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SoCalWoody

Building wood shop - table saw

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Hi everyone, 

I am a new member here and just wanted to start off by saying hello to everyone. This seems like a very collaborative forum with a bunch of like-minded people working together. 

I am starting to build out my wood shop in my garage. I have a great career right now, but it’s incredibly stressful and I hope to change career paths here and become a good enough woodworker to sell my products. Likely continue working for a while, but slowing down a bit and enjoying life, which really is all that matters. 

I want to build my shop around the table saw and while I’ve done a ton of research, I am looking for help from people who have actually used the equipment. I’m a big fan of buying quality tools and learning how to expertly use them and of course taking care of them so they last a long time. 

There are a lot of brands out there and could use some feedback on which table saw to purchase. I really like the Powermatic brand, but definitely open to suggestions. I think a 5HP motor would be a good start. 

SO what do all of you think? Is Powermatic the best brand to purchase, or should I look at other manufactures?

Thank you!

- SoCalWoody

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Powermatic makes excellent table saws as does SawStop and Delta, and quite a few others companies.  Companies such as Jet, Grizzly, Baileigh, Laguna, Shop Fox all offer cabinet saws with more competitive pricing structures.  Pretty much all of the cabinet saws out there will provide a hobbyist user with excellent results.

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I have a SawStop 3HP PCS and like it lots. It's a wonderful machine; smooth, powerful, accurate and beautifully finished. I can't see needing 5 HP unless in  a production environment cutting over 16/4 hardwood with a power feeder all day. I'll argue a bit with Dave's suggestion to look at Delta. Because of their sordid history over the last 10 or 15 years of horrible customer service, parts unavailability & being sold & resold, they are permanently off my list. Some of their products are okay, but I would be concerned about parts & service down the road.

But I would encourage you to look into the Euro slider saws. They have some powerful features & I've never heard anyone that has switch to one regretting it. I would have one myself, but for my cramped space (2 car garage with 2 cars in it) I just couldn't make it work. 

And welcome to the forum. Enjoy.

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Thanks for the information gents and the welcome to the forum. I’ll take a look at the Powermatic saws in 3HP, I think you are right in your assessment. 

I’ve also seen a lot of SawStops on YouTube videos, it seems to be very popular. 

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Tablesaws, like a lot of tools, come in tiers.  When you are looking in a certain tier of machine, personal preferences or specific design elements will direct you to the machine you prefer.  Sometimes it is as simple as control wheel placement.  I almost passed on the Saw Stop due to how short they are.  I liked enough of the other features and quality of the machine that I just built a little platform for it.  I do a lot of joinery on the tablesaw so I like it at about 36".  

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My last saw was a Powermatic 66 3HP and my current saw is a SS PCS 3hp. Both are great saws! Excluding the safety feature of the SS I still find it to be a better saw. Its quieter, smoother, better dust collection and the fit and finish are all second to none. I cannot speak to the new PM saws (PM1000/2000) since I have no experience with them. I also love the ICS base but that is a separate discussion. 

What kind of "products" do you plan to make I have never found the 3hp in either saw to be an issue in making cabinets, furniture, etc. Assuming you use the correct blade for the job.

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Welcome to the forum. Where in Cali are you located?

A good place to start tool shopping is with the end result. What you plan to build can help with the decision of the right tool.

I like the euro slider idea, saw stops also have a great following. 5hp is a big motor and honestly, I don't think hobbyists need them. I have a Delta unisaw 3hp baldor motor and I cannot bog it down with a thick blade and fast feed. If you're pushing very hard wood through often, a sharp and clean blade will do you great 

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I am in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley. 

Right now I am only going to focus on frames, but I plan on working on the various types of joinery and increasing my skill level in each of those. My first big projects will probably be some desks, dining tables, and various coffee tables. I want to incorporate unique joinery in each of the designs wand work my skill set up to some Japanese joinery. That's my initial goal for now, certainly a lot to learn, but I'm up for the challenge. 

With all of that being said, I don't have a particular table saw in mind specific to the type of work I want to do so it will have to remain general for now, unless anyone has some advice on which direction to go based on my goals above?

 

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If your ultimate goal is Japanese style joinery work, you may find the big machines being used just for stock preparation, and most of the actual joints being cut with hand tools. In any case, look carefully at your space, be sure you have room for the machine, and power to supply it. 3 hp will need 220 volts, and the mfg. will likely recommend a 30 amp circuit. 

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+1 on the 3HP SS PCS. 5HP is overkill for all but commercial shops. PM makes great stuff and I have no doubt that you'd be happy with it for years to come. I've owned several PM saws over the years. I have a SawStop 3HP PCS in my shop and have no plans to change.

 

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That's a great saw neighbor. I'm in Simi Valley. I'm a huge fan of cast iron extension wings like that.

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I find it interesting the number of people who have owned Powermatics and now have a SS.  I have not read or know of many/any SS owners who have gone the other way.

Euro sliders are a whole different game

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The comments I've seen indicate that the safety feature draws people in, but they end up impressed with the overall quality of the SS gear.

I don't own one, but just looking the Sawstop machines over in the store didn't really give me that same impression. The construction, fit, and finish seemed no better, possibly not as good, as the PM machines in the same store, but that may be partially attributed to how the display units were assembled.

 

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If you need to produce work for income, and choose the SS, I'd get an extra cartridge, and blades.  Down time is lost money.

I'd look these over pretty closely too.

https://www.scmgroup.com/en_US/scmwood/products/joinery-machines.c884/sliding-table-saws.896

Good luck.  I've built stuff for a living for 45 years now.  Woodworking is just a small part of what I do for a living.

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+1 on looking at Euro sliders, particularly now that Felder has announced a flesh sensing feature, but you'll need a big check book (we're all assuming here that you can spend as much as we want).

Leaving aside the safety feature, on the PM/SS quality debate I have no first hand experience with PM, but a lot of skilled and experienced woodworkers here rave about the PM saws.  I just bought a used SS industrial, which I haven't yet used either, so I can't speak to that performance yet.  The observation I can make is the build.  To move it I had to strip off everything down to the cabinet and the motor, no cast iron top.  That still weighed 430 lbs.  So figure 100 lbs for the motor, and the cabinet motor mount and trunion mechanism still come to over 300 lbs.  I think it's well built.  

But I also think any top drawer PM, SS or Euro machine is going to delight you.  

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1 hour ago, SoCalWoody said:

Do you think people moved to a SS because of the overall quality of the table saw, or is the safety feature a primary reason to move?

My two main reasons for switching from my PM66 to my SS PCS was to downsize and gain the safety feature. I went from a 52"fence to the 36" regaining some much needed shop real estate. As I stated above I find the SS to be a premium saw that just happens to have a safety feature on it. The only negative for me was I didn't realize the table was narrower front to back by a couple inches from my PM66 which took some getting used to but after two years I would say this is one of the best saws you can buy with or without the safety feature.

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6 hours ago, SoCalWoody said:

Do you think people moved to a SS because of the overall quality of the table saw, or is the safety feature a primary reason to move?

I can only speak for myself. The 3hp PCS was the best choice at the $3k tier.

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8 hours ago, SoCalWoody said:

Do you think people moved to a SS because of the overall quality of the table saw, or is the safety feature a primary reason to move?

When I was shopping I didn't even consider whether or not there was the safety brake. I got the SawStop because it was the best saw I could find at that price point. If you go SawStop & need good maneuverability, have a look at the ICS mobile base rather than the PCS base. It's expensive, but easily the best mobile base I've ever seen.

The other contenders were the Powermatic PM1000 & PM2000 saws. The PM1000 is only 1.75 HP & I wanted 3 HP. The PM 2000 looked really good but at the time, the integrated mobile base was pretty iffy. It is operated by pushing or pulling one of the hand wheels & then turning. There were lots of reports of problems with them & with it being such an integrated part of the saw, I didn't want to have to deal with that at all. The final nail in the Powermatic coffin for me was the really grouchy person that took the customer service call when questions needed answering.

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On 5/30/2019 at 11:36 AM, drzaius said:

 I'll argue a bit with Dave's suggestion to look at Delta. Because of their sordid history over the last 10 or 15 years of horrible customer service, parts unavailability & being sold & resold, they are permanently off my list. Some of their products are okay, but I would be concerned about parts & service down the road.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I bought a Delta press 2 years ago. The threads were stripped in the collar that secures the table to the column.

Every single time I would call Delta I would sit on hold for a minimum of 45 minutes. Often times, after sitting in hold for 45m, they would simply disconnect the call.

I tried email, chat. NOTHING. I tried their social media pages. NADA.

When I FINALLY reached them, I got a gal with AT BEST a second grade education who had no idea what a drill press even was in the first place. (I had the part#…) and these ppl are not off shore. They're somewhere down south as I recall.

Eventually they did send me the replacement part. Then a week later, a second one showed up.

Never, ever, under ANY circumstance will I buy another Delta tool -new or used.

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11 minutes ago, applejackson said:

Never, ever, under ANY circumstance will I buy another Delta tool -new or used

Well, never say never, but I can't imagine a reason that would have me buying Delta again. Honestly, I can't think of another tool manufacturer that has so consistently pooped on it's customers for so many years.

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At the end of January I replaced my ~15 year old Delta hybrid with a 3hp 36" fence SawStop PCS with the ICS mobile base.   I was satisfied with cut quality of the old saw but it predated the riving knife and if given the opportunity it would cut fingers off.   Since I had a saw that was dialed in very well and met my woodworking needs spending money to replace it was especially difficult for me to justify.  After all I had used the saw for a very long time without mishap.   But in the end I went ahead and bought the SS for the safety feature and frankly I really didn't expect much else out of it.   What I got is a machine that is just better in every way possible and it should be considering it cost $3k and the old saw cost $650.    The fence was the only thing that needed any adjustment.   While I didn't expect the day to day user experience to be much different with the new saw it really is more pleasurable to operate.   Everything just turns smoother and feels more substantial.   Switching out the regular blade for the dado stack is even easier in spite of having to change the cartridge (bigger opening??).  

While money is a very valid reason that may dictate choosing a less expensive machine, if the budget allows consideration of a top tier tablesaw I personally don't think there is any choice other than SawStop.    The younger you are the more years you have for amortization and the older you are the sooner the cat like ninja reflexes will begin to fade.....in either case the safety feature is worth the money.  

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Probably my favorite thing with the SawStop is how good the guard is & how easy it is to switch it out for the riving knife. Literally just takes seconds & can be done with your eyes closed. Well, that & the ICS mobile base.

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