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
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…
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.
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.
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:
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.