Kreg Adaptive Cutting System

Get more work done efficiently with this highly practical and versatile multifunctional panel and lumber cutting system.

Kreg Adaptive Cutting System

Kreg Adaptive Cutting System



MANUFACTURER:Kreg
Kit Options:ACS3000 - ACS Master Kit
ACS2000 - ACS Saw and Track
ACS1000 - ACS Project Table Kit
PRICE:ACS3000 - $1,199.99
ACS2000 - $529.99
ACS1000 - $669.99
SOURCE:Dealer Search
KEY FEATURES (ACS3000 - MASTER KIT):
Table Width/Length:29-1/2" x 55"
Table Height:33-3/4" to 36-3/8"
Saw Motor Amperage:12
Saw Blade Diameter:6-1/2"
Max Cut Capacity:2-1/8" @ 90°
1-1/2" @ 45°
Bevel Capacity:-1° to 47°
Weight:11.7 pounds
Max Cut Length on Track:50"
Warranty:1 Year
Includes:Project Table; Plunge Saw with 48-tooth carbide-tipped blade and dust collection bag; 62" Guide Track with track hinges and mounting plates; 4 Versa-Stops; 2 Material Stops with joining bar; Measuring Scales; Owner's Manual
Full Specs:ACS3000

The Kreg Tool Company – the folks who are synonymous with pocket-hole screw joinery – have recently introduced the Kreg ACS (Adaptive Cutting System). The 'Adaptive' moniker refers to the flexibility of the ACS, in that it can be used for sheet good and panels, along with solid stock and dimensional lumber, to make both straight and angled cuts.

The ACS is comprised of two basic components: a Project Table that consists of a table top with a grid pattern of 19mm (3/4") holes and a mobile stand, and a Plunge Saw with Guide Track. As well, there are a variety of optional accessories you can purchase to extend the functionality of the ACS.

The ACS is available in three kits, as show in the chart below:

ACS3000ACS2000ACS1000
ACS3000
ACS2000
ACS1000
Includes:
Project Table + Project Table Base
Plunge Saw
Guide Track
Rip-Stop Saw Bag
2 Track Hinges and Mounting Plates
4 Versa-Stops
2 Repetitive Stops + Joining bar
2 Primary Rulers
2 Secondary Rulers
Miter Guide
48" Extension Bar
Includes:
Plunge Saw
Guide Track
Rip-Stop Saw Bag
Includes:
Project Table + Project Table Base
2 Track Hinges and Mounting Plates
4 Versa-Stops
2 Repetitive Stops + Joining bar
2 Primary Rulers
2 Secondary Rulers
Miter Guide
48" Extension Bar

The ACS is, foremost, a panel processing system. If you do a lot of work with sheet goods or shop made wood panels, or if you don't have a large capacity sliding table saw or vertical panel saw, a panel processing system can be especially important. Sheet goods can be quite heavy to manhandle – a 3/4" sheet of standard MDF can weigh in at almost 100 pounds while a sheet of 3/4" hardwood plywood can top out at around 75 pounds. Cutting sheet goods accurately on a jobsite or contractor table saw, or even a cabinet saw with a standard-size tabletop can be awkward at best, and dangerous at worst. With the ACS you can process sheet goods easily, safely, and efficiently.

Additionally, the ACS can be used to rip and crosscut solid stock, making either straight or angled cuts. While it's unlikely to replace the need for a table saw in a professional furniture or cabinet shop, it could certainly be considered a suitable alternative in a small hobbyist shop or for an avid DIYer working out of a garage.

There is quite a bit of online information about the ACS. The two that I found most useful for learning about how it works are the ACS micro website, and Kregs' Overview of the ACS video.

Once you purchase an ACS these three videos are indispensible: Setting up the Project Table, How to Set Up the Plunge Saw and 62" Guide Track, and Next-Level Cutting Capabilities. The first two videos, in particular, complement the Owner's Manual.

I've been using the ACS3000 mostly in a shop setting, and in this review I'll share what I consider some of its strengths and deficiencies.

Kreg-ACS_1
The various components of the ACS3000 (not including the saw and track).

It took me just over 1-1/2 hours to completely assemble the ACS. You might want to allow for about 2 hours if you've not done this kind of assembly before. The parts are all clearly labeled, and the Owner's Manual provides succinct instructions on what needs to be done. The text in the manual is supported by black lined illustrations on a white background – I would have preferred photos which show components more clearly than illos, making the parts easier to distinguish. I also highly recommend that you watch the two 'setting-up' videos mentioned above before you start the assembly.

Kreg-ACS_3
Tape the U-bolts in place before turning the table top upside down.

The table top is attached to the mobile base by means of U-bolts inserted through the top side of the table top and secured to bar brackets on the underside of the top. I found it easier to tape the U-bolts in place before turning the table top upside down – otherwise the bolts have a tendency to fall out of the holes.

The table top is designed to be used with the plunge saw and guide track. However, you can also use it as a multifunction workbench for a variety of tasks including planing, sanding, assembly and finishing. The tabletop uses 3/4" dog holes (rather than 20mm holes), and you can use these holes with a variety of commercial or shop made clamping accessories. My favourites include Kreg In-Line Clamps (KBCIC) and Veritas Surface Clamps (05G19.01) and Planing Stops (05G23XX). I use these in conjunction with the Versa-Stops that come with the ACS for positioning stock.

Kreg-ACS_4
Speed assembly by using a drill driver.

While Kreg supplies a wrench to fasten the flange lock nuts that connect the U-bolts to the bar brackets, you can speed things up by using a drill driver equipped with a 15mm nut setter.

Kreg-ACS_17
Hinge installed on the bottom of the guide track and hinge-mounting plate attached to the end of the table.

Before installing the hardware that connects the guide track to the table top you need to trim the anti-chip strip on the outer edge of the guide rail. The easiest way to do this is simply lay the track on a sacrificial sheet of ply that is about 8" wide – any thickness will do – and that's at least a couple of inches longer than the track – so, about 64" long. Lower the saw blade 1/8" or so below the thickness of the ply and cut away.

Installing the hinge plate onto the bottom of the guide track and the mounting plate onto the end of the table (photo above) might look complicated, but it really isn't – as long as you read and follow the instructions. I found it went together without a hitch. Once installed, you can then score a kerf about 1/4" deep into the table top. All your future cuts will engage this kerf.

The hinge setup enables you to quickly raise the track, position the stock – up to 2-1/8" thick – you want to cut underneath the track, and then lower and lock the track in place. Once you've done this a couple of times, I think you'll find, as I did, that it's a very intuitive process. Of course, as you change the thickness of the stock you'll need to adjust the depth of cut for the blade, which is quick to do. I've been using the ACS exclusively to process 3/4" sheet goods, so I don't have to change the depth of cut at all.

Kreg-ACS_23
Rulers are easy to install and calibrate
 
After installing the guide track the last thing to do is install and calibrate the measuring tapes – referred to as the 'Primary Rulers' and 'Secondary Rulers' in the Owner's Manual – onto the aluminum channels (aka the 'Table Tracks') that are pre-installed on the top of the project table. The tapes are easy to slip into the aluminum tracks, but do take your time when aligning the tapes as they're critical for making precision cuts. Once positioned the tapes don't move, so shouldn't come out of alignment – however if they do, you can easily re-align them.

Currently there is only a 62" track that Kreg has available. This length works well on the ACS table for crosscutting or ripping stock up to 50". However, if you regularly rip full sheets of plywood lengthwise you can always buy a second track (ACS430) and a set of connectors (ACS445) which gives you a 112" cutting capacity.

Kreg-ACS_9
To use the track separate from the ACS table you must remove the track hinge plate

Occasionally I've needed to use the plunge saw and track outside the shop. To do this, you need to remove the track hinge plate from both ends of the track. Fortunately, it takes less than a minute to do this, even though you have to access the allen screws from underneath the track. Once back in the shop it doesn't take much time to reinstall the hinge plates. You just need to remember to position the edge of the hinges 2-1/2" from the end of the track, and then square it to the track edge.

Kreg-ACS_10
The cord manager occassionally slips out of position.

One small annoyance that I've experienced a few times is with the cord manager slipping out of position when it's inadvertently knocked against. However, it's not a big deal as you simply push it back into place.

Kreg-ACS_5
Brace locks on the handles are easy to use

The brace locks on the handles (used to maneuver the ACS around the shop or job site) are quick to engage, as the detent balls are covered with a plastic tab. It's a useful little 'extra'.

Kreg-ACS_28
Brace locks on the legs are appreciably more difficult to engage

For some reason Kreg has dispensed with the plastic tab over the brace locks used to engage/disengage the leg assembly. I find it makes the detent balls harder to depress.

Kreg-ACS_22
ACS in the compact, upright mode

It takes about a minute to convert the ACS into the upright mode for storage or transport. I like that the track remains on the table with no risk of falling off. As well, you can leave accessories attached to the track and Versa-stops mounted on the table – all very convenient.

Kreg-ACS_6
Square bolts attach jigs to the table tracks

Kreg uses square nuts to attach various accessories to the aluminum table tracks. Small plastic knobs tighten the nuts against the track. Being more familiar with T-bolt nuts, I initially had doubts that this arrangement would work well. But as I've found out, once tightened, accessories stay firmly in place.

Kreg-ACS_12
Calibration scale on the miter guide can be difficult to read

I find that in all but ideal lighting, the calibration scale on the miter guide is difficult to read. As well, I would have appreciated detents at least at the 0° and 45° angles.

Kreg-ACS_27
The ACS plunge saw has the blade on the left side

Unlike all other plunge saws on the market, the ACS saw has its blade on the left side. This makes sense, as it enables you to see the blade while cutting. Having the blade on the right side would require you to awkwardly lean over the saw to view the cut. Lefties are out of luck – they'll need to use their right hand to manipulate the saw.

I found that the 48 tooth blade that comes with the saw does an excellent job on both rip cuts and crosscuts. The blades are 165mm and have a 20mm arbor hole, which is somewhat of a non-standard size. You can use a 20mm x 160mm blade wit the ACS, though the maximum cutting depth will be reduced slightly. Which means that 160mm blades from Freud or Festool will fit the ACS saw, though Makita blades with a kerf thickness 2.2mm or greater might work.

The saw also comes with a dust collection bag that does a very good job of managing the dust the saw kicks up. The bag does fill up quickly, especially when you're doing a lot of repetitive cutting, so it's a good idea to connect the saw to a dust extractor.

Kreg-ACS_20
Quick, precise cuts with no chipout.

I find that you can position stock and make cuts very quickly with the ACS. As shown in the photo above, I use a material stop (two on very wide stock) and a Versa-Stop when making straight cuts. You can also use them to make perfect 45° miter cuts. For any other angle you'll want to use the Miter Guide.

The Kreg ACS is thoughtfully designed and works well, and in my view is ideal for DIYers who don't have a table saw. For most DIYers it could also substitute for a miter saw – with the exception perhaps of cutting wide crown moulding. The folding work table is robust and stable in use, and the saw has all the features you'd expect on a plunge saw. The accessories, while made of a durable high impact thermoplastic, seem best suited for light to medium duty work. Renovators who use a lot of sheet goods on the job, and small furniture or cabinet shops that also use a lot sheet goods and don't have a sliding table saw or panel saw, would also likely find the ACS a practical and useful shop addition. And, of course, a major added benefit of the ACS is that it quickly converts to a multi-function work table.


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