Great Saw, but Limitations

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Review by John posted 06-07-2009 05:06 AM 6270 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great Saw, but Limitations No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Since there is no Review posted on this site for this saw, I’ll be the first. The first thing someone should understand is, it’s NOT a Cabinet Saw. If you can live with the limitations of a Contractor Saw, it’s actually a great saw. My first Powermatic 64A held up great for about 10 years until I sold it. You can see it in my pictures of my old workshop. I only sold it cause I needed the money and employment was pretty scarce at the time. There are 6 main points that I will discuss. The Fence, Mobile Base, Motor, Top, Accuracy, & Customer Service.

The Fence is just another Beismeyer Clone. The only problem I had with it was the UHMV faces. The faces are bolted onto the fence tube from the back with small carridge bolts and accessible from the bottom of the fence. The problem was the face seemed warped. all you have to do is loosen the bolts a little. On my old saw, I removed the UHMV faces and replaced them with Baltic Birch and Laminate but on this new saw, it seems that Powermatic is making the UHMV thicker and I was able to adjust the face with no problem at all.

The Mobile Base, well, everyone knows that of all the tools in your shop, the Table Saw is not one that does well with a mobile Base. On my old Powermatic, I bought an awesome Mobile Base but still was not happy with even the slightest movement. so I ended up removing the Mobile Base and building a Router Table on it. This time around I used it for my Band Saw. No matter how sturdy, even a custom built one, I like my Table Saw planted firmly on the ground.

The motor, for what it’s worth is 1.5 HP and for what I do, it’s plenty for now. If you are going to be ripping 12/4 Hard Rock Maple on a regular basis, I would recommend something more powerful.

The Top is a full Cast Iron Top which tells me alot about Powermatic. Why offer Cheap Stamped Steel knowing that 90 percent of the people out there is going to be unhappy with them. On another forum I came accross, the poster was complaining about his Powermatic Top being 1/8” out (bowed in the center) and I have a real hard time believing that someone can use a saw for 2-3 years and not notice it before. I think he was just venting for whatever reason he could come up with. I didn’t, nor will I take a set of feeler gages to it since I am a woodworker, not a machinist. I put my good and true 4’ straight edge to it and it looked Dead Nuts to me.

The accuracy of the saw seems to hold as long as you’re not moving it around all the time, which is another reason why I don’t like Mobile Bases. I hear of people using Pals and other gadgets on their saw but I have yet to find a need for one.

Customer Service, well for this saw so far I haven’t needed them but from past experience, they were probably the most helpful people I’ve dealt with. When I thought my fence was warped, they sent me a new one without any delay or hassles. Overall, I would buy another Powermatic Product, and I did.


-- John

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14 comments so far

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#1 posted 06-07-2009 05:10 AM

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Don K.

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#2 posted 06-07-2009 08:19 AM

Agree with Jim…good honest review.

-- Don S.E. OK

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Scott Bryan

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#3 posted 06-07-2009 12:49 PM

This is a nice review, John. I am a fan of Powermatic tools and this looks like a good saw to me and you did a nice job of addressing the important elements in your assessment of it.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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#4 posted 06-07-2009 02:21 PM

While shopping for a contractors TS (something I’ve done a couple of times actually) I’ve come accross a number of makes and in the case of the Craftsman line a score of different models however the one brand I failed to come accross is Powermatic. I’m sure this is primarily because as the most expensive kid on the block few will shell out for one, however it seems that of those who do, rarely (in my area never it seem) if ever do they make the decision to part with theirs.

Thanks for the review and please pardon the drool.

-- JMP

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#5 posted 06-07-2009 02:39 PM

Well said John.

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#6 posted 06-07-2009 03:14 PM

I liked the bit and agree with the comment about not being a machinist. Not against machinists, just don’t think woodworkers normally need to work to machinists’ tolerances.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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1880 posts in 4762 days

#7 posted 06-07-2009 08:58 PM

Well said…. I had narrowed my choices down to this saw or the General 50-185. I ended up going with the General because I could get it cheaper. I love Powermatic tools though and would not hesitate purchasing another one….

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

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804 posts in 4971 days

#8 posted 06-11-2009 04:48 PM

I have a 64A and it’s a great saw for the money. If I could have afforded it I would have bought a cabinet saw but so far it’s great. I went to a thin kerf blade and it increased the power of the saw.

-- Billp

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261 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 06-12-2009 12:23 AM

Thanks to all for reading, but I would like to add that the most USELESS part to ANY Tablesaw in the factory Throat Insert. I have always made mine from either UHMW or Baltic Birch but I had a scrap of Corian that I tried and that seems to work GREAT. The best thing of all, the weight keeps it in the opening with no vibrations.


-- John

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#10 posted 06-13-2009 05:22 PM

Thanks for the review John.

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#11 posted 06-21-2009 05:23 AM

I have a Powermatic 63A that I purchased in 1988. I have no real complaints about the saw. Yes the model 66 would have been better, but I could not afford that in 1988. My saw has the open grate wings that once a year I would catch my finger. That hurts. The right side wing I removed and made a router table assembly for it. The left side I finally augered the mounting holes, lowered the wing, and glued laminate on the top of it. No more problems so far. The model 64a wing WILLl bolt up to the model 63a saw.
Nothing else on the saw has ever given me any problems. One note though, my fence is the Vega fence, not the Beismeyer Clone as mentioned above. I have been very happy with the Vega fence.
I am an advanced hobbiest and have used the saw quite a bit since I purchased it except for 3-4 years during the “Car faze” with my son.
It really has been a good saw.


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261 posts in 4173 days

#12 posted 06-21-2009 08:40 AM

dmorrison, It’s nice when you actually get what you pay for. I’ve heard of the Vega fence but have never seen one. Every shop I’ve ever worked for has had a Beis from the begining. And yes, those open grate wings hurt likt hell cause you never seem to clip the whole pinkie, just the tip. Been there, done that.


-- John

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151 posts in 4033 days

#13 posted 09-28-2009 01:04 AM

The Vega fence system. Mine is older and I just now need a new slide that is on the back rail. I need a new one but until I get it, I just installed a washer under it to lower it down to the rear rail to maintain the correct fence to table height. But I may be changing the setup to remove the rear rail and make a table cabinet setup.


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151 posts in 4033 days

#14 posted 01-11-2012 08:11 PM

An additional note about the Powermatic model 63a.
Over the last month I completely cleaned and aligned my table saw. Also broke a part or 2 so I have to replace a few things.
The alignment.
I followed an article I found about a mid 80’s Delta saw alignment. Both were probably built in the same building. All parts looked identical. The articles author had to file out the trunnion holes to get the blade to align with the miter slot. I found that I had the same problem ( so, it’s been out of alignment for the last 22 years ). However I chose to drill out the holes instead of filing them. But of course I had to drill them twice. After the first drilling I could not get the blade to completely align. SO took it apart again and drilled the holes larger.
So now the saw it completely aligned. Blade to miter slot. Fence to miter slot, and the gears were lubricated with paste wax. New on/off switch from Grizzly and a new mobile base thanks to Rockler having the HTC2000 on sale for $40. The saw came with 2 flip down wheels. But with the router solid wing on the left side and both open grate wings on the right side it was to awkward to move. The HTC2000 works fine.
Many discussions about what to lubricate the gears with. Paste wax, moly lube, white lithium grease, dry lube, Etc. I choose the paste wax and I’ll see how it goes.
December 26th I was searching Craigslist ( I use Search Tempest, It works great) and saw a table saw for sale. Below it was a Biesemeyer fence for sale. Complete in the box. A 42” commercial fence with table and legs for $125. So the next day I’m installing a new fence, yes I bought it, way to good a price. Drilling holes and all. Very nice Fence. The old Vega fence, which is a very nice fence, has gone in my Father-in-laws trunk ( Christmas visit ) to be installed on his sears table saw. I was actually looking for a fence for his saw. Seeing the Biesemeyer fence I figured that it would be good. After looking at the size, I realized it was way to much fence for his Sears direct drive table saw so I figured I would give him my Vega fence and keep the Biesemeyer

The table saw is now in great shape. I was considering buying a new Sawstop Professional 1.75hp or Grizzly G0715P, still debating the $1000 more for the flesh sensing technology vs. the Grizzly hybrid, But American Airlines declared bankruptcy, so it’s not a good time to spend $1400-$2400 for a new saw since the old one is all tuned up.

Having the new Biesemeyer fence does allow me to buy the Sawstop contractor 1.75HP unit with the cheap fence (my current plan). I’ll just install this new fence on the Sawstop. I might even paint it black.


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