So after purchasing my first table saw about 3 1/2 years ago (old 2hp contractor grade craftsmen) I finally purchased a table saw that I could take my woodworking skills to the next level. 3 1/2 years ago I purchased my first home with attached 2 car garage. That allowed me to finally have some room to complete some woodworking. So I purchased a old craftsmen table saw off CL for around $100. This would allow me to complete my first woodworking project for the house and that project was to complete a custom walk-in closet with shelf’s, hanging racks, & custom shoe rack. I was very happy with how the saw operated for my first project, but the deeper I got into that project and other projects over the years I developed need for more precision work and add functionality of higher end table saw (ie…..dust collection, cast iron wings, nice level cast iron top without a dip, more rip capacity, riving knife, reliable fence that does not wonder during a cut, built-in mobile base).
So by now you might want to know what I purchased….I went with 3hp Powermatic (PM2000) with 30” fence system. It took a lot thinking back and forth over the years. I spent probably 100 hours reading different reviews, I stopped at ACME tool and Woodsmith store multiple times to look over all the choices on the market. Spending close to 3k on a table saw, a person wants to know they are making the right choice. But the first question I asked myself and anyone that is in a similar position should ask themselves, do I want to get serious about woodworking as hobby. If you are not serious about taking woodworking to the next level that 3k could be spent some other way (maybe pay down student debt or a car loan, or purchase a new boat, or whatever a person enjoys doing in there spare time). Once I made my decision on pursing woodworking as a serious hobby it was pretty easy decision to pull the trigger on the purchase and I have not regretted it for one moment.
So some people might be wondering why I picked the Powermatic over the Saw Stop, Delta Unisaw, Grizzly, Jet so here are some of my thoughts of reasoning.
Saw Stop – I honestly almost went for this saw, the quality and construction was nice, but I hated the mobile base, and the main reason people purchase this saw, the safety factor, sort of turned me away, I hated that I would need to change the cartridge every time I wanted to change to a dado blade. The company has only been around since 2000 compared to Powermatic 1921, that got my engineering brain thinking Powermatic’s engineering staff has thousands of more hours of experience and they should be able to build a better table saw.
Delta Unisaw - I have delta planer, jointer, & drill press in my shop and they are all quality built machines. The quality of the Unisaw in the stores when I visited was right up there. I love how the control knobs for blade height & angle adjustment are located on the front of the machine. Some of the reviews I was reading on this machine were good and some bad. The 3 reasons for not purchasing this saw 1. customer service & quality control in the manufacturing facilities overseas seems to be crap. Many of the reviews I read stated; because they have been sold numerous times over the years that their high level of customer service & manufacturing quality control has suffered. (add yes I know all table saws are built overseas, but a badly manufactured table saw doesn’t come from the fact its built overseas. Its a companies engineering’s department that determines the level of quality through tolerance’s on there engineering documents and making ensure they enforce those quality standards at the manufacturing facility). 2. Price – the Unisaw was over $500 more then my Powermatic 3. I hated the mobile compared to the integrated powermatic caster system.
Grizzly – I love the price point of Grizzly and I have heard mostly good stuff about their equipment. However, I’m not located near a Grizzly retail location. If I could have seen one of their table saws face-to-face I might have purchased one. Once again I hated their mobile base and this more then all the other OEM’s because you had to make your own hardwood support rails. Not a big deal, but Grizzly honestly should make a mobile base specifically for this saw.
What I loved about the Powermatic: The dust collection, they engineered a shroud that comes up around the blade with a tube that runs down to the 4” outlet port. This really eliminates large amounts of dust collecting all over the motor & trunnion. The built-in caster style mobile base, I honestly love the clean look and its simple to use. Just pull out the angle adjustment knob and crank it up or down and 4 casters under the cast iron base start to raise the table saw. I love the quick release on the riving knife and the blade inserts, the blade insert has plunge springs on the side that keep the insert tight in the opening. Honestly there is nothing special about the fence system on this saw put compared to my old craftsmen saw its a million times better and its the reason I love using this saw. From what I could read the customer services is amazing and Powermatic hires engineers to be present at the manufacturing facilities overseas to ensure that those manufactures maintain the quality level Powermatic ensures its customers. Plus I also have a soft spot for the colors black & gold since I’m a Iowa Hawkeye fan & Alumni. I next plan to blog about the assembly of the Powermatic table saw (how it was packaged & easy of assembly).
-- Shelby Strempke - IOWA...GO HAWKS