|Review by bzzzzzt||posted 02-07-2010 10:04 PM||5197 views||0 times favorited||4 comments|
I just found this post, curious about the General 90-200 M1 15” saw I read about in Feb. 2010 Woodshop News article about band saws. I’ve owned a 490 since 1985. I bought it knowing I’d need a sturdier, less aggravating tool than my inherited Sears band saw. From day 1 it has been the primary stationary power tool in my shop. I don’t own a table saw, I use the band saw for all cutting. Safer. I’ve been in business as a one-man shop for almost 30 years. I do some extremely close bandsaw work to make my product line, using a very fine gauge (.014) blade for most work, made by Olsen and available from Poszsgai’s designs [http://www.pozsgaidesigns.com], a great company to deal with. I also use the bandsaw to cut firewood that’s too long to fit in the wood stove when I’m too lazy to use a chain saw. Some of my work involves cutting at a 60 degree angle which I accomplish with a “booster” table that bumps up my cutting angle about 20 degrees. When I use this auxiliary table the blade is unsupported by the lower thrust bearing for about 7 or 8 inches beyond normal (I DON’T recommend doing this!). I also have done a share of Sam Maloof-style freehand cutting, and likewise don’t recommend that, either, but I’m comfortable enough with it in my work I don’t really worry about it, I just stay focused…... I use phenollc resin type cool blocks for guides, no complaints.
Modifications I’ve made: my model did not come with a dust port, so I cut a hole into the downstroke bottom back of the saw, opposite where the current model port is, and it fits a 3’ pvc pipe connected to my dust collector line. It’s actually a better spot for dust pickup, being directly below where most dust is getting spewed inside the saw. I’ve also done a bit of filing with the saw’s guide post to eke out a bit more resaw height. And I made a crank type handle to replace the blade tensioning faucet style one supplied as I change blades often and need a quicker action. I also duct-taped the two doors together so they’d both open at the same time, installed my own gooseneck lamp and laid down some stick-on foam insulation material to keep more dust inside the saw so my collector could grab it.
I bought the saw with a 220V Leeson motor as an option, which I recommend; saw runs very smoothly. All told, I have really abused this saw over the years. It could probably stand to have the main bearings replaced, but everything still runs fairly true. I know I over tension my blades, don’t replace tires often enough, don’t observe coplaner alignment with my wheels like I should, and this saw just performs, day in and day out. I’ve logged literally thousands of hours on it over many years, and if my shop burned down tomorrow this is the first tool I’d replace, with a more current model, maybe get the larger resaw capacity model, but rarely have need of it so don’t know why.
The fit and finish to this (and any other General product) are great. Paint job that still looks new. The ONLY complaints, if they could be considered such: I’d prefer a switch on the upper part of the saw rather than on the stand, though using my foot to on/off it has become second nature and I suppose I could wire in a magnetic switch if I wanted to bad enough. I’d also like a blade brake and an internal blade brush. I had a Laguna 16” saw for a few years with a foot brake and brush that were its most redeeming features; most of the time its huge table served as another place to put stuff while I used my General for everything. You could likely spend less for a band saw, but if you want beefy stability, smooth running (for many years it still passed the nickel-on-edge test) enjoyable time with an important tool, spend a few more dollars on one of these. I don’t know how this model compares with their 90-200; by the photos it looks OK, but I think I’d prefer the fence mounted on opposing rails as mine does rather than just on a front rail. AND, I’m not sure if the 90-200 is made in Canada in the Drummondville plant. The only competition I’ve ever seen for this saw was the older Powermatic, very similar in size and design before they moved their Tennessee production overseas and destroyed an otherwise good American tool name. I’m not affiliated with General in any way; I met a couple of their executives at IWF years ago, liked their attitude and the overall quality to all their products. OK, I’m done.
-- Buzz, NC, http://buzzcoren.com