I had the recent pleasure of putting the Evolution EVO 380 Raptor steel cut off saw to the test while building a new dining room table for my most critical client: My lovely bride of 11 years. As a craftsman working with both old and new materials, I really wanted to focus on a high level of precision with this piece, to provide the perfect match of old/new. The Raptor would help me achieve this goal. To build the dining table top, I salvaged cypress from a pair of 1930s carriage style garage doors my neighbor was throwing out. (Friends, never throw away wood of this age and quality!) I carefully pulled the doors apart and ran the 2×6 beams through my joiner and surface planer to expose the aged beauty of the wood. I paired the cypress top with a welded steel frame and legs built from 1.5” 12 gauge steel square tubing. The steel adds a nice industrial look plus extreme durability to the piece, and I love working with it. This table will not be pampered or carefully loved, but rather it will need to stand up to the test of spills, bumps, pounding and anything else my three daughters would throw at it over the coming years. It needs to last a lifetime! I had only two days to knock out this project, so this was the perfect testing ground for the Raptor.
Evolution EVO 380 Raptor Steel Cut Off Saw Features
The Evolution EVO 380 Raptor steel cut off saw is designed with a 2200 watt motor to cut mild steel without heat, burrs, or the need for water—and all from a single 15 amp circuit. The Raptor boasts a 14” blade and has the cutting capacity to slice through 4 ¾” x 4 ¾” steel tubing with ¼” wall thickness (no easy task). You can also tackle 5 ⅛” pipe or a 4” x 7” steel tube without an issue not to mention scaffolding, aluminum, cast iron or stainless steel with ease. Upon unboxing the saw, I was really impressed with how solid this tool feels. The cutting deck is constructed of heavy duty cast iron and adjusts to cut from 0 to 45 degree angles. Evolution has designed this saw for industrial production work with a blade worth 900 cuts of mild steel (the real-world life depends on material gauge and size).
The saw weighs about 50 pounds and really stands its ground when positioned on a bench. Although the weight does make it tough to lug around, that’s to be expected when using a tool of this magnitude. If you needed to, you could certainly throw it on a truck and take it to the job.
Features and Safety
Evolution did a great job with implementing safety features on this saw. For example, the steel blade guard functions flawlessly and it’s very sturdy. They also package the tool with a decent pair of safety goggles, extra brushes for the motor, and a three year warranty—two thumbs up! The front-mounted swivel clamp lets you quickly set up 90 degree or 45 degree cuts. A hi-torque gearbox is responsible for letting you cut through the toughest steel without bogging down the motor. A built-in collection tray collects a good amount of the sharp metal shavings which are made when cutting steel, but you can also (recommended) connect the Raptor 2 to a dust collector or shop vac for even better collection of the ejected steel. To expand the tool, Evolution Power Tools has blades that can be purchased to allow you to cut stainless steel or aluminum just as clean as “soft” steel with the included blade.
Real World Testing
I setup the Evolution EVO 380 Raptor steel cut off saw on a workbench in my shop and got to work cutting out all the various table frame support pieces and legs. My first impression was: This is definitely the right tool for the job. This saw is a beast. It cuts steel just about as quickly as my chop saw cuts a 2×4! I was thoroughly impressed with the powerful and dry-cutting clean design. The saw’s special carbide tipped blade executed each cut with a high level of precision I didn’t expect, and the blade left my work pieces clean and ready for welding. Thee were almost no burrs at all. This saw is effortless and throws off very little mess and minimal sparks, ideal for working in mildly hazardous areas where heavy sparks could start a fire. As mentioned above, Evolution put a handy pull-out collection tray in below the cutting deck to collect most of the shavings and it works rather well. Also, the clamps on the cutting deck are heavy duty and fantastic at securing the workpiece.
While using the Evolution EVO 380 Raptor I was able to get the table frame and legs cut out and welded in about 60 minutes, which is about ⅓ the amount of time I usually spend on this task. This saw would excel in a production environment. To add some extra load to the testing I clamped in four pieces of 1 ½” 12 gauge square tubing side by side to see how the saw would perform. The saw blazed through each piece showing little load reduction and finished with a clean cut—really impressive! During my testing I found only one item Evolution could consider with the next model of this saw: It’s tough to see your markings on the workpiece. The motor and blade guard can cast a shadow on the black cutting deck. Some LEDs to light up the cutting area would be a great addition to this saw and raise the value even more.