RotoZip RotoSaw Review: Why You'll Want This Saw for Remodeling

RotoZip RotoSaw
The RotoZip RotoSaw spiral saw is a good tool for making plunge cuts. Lee Wallender 

Like the brand name saw Sawzall, which has come to refer to all reciprocating saws, and Skilsaw, which has come to refer to all circular saws, RotoZip RotoSaw is a now-legendary brand name that many people use to refer to any spiral saw. RotoZip RotoSaw has developed such a mystique that it is now considered to be indispensable and practically a required purchase for homeowners making their initial purchase of remodeling tools. It is also a solid cross-over tool, found in the toolboxes of as many professional tradespeople as do-it-yourselfers and home crafters.

RotoZip RotoSaw is a hardy tool to be reckoned with, though. If you simply want to make a few cuts or holes in light materials a few times a year, you may want to purchase a lower power, less expensive, and less problematic tool like a Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Speed Saw Rotary Cutter.

How a Spiral Saw Works

The idea had been percolating in the minds of do-it-yourselfers and industry professionals for a long time. That idea had been to build a jigsaw that can plunge-cut into the material and turn circles without acrobatic maneuvers on the part of the user.

It wasn't until the early 1970s, when Bob Kopras built the RotoZip RotoSaw, that this become possible. Imagine a power tool that transforms from a drill into a saw. First, you can drill straight into wood or drywall (the plunge part), then move sideways to cut holes (the cut part). This type of maneuvering is simply not possible with a drill or router.

A RotoZip RotoSaw looks like a handle-less drill. Its RotoBits move at extremely high RPMs. Start it up, plunge it into the material, and then carefully cut out your piece. Its closest cousins, the reciprocating saw or jigsaw, cannot begin the plunge cut by themselves; both need a starter hole created by a drill or a similar tool.

RotoZip RotoSaw Suggested Uses

  • Drywall: RotoZip's most famous use and the one that spawned its creation is as a drywall tool for cutting electrical box openings. You can do this before the boxes are installed or even while they are in place. This is no minor benefit if you intend to install boxes in drywall on a large scale. But if you intend to buy it for only a few boxes, you may want to purchase a jab saw instead. A manual jab saw costs about 90 percent less than a RotoZip RotoSaw and is much better for single jobs. 
  • Grout: You can always remove grout manually. But with the RotoZip RotoSaw, the blade moves effortlessly through the grout.
  • Tile: Cutting holes in ceramic or porcelain tile can be difficult because tile tends to crack. A spiral saw like RotoZip RotoSaw allows you to make round cuts in tile with less potential for breaking the tile.
  • Laminate: RotoZip is a useful tool for cutting rounded or amorphous shapes in many thin materials like laminate or veneer board.
  • Solid Surface: Solid surface countertop materials like Corian can be cut with a RotoZip RotoSaw. The tool is especially valuable for making sink cut-outs.

    Pros

    • Drawing 5.5 amps and topping 30,000 RPMs, RotoZip RotoSaw is a powerful fast-moving tool. If power is your main concern, you will want a tool like this one, rather than lower powered cordless spiral saws.
    • RotoZip RotoSaw does cut thin, soft materials very well. As long as you pay attention to instructions about moving clockwise or counter-clockwise around the bends, you will have reasonably good control over the tool.
    • The included Multipurpose bit plunges into and cuts thin materials (such as 5/8 inch drywall or 1/4 inch wood) with ease. Be careful not to take the RotoZip RotoSaw beyond its intended limits or the bit will start smoking as it tries to penetrate the material.
    • RotoZip has a full range of optional bits for every sort of intended purpose: bits for fiber-cement board, windows and doors, tile, grout, laminate, metal, and underlayment, as well as a range of other uses.
    • With the optional DD1-10 Direct Drive Attachment accessory, the RotoZip can be turned into a miniature angle grinder and cutting tool.
    • The company offers robust customer service in the form of a toll-free support number, forums, and an online chat.

    Cons

    • The collet system is nearly a deal-breaker as it is highly inconvenient. Collets are the removable metal sleeves that hug the bits and help them fit into the collar of the tool. When you change a bit, you need to change the collet, too.
    • To make matters worse with the collet system, the collets are not marked for size. Because no sizes are indicated on the collets, it becomes a matter of trying them on one by one until you happen upon the right size.
    • RotoZip RotoSaw throws off a lot of dust and byproduct that the Dust Vault does not capture.
    • The tool cuts a nice straight line as long as you have set up a guide. But the high RPMs make this tool difficult to control, resulting in wavy cuts.
    • With any kind of saw, you need to keep an eye on the cut. But this is difficult with the RotoZip RotoSaw because the bit is hard to see. When you add the Dust Vault, the bit becomes even more difficult to track.
    • Ordinarily, the fat, heavy electrical cord would be an item worthy of praise. But this is one case where the tool is light enough that the heavy cord drags down the tool and hampers movement.
    • The RotoZip RotoSaw does not have a soft friction grip handle, though the shape of the handle will assist your grip.
    • The tool does not come with an included tool case, box, or bag. While tool cases are often superfluous with many tools, in this situation it is necessary with the RotoZip RotoSaw, due to the number of small parts that the user must have on hand while operating the tool.
    • There is no secure place to store the wrench on the tool itself. However, you can store it on a loop attached to the power cord.

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.