Deep Water Questions #1: Table saw dilemmas

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Blog entry by kowtow posted 02-19-2011 06:55 AM 1627 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’m pretty new at this, I worked in a shop last year that had the best of everything right at your fingertips. Festool power tools, a 22” planer, two cabinet saws, three 14” bandsaws, a 24” bandsaw, a 12” jointer. A dust collection system that sucked every ppm of wood dust right out of the shop.

When I left, I took my hand tools. And my desire to build a comparable shop, and I moved to Southern Kentucky.

Now, I’m getting there. I have a workbench and pegboard and I’ve cludged my way into being able to do enough work to build my kayak (which is a work in progress). In short, things are moving right along.

I recently bought an older Jet WBS-14. I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve been taking it apart, cleaning all the bits and pieces, making sure it runs smooth flat table all that stuff.

My next purchase is going to be a tablesaw. I’ve already decided that. I have ripped boards by hand and I am convinced that a tablesaw is a time saving machine that opens up a whole world of awesome.

So I’ve done some of my research on which tablesaw to buy and I’ve narrowed it down to three brands: Delta, Powermatic, and Jet. I like the idea of SawStop, but I don’t like the way the owner is trying to cram the technology down my throat. And honestly the two worst injuries I’ve seen in a shop were from a hand saw and a screwdriver. I won’t get into the details but it was gnarly, there was lots of red stuff and I nearly passed out.

So, onward and upward as they say:

All three of the saws receive pretty comparable ratings for arbor runout, table flatness and motor performance. What it seems like I’m spending my money on is the fence, the gizmos that come with it, and brands perceived reputation.

With Jet, it appears that I’m getting a good saw at the price;
Powermatic seems as good, about 600 more than Jet, but it’s made in America and that’s important to me;
And the Uni-saw is new, flashy, shiny and has all sorts of bells and whistles.

User reviews for all three saws seem pretty consistent, most people like their saw the best. Some people don’t like their saw and are grinding the ax about it pretty good.

Does anybody have any opinions about this? I’m looking in the 5hp range. It might seem like overkill but I have a lot of white oak on my property and a lot of it needs to be trimmed back because the forest is suffering. Some of it is just blowing over on it’s own.

But what do you think about your table saw, and what are things I should look for when I’m deciding on mine.

10 comments so far

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 3381 days

#1 posted 02-19-2011 07:42 AM

Powermatic and Jet are owned by the same company, Walter Meier Manufacturing Inc. Gotta go with the Powermatic, though. Even though they are owned by the same organization, Powermatic just seems to have a better edge on quality than Jet on most items. Years ago I would have highly recommended a Delta, but the newer one I own doesn’t live up to the quality I had in the ones made in the 70’s and before, during the Delta/Rockwell era.
SawStops are great but like you, I tire of the push for the technology when basic safety skills keeps fingers out of harms way.
Don’t rule out Grizzly. Take a look at them. I would stay clear of Steel City. Been a disappointment, IMO.
Good luck.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4320 days

#2 posted 02-19-2011 07:45 AM

I have the Jet CTAS-10 cab saw that is 20-30 years old with the Bessey fence and the long rails. I love it. It is only 3hp but has cut anything that I have been able to run through it. I think I paid about 500 bucks off from craigslist. I have it all dialed in, “did not take long” and it holds its accuracy. Good luck on your search.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View Sandy's profile


227 posts in 4491 days

#3 posted 02-19-2011 02:06 PM

I recently sold my Delta Unisaw (52” with Biesemeier fence), as I rarely used it since I got my Festool TS-55. It’s a lot easier to align and use a track saw to move over sheet goods than it is to lift and move large pieces of sheet goods over a table saw. Also, the cut quality, even on melamine, is incredible. If I was to buy another table saw, though, I would absolutely buy the SawStop. The argument about technology being crammed down our throats is no more worthy of repeating in my shop than the arguments about not using seat belts, air bags, or motorcycle helmets. Get real guys, technology relating to safety is far less expensive than the alternative. As a Festool employee once told me, with Festool you only cry once. I’m sure the same is true of a SawStop purchase, but with a SawStop the reason for crying once (initial expense) is far easier to deal with than the reason for crying later (I’m sure I don’t have to mention the details).

View kowtow's profile


20 posts in 3224 days

#4 posted 02-19-2011 03:10 PM

Sandy, it’s not the technology I object to, it’s the lobbying congress to have them mandate that all tablesaws have the technology that he patented on them. If he made the technology, offered it around, got rejected, started his own company and stopped right there. I would probably buy one. But I object to the extra step of getting congress involved. And as the folks in the Woodcraft pointed out, there are so many other ways for to give up a digit in a shop that spending an extra $1000 on a tablesaw, when I probably uses a bandsaw or a drill press more, seems a bit… well wasteful I guess. But mostly I just think the guy’s a bit shady. And if I can boycott a gasoline station for not having wiper blades, I can certainly boycott SawStop.

I have a lot of practice with the Festool lines. We had a couple of the 55s and one of the 75s and I will be getting one of them (I’m not sure which model just yet) without any hesitation. I’m a big fan of what Festool does. And as soon as I have an extra million dollars I’m getting a Festool only shop.

View kowtow's profile


20 posts in 3224 days

#5 posted 02-19-2011 03:12 PM

Everyone else, thanks for the comments. I knew that Jet and Powermatic were the same company, and I am surprised by the difference in price between the two lines. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it, but I am not sure I know what it is just yet.

I will keep my eyes open for Grizzly as well. I don’t know why I slipped them off my list.

View sawdustphill's profile


53 posts in 3257 days

#6 posted 02-19-2011 03:42 PM

The powermatic pm2000 is made in tiawan not the US. the older powermatic 66 was made in the US.
The new unisaw is made in America, and has the best riving knife on the market IMHO.
I am waiting on mine to arrive , replacing my powermatic 64A contractors saw. has the best price on the unisaw and shipping iether $6.50 or $66.50 if you need a lift gate.

Phillip, Campton Ky.

View kowtow's profile


20 posts in 3224 days

#7 posted 02-19-2011 03:53 PM

You live over near Oneida, yea? That’s where my cousins are. When you get your new Delta in, can I come over and check it out? I’m in the Lake Cumberland area. Hearing that the PM2000 is Taiwanese might be a deal breaker for me. I guess I’ll have to do some more research. Thanks for the link.

View sawdustphill's profile


53 posts in 3257 days

#8 posted 02-19-2011 04:18 PM

kowtow yes come on over Hopefully it will be here in a few days I will post on LJ.

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 3381 days

#9 posted 02-19-2011 07:18 PM

Thanks for clearing up the tech issue with Sandy. I too meant that I am against congress sticking their noses in.
This is an issue that will forever be argued but the bottom line is be safe and keep your fingers. With the exception of machine malfunction or error, NO ONE has been hurt on a tablesaw using it safely. End of story.
The down side is the technology can actually make folks over confident in safety practices with them knowing there is less consequence for bad judgment. The technology is not a bad thing, it just doesn’t need to be a have-to thing.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4341 days

#10 posted 02-21-2011 01:47 AM

I have a Powermatic 2000 and am very pleased with it. I also had an old Delta unisaw when I had my business for 9 years. My PM has a 3HP and my old unisaw had a 5HP and I cannot tell any difference. I cannot see spending the extra money for the 5HP. I also thought about waiting for the new unisaw to come out but wanted to get started building stuff. I also felt being a new design it should have time to prove itself. Have fun picking a saw.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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