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Powermatic 66 with shark guard vs new saw

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Forum topic by bank_shot posted 01-24-2022 04:36 PM 883 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bank_shot

6 posts in 123 days


01-24-2022 04:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: powermatic table saws tools

I’m a newer woodworker that spent the last year hunting deals on craigslist and similar. I am trying to pull the trigger on a table saw but need some advice. I want to get a powermatic 66. I am not worried about 3 phase, I would just get a VFD if needed. I found a few options around me that aren’t complete rip off but then came across a nice Jet model that is only a couple of years old. This got me thinking about newer saws and riving knifes and if I’m being an idiot for wanting this old saw. I have never used a table saw before and my woodworking experience is non existent. That being said, I am serious about this hobby and have spent over a year making sure its not just a passing interest. So, I’m looking for thoughts from folks with more experience. The powermatic 66 options near me start at $1k and top off at $2500. I was looking at one being offered for $1300 that came with the excalibur sliding table attachment. The JET 708674 is barely a couple years old is going for $1850. I used to see model 66s for $500 for at least under $1k but I don’t find those anymore. Now I’m just lucky to find a single phase one.

Then the elephant in the room. Saw Stop. I cut my index finger 7 years ago cutting open a coconut and I was able to keep the finger but it’s still numb and the nerves don’t feel right in it. I did go to the hospital and get stitches. I’m just lucky I got to keep it and it’s on my non dominant hand. So I am thinking about the safety aspect of the saw stop. I can afford to get one. Not easily, it would be a lot of money for me but I could do it on a monthly plan.

The allure of the powermatic 66 is the legacy, the look, the idea that this design from way back when is still very good. There is something about the look that I like and I know thats a terrible reason to buy a tool. Is the shark guard good enough or will it feel like a hack compared to a real riving knife? Is the real deal I should be looking at this Jet that has riving knife? A powermatic 66 with a shark guard is coming up around $1650+ and thats when i start wondering if I should buy something new. Have most of the experienced woodworkers on this forum moved on to a newer machines with riving knifes?


27 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8998 posts in 3658 days


#1 posted 01-24-2022 04:52 PM

There are other alternatives to a shark guard, including the OEM splitter/guard that originally shipped with the saw. As for price, $1650 is WAY overpriced IMO, unless that saw is like new.

Regarding “Moving On”... not representative of other wood workers, but I just sold my 80’s Unisaw and purchased an older 60’s model to replace it. A riving knife or lack thereof never entered the decision process. Keep in mind that a riving knife is just a splitter that moves up and down with the blade, so you don’t have to remove it for non-through cuts like you do a standard splitter. They both perform the exact same function, and pretty much every table saw old since the end of WWII left the factory with a splitter.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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hcbph_1

148 posts in 773 days


#2 posted 01-24-2022 05:29 PM

I spent over 5 years looking for a good PM 66 at a decent price, never found one. One thing is I wanted a left tilt saw, which eliminated Unisaw’s from the quest.
Ultimately, I bought a Grizzly cabinet saw and though it’s not a PM 66 it’s done everything I’ve asked of it. Unfortunately, right now everything is going up in price. if it’s a reasonable distance, you could go look at the Jet and see what it looks like. I can’t say I’ve heard bad of them, but I don’t know anyone personally that has one I could look at, only what people have said online.
A lesser expensive option might be a contractors saw, there are a number of good ones out there.
I’ve heard a lot of good comments on Sawstop’s, but I have read some negatives regarding the blade cartridges firing in unspecific situations, so that needs to be taken into account.
I know this doesn’t answer your question but all it can do is get you to think more on the subject and make your decision.
You mentioned you’re new to woodworking, you might want to see if there are any woodworking clubs in your area that might offer classes or training which would be beneficial to your safety.
Good luck.

View yamato72's profile

yamato72

53 posts in 414 days


#3 posted 01-24-2022 05:39 PM

You’re either compelled to go with a SawStop or you aren’t. I elected to get a used PM66 in 2020, and put a Shark Guard on it. I make every cut that I can with it installed. The over-the-table dust collection was a big plus.

View jonah's profile

jonah

2283 posts in 4757 days


#4 posted 01-24-2022 08:50 PM

I considered the same situation some years ago before deciding on a used Unisaw (mid/late 90s model). I got a shark guard and I really like it, especially the above table dust collection. I get next to no dust with normal through cuts unless I’m cutting the edge of the board.

Had I had an extra ~$1000 at the time (my saw was around $1300 once I added the guard and upgraded the fence and such) I would definitely have bought a Sawstop. They’re great saws that have a safety feature I’d love to have. An easy-to-remove riving knife is a great feature, and the one thing the shark guard doesn’t do as well. There’s no easy way to completely remove it and then put it back without having to realign it with the blade.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

5585 posts in 3447 days


#5 posted 01-24-2022 09:27 PM

I am certain that you will probably get the usual posts about Sawstop but it is an excellent saw. I have had mine for a number of years and love it.

If you are attracted to older iron then go that way. Just make certain you get a riving knife of some type.

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

148 posts in 773 days


#6 posted 01-25-2022 01:47 AM


If you are attracted to older iron then go that way. Just make certain you get a riving knife of some type.

- Redoak49


Do you mean riving knife or splitter? The main difference (for the OP’s benefit) is one will travel up and down in relation to the blade while the other doesn’t. Either can help prevent the cut from closing up behind the blade which is the most important function. I happen to have a splitter that can slide up and down manually, and quite frankly I seldom if ever adjust the height on it.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

8527 posts in 3179 days


#7 posted 01-25-2022 01:53 AM


I spent over 5 years looking for a good PM 66 at a decent price, never found one. One thing is I wanted a left tilt saw, which eliminated Unisaw s from the quest.

- hcbph_1

Delta has made tens (hundreds?) of thousands of left tilt Unisaws, they were’t available as earlier models but they absolutely exist in large number. The one below I found in Clearwater, FL for $800 after a 15 second search.

-- “I never in my life thought I would have to say this, but the proper role of government is not to fund the distribution of crack pipes,” Lauren Boebert

View darthford's profile

darthford

833 posts in 3383 days


#8 posted 01-25-2022 04:36 AM

I chose the Sawstop ICS 5HP, an absolutely brilliantly constructed TS. I looked at the PCS in person, it was too light duty and lacked the stout/rigidity of the ICS imo. Safety was a factor as I’m getting older and both my grandfather and great grandfather lopped of a thumb around this age.

I was coming from the BEAST aka the mighty Grizzly G0696X 12” TS. You want something close to an older Powermatic 66, that’s the saw. Starting with its 2 inch thick table and wings. I sold mine some years ago due to health issues that laid me up for a couple of years. Finally got the surgeries and started buying wood working machines again last spring. I was going to buy another G0696X but they were out of stock estimated 1 year. They are still out of stock here in WA and Grizzly won’t ship one to me from MO due to frequent freight damage shipping machines that far.

That got me looking at the Sawstop lineup, and it turns out the Sawstop ICS was the right saw for me. Man is it quiet, a lot quieter than the G0696X. Smooth as glass. The Sawstop outfeed table is a joke. I have the larger overhead dust collector, that’s been working out well. The locking mech for it is kind of retarded but as it’s broken in works better now. The ICS mobile base with the foot operated jack, BRILLIANT!! Love that thing. I wish I had one of those on all my machines.

View bank_shot's profile

bank_shot

6 posts in 123 days


#9 posted 01-25-2022 04:51 AM

Thank you everyone, I really appreciate the feedback. The $1650 price tag led me to keep searching and I came across a near perfect condition model from 1998. Single phase. Paint is clean, no rust, extension table, best of all the cast iron is in perfect shape. It’s a plug and play saw. The only problem is he wants $2500. The backstory of the saw was it purchased by a retiree who used it a few projects and then passed away. It sat in a basement for 10 years before its current owner found it. Unlike all the other saws I’ve looked at, this person actually knows about the saw and repairs and restores them.

I would have gone for a nice delta unisaw but I want a left tilt saw and I never find the newer unisaws that have that. And its a shame because where i live I come across nice 50s and 60s unisaws all the time for under $1k.

I think a lot of my questions came down to if I retrofit something like a shark guard can I get pretty much the same experience as a newer saw. Saw stops are their own tier. The newer Jet I came across was snatched up. Right now its between some powermatic 66s that require some work for around $1500 or a perfect model for over $2k. I do want something plug and play, or at least not a saw that lived its life in a production shot and looks it. But when I’m spending around $2500 in cash thats when I think for $1k more I can get a nice Saw stop.

So, as I write all this it hit me…I want to know if you folks think $2000-2500 for a near perfect model is ok. Or would only a crazy person consider this?

View bank_shot's profile

bank_shot

6 posts in 123 days


#10 posted 01-25-2022 04:55 AM



A riving knife or lack thereof never entered the decision process. Keep in mind that a riving knife is just a splitter that moves up and down with the blade, so you don t have to remove it for non-through cuts like you do a standard splitter. They both perform the exact same function, and pretty much every table saw old since the end of WWII left the factory with a splitter.

Thank you Brad, that does help. I was thinking it’s just a piece of metal close in size to the blade that can’t be that hard to retrofit. I even came across a home made splitter for a powermatic 66 that came from a production shop getting liquidated. It’s homemade, but straight and true and the right size. I will post a picture of it, it has a little age to it. I thought that would honestly be enough but then I started to paranoid.

View bank_shot's profile

bank_shot

6 posts in 123 days


#11 posted 01-25-2022 05:05 AM



I chose the Sawstop ICS 5HP, an absolutely brilliantly constructed TS. I looked at the PCS in person, it was too light duty and lacked the stout/rigidity of the ICS imo. Safety was a factor as I m getting older and both my grandfather and great grandfather lopped of a thumb around this age.

I was coming from the BEAST aka the mighty Grizzly G0696X 12” TS. You want something close to an older Powermatic 66, that s the saw. Starting with its 2 inch thick table and wings. I sold mine some years ago due to health issues that laid me up for a couple of years. Finally got the surgeries and started buying wood working machines again last spring. I was going to buy another G0696X but they were out of stock estimated 1 year. They are still out of stock here in WA and Grizzly won t ship one to me from MO due to frequent freight damage shipping machines that far.

That got me looking at the Sawstop lineup, and it turns out the Sawstop ICS was the right saw for me. Man is it quiet, a lot quieter than the G0696X. Smooth as glass. The Sawstop outfeed table is a joke. I have the larger overhead dust collector, that s been working out well. The locking mech for it is kind of retarded but as it s broken in works better now. The ICS mobile base with the foot operated jack, BRILLIANT!! Love that thing. I wish I had one of those on all my machines.

- darthford

I had the same thoughts about the PCS model, just didn’t feel heavy enough. The safety issue is on my mind, hence a saw stop. I had the thought that experienced wood workers can cut their fingers because they do it so often it’s easy to make a mistake doing something numerous times. And that perhaps being a weekend wood worker only it might be easier to be focused and not make a mistake. I know it’s very nuanced and I’m glossing over a lot. I think it would be easy for it to happen with all the noise. If I went with a saw stop I’d probably stick with the PCS due to price but I think when I have more experience it would be a no brainer. It does feel like in the end I would get a saw stop so it would be cheaper just to skip to that. A lot of the reason for the powermatic 66 is seeing one as a little kid in a shop class. The big gold with the green stripe and the usa flag sticker. My only real woodworking experience which I don’t count was at a shop class at a public park in chicago when I was 7. I got to use a bandsaw and I remember just being amazed how easy it was to cut shapes. It was the early 90s so right around the time they stopped letting kids do that kind of stuff.

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

148 posts in 773 days


#12 posted 01-25-2022 09:00 AM


I spent over 5 years looking for a good PM 66 at a decent price, never found one. One thing is I wanted a left tilt saw, which eliminated Unisaw s from the quest.

- hcbph_1

Delta has made tens (hundreds?) of thousands of left tilt Unisaws, they were t available as earlier models but they absolutely exist in large number. The one below I found in Clearwater, FL for $800 after a 15 second search.

- bigblockyeti


You’re right and I should have mentioned that. At the time I was looking the only right tilt Delta I’d seen looked to be a probable hybrid saw as it did not have Unisaw on the base. I’ve since seen a couple of newer left tilt Unisaws but at that time I hadn’t seen any within a reasonable distance from here. Even today you don’t see much of anything in both a decent condition and at a reasonable price in a reasonable distance. When I was looking to upgrade (around 10-20 years ago) the only thing you’d find was worn out machines with broken castings that the seller wanted almost new price on which was ridiculous. Even today it’s hard to find anything in decent shape for a decent price around here.
Thanks for correcting that oversight.

View yamato72's profile

yamato72

53 posts in 414 days


#13 posted 01-25-2022 04:31 PM

So, as I write all this it hit me…I want to know if you folks think $2000-2500 for a near perfect model is ok. Or would only a crazy person consider this?

Over $2K is pretty steep for a PM66 unless it is immaculate and has a bunch of desirable accessories. But that is approaching SawStop territory. Maybe try to negotiate?

Patience and quick reflexes are a virtue in the Craiglist old iron-purchasing game. Good luck.

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

5518 posts in 3807 days


#14 posted 01-25-2022 06:21 PM

Harvey is putting out some decent saws for similar prices. You might look them over too.

BTW – I have a left tilt unisaw that I’ve had for the past 17 years or so. I’m not sure I would get a left tilt again. I would seriously consider buying a Harvey if I were to sell the Unisaw.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8998 posts in 3658 days


#15 posted 01-25-2022 06:34 PM

BTW – I have a left tilt unisaw that I ve had for the past 17 years or so. I m not sure I would get a left tilt again.
- EarlS

Same here. I currently have both a left tilt and a right tilt saw, and vastly prefer the right tilt.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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