General - 50-200R 2HP Cabinet Saw (Rating: 4)

March 5, 2014

FYI: I have had several different batches of the 50-203 inserts from GI and none have the correct screw location for the table top. The GI provided solution is to drill new holes. GI cannot even tell me which is wrong according to THEIR manufacturing specifications; table top/original insert or the 50-203. I want a resin insert for the good blade. I have made 5 inserts for other uses and currently use one for the good blade cuts.

This could be an issue with the 50-275R model as it uses the same table top.

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I have had the 50-200R M1 saw for four months now. It replaced a contractor style unit with an "align-a-rip" fence; not too bad of a saw if you could get the fence to lock straight all the time. I was attracted to the 50-200 as it was a cabinet style which did not weight over 500 lbs and has an integrated riving knife. The weight was important as it will be maneuvered around the garage. The purchase price ($999) was also very attractive.

Setup and Configuration

Setup was easy but shims were needed when mounting the wings to create a flat top. I am sure the fence would have been satisfactory for long term use but I decided to upgraded to the General Canadian made T-fence along with the micro adjustment (micro adjust should be included with every fence!). Dust collection is good through the rear port as it is split between a dedicated collector directly below the blade and the cabinet enclosure. An Excalibur Osborne 50-EB3 will be purchased once the local retailer has stock available. Everything resides on a General mobile base.

On my unit, the main table is beveled on the front only. The wings were beveled on both ends. I contacted General and they stated that this avoids "confusion" as to which side the wing should be mounted. If one is confused about this, you shouldn't be assembling or using a power tool. I softened the rear main table corners to gradually meet the wing bevel.

I use Freud Premier Fusion and Industrial Heavy Duty Rip blades for projects as well as a CMT dado blade. The included bonus blade will be used for questionable material or rough cutting sheet material. I purchased a General zero clearance insert but have not installed it as it requires modifications to seat on the far side rests! I will make a batch of zero clearance inserts for use with specific dado widths.

Operation

I find the 2hp motor @220 to be robust and did not have any issues cutting 8/4 material. I was able to adjust the saw to very tight tolerances which have persisted for these past months of use. The blade height and tilt mechanisms are smooth and better than I expected at this price point. I like the built-in arbor locking mechanism for changing blades. Just ensure the blade is fully raised when using the mechanism.

With the current configuration, I no longer "hold my breath" hoping the fence clamped parallel to the blade as I did with my prior saw. This has been a huge relief when making the "final" cut. I find the included miter gauge to be stable/accurate once adjusted.

I no longer need to persuade or adjust pieces to mate during assembly.

Precision

There is virtually no arbor runout. The blade stays in the same plane relative to the table (does not wobble) with blade height adjustments. The 90 degree limit stop is slightly off as there is a 0.005 tilt relative the table top at full height. One day I will adjust the limit to correct this. The miter slots measure well and run parallel referenced to each other at the random spots measured. I cannot comment on the table flatness as I do not have a calibrated straight edge yet but the table was flat enough referenced to a 4' ruler (checked on my jointer bed) to accept the unit.

arbor runout: < 0.0005; actually the dial never really moved
left miter: +- 0.001
right miter: +- 0.001
L + R miter: +- 0.0015

Future Plans

I considered purchasing a King/Grizzly/Busybee sliding table. This might be a future purchase if any project would benefit having one. For now, I will construct a sled for larger pieces and use the Osborne miter for smaller pieces. As this appears to be a "keeper", I will be making an attached runout table which will fold down when not in use.

Conclusion

Overall, I am pleased with the performance of the saw as this has exceeded expectations. I no longer look to upgrade to a "better" unit when visiting local retailers. A "better" model number or brand name might not provide any additional benefits over this particular implementation as configured.

Even with the wing issue and standard fence, I will still give this saw five stars as the performance/price ratio warrants the rating. I would recommend having a look if this is close to or within budget at the current (sale or regular) price.

Update - Dec 17, 2012

The zero clearance insert does not fit the table top. General knows of this issue but did not recall stock. A new batch is being made but unsure of the delivery date.

I will be looking for pieces of 3/8" thick phenolic resin to make my own insert.

Update - Dec 29, 2012

Received and adjusted the Osborne miter gauge. Also decided to upgrade the router table to the General 40-070 with the Kreg insert plate. Spent the better part of a day ensuring the table top is as flat as possible and mounting the router. Updated the photo to reflect the changes. I no longer can blame the tools when something does not assemble as expected.

The wife also mentioned the K (kitchen) upgrade for the first time. Looks like I will be adding a sliding table when I start this project.

Update - Jan 17, 2013

We will be proceeding with the kitchen upgrade so I purchased a Excalibur 50-SLT40P sliding table. This will allow me to also complete other projects I have always wanted. It will be nice to finally have square pieces to work with.