Review of RotoSaw SS355-10—If Ahnold Hung Drywall

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Recently, RotoZip’s latest version of its spiral saw corkscrewed its way into the HF executive suite. I’ve been using a RotoZip tool for many years, primarily for drywall cutouts and brain surgery, and I was interested to see how the new RotoSaw they provided would stack up against the old standard.(By the way, I don’t really use it for brain surgery; my chainsaw is much faster). 

The specs, from the RotoZip website:
• Powerful 5.5 AMP, 30,000 RPM MagnaCore™ Motor
• Dual grip zones provide superior comfort and control
• Spiral system with compatible attachments and accessories
• Bump switch quickly powers the tool down
• Dust vectoring exhaust vents
• Compatible with ZipBits and XBits

Enough to get you ripping through your first piece of drywall

The SS355-10 is their basic model, and as such comes with minimal extras—two drywall bits, three collets, and the collet wrench. The only compatible accessories are the Circle Cutter Guide and the Dust Management Kit.

Even so, drywall is just one of many items in the RotoSaw’s diet plan; with the three included collets (1/8”, 5/32” and ¼”), the saw will accept any of 20 different bits. The various bits enable you to make plunge and freehand cuts in porcelain tile, marble, granite, wood, sheet metal up to 18 gauge, plaster and lath (both wood and that pesky steel mesh they love to bury in it), pizza, and laminate, among others. (OK, you might have a little cleanup to do if you used it on pizza). Best of all, when your work day is done, you could also be the kick-ass pumpkin carving king or queen come Halloween…

New and shiny meets old and dusty…

My old RotoZip SCS01, which has been in my arsenal for 10 years or so, was also a low-end model, and as I recall, came with roughly the same extras. It’s shaped a little differently, and has on-board storage for a few bits, the extra collets, and the collet wrench in the detachable handle. The new model has no hidey holes on it, but there is a little rubber strap on the power cord, designed to hold the wrench. The nose piece of the older model is metal; the new one is plastic, but seems sturdy. The tools are roughly the same size and weight; the smooth surface on the new model is a bit more comfortable to hold and use. One big advantage of the older model is its ability to accept an optional angle head unit, which can be fitted with various grinding/sanding/cutting accessories.

Make some practice cuts, and avoid cheap boxes!

Rippin’ into some drywall…

Although I have used my old RotoZip to cut into plaster and lath, and a couple of times on tile, my usual time to grab it is when there’s a big honkin’ stack of drywall to install. The RotoSaw is like a mini-router, and while it does a great job of making plunge and scrolling cuts, it takes a bit of practice to keep your project from looking like a piece of abstract art (or a piece of something else). The bit spins at 30,000 RPM, and if your attention wanders, the bit will, too.

The guide point bit will follow the contours of what lies beneath…

When cutting around the outside edge of something (an electrical device box, for instance), make sure you use a guide point bit, and make the cut in a counter-clockwise direction. Inside cuts work best going clockwise. On a guide point bit, the last ¼” or so is smooth (no cutting edge), to follow the contour of whatever you’re cutting, while being less likely to cut through it. In the real world, though, these bits get VERY hot, and if you’re using the cheapo 25-cent blue device boxes, the bit will melt right through it. The thicker-walled fiber-plastic boxes, or metal boxes, are a much better choice; besides not melting on contact, they’re much sturdier and easier to work with. The following video demonstrates the technique:

Cutting around a box takes about 10 seconds!

A solid addition to the tool crib

I used the RotoSaw to cut out around boxes in drywall on a remodeling project I’m doing, and it performed as advertised. The collet holds the bit tightly, and the depth adjustment is easy to use. The power switch is positioned near the rear of the tool, and isn’t very susceptible  to unintentional starts and stops. The ungrounded power cord is sturdy, and about 6 ½’ long. The tool starts and stops smoothly, and overall seems well made. (One suggestion: if you buy the tool, invest in a cheap small canvas tool bag to keep the tool, wrench, bits, etc. in the same general vicinity). If you’re interested in seeing more of what this saw can do, there are ten more how-to videos for the RotoSaw here.

A spiral saw is one of those tools that, once you get it, make you wish you’d bought it long ago. The variety of applications—drywall, HVAC ductwork cutouts, tile work, grout removal, etc.—make it a valuable addition to the toolbox of any tradeperson or avid DIYer. (And who wouldn’t want a tool that sounds like it was ripped off the Terminator’s arm!). After I finish up the drywall, my next project is tiling a bathroom floor and shower, so the RotoSaw’s (and my) next meal will be tile dust. That’ll be good roughage, after the drywall dust…yum! The RotoSaw is available from our friends at Tyler Tool for around $60.

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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11 thoughts on “Review of RotoSaw SS355-10—If Ahnold Hung Drywall”

  1. “After I finish up the drywall, my next project is tiling a bathroom floor and shower” I wasn’t expecting you till next week. But good, the earlier the better. Don’t forget to bring the tiles too.

    This seems like one of those fun tools to own. Such a sense of accomplishment after you open that hole. Not like sawing a piece of wood or drilling a hole. I haven’t needed one yet but it’s on the fun list and I always check them out when I’m out and about. Trying to rationalize why I must need one.

    • I’ll begin the tile work within two weeks after the jumbo box of $50 bills arrives. I have the tiles; you DID say pink tile with an orange border, right?
      Opening that hole IS a sense of accomplishment, assuming you open it in the right place, and DON’T open up any pipes or wiring in the process. As for rationalizing why you must need one? Because you don’t HAVE one.

      • Where should I send that jumbo box of $50 bills? I’m not sure about the orange but I’ve seen some nice pink tiles with a black border circa 1960.

        Rotozipping through a live wire is probably not quite as much fun as rotozipping through a femoral artery but what a great story to tell if you live.

        Yes, I do need one because there are a million other rationalizations that have priority. Like I’m still on tube TV’s except for one small cheap HD I bought for the kitchen.

        Bear with me I’m gonna go on a rant.

        The funny part about these new HD’s is the sound is pretty much lousy unless you opt for a sound system. Their pictures have problems no matter if their edge-lit or have local dimming and God help you if there’s action but damn they look good in dark rooms where there’s not a lot of motion in the room and on the screen. Just don’t sit off to either side to far and whatever you do don’t get a matte screen or the viewing angle will be reduced of course if you get the shiny screen than you can reflect the whole room into the TV not that you really want to see yourself watching TV but you increase the viewing angle. Then you have to pick between plasma (which has one of the best pictures but doesn’t hold up well) or LCD (which uses a lot of electric and can have dead pixels and so-so color), LED (which to me seems the way to go except the colors aren’t as vibrant as a plasma but it uses minimal energy) and now the new OLED’s which are only available in smaller sizes and very expensive and I’m not even sure what the difference is between LED and OLED. Then you have TV’s with Apps or 3-D or Internet connectivity (not to be confused with “internet ready” which means you have to buy something else) or maybe all three which brings up a whole other set of questions about speed, loading and even the occasional does it even work. And they talk about passive or aggressive 3-D technology and I find myself feeling very passive aggressive about the whole thing. Finally watch something in letter-box and wow a whole new set of problems which brings us to tuning something I haven’t done since the 70’s where you used to have to use a control called fine tuning every time you changed channels to correct for signals that drifted off of their frequency or had bounced off something causing ghosting. Cable and satellite eliminated the fine tuning and now here we are again fine tuning but on a scale that doesn’t even come close to that of the 70’s and based on a particular scene which can change at any moment.

        Because the transmission is digital each dot is off or on and for HD that’s a lot of offs/ons and so they compress the signal so they corrupt the dot offs/ons into something less and they still don’t have the bandwidth to deliver all these channels with all the offs/ons and the stations don’t have the money to upgrade to HD equipment. Not to mention you have to pay more to have those HD offs/ons distributed to you.

        You have the connections for external items that used to be in the rear but some of the screens are so thin that they have to run a box off a ribbon cable for your hookups. Now you have VGA, HDMI, DVI and composite. Some transmit sound some don’t so keep that in mind because you might just need some line splitters. Old equipment tends to be limited to composite hookups or even single cable-type connections. Most of my DVD players use a composite.

        I haven’t even bought a Blu-Ray because I’m expecting that everything’s going to be streamed eventually and I’m really tired of replacing/upgrading everything to the tune of thousands of dollars every time someone has a supposedly better idea.

        I wonder how many bits and bytes are lost each and every day from a bad compression to a lost hard drive or thumb drive, a scratched DVD, CD or Blu-ray for that matter.

        Just make sure you have enough connections on the “connector box” and the right connections for all your equipment. Then when you have it all figured out and have spent over your initial budget. Go out and buy a new TV because they’ll change the hookup or try to replace an old one with better quality or so they’ll say.

        Remember quadrophonic? People said enough is enough and I’m not that much of an audiophile to separate everything into 4 channels and not much ever got made for 4 channel but which came first? The lack of product or consumer sentiment about the desire for the product? Similar to DVD and Blu-ray. Many people bought into DVD until they found out the problems with scratches or just overuse and heat. Turns out that lasers get awful hot and literally make DVD’s brittle over time and then there’s the whole problem of loss of reflectivity after 20 years leaving you with a blank disc. Consumer burned CD’s, or DVD’s are even more susceptible because they aren’t as tough and the reflectivity is much lower than their commercial counterparts, to begin with.

        Now you can watch “your shows” anywhere depending on your service providers. Well your distributor may be willing to let you watch but your network provider is limiting your bandwidth basically preventing you from watching. Even if you pay them extra they’re only going so far with the so-called “unlimited data” whether they slow it down or cut if off. Then you have the minimal requirements that you must meet to watch a show on a computer, smart phone, tablet, pad or whatever and that includes no unnecessary programs running that might temporarily grab too much CPU or network bandwidth that will cause you a frozen video also known as customer viewing displeasure and don’t forget that your battery could well go dead in the middle of that $6.99 movie.

        Are we getting better service and quality or just more confusing service and quality? We used to be able to know exactly what to expect when you went from an antenna on the roof to cable…channels that had quality pictures and sound even though we had to cede to the stupid cable boxes which they still haven’t infused into the TV’s. TV’s still carry the tuners which is fine if you’re using an antenna but why should I pay for a tuner that I can’t use other than to put the TV on channel 3 or 4?

        We can assign unique addresses to the millions of connections on the internet but we can’t do it with a TV without that special box? Com’n, who are we kidding? This is easy rental money for providers. One box and a remote for every TV! That’s a lot of chedda’ yo’! When all they truly need is a network card like every other device and then you would just tell your provider what that address is so they could add it into their system and say no thank you to that extra $50 of add-ons every month. Hmmm that would bring the cost down to almost what it was 20 years ago before we had all the add-ons.

        Honestly how is anyone suppose to figure this out? Pretty soon we’re going to have to hire professionals to insure that all our components work together and that we use the proper service providers for our particular situations. Can you imagine? It’s nothing short of an event planner just a whole lot more technical dealing with decibels, frequencies, lumen, color temperatures, bandwidths and personal choices.

        • Woah Todd! When you say you’re going to go off on a rant, you do NOT mess around! I’m sensing some pent-up issues surrounding technology. ; ) Keeping up with tech is definitely becoming a more hectic, time-consuming and difficult task. But, with that said, I’d totally sleep with my iPhone if it were at all soft and curvaceous! Stay strong brother!

          • I have my technology loves too. My Asus G73 laptop for example. But what I’m finding is that there are/or is too much useless information and it’s obliterates the good information making it all practically useless.

  2. The RotoZips one of the most dangerous tools in the industry….especially for the DIYer ….This tool will turn a shirt with with sleeves into a short sleeve in a heartbeat…….You will look like a you were dealing with Tiger …….

    Take extreme caution with tools like this…….Respect it……

    Yrs ago when I got into the trades the drywallers would use cheap Craftsman brand routers. They would remove the base and shroud and use a standard 1/4″ drill bit as the cutter. The drill bits would still rip your shirt off but not do as much body damage as the new SHARPER RotoZip bits will do.. For the average once in a while Diyer project a drill and a drill bilt will cut the electrical boxes out. Ive done it many times in the past for very small projects……..

    • You’re right, Troy, about taking caution with tools like this, for DIYer and pro alike; the same applies to ANY power tool. You can do some pretty serious damage to yourself with any number of common tools: circular saws, reciprocating saws, drills, chainsaws, nailguns; heck, you can hurt yourself with a shovel. The key is, as you said, to have respect for whatever tool you’re using, make sure you know how to use it properly, and take your time. A lot of accidents (mine, anyhow) come from trying to take a “shortcut.”
      For myself, if I only have a couple of boxes to cut out, I don’t even drag the power tools out; I just grab my keyhole drywall saw. Less dust, less noise, and no farting around trying to remember where I left the RotoZip!

  3. This sounds like a good tool, but it also sounds like your old model was just as awesome. I know there are a few upgrades to the newer model, but at least you know the older model you had wasn’t too outdated or crappy.

    As far as brain surgery goes, a doctor in rural Australia actually used a household drill to ease the pressure on a boy’s brain hemorrhage… I assume you used your chainsaw in a similar fashion? 🙂

    • You’re right, Rachel, the old model was chuggin’ along just fine, and if you buy the third collet for it, will take all the same bits as the newer model. If you already have a RotoZip, there’s really no need to update.

      As for the brain surgery, I like to think of myself as a low-cost option to overpriced health care, provided in a tranquil outdoor setting. Take three ibuprofen, sign the waiver, and away we go! (And I figure if you choose this method, you’re probably not using your brain all that much anyhow, so even if things go horribly wrong–which is very likely–it’s no great loss…)

      • Sounds like they are both great models. Thanks for the review.

        Haha it sounds like you are in the wrong industry, Phil. You were clearly meant to be in the medical field.

        • Very true; I’ve enjoyed playing doctor ever since I was a young lad…Thanks for the comments, and I’ll give you 10% off your first surgery (cash in advance, naturally!)


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