General saws

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 06-19-2011 08:31 PM 2564 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5258 posts in 3477 days

06-19-2011 08:31 PM

I’m surprised there aren’t more General saws in home shops. As far as I know, they are still being made in Canada and to me that’s second best to being made in America. I’m not sure of the cost, but I think they cost more than any “American” saw except maybe the Saw Stop. I don’t think there are any saws made here anymore (Saw Stop?), (Northfield?).

28 replies so far

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5258 posts in 3477 days

#1 posted 06-19-2011 10:51 PM

I did a little research and can report the following: General 350 series saws are made in Canada. Saw Stop is probably made in Taiwan and Northfield has an American made sticker on theirs. Northfield saws start at around $13K with a 14” minimum blade size, so it is probably out of reach for home shops.
I looked through the Saw Stop owners manual and found a few things that would put a lot of people off. You have separate brake cartridges for the blade and the dado set. The dado cartridge can only be used with 8” dado sets. They recommend replacing the blade when a brake trip occurs. Although you can bypass the automatic brake feature, if it deploys. you can’t just change blades and work without the cartridge. The cartridge must be in place before the saw will work. That means, if you don’t have a replacement handy, you’re out of business until it’s replaced. The setup and adjustment of the cartridge is quite complicated. There are 3 whole pages dedicated just to troubleshooting. I haven’t been able to find the prices of the cartridges yet. One feature I found that was outstanding was access openings to allow adjustment of the tilt mechanism. On some saws, Jet being one of them, it’s almost impossible to adjust the tilt stops without turning the saw upside down. To adjust a Jet saw, you must have a skinny arm and be double jointed just to reach the screws. when you can reach them, you can’t see them, so its pretty much feeling around with a wrench and lots of trial and error.

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53 posts in 2924 days

#2 posted 06-19-2011 11:29 PM

The new Delta unisaw is made in the USA. and the throat opening is bigger than most saws.
also you adjust the tilt stops from the outside right on front of the saw delta finally got it right

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13551 posts in 2927 days

#3 posted 06-19-2011 11:31 PM

I’ve always held the Canadian General at the top of the pack.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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2131 posts in 3978 days

#4 posted 06-20-2011 12:05 AM

If I would have stayed in Maine longer, I would probably own a General table saw, among some of their other stationary tools. It was only a two hour drive to get up to Quebec and purchase one. I think they have a distributor in the US now, but I have really looked at buying anything new lately.

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22 posts in 2846 days

#5 posted 06-20-2011 12:38 AM

I can only say that I’ve had a general for ten years and love it…......

I live in Maine too….

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37 posts in 2806 days

#6 posted 06-20-2011 12:57 AM

The main problem is most people want cheap. Woodworkers included, we think people should by $4000 beds made with $400 tablesaws. Oh,well. Not much that can be done at this point I think, of course my shop is outfitted with Ridgid tools, so I’ll go flog myself.

-- The confused powertool using galoot

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2702 posts in 3117 days

#7 posted 06-20-2011 01:03 AM

Both General and General International make some really solid tools; heavy, cast iron, high quality woodworking machines. They don’t seem to have the popularity of Delta and Powermatic though, although I’d argue that they are as well, if not better made. I own a Gen. Int. jointer and bandsaw, and had a TS. MrRon: Sawstop is made in the US; I’m not sure that you can compare it though with other TS. As a former Gen. Int. TS owner and now a Sawstop owner, the build and quality of each is comparable. The key feature though is the blade stop system on the Sawstop, and whereas, yes, I had to buy a dado cartridge, and yes, it is annoying to have to switch it with the regular blade cartridge every time I put on a dado set, I look at it as a small price to pay for a bit more safety.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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446 posts in 3363 days

#8 posted 06-20-2011 01:39 AM

About nine years ago, I wanted to upgrade to a true cabinet saw. I lived near Boston (the home of the North Bennet St. School) Plenty of woodworkers and suppliers around here. But, I could find NO ONE that had a display model or any real information. The only info I had were reviews online which rated the Canadian-made general as the most accurate and well made cabinet saw. But, alas there were no real sellers. I remembered wondering how serious this company was about selling their products. I mean I lived in area with lots woodworkers and lots of capital not fours hours from the Canadian border, but you never saw a General machine anywhere. They might as well have been made on the moon. So I bought Powermatic 66 -a real dog by the way – which had a wavy table and lots of runout. Even today I think Woodcraft is the only one selling them and all they ever had on display was some General Intl hybrid saw – not what I wanted. So the reason you don’t see any from where I stand is that General has historically been poor at marketing. I wanted a General cabinet saw, but could not even get a peek at one and so defaulted to another brand.

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8172 posts in 3610 days

#9 posted 06-20-2011 01:58 AM

The General 650 has long been a dream saw of mine….still a family owned business the last I knew.

I thought Saw Stop was made in China or Taiwan…?

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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13794 posts in 4331 days

#10 posted 06-20-2011 02:00 AM

There is a Machinery shop about 3 miles from my house in Northern CA that has had a full line of general equipment. I got a jointer from them.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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581 posts in 3313 days

#11 posted 06-20-2011 01:09 PM

I am Canadian, so General are readily available and would be my #1 choice. BTW, if you look on the new Unisaw it has a big sticker on it saying it is made with foriegn parts.

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View MrRon's profile


5258 posts in 3477 days

#12 posted 06-20-2011 04:47 PM

Manitairo, “Sawstop is made in the US”. I read the owners manual for the Saw Stop and at the end, they list patents and most of them are Taiwanese, (see page 119). All the fasteners are metric so that also leads me to believe the saw is made in Taiwan. I think if it were made here, the price would be very much higher. BTW, how much does a replacement brake cartridge cost”

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5258 posts in 3477 days

#13 posted 06-20-2011 04:52 PM

Mcase, When I lived in Northern California, 15 years ago, the Japan Woodworker in Berkley had the General saws on display. They were more expensive than Delta, Powermatic or Jet, so I bought a Jet. Although made in Taiwan, it has been an excellent saw for a good 20 years.

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5258 posts in 3477 days

#14 posted 06-20-2011 04:57 PM

JimDaddyO, My understanding is; the General model 350 is Canadian made while the model 50 is Taiwanese made and sold under General International. Can you tell me how much the model 350 sells for? BTW, the model 350 is right tilt, the 650 is left tilt and the 50 series is offshore.

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2422 posts in 3160 days

#15 posted 06-20-2011 10:42 PM

MrRon, Second best to Made in America? :)

Just wanted to throw a few words in about the marketing of General products, in response to the comment by mcase.

General has been the supplier for schools, Technical training institutes, many large cabinet shops, and industrial supply in Canada since I was in high school (quite a few years ago).

They have always been a force in Canada as many consumers like the idea of a Canadian made product, I know I do and my shop is almost all General Green, although some of my machines are General International.

I think it could be similar to some things we see advertised in the US and are not able to find in Canada, although it has been getting easier the last few years.

Sorry you couldn’t have found one, I think you would have been pleased with a 350.

I think the last time I looked at a new 350, the price was around the $3000 mark.

Canadian labeling is very strict, it has to be produced and assembed in Canada to support that label.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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