Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade?
#11
  
I have a Powermatic 64A contractor saw that I bought new about 20 years ago.  It's been a good saw for me, but lately I've become frustrated with it. I'm wondering if I should upgrade to a 3 hp cabinet saw. 

I completed a project in December that required several bevel cuts. No problem, the saw performed well. However, I discovered that after doing bevel cuts and then coming back to 90° cuts, and then going back and forth a couple of times, that the saw blade did not go back into alignment with the miter slot. Instead  it was a couple of degrees off. At that point, the saw would no longer cut straight, the wood would pull away from the fence, and kickback became a real threat. Basically, when this happened, my saw was not safe to use.  

I did some research and discovered that this is not an usual problem because of the design of contractor saws.  One well known author of table saw books (I can't remember which one at the moment) recommends not any doing bevel cuts on contractor saws because tilting the blade back and forth can pull things out of alignment underneath.  That's what happened to me. It took me several hours of banging my knuckles underneath to get everything back to normal. As a result I will never cut bevels on my table saw again. So that's a big issue for me.

So my first question is, are cabinet saws, by design, consistently able make bevel cuts without coming out of alignment? 

I also have the other concerns typical with a Powermatic 64. These include poor dust control, lack of a riving knife and only 1.5 hp. I assume that a cabinet saw upgrade would fix these issues.

Also, my saw is no longer manufactured so that is a bit frustrating. I would like to buy a new blade guard, but they are not available. I replaced the original blade guard years ago with an aftermarket guard with a swing arm and dust collection. However, I'm no longer thrilled with that, as it's a pain to take on and off if I want to cut dados. 

My second question is, should I upgrade, and if so, is a modern 3hp cabinet saw, going to fix my frustrations?

I'm a hobbyist, so I don't need a ton of capability, But I want something that consistently performs well, and is safe.

I'm currently thinking about the 3hp Jet Xacta with the 30" rip capability. I have 50" rip capability now, but frankly never use it. I might also consider Grizzly, I'm happy with one of their bandsaws. I've heard that Delta is not the quality it once was, and Sawstop is probably more than I want to pay (although the safety issue might appeal to the wife).

I'm fortunate to have a great basement shop with 9' ceilings. However, selling my current 375 lb saw and moving it out of the basement, and then moving a new 500 lb saw down into the basement will be a challenge. I will need to sell the powermatic to help defray cost, but moving this stuff up and down the stairs will be challenge. 

I've been a member of this forum for many years but got away form woodworking due to a busy career. I retired recently, and now I have time to get back into my woodworking. It's good to be back on Woodnet.

Thanks in advance for any input to my table saw dilemma.
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#12
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
It sounds to me like you should go ahead and make a change. No recommendations as to brand (that will come along shortly I'm sure) but I'll offer opions on a couple of other things. I went from a contractor saw to a cabinet (Delta contractor to Unisaw) and honestly, besides the extra power I didn't see much difference. But the cabinet saws are more robust in construction, including the way the trunnions are mounted and it should solve your frustration with the bevel. Things can still go wrong with a cabinet saw, but there are fewer chances of that happening, and it's a little easier to solve alignment problems. Better yet, the newer cabinet saws come with some upgraded features, principally the riving knife. A few years back I changed from my Uni to a SS, and they have that (IMO) wonderful braking system. So there are reasons past your frustrations to consider an upgrade. As for the fence, my contractor saw had the 30" Unifence, and in 15 years or so of use I needed more capacity maybe 3-4 times. My Uni and now my SS have the 52" fences and in the 20 years or so that I've used them I've needed the extra capacity maybe 3-4 times....in my case (and probably your case) it's hardly worth it. On the other hand it's fairly expensive to make the short fence longer so think that through carefully. Moving the new saw down the stairs may be easier than you think. When disassembled the cabinet section can be flipped on it's top and 2 wheeled (appliance dolly) easily. The weight will be much less than the shipping weight of the whole thing. I wish you luck with your purchase!
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
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#13
  Re: RE: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by fredhargis (It sounds to me like...)
+1 with Fred. I went with the SS PCS with the shorter rails -  would have needed them a few times, but worked around it with a straight edge clamp, and didn't really have space for the longer rails.  I didn't notice much in the increase in power, though the adjustability of a SS, and the clear instructions in the manual, are far above most that i have seen.  Start reading at page 64 here on how to make the adjustments an a SS.  SS manual PCS    I dialed mine in when I got it ,  and check it every few years with a dial indicator, and it is holding steady.
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#14
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
Congratulations on your retirement.

I'm sensing that you really would like a new saw.  

Like Fred, I had an old Delta 34-444 contractor saw that got me started.  I upgraded to a great quality cabinet saw after about 9 years.  Amazing upgrade and it's the last saw I'll ever buy.  Also like Fred, I'll refrain at this point from recommending brand.  The only comment about brands that I'll make is that I would NOT buy any new Delta machines.  I have four Delta machines in my shop.  Three of the four are USA-made old iron, and the fourth is a benchtop planer that is becoming problematic.  Parts are essentially non-existent.  I can find knives for the planer from after-market outfitters.  That's it.

Once tuned, a good cabinet saw will give consistent, repeatable results with having to revisit the tuning after making changes to bevel, etc.  Mine needs a cleaning, something I haven't done in a few years, but I can easily and quickly get the blade tilted from 90 to 45 and back again.  Full disclosure:  NO saw that I know of has accurate marking on the cabinet face by the bevel crank.  Perhaps one of those new-fangled machines with the incorporate digital readout can do it, but I'm not in the market, so I haven't looked.  I use a Wixey gauge and drafting triangles to be sure of the angle I have set.  The fence on my saw is also superb; it's a Biesemeyer style fence.  I adjusted it when I first got the saw, and it's been dead-on ever since, and I take that fence off and put it back on numerous time while working in the shop.  

Dust control:  No cabinet saw will fix these issues.  Make them better, perhaps, but it won't magically solve the challenge.  I think our perspectives on lung health have evolved over the past year with the pandemic, and that's good.  A dust control plan is going to be needed, particularly if your shop is in the house and is connected to the house HVAC system. 

I "feel your pain" with regard to moving stuff up and down the stairs.  However, the only option that does away with this work is the "Status Quo" option, so if you're going to get a new saw, regardless of type, you have to deal with it.  You're going to need help, even if you go up and down the stairs with the saws disassembled into basic components.

Good luck and keep us updated on how it's going!
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#15
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
I know a lot of that type of contractor saws had the trouble of staying in alignment. The problem is bolt stretch. If you replace the bolts that hold the trunnion on  with at least grade five bolts the problem will go away forever. The cost is less than a dollar at the hardware store. They also sale saw pals , at least that is what I think the name is, that helps tremendously with alignment. 

I will check on the name this after noon.

If you want to find a reason to upgrade for the sake of desire to have a different saw, then I can't help you with that. It is a disease that afflicts a lot of us at different times and there is no cure for that. 

Tom
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#16
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
Many years ago, I sold my contractor saw and got a Unisaw—never looked back!
Great saw.


If I we’re making the change you’re considering, I would go with a SawStop.
Many of the most elderly woodworkers I know have done silly things they didn’t do their 20-30+ years of prior WW.
One guy told me, I thought the blade had stopped.
Another said, I forgot to wait and reached into the blade.
I think the cost/benefit is worth it.

As to moving the equipment: pry wallet open, .... ?

Most of all—enjoy making sawdust in your retirement years.
Gary

Please don’t quote the trolls.
Liberty, Freedom and Individual Responsibility
Say what you'll do and do what you say.

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#17
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
This is a hobby.  It's supposed to give you good vibes while participating in this pastime.  If it isn't, then make whatever changes necessary to make it enjoyable (and safe).  So if a new cabinet saw will do that for you, then absolutely take that step.  This past year, events have shown that life is way too short to not enjoy every single day.  My 2 pence.
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#18
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
(03-27-2021, 10:37 PM)Hardwood Wrote: I have a Powermatic 64A contractor saw that I bought new about 20 years ago.  It's been a good saw for me, but lately I've become frustrated with it. I'm wondering if I should upgrade to a 3 hp cabinet saw. 

I completed a project in December that required several bevel cuts. No problem, the saw performed well. However, I discovered that after doing bevel cuts and then coming back to 90° cuts, and then going back and forth a couple of times, that the saw blade did not go back into alignment with the miter slot. Instead  it was a couple of degrees off. At that point, the saw would no longer cut straight, the wood would pull away from the fence, and kickback became a real threat. Basically, when this happened, my saw was not safe to use.  

I did some research and discovered that this is not an usual problem because of the design of contractor saws.  One well known author of table saw books (I can't remember which one at the moment) recommends not any doing bevel cuts on contractor saws because tilting the blade back and forth can pull things out of alignment underneath.  That's what happened to me. It took me several hours of banging my knuckles underneath to get everything back to normal. As a result I will never cut bevels on my table saw again. So that's a big issue for me.

So my first question is, are cabinet saws, by design, consistently able make bevel cuts without coming out of alignment? 

I also have the other concerns typical with a Powermatic 64. These include poor dust control, lack of a riving knife and only 1.5 hp. I assume that a cabinet saw upgrade would fix these issues.

Also, my saw is no longer manufactured so that is a bit frustrating. I would like to buy a new blade guard, but they are not available. I replaced the original blade guard years ago with an aftermarket guard with a swing arm and dust collection. However, I'm no longer thrilled with that, as it's a pain to take on and off if I want to cut dados. 

My second question is, should I upgrade, and if so, is a modern 3hp cabinet saw, going to fix my frustrations?

I'm a hobbyist, so I don't need a ton of capability, But I want something that consistently performs well, and is safe.

I'm currently thinking about the 3hp Jet Xacta with the 30" rip capability. I have 50" rip capability now, but frankly never use it. I might also consider Grizzly, I'm happy with one of their bandsaws. I've heard that Delta is not the quality it once was, and Sawstop is probably more than I want to pay (although the safety issue might appeal to the wife).

I'm fortunate to have a great basement shop with 9' ceilings. However, selling my current 375 lb saw and moving it out of the basement, and then moving a new 500 lb saw down into the basement will be a challenge. I will need to sell the powermatic to help defray cost, but moving this stuff up and down the stairs will be challenge. 

I've been a member of this forum for many years but got away form woodworking due to a busy career. I retired recently, and now I have time to get back into my woodworking. It's good to be back on Woodnet.

Thanks in advance for any input to my table saw dilemma.

My first real tablesaw was a Powermatic 63, the precursor to your saw IIRC. Nice saw but after a couple of years I upgraded to a Unisaw. As the years passed I decided to move on to a Sawstop PCS, primarily for the safety device and the offering Sawstop was running at the time. Never looked back and would do it again. Think long term - the PCS will do everything you need as well as prevent ever having to worry about a serious injury. Well worth the extra dough IMO.

Doug
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#19
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
Thank you guys for all of the replies. You have given me much to think about. As someone mentioned, I should pry open my wallet, and that is true on several fronts. Moving a table saw in and out of my basement should not be "my" problem. I live in a college town and can probably find some muscular college guys do it for a couple of cases of craft beer. 

I was not thinking about the Sawstop, frankly because I guess I'm cheap. Again, maybe I should pry open my wallet. My fingers are pretty important to me. I don't want to leave all of my money to my kids, I worked hard, I should spend some of it. I'll look into the SawStop. 

I totally agree with the person who said, this is a hobby and it should be fun, not frustrating.
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#20
  Re: Powermatic 64A - should I upgrade? by Hardwood (I have a Powermatic ...)
When considering the cost premium of a Sawstop, consider also the cost of a trip to the ER to repair the damage from contact with the blade. Yes, O know that would never happen to you. Just sayin'.
Thanks,  Curt
-----------------
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
      -- Soren Kierkegaard
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