New Gen Int. 50-185 table saw (long post)

Well, after many weeks (actually more than 2 months) of research and discussion and angst, I finally decided on the General International table saw. The model 50-185 has recently received favorable reviews and as such, is in short supply. The entire state of Michigan is without this swaw. I had to finally drive to Hartville Tool in Hartville OH to get it. That was a 200 mile drive from where I am. Am I disappointed that I put so much time and resources into it? Read on!
My research showed that one of the biggest gripes about this saw was the poorly written "instructions". Since I am ever the opptomist, I figured that it was just the other's having dificulty with so-so instructions. I was wrong. They are crappy, incomplete, and hard to follow. However, if this is the worst I can say about this saw, I'm doing good.
You know what? That is the worst I can say. Once I got past the instructions part and dealt with the fact there are no, nada, ain't got any hints to set up the saw accutratly, I was completely impressed. Good thing I researched setting up a table saw too!
The adjustments I needed were all minor. The blade was square to the miter slots right out of the box. The arbor runout was 0.001". Even with a $35 blade, runout was only about 0.003" total.
The splitter gave me a bit of trouble in it's alignment. I got it taken care of though. Now the question is how long will I keep it place?
The belt is aweful. It will likely improve with time, but planned to replace it with a link belt anyways. Can't tell you yet if it will pass the nickel-test.
I remember reading about people taking anywhere from 3 hours to as high as 23hours to put this saw together so that it would cut accurately. All total, including the couple hours I spent removing the packing grease(?) from the table and the wings, I think I spent about 10 hours. I did have some help with the major assembly portions of it (great way to make friends!). The tweaking and the de-greasing I did myself. I guess that portion was about 4 hours or more by itself. Nothing was rushed, I wanted this to be accurate and safe. Besides, it was actually fun! I've been looking forward to doing it for a long time.
By the way, after the "packing grease" was removed using a citrus cleaner, the most amazing thing happened. I found a well ground, shiny cast iron surface on my new saw. Wish I could say the same for the Dewalt scroll saw I bought for LOML. Sorry, slight tangent!
General International customer service? Well, I emailed Quebec asking if they could direct me to a distributor with inventory. After several days of not hearing anything, I called them. They promtly had a Michigan rep call me back. No luck, but he tried at least. Later, I called Quebec again and left a voice mail asking for instructions to be faxed to me for "the saw I am buying next weekend". No response. I called back. Actually talked to a human this time. I received the faxed instructions quickly thereafter. Later, I called back asking about switching from 110volt to 220volt for "the saw I am buying next weekend". I still have not heard a thing from that request. As far as I'm concerned, the customer service is Neutral .
So, the bottom line? If I could pass on some information to the next group of people who post the "what table saw would you buy?" crowd, I'd say, take your time, determine what you expect from your saw. Research it until you are sick and tired of researching it. Spend a little more money than you intended to spend originally. Take your time. Be patient. Oh, did I say, take your time? I know, easier said than done!
Oh yes, Hartville Tool. Great people to work with. They come with two thumbs up from me. Nope, I'm not affiliated with them either.
The saw? If I had more thumbs to offer, I surely would. But since God did not make me "all thumbs", I give it 2 straight up!
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Chip, I've had mine for almost three months now. I guess I take it for granted at this point. Damn good saw out of the box.
Kevin B.

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I am sorry to hear that you looked at the "GENERAL INTERNATIONAL" line of tools instead of "GENERAL" tools. Alot of people do not realize that there is quite a difference between the 2 brands. The "INTERNATIONAL" line of products is a economy line of "GENERAL" tools and the tools branded with just plain "GENERAL TOOLS" is the higher end line. As a professional cabinetmaker I would strongly recommend avoiding the "INTERNATIONAL" line. I have 3 "GENERAL" table saws in my shop the oldest being 20+ years old. (They are typically run 6 to 8 hours a day) I find these saws to be one of the best cabinet saws on the market and one of the easiest to maintain and set up. Also avoid link belts they tend to slip under even moderate work load. A good set of properly set up belts should last 3 to 5 years so it is well worth the time to use solid belts.

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The "regulars" in this group know the difference between the two lines. However, there is a great difference in price too! The International line is intended to be competitive with similar lines offered by other makers (Delta, Jet, etc.). The General line is a full-fledged commercial line intended for industrial use.
Now, if I were planning to use a saw 8 hours a day for 20 years, I would certainly buy a General (especially since I live in Québec). However, woodworking is a hobby for me. I already work eight hours a day at a regular job. At age 62, with a limited budget, and limited time, I really don't think I could justify the extra cost of the General over the General International.
--
Regards,

Benoit Evans
  Click to see the full signature.
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I purchased the same saw after a long time researching and I also purchased the 6" jointer and am happy with my choice.
I agree that the "General" line is better quality, but all my research didn't turn up a "General" Contractor saw, only the "General International" line. If I had $1900 plus to kick down for one of there sweet cabinet saws, life would be great. However I don't own a professional cabinetmaking shop, I am just a hobbyist and I think that the "International" line will suite my applications as well as the many other people who decided to go with the "International" line. From what I have seen this stuff is on par with most other brands that are similarly priced and manufactured overseas (which seems to be about everything). Just my 2 cents!
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Randy) wrote in message

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On 18 Feb 2004 08:32:24 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Randy) wrote:
[snip] |If I had $1900 plus to kick down for one of |there (sic) sweet cabinet saws, life would be great.
I'm shopping for a cabinet saw. I *could* affort the $$ for a General but...
I emailed General asking for specific differences between General and GI saws. I got an response that consisted of an article in some trade newsletter that stated that General was made in Canada and GI was made somewhere else. I knew that. Non answer.
General lists a distributor here in Arizona. The distributor's web site doesn't list General as a product line. I emailed them asking whether they did or did not handle General. I suspect that they do because they didn't answer. No answer.
I emailed Wilke asking whether they could supply a General in a particular configuration. I know that they handle General because they didn't answer either. No answer.
Score:
Non answer + no answer + no answer = NO SALE.
General ought to get some tips from Lee Valley on how to treat (potential) customers.
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On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 13:12:36 -0600, Wes Stewart wrote

I actually had a 650 on order (for 6 weeks), and after pestering the General rep for my area about it, he told me the order was still in Canada and General was waiting on a part for another piece of equipment he had ordered. OK, fine. Any idea when they might expect shipment? "they couldn't give me an estimate"... Fine, just take the 650 off your order I told him. The General was my first choice due to quality, but the Delta Unisaw was a very close 2nd, so I don't feel that I lost with either. Only General did by their lack of information. If either General OR the distributor had kept me more informed I would not have cancelled my order.
Wayne
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On Thu, 19 Feb 2004 03:20:10 GMT, Wayne Brissette
|On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 13:12:36 -0600, Wes Stewart wrote
| |> |> Non answer + no answer + no answer = NO SALE.| |I actually had a 650 on order (for 6 weeks), and after pestering the General |rep for my area about it, he told me the order was still in Canada and |General was waiting on a part for another piece of equipment he had ordered. |OK, fine. Any idea when they might expect shipment? "they couldn't give me an |estimate"... Fine, just take the 650 off your order I told him. The General |was my first choice due to quality, but the Delta Unisaw was a very close |2nd, so I don't feel that I lost with either. Only General did by their lack |of information. If either General OR the distributor had kept me more |informed I would not have cancelled my order.
Sorry to hear of your problems, but not surprised.
Contrast your experience to this: Wife and I are in town (Tucson) on another errand. I say I would like to swing by Woodworkers Source and see if they have a Powermatic TS I can look at. I know they have Jet, but having been seduced by those that wax poetic about what is basically a steel box with a motor inside, covered up with a chunk of cast iron, I haven't been giving much thought to Jet.
Since I can't afford the F/A-18 being auctioned on ebay, I don't have a need for a saw with a table large enough to land it on, so what I've been looking for is a saw with two iron wings (no pun intended) and a 30" fence. (My unanswered question to Wilke was whether they could supply a General in this configuration).
Well, they don't have a Powermatic in stock. Salesguy says that they're a good saw; had one in the shop in back for 20 years but they replaced it with a Jet. He invites me back to see it run. Salesguy says he has one at home. Shopguy says he has one too. This isn't surprising, but if they were junk, I think all involved would probably have Powermatics. Shopguy says only problem is that some plastic bits wear out on the fence and they replace them with something else. Since they probably cut more wood in a day than I will in the rest of my life this doesn't seem like an issue. The only screwy thing I see is that the tabletop has a nice bevel on the edge and the extension wings are sharp.
But I tell Salesguy that I'm pretty sure (still deciding) that I want a 30" fence version and I never see Jets advertised that way. He says no problem; they have a saw with two iron wings. Doesn't come with a fence but they can sell the rails and fence separately for X dollars. Plus, it's in stock and they will deliver it. The only downside is the sales tax (5%) but this seems like a non-issue considering the problems one can run into buying remotely. And Salesguy says that if there are any problems, they are there to help.
I still don't know what I'm going to buy, but this shopping experience sure is different from what I (and others) have been having elsewhere.
Next stop, the local Woodcraft store to see how they deal on a Unisaw come sale day.
Wes Stewart
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On Fri, 20 Feb 2004 9:28:26 -0600, Wes Stewart wrote

When you consider what most are charging for freight to your door (or to the terminal) it's really not such a bad deal. 5% is cheaper than the 8.25% I pay here, and a hellava lot cheaper than the 15% I paid when I lived in Toronto (although I did have things like health care... but that's another topic).

That's actually where I ended up buying mine. Since our local Woodcraft is a franchise, he was able to give me the 10% off ahead of time (he treated it as if it was a layaway --- I guess the day of the 10% off, they enter these into the system as a sale??? I don't know). This is where I tore apart the Unisaw in the first place. But, I like you had been somewhat seduced by a beefier machine (although I know I didn't really need it), and the initial price difference between the Delta and General was only $200. However, with the 10% off and free mobile base, it really ended up being closer to $400.
I can't figure out what General's problem really is. I would think that they would want to really try to establish a dealer network here in the States and try to sell equipment. The person I dealt with (my local dealer -- +100 miles away) told me it took him 4 years to convince General to make him a dealer and even now he doesn't sell that much of it. But in all fairness you have to find him out, he isn't a normal woodworking dealer, he deals with more exotic cutting equipment and blades.
Now, we'll see what happens with the Delta. I'm not impatient, but after six weeks of waiting for a piece of equipment that never shipped (and during which time I heard nothing) I'd like to get this one soon rather than later.
Wayne
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On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 17:47:16 GMT, "Chris Melanson"

Uh, Chris, the OP is purchasing a _contractor's_ saw. Your accurate, if insensitive, little snit about GI being the "economy" line is moot since General doesn't make a contractor's saw. Glad you're happy with your _cabinet_ saw, but some of us have budgetary constraints, and live within them happily with the 50-185.
Congrats to the OP. Darn fine saw.
Michael Who wonders what ever happened to the guy who's wife gave him that Rigid contractor's saw last Christmas? Bet he's probably to busy making furniture to post much... :)

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I am sorry if I came across as being insensitive (no harm meant) But I am a little unsure what you meant by "General doesn't make a contractor's saw." Because the 50-185 is a "contractors saw". Please refer to link: http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-Shop_Tools-All-General_Int_l_50-185L_Contractor_Table_Saw
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

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On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 04:55:01 GMT, "Chris Melanson"

Oh. That clears it up.
Michael
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I made the decision to buy the General INTERNATIONAL saw based upon my needs, my wallet, and conditions which were specific to MY situation. As a professional non-woodworker (I retain my amature sawdust making title), I appreciate everyone's right to have an opinion. However, no need to be "sorry" for me. Besides, if you really feel "sorry", shut up and send money and I'll go get another saw. :-)
By the way, I'm sorry you picked out that shirt. What the hell were you thinking???????

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I am very curious as to where you found a photo of me???????? Being that I do not have a web site or have I sent you a link with any type photo of me in it or do I use a web cam. Maybe you are using this software: ( http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Acres/3072/camera2.html ( Follow link to see what I mean )) on your PC and believe that it does work. As for your abilities to use a news group to find factitious photos of people they astound me.Maybe they are on par with your woodworking abilities.That they exist in your own mind. Try some PROZAC I've heard it works. If you do not want to hear any "informed" opinions that do not match your own then you should start by replying to your own posts and only reading them. As a further note you should watch for injuries to your shoulder from patting yourself on the back so much as it might interfere with "amature sawdust making title"
Thank you Chris
not a " a professional non-woodworker"
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On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 23:17:35 GMT, "Chris Melanson"

Hey Sparky, let's review:
1.) Chip posts about how happy he is with his G.International Contractor's Saw.
2.) You respond with how sorry you are he didn't get a General Cabinet Saw.
3.) I, and others, tell you that you're mixing apples and oranges since Chip's budget only allowed for a contractor's saw, and therefore was limited to General International as General doesn't make a contractor's saw in Canada.
4.) You tell me I'm wrong, that Chip _could_ have gotten a General contractor's saw. You prove it by posting a link to the General site showing the General International 50-185. (That one almost had coffee outta my nose, except I knew you were serious.)
Having an off week?
Michael
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I've got a G.I. jointer and it's great but the instructions are crap. I've talked to some people from General and they are working on new instructions for there equipment. As for service, they have been excellent. I emailed them and a regional manager called me back within a couple of days and the service was fantastic. I think everyone realizes that the International line isn't as good as the Canadian made General's but they are still good tools and as far as off shore products go, they are probably better than most. Of course, I'm probably biased since I am Canadian. Anyway, I will definitely consider G.I. tools again when the time comes but I sure hope the manuals are better by then. ---BeerBoy

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