybe not. Read on to find out if this saw will work for you.


By no means am I a professional tool reviewer. This is a review from an "average Joe" for all the DIYers out there.

Description
Table saws come in five basic designs:
Bench Top - Small and portable saws often sold as introductory table saws.
Contractor - Heavier duty motor and larger table than bench top. Motor usually drives a belt to turn the saw blade.
Hybrid - Motor from a contractor's saw with the design of cabinet saw
Cabinet - Large motor requiring 220 volt, 3 phase wiring (will not work with your standard household wiring). Has large table and is extremely heavy.
European - As large and expensive as a cabinet saw, these saws use a sliding table to move the work piece to the blade.

The Firestorm FS200SD and its identical twin, the Black & Decker BDTS200, are low-end budget bench top saws. The small table of this saw limits its use to small boards. You will not be able to rip full sized (4'x8') sheets of plywood on this saw without some serious modification or help. If you are planning on ripping long boards on this saw's scant table, I would suggest using an out-feed support jig. You can purchase one that is basically a roller mounted on an adjustable shaft, but a frugal alternative - which would probably be what you want if all you can afford is this table saw - would be to clamp an old paint roller to a saw horse.

Another quick and easy jig you can make for any table saw is a miter gauge extension. Simply take a straight board about 2"-4" tall and 8"-18" long and affix it to the front of your miter gauge so that one end protrudes past the blade. Then, with the blade set to its maximum height, run the miter gauge through so that the blade trims the wood extension. Now, when you place a board to cut on your table saw you can line up the cut mark with the edge of the miter gauge extension and you will know exactly where the cut will be made.

So How Good is the Firestorm FS200SD / Black & Decker BDTS200 Table Saw?As I mentioned before, this saw is priced as an introductory saw. At Lowes, it could be found for anywhere from $80-$130. That is very inexpensive for a table saw, but is it worth it to shell out that kind of money or are you better off if you save your pennies and put them towards a different table saw? Read on for more information that will help you make that decision.

The saw comes in a large box with the motor, blade assembly, and table pre-assembled. You have to assemble the stand with the provided hardware and instructions. It should take about half an hour; or, you can forgo the stand and clamp the saw on a workbench or table.

The table is made out of aluminum and, combined with the plastic housing, is very light. The stand also includes two wheels making this a back-friendly tool to move around the work shop.

Black & Decker included a rip fence that can be mounted in the integrated fence rail and can be adjusted to about 12" to the right side of the blade and 9" to the left. The fence locks in place by a cam lock activated by pushing the lever at the front of the fence down. (Fig. A) With a bit of coaxing the fence can lock down square to the blade, but do not expect it to keep square. I was able to move the back end of the fence about 1/8" from side to side even after the fence was locked in place. (Fig. B)

A miter gauge comes with the table saw as well. It fits into non-standard t-slots milled into the table top surface. (Fig. C) You can adjust the miter gauge by loosening the bolt on top and rotating the gauge. There are no stops at common angles, so you will have to be very careful when setting the angle.
The saw blade that comes with the table saw is a generic carbide-tipped blade designed to be sufficient at most cuts. It actually leaves a smooth edge and performs better than I would expect with such an inexpensive saw. It can be easily changed to accept any blade up to 10" You can also use a stacked dado blade (up to 1/2" wide) with this saw, though you will have to make, buy, or remove a blade insert.

The controls for the saw on all on the front. The large, prominent wheel raises and lowers the blade. To tilt the blade (up to 45 degrees) you have to unlock the lever and then manually lift the blade assembly (using the blade height adjusting wheel as a handle helps) to the desired angle.
The on/off switch is a small toggle switch low on the base. I would much prefer a larger switch within easy reach. The small switch can cause a problem if you ever need to shut the saw off in an emergency.
Some other miscellaneous features and points about the Firestorm saw include a convenient miter gauge holder on the side of the saw. There are also threaded bolt holes on the right hand side of the table that you could use to build your own table extension. This tool comes with a dust collector bag which can help keep your work area clean, however sometimes I think the spinning blade actually sucks some of the dust out of the bag and spews it out into the air over the table saw. This saw seems to make a lot more dust than my other table saw.

Summary
Although the Firestorm FS200SD / Black & Decker can make a decent cut I think its small size and non-standard accessories severely limit its functionality. A good circular saw will be a much more useful tool for cutting large pieces of plywood and a good power miter saw will do just as good of a job cross cutting boards.

Woodworkers often say that the table saw is the center of the work shop. That may be true for the larger table saws, but this saw will probably be relegated to the side lines.


What I Like
  1. Light weight and portable
  2. With some fine tuning you can get straight cuts
  3. 15 Amp motor has plenty of power
  4. Table top is true and flat
  5. Included blade works well

What I Dislike
  1. Fence could be more accurate
  2. Built-in rail system does not allow aftermarket fence and rails
  3. Non-standard t-slot miter slots
  4. Cheap miter gauge
  5. Plastic housing
  6. Small on/off switch located too far away from work area
My Rating
I rate on a five star scale.
1 star = Poor, I would not buy and would probably not use even if given to me.
2 stars = Marginal, there are better products out there in the same price range. I would only consider getting this if it were extremely discounted and I did not plan on using it very much, otherwise I would suggest passing.
3 stars = Acceptable, if this product were on sale and I needed it, I would buy it. It functions as it should and will probably last a few years. It is probably not good enough to be my primary tool of choice, but excels as a back-up.
4 stars = Good, this tool is worth retail price if you need it. It only has a few minor drawbacks that are easily outweighed by its strengths.
5 stars = Nearly Perfect, this product is exception with few minor, if any, flaws. It is built well enough to pass on to the next generation of DIYers and will not disappoint them.


The Firestorm FS200SD / Black & Decker BDTS200 Table Saw gets



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5 comments:

Mike Halfpenny June 15, 2014 at 8:43 AM  

The review of this table saw is pretty much Spot On. However, I have used mine now for about 4 years and it's still going strong. If your looking for a professional grade, pass this saw up, but I'm no professional and have found that with a little coaxing, you can get this saw to cut anything.
I recommend that you use a little Loctite on the bolt threads when you assemble the base, they will vibrate loose.
So Far, I'm pleased with it.

Anonymous,  July 19, 2014 at 1:00 AM  

I spent several hours tweaking the saw so I could get a decent cut. I would recommend sleds for crosscutting boards, and 445° angles. As you say the fence is junk. I added a 48" x 4" three-quarter inch plywood board to the fence just to keep the stock from wiggling too much as I passed it through the saw. I also built a small outfeed table which helped a little. For occasional and non-precise work, this will probably do okay. But if you want to do any decent woodwork, I agree with the author – buy a contractor saw or better.

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 8:53 AM  

Excellent objective and truthful review. Saws like this tend to be aimed at the folks who know the least about them. Reviews like this are very helpful to those who do the research upfront.

Lori September 24, 2015 at 9:23 PM  

That’s great. I usually picture frame decord in my home. I use miter saw that cut wood. I have problem with cutting board 90 degree. Do you have tip for me?

Table Saw Fence October 27, 2015 at 12:47 PM  

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