General 15” Wood Bandsaw

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Review by toyguy posted 02-29-2008 04:00 PM 24410 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
General 15” Wood Bandsaw General 15” Wood Bandsaw General 15” Wood Bandsaw Click the pictures to enlarge them

Without a doubt, the most used/loved machine in my shop is my old reliable General 15 inch bandsaw. This particular saw is an older tool inherited from my Dad. It was manufactured in 1970 in DrummondVille, Que, Canada. Model number of this saw is the 490 and it is still manufactured today, a testimonial to its quality. This is an original General product; not to be confused with the now available General International products that are manufactured off shore. Like a lot of the tool manufactures out there, General still makes and sell their first line tools here in North America ,Canada), and a similar lesser quality tool off shore and is marketed under the name General International. Today’s General tools will have a small red maple leaf accompanying their name plate.

My saw has a 1hp motor and a matched set of pulleys to control the speed. General recommends that the correct speed for the wheels to be 750 rpm. And that increasing the speed will only lead to shorten blade life. After having owned and operated this saw for a number of years, I see no reason to dispute this. I have been using the Viking brand blades with very positive results. These are low tension blades much like the popular Timber Wolf brand. Setting up the blade tension is very important. Use the blade manufactures tension set guide for best results.

My table is cast and machined like most of the other saws on the market. It measures 15 inches square. It has the capability of tilting 45 degrees to the right and 10 left. It also has a miter gauge slot 3/8 x ¾, a standard set up. I also have the General fence that is produced for this model saw. Standard with this saw is metal guide blocks witch I have replaced with the cool blocks made of carbon fiber. The guide post will rise to a maximum of 7 inches for resawing.

Most of my work is on smaller pieces of wood. With a ¼ blade I can cut almost any shape with very tight radius. As most of my models are cut from ¾ inch boards, I do require a bit of resawing. With a ½ inch blade and an extension to my fence I can cut veneers that are very close to perfect. I experience almost no vibration, and run out is almost non existent.

As with any bandsaw, setting it up correctly is the secret to success. Every time you change a blade or make any kind of adjustment to the saw you must go though the set up again. After doing it a couple of times, it won’t take long and you will be much happier with your results. There are many good books and information on setting up a bandsaw on the internet. In fact, I’m sure there is lots of info right here at LumberJocks. Spend a bit of time to get to know your machine, it will be worth it.

The General 490 Bandsaw is without a doubt a great machine. Is it the best on the market; not likely. Is it worth the money; that’s a question you must answer for yourself. In my case, it is a tool I would not want to be without. It is my go to saw 9 out of 10 times. For the type of work I do most of the time, this saw is irreplaceable. It has stood the test of time in both my Dad’s shop and mine.

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

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4 comments so far

View Hawgnutz's profile


526 posts in 4930 days

#1 posted 03-01-2008 11:12 AM

Brian, where can you order or look at a General Bandsaw?


-- Saving barnwood from the scrapyards

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4653 days

#2 posted 03-01-2008 12:12 PM

general has several distributors. I hear Woodcraft makes good deals on their stuff. Run a google search and you will see many sources. They still do a good job. Current machines are not the best out there, but they are really good

-- making sawdust....

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1736 posts in 4691 days

#3 posted 03-01-2008 01:09 PM

Here is a list of US distributors.


-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View chuckadactal65's profile


1 post in 945 days

#4 posted 02-24-2018 02:24 PM

Hello Brian,

I purchased a General 490 yesterday and I’m looking forward to setting it up. I think it may have been made in the mid to early 70’s. Would you know where I could get a full manual for it?

Kind regards


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