I recently blew out the motor on my 10" direct-drive table saw, and started a search for a replacement. After reading all the different forums and tool reviews, I decided that my three choices we the Delta, Jet and General contractors saws. From the reviews, all three were seemingly equal in performance.
I visited a couple of local dealers and looked at the equipment each had. After a lot of touchy-feely stuff and thought, I settled on the General Model 50-175. This is General's Taiwanese model, but comes with the real General (read Beismeyer) 30" fence.
Main features are a 1 1/2 hp motor (Taiwan), prewired for 240v but convertable in under 2 minutes to 120 v., a cast iron table top and two cast iron wings. The entire saw weighs in at a heafty 225 lbs, not including the fence & rails.
I ordered the saw on a Tuesday morning from a local dealer. The saw was delivered to me that afternoon. It arrived all in one carton, with the fence and rails packaged separately.
Set up was easy and straight forward, with a reasonable good instuction manual provided. However, during set-up, I had trouble getting the wings to line up with the table top. A straight edge revealed the top was warped by some .025. I called the dealer who had the manufacturer's rep at my door the next morning. By that afternoon, I had a new saw sitting in my shop. I can't say enough for this kind of service.
Getting the saw set up was really easy the second time! Fit and finish was excellent, everything was dead flat, and all the other dimensions and tolerances were bang on. Absolutely no adjustments needed. The fence rails installed and lined up perfectly and the fence was a breeze to adjust. Because I have a fairly small shop, I need to be able to move my equipment around. I had previously built a saw cabinet based on a design in ShopNotes. Because it was too high for the new saw, I had to disassemble and rebuild the cabinet, as well as add heavier casters to support the weight of the new saw.
Next, I build an extention table to fit between the fence rails. Finally, I added a rear table and motor enclosure (see Wood Magazine a couple of issues ago).
Dust collection is handled by my shopvac/duct work system. The cabinet has a drawer under the saw, with the duct work hooked to the back of the drawer. The drawer acts as a bit of a cyclone. The heavy stuff stays in the drawer and the rest gets sucked out. I only need to empty the drawer once a week or so.
I have a working table surface of about 44" x 50". While I was at it, I changed the location of the switch. The original location is on the body of the saw, but with the fence & rails in place, it was an ackward reach. I put the switch in a box mounted to the underside of the fence rail, where I can reach it easily and safely.
The first time I started the saw, I was truly impressed by its quietness and its smoothness. With the motor enclosure, it is now even quieter. My wife can set in the rec.room next door to the shop and watch TV without interference. While the saw was smooth running, I decided to experiment with a link-belt instead of the standard v-belt. Wow, what a difference!!! With your hand on the table top, you can barely feel it running. Finally, I waxed the top, side and outfeed tables generously with Johnson's paste wax.....work fairly floats across the surface now.
Moving to this larger saw meant that my cut-off sled and tenon jig (both home made) didn't line up, so I made some modifications to them. What are my impressions of this saw? I am increadibly pleased with it. I consistently rip and cross-cut 5/4 oak with not a bit of hesitation. Also, I have ripped 1/8" wide strips for edge banding, with a finish ready for glueing. I use a Freud LU82 TCG blade most of the time.
The fence is a joy to use. It is dead-on accurate for ripping and the top of the fence allows for a variety to jigs to slide on it. To sum up, this is a big, heavy, solid saw, with lots of grunt to handle most any job you could throw at it. Fit and finish are excellent and, whether in Canada or the US, its price is competitive with similar saws. If anyone has specific questions about this saw, they can e-mail me and I'll be glad to repond.
Bill MacDonald - 6/16/98