The Table Saw … or … Where everyone begins.

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In a woodworking shop, the 10″ , 3 horsepower, 220v, single phase table saw is usually the cornerstone. It is also, usually, the first machine purchased.

At one time there were numerous vendors that manufactured and sold this venerable machine. Names like Oliver, Powermatic, Rockwell, Boice Crane were all names that would be among the very first to come to mind when considering a table saw purchase.

While some of these companies still exist, they exist pretty much in name only. The landscape for upper end hobbyist and lower to mid level professional woodworking machinery has changed drastically in the last 15-20 or so years. Companies have gone under, restructured, or been bough out. Some old and trusted names , long out of business, have been resurrected and being used to sell machinery again, but machinery that in no way reflects the construction methods or quality of materials that their namesake would lead you to believe were being used. So great diligence is required if a new table saw purchase is in the offing.

To start with, the above specifications are what I will be using to rough sketch  what I would be looking for .
Cabinet construction rather than an open base, to give improved dust collection capabilities and provide heft for smoothness of operation and to help maintain precision.
A 10″ blade capability is the minimum in my view, as it is the industry standard for a saw like this.
3 horsepower/220v/single phase power is also a minimum requirement in order to provide the most versatility for a saw of this size. Any bigger, or more power hungry, and we really start venturing into industrial strength territory.
A good, solid rip fence is needed. Something made by Biesemeyer or one of the better clone fences will do nicely. The design is trusted and proven in decades of use in shops far and wide. If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.
I will be using the example of a table saw that has something along the lines of a 30″ rip capacity. Any of the saw choices I discuss here have the option of greater rip capacity, usually up to about 50-52 inches. I am using the 30″ to both save costs in this exercise, and to take into consideration the very tight quarters of the hypothetical shop.(20’x12′)

Using these criteria, there are several saws that come to mind right away. The Powermatic PM66 (PM2000 now) The Delta Unisaw, The Jet Exacta line of saws and the Grizzly G-1023 or G0690.

To my knowledge all of these saws are manufactured in Asia. Read that again……ALL of them are manufactured in ASIA.

While I may very well be in error here, the only SUBSTANTIVE differences between these saws are cosmetic, and also in their cost. In fairness, the upper end of the price scale does have some features, including longer warranties, that the lower end does not. For example, the Powermatic or Delta machines may have a higher end and thus, much more expensive motor, or their castings may be from different molds, or their specification requirements may be different than the lower end machines. In some peoples eyes this may equate to justification for a Powermatic 3hp table saw to cost north of $3K verses the $1500 or so a Grizzly will command delivered to your house.

If I were to choose today, I would select either the Grizzly G1023RL or the Grizzly G0690 as my jumping off point.

The significantly lower price tag certainly is a major consideration, no question about it. However, the saw(s) offer a whole lot of bang for the buck in my book.

First a little history.

When I first started woodworking, Grizzly Industrial Tools was, for lack of a more delicate description, the bottom of the barrel. They were dirt cheap, and had the reputation for requiring a LOT of tweaking (read modification) to get them to work right. They were notorious for having castings that would warp and flex, and would be absolute nightmares to keep in tune. BUT…they were also affordable for the novice woodworker on a tight budget, and if a guy was really lucky, he could stand a good chance of getting one pretty close to useable right out of the crate. While not ideal, Grizzly DID make it possible for scores of beginners to get started in woodworking and do so with something other than cheap, plastic, disposable tooling. For this one fact alone I give Grizzly all the kudos in the world. For, without them, many, many would be woodworkers would have been priced right out of the market.

Today, Grizzly in NO WAY resembles the Grizzly of old. Their customer service is considered to be among the very best in the world. They stockpile both the machinery and, more importantly, the parts for their machines right here in their two facilities here in the U.S. They also stock parts here for machines that were sold decades ago. In other words, they have adopted the same type of support model that Delta (Rockwell) had for years and years.

The company has also listened to their customers over the years. The castings are now flat and true. Stuff works right (for the most part) right out of the box. Countless accounts of jointer beds being dead flat and spot on co-planer right from the crate. Table saw tables dead flat and ready to go upon delivery. If there is ever an issue with the machine, the consensus is that Grizzly WILL make it right. This being something that can be counted on.

All this and a machine that does what it says it will do at a price that reflects a realistic pricing model. It’s kind of a “no brainer” .

As between the two Grizzly offerings mentioned above, it is pretty much a coin toss. According to conventional wisdom, you can’t go wrong either way. Both models have established track records and legions of happy owners. Kind of like the Powermatic and Delta owners of yesteryear.

Everything I am told or read, coupled with my own personal experience with these machines, tells me that , bang for the buck this is the way to go. I can not justify spending nearly $2K more for a machine that is AT LEAST on par, and in some peoples mind, actually below the quality of the Grizzly offerings. I also can’t see spending that much more for a machine made by a company that, in my view, is charging a premium simply based on the color of the paint and the brand name. I just don’t think there is ENOUGH difference between the machines to warrant the extra expense.

The Grizzly machines are, in large part, clones of time tested versions from other manufacturers. This is were it does get a little “hinkey” for Grizzly. By and large, they took existing designs and cloned them. Nothing earth shattering or innovative about any of these designs. But they are affordable, the level of quality is acceptable, and the cost to benefit is wonderful. They work, plain and simple. Finally, Grizzly continues to make tooling available to those that might not otherwise afford it…..only these days, the level of quality is much, much better than it once was. Bonus!

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