Powermatic Model 66

Hi, I'm a new guy to this forum, though I have been reading it for several months. Here's a letter I sent to Powermatic and WMH tool group. Sorta long...
Hi,
Here is a story I'd like to share with you.
I purchased a brand new Powermatic model 66 table saw from Amazon.com after much deliberation and brand research. I read reviews on the internet, checked news groups and talked to vendors at trade shows. Your saw beat out the Unisaw, it was close, but the real deal maker was the reputation of the customer support provided by powermatic. I heard and read horror stories about delta's customer service and I didn't want to chance needing them and being frustrated. The fact this saw is made in the USA was also very important to me, I prefer to buy American when possible.
There I was Monday night waiting like a kid at Christmas, delivery to be after work 6-9 PM. Well the truck pulls up at 9:30 and boy am I excited to see this shinny new Expensive saw made in USA. By the way, I also bought a Jet 14 inch bandsaw that was being delivered at the same time.
As I began unloading the saw I noticed a motor cover, which you description specifically says is not included, that's really nice except I had purchased a cover before the saw arrived anticipating the need for one. Now I'm out that $75.00.
The first thing I notice about this saw is the complete and totally lousy way everything is packed. Surprisingly nothing appears destroyed, even thought the saw's wood frame is bashed and broken. But then again I have not completed the assembly yet, because I couldn't. After I opened the box/crate for the saw I opened the saw door to look inside and behold, the dado insert has not been wrapped and has bounced around inside the saw during transport. Now the inside of my brand new saw is scratched and the dado insert is nicked and scratched up. Already looks old and beat up, new from the factory, plus scratched for rust to start. Then there's another box with the blade splitter/shield stuffed inside the saw. Upon opening this box, I find no padding or protection of parts other than little plastic bags to protect the heavy metal parts from rubbing and scratching on each other. To add insult to the poor packing job, the tightening knob for the arbor tilt handle has fallen out and gotten lost somewhere between your place and mine. The other one was ready to fall out, as it had backed completely out of its treads but held by the edge of the box. Some tape would have prevented that lose.
How about that new motor cover. There was absolutely no padding or protection for this plastic motor cover, and the two self tapping screws were just thrown in the box, where they have managed to scratch the cover while the shipment traveled from your factory to my house.
I haven't even started unwrapping the fence or table yet. I'm not going to be surprised if they are as poorly packed as the rest of the boxes, hopefully not damaged
So now I start trying to assemble this machine. Lets just say the manual is quite inferior. I knew nothing about how to assemble this saw prior to receiving it, so I must rely on the manual for guiding me through assembly and setup. So I read through the manual and then began the process. Well, first thing I must do is install the blade. Sounds simple enough except there is no description of how to get the insert out. So I unscrew all of the allen screws thinking they are holding it down, nope they don't. Didn't see any description of that in the manual.
Next the manual shows a guy using a piece of wood to hold the blade still while loosening/tightening the arbor nut. Well that is fine and dandy if there is a blade installed. I can't loosen the arbor nut installed by the factory with the wrench provided because the arbor shaft turns. I note there are two flat spots on the arbor shaft and think to myself, "powermatic guys are smart enough to provide a wrench to hold the shaft while I loosen the nut (my old cheap Delta saw did)" so I look through the boxes and parts and find no more wrenches. Then I look through my tools and no wrenches I have are thin enough to access the flats on the shaft. So now I have a saw that I can't install a blade till I find a tool that will hold the shaft. Useless saw for sawing.
Well okay, lets move on. I'll install a power cable to the saw. Since Powermatic doesn't provide one or even a guide to buying the right size, I get one the same gauge as the motor cable 12/3 calculating this will be big enough. I open the switch cover, looking at the picture in the manual of how the power is routed (which is good enough), but crap there is no cable clamp to hold the power cable into the switch box. Not even a note in the manual that one is needed. So off I go to Home Depot and buy a package of 5 (only comes in packages of five) for $1.25 or 25 cents each. Come on guys, a 25 cent part you know is needed and don't supply or even says it's needed. So I finally get power and the motor runs (without a saw blade of course). Well one small success.
I start looking at the bolts to hold the table wings to the saw. I think these are the lowest grade bolts you could find, I think even the cheap Delta saw I got rid of had better bolts holding the wings on. I'm afraid if I use them, they will break off in the saw. So I'll spend a couple more bucks on my two thousand dollar saw and replace them with higher grade bolts.
I work in aerospace and I know what quality products, good documentation and sound packaging are. I feel you people at Powermatic are living on your reputation, falling short of doing what is necessary to really make a great product. It's not that hard or costs that much to make that final step. Maybe your quality department has been laid of to save money? I don't know but I'll tell you this, the quality of the product, documentation and packaging I received is shamefully poor. I sure hope you can take this constructive criticism and improve your product, after all, you are representatives of US manufacturing. By the way the Jet bandsaw went together great and all parts where there and well packaged.
Regards, Larry Penners Boeing Satellite Systems 310-416-9383
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Should of bought a Grizzly. LOL At least you would have a cool grand in your pocket for your troubles. :)
It is frustrating to spend that amount of money for something that is suppose to be superior, only to find it is no better than what you could of had for half the price. I feel for you.
Roger

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On 6 May 2004 09:34:10 -0700, lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote:

Interesting. I have long dreamed of buying a PM66 particularly since a dealer I used to frequent told me that there was much more cast iron in the trunnions than the Unisaw. I've probably spent ten years planning on getting one. Then, within the last year I've seen and heard more horror (well, maybe that's a little strong) stories about Powermatic that I've been reconsidering.
My current thought is the General 650 at nearly $400 cheaper. I've had my hand near the phone for a couple of weeks, now; I'm that close to ordering.
Then a Woodworker's Supply catalog shows up in the mail yesterday and on the inside cover is a Unisaw with 50" Biesemeyer and mobile base for $1499. The rest of my shop is Delta (DP, DJ20, DC380) so this would make sense.
But I don't know. I've heard horror (well, maybe that's a little strong) stories about Unisaws recently, too, so I'm just a little hesitant.
Man, this is tough: Powermatic, General, Delta, Powermatic, General, Delta...
By the way, don't bother trying to sell me on Jet or Grizzly. Not going to happen. Powermatic, General, Delta, Powermatic, General, Delta...
- - LRod
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
http://www.woodbutcher.net
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Regardless of brand, I would strongly recomend buying from your local dealer and have him deliver the equipment. Seems Delta gets more than its share of broken trunions from shipping. Let the dealer take care of the headaches so that you can sit back and enjoy the new equipment.
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The dealer still has to have the saw shipped from Delta or a distributor. I don't think most dealers actually open the boxes to check the condition of the trunnion.
Brian Elfert
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On Thu, 06 May 2004 19:01:34 +0100, LRod

you might consider:
unisaw prior to 1970 powermatic prior to 1980
less money, better saw. you just have to look harder...
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On Thu, 06 May 2004 14:20:30 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@igetenoughspamalreadythanks.com wrote:

There's no question about looking harder. I have been. I haven't run across any killer deals anywhere, new or used. And the pre 1970 Unisaw is disqualified because they're all right tilt. The left tilt Uni didn't come into existence until about seven or eight years ago. I'm a left tilt guy (in every sense of the phrase). Too old to change, gonna have to live with the consequences.
Thanks for the input.
- - LRod
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
http://www.woodbutcher.net
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Sorry to hear of your problems. I picked up a new 66 from the wood show in Pomona 2 weeks ago(great price). Packaging was in excellent condition, bolted to oak pallet with oak frame around it and cardboard box around that. Everything was boxed up properly and fit and finish excellent. I agree about the cord strain relief and the 'missing wrench'. Love it so far cuts so smoothly

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Yup, went to that show and spent mucho money on accessories for the new saw. I wanted the 30 inch fence, that's why I ordered it from Amazon. Now I am going to grind a 1 inch wrench from sears to fit the arbor, gotta get a blade on to test it. Still looking forward to making sawdust!!!
Larry from Signal Hill
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lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote in message

Dear Larry;
Sorry that you had a problem with your new saw. I was a tool dealer for years and have sold 100's of the pow 66 saws with never a problem that I could not take care of myself. Sounds like freight damage and trouble with the carrier. Why did youy buy it from Amazon and not your local dealer? I used to be the "local dealer" and I took care of my customers and at a fair price. Buying this large a product thru Amazon might not be worth the savings?
Good luck, Mike
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On 6 May 2004 09:34:10 -0700, lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote:
many snips....

Did you not have a local dealer?

You are complaining because you got more than you expected?

I wonder if you had one that was a "factory" rebuild? Or a display saw, that was packed off to you, long after it left the factory?
One (small) advantage of buying stuff made in China- they have to pack it well, to survive the voyage.

Every power tool I assemble makes the NEXT tool that much easier. Not to defend their crappy manual- but the next time you assemble a PM66, it will be easier. Not that there should be a next time.

whoops!! Now you have to re-align the insert. Not sure you should blame them for that.

Borrow one from a buddy? I bet it is the same size as Delta supplies with Unisaws. Of course, they should have sent you one. Not the end of the world though, if you are short a wrench. I bet I'd find some way to get that nut off, if I had me a new saw to play with. It wouldn't have been put on all that tight at the factory, would it?
Hey, I wonder if a bike shop would have a wrench that would fit. Cone wrenches, used to adjust bicycle wheel bearings, are very thin.

No sympathy from me, here. What if you wanted to wire this with conduit? or that armoured cable stuff (?RX?) the darn cable clamp would be in the way. No, that part should be supplied by the purchaser. What, you didn't have a handful in your toolbox? You just bought a pack of 5- so you are good for next time.

bolts is bolts. don't cuss it out until it breaks. You know, if you go and buy a good grade 8 (automotive) bolt, you will have the best thing around. But if you are tightening it into cast iron, you run the risk of screwing up the saw. Maybe a cheaper bolt would break before buggering up the threads cut into thin cast iron. I know, its' a stretch, but it could happen.

I bet Powermatic doesn't sell much to the aerospace industry. A router is to a Bridgeport as a table saw is to a ....... ??

I fear you are right. they are resting on their laurels. Those fellers in Tennessee must not think they have any chance of loosing their jobs to a chinaman. As have many others in America.

Where was the Jet made? Just curious-
Feel free to delete this post- I'm in a crappy mood tonight. And you ain't making it any better. I thought maybe one day I'd get me the best of the best, a PM66. Guess I shouldn't have waited. Oh well, my contractors saw (Delta, made in USA) works for me.
Please don't misunderstand my post- I feel bad for you, I feel bad that an American product would be shipped badly. But there may be one or two items here where you had unresonable expectations.
And one more related thought- why can't Amazon list the country of manufacture on it's web pages?
-Dan V.
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On 6 May 2004 09:34:10 -0700, lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote:
It sounds like you're experiencing a lot of frustration and I'm sorry that you're having an unpleasant experience ... but it sounds to me lilke you had some shipping problems that are the carrier's fault and that your expectations were not set correctly for buying an industrial tool.
I get the impression that you were stretching your knowledge and experience in buying an industrial tool. An education is always expensive and often painful, but I think once you get this behind you, you'll love the saw.
I'm replying to our message because I hope that some other newbie might be able to profit from the exchange - it's pretty much too late to help you :-(.

That's pretty gung ho - mail ordering an industrial tool as your first(?) stationary tool purchase. A local dealer would have charged more but also could have provided some hand-holding and protection from things like a brutal freight company. Choose your poison! FWIW, I went cheap too.

IIRC, Powermatic describes the motor cover an option ... however, I think virtually everyone buys a package, which AFAIK always includes a motor cover, fence, & etc. At least that's the way it was when I bought mine. I don't think that I've ever seen a bare PM66 for sale. For example, this 3 HP PM66 package at Amazon clearly includes a motor cover. <(Amazon.com product link shortened)83867077/sr=1-10/ref=sr_1_10__i10_xgl60/103-5539613-0208612?v=glance&s=home-garden>
Remember, this is an industrial tool; For example, <http://www.powermatic.com/PMWood/Tools/Tablesaw/66.html lists the motor pulley as standard equipment! Presumably, you could order a non-standard motor pulley. I think Powermatic does do custom modifications to their machines occasionally. It's hard to imagine a brand like say, Ryobi listing a motor pulley as standard equipment! :-) How many Ridgid buyers even know that they are buying a motor pulley as part of their saws? This is just an indication of the target market.

It sounds like your saw was abused in transit. You did complain to the delivery company and inspect the saw before you accepted it, didn't you? You did get the damage noted on the delivery receipt? Despite is weight and beefiness, your saw is a delicate machine tool. Rough handling (as opposed to rough use) will destroy it quickly. Imagine what would happen if one of those satellites that your employer sells were treated roughly in transit. For example: <
http://images.spaceref.com/news/2003/09.06.03.noaa-n.lrg.jpg
Is their any sign of more serious damage? Like a broken trunion?
I would expect that PM would replace the missing part, the dado insert and send you a can of Powermatic Gold spray paint.
One of the small boxes that my saw was shipped in was damaged during shipment (the motor cover box?). I opened it up at the freight yard and inspected it before I accepted the saw. In my case there was no damage, so there was no problem.

Powermatic's main market is knowledgable, mostly industrial, users. I'm sorry if this sounds brutal but I couldn't come up with a gentle way to say that it's mind-boggling to me that someone buying a PM66 wouldn't know how to remove the table insert, or a least know how to figure out how to remove it quickly. When buying this level of tool, there is a certain level of knowledge assumed. (It's a fair to ask whether this is the best business decision for the Wilton tool group to make, but that's another discussion)
Did you look at the dado insert to see how it worked before you took out the adjustment screws? Looking at the online manual, on page 11 figure 16, those screws are clearly refered to as adjustment screws.
I agree that the manual isn't great; actually it's pretty useless; tho it did help me with figuring out how to mount the fence. (I wonder why they don't standardize on eithter 1/4" or 5/16" bolts; doing that would reduce their inventory requirements and simplify assembly) The manual would benefit greatly from having someone at Powermatic try to follow it to assemble the saw.
But for me and, I expect, most Powermatic customers, the manual is at most a Bott's Dot in the road; after all it's just a table saw and who really needs a manual to assemble one?

The two flats on the arbor are new; A good change. My saw doesn't have them and I haven't really needed them; tho they would have been handy once or twice. It does seem like they could spend the 50 cents on a cheap, sheet metal wrench after they've gone thru the trouble and expense of machining flats in the arbor.
I'd just carefully use a pair of water-pump pliers on the arbor - with something to pad the jaws so they don't ding the arbor up. An industrial user would probably just grind down a wrench till it fits.

Getting the right cable clamp and power plug was a PITA for me too ... but how would Powermatic know what kind of plug, cable and clamp to provide you? The size and length of cable is just something the plant electrician would know. Many places would be required to use armored cable or maybe even conduit.
For their main market, the plant electrician would just go to the supply room (or reach into his tool box) and grab the right parts.
The manual also doesn't mention shimming the top to be flat either. It's just "something you're expected to know". You're expected to have shim stock on hand too. Maybe the manual should mention it if Powermatic wants to target ordinary consumers.

You're sure that low grade bolts wouldn't do the job better? It's much better to break the bolt than to strip the table or break an extension.

Let's hope that Powermatic does improve their packaging and documentation; you're right that the cost would be trivial (if not a net savings) and would improve the experience for at least some customers.

I hope this gets resolved to your satisfaction and please let us know how Powermatic handles your problem.
Bob S
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Bob Summers) wrote in message (LP) wrote:

Sounds to me like he got a machine that someone else had returned and nobody had bothered to repack the thing properly.
I don't know what Powermatic do for packing but I'll bet they try to at least do as good a job as Delta. My Unisaw came in a stout cardboard box bolted to a pallet. Come to think of it I can't think why any company would pack a saw any other way, the packing described would not work with a forklift.
I don't know what expectations you have for buying industrial machinery but I know what the expectations at Amazon are and I don't think they were met. What happened when you called up their customer service to complain?
Problem with something like a table saw is that the thing is so damn heavy that replacement is a really inconvenient option.
These things are NOT sold as industrial tools, perhaps once but these days the majority of buyers are 'prosumers'. If the market was just the trade Delta would sell less than a quarter of what it does today.
It is a pity that the manufacturers have yet to realize this. They might clue into the fact that a designed for safety table saw might have a higher WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) than the baddly designed blade guards and splitters made to be thrown away.
Powermatic and Delta both seem to have an issue here. Thats hardly surprising since the same distribution network will distribute both. They need to get a clue and take control of the distribution system. It makes no sense at all for them to be shipping machines to Toolcrib to re-ship.
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Phillip Hallam-Baker responds:

Probably more like 10%. Most buyers are upscale woodworkers.

Yeah. And the designs are right there spitting on them. The Biese splitter and the European crown guard should not cost much more to make than the current POS guards.
Charlie Self "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." Will Rogers
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I want to say thanks to all the feedback I received on the post I sent. I was pretty wound up when I posted. Now I shall provide an update.
The packaging was not damaged in shipping, it was poorly packed at the factory. Granted it is an industrial piece of equipment, but I think they could have done better. Amazon has responded to my requests for replacement parts, they should come in 7-10 days? I did find the standard blade insert from Powermatic is bent, and Amazon is getting a letter for that.
I did want to buy a saw local, but when I called the local guys they were out and woudn't be getting any until after the price increased. Amazon had it in stock and in the 30 inch fence model. Decision was made by default.
I have the machine assembled now. I did buy a 1 inch wrench ($8.00 at Sears)and grind it to fit the Arbor. Now I'll have one for the future. I also used the cheapo bolts, after reading a couple of comments on which I prefered breaking, table or bolt and the bolt did win. The lousy manual will be tossed in the drawer, not to be needed again.
I cut some wood with a old Freud blade and it was nice and smooth. I'll install the WWII afer I am done adjusting the table.
Thanks to all... (I really enjoyed the satellite photo, ouch thats gonna cost big bucks)
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Update Don't know if you're following this thread anymore but I found underneath some stuff on my bench the larger ardor wrench for my PM66. So PM did include it it was in small box eith the other wrench an miter gauge
lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote in message

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Totally oposite experience here. Packaging was wood framed pallet with heavy card board box, not even a dent in the box. Gaurd, miter gauge, motor cover etc in seperate boxes. Picked it up my self from vendors warehouse. Don't know why the concern over the bolts? mine work just fine. Never seen a throat plate that didn't just snap in as I'm sure you've figured out the allen screws are the leveling screws. It is kind a dumb they don't include the extra wrench although you wouldn't normally need it. Well I'm sure you will be happy when it is setup and running
lpenners snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (LP) wrote in message

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Not to make a bad situation worse, but my dealer told me that Jet/Powermatic is a Swiss company who manufactures their products in Taiwan. I don't know if this is true or not?

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Gary responds:

WMH is a Swiss holding company that owns Jet, Wilton, Powermatic and Peformax so that part's true. AFAIK, the model 66 is still made in the States, though I'd hate to bet on how long that will hold true. Many of the other Powermatic tools are made in Taiwan and China, as are Jet tools (Taiwan was where Jet tools were first made).
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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