I am very opinionated on this and I am happy to debate anyone on this topic
as I am very secure in my point of view.
Once you have decided you are going to spend $1500-2000 for a table saw,
there is only one to get, a General 350.
I work at a very large machinery dealer in Canada, we sell Delta,
Powermatic, General, General International as well as a few offshore brands
very few of you will have heard of. I don't get nearly the same level of
complaints about General 350's as I do about Uni's.
General is the only company who still controls *every* aspect of manufacture
of their equipment. Iron ore pulls up at the back door and finished machines
go out the front door. They are the only company who still uses Meehanite
castings ( http://www.meehanite.com/ ), they are quite proud of this and
have the certification plaque displayed quite prominently in the foundry.
When Powermatic still owned a foundry, they were a Meehanite certified
foundry. When Delta Canada still had a foundry (the Callander foundry in
Guelph Ontario) it too was a Meehanite certified foundry. When I asked what
happened to the millings, if they went back into the furnace, I was told
quite plainly "No", all materials in the furnace are virgin, offcuts could
not be recycled. We were (our company) packing up from a trade show last
year when a light rain caught a couple of our machines outside. The
Taiwanese stuff rusted and pitted almost immediately, with the Canadian made
General equipment, all we had to do was wipe the water off, no marks on the
When you operated the tilt and height wheels on a 350/650, there is *no*
lash, I don't mean very little, I mean *no* lash. The saw comes assembled in
a crate, you have very little to do to fire up the saw when you get it home.
When the top is put on the saw, it is checked with a 4' strait edge, shims
may have been put under the corners of the main table between the top of the
sheet metal cabinet and the cast top to ensure it is flat (the flange at the
top of the sheet metal cabinets are not faced, this is the only way to
ensure every table top is flat, who else shims the tops?). The trunions are
much beefier than either a 66 or a Uni. The motor is an off the shelf mount
Baldor. The mitre slot measures out at 0.0750" and the mitre gauge bar is
0.0749" (yes, I have measured them with a digital micrometer). There is no
side to side play between the mitre bar and the slot, the mitre bar is a
piece of milled steel, not a piece of off the shelf bar stock. The mitre
gauge head is cast iron, not pot metal or aluminium.
I was very disappointed the first time I saw a 66, it has a unique drive
pulley, double bearing, arbour arrangement, rather than the usual bearing,
drive pulley, bearing, arbour face arrangement like a General or a Delta
Uni. While I know the 66 is a good saw, it would seem better to support the
drive pulley on both sides with a bearing rather than just on the inboard
I visited the foundry and machine shop in Drummonville Quebec last year and
I was totally impressed. It is a strange mixture of new and old. CNC
machines spitting gears all day long, but the final assembly and fitting of
the each saw is still done by hand. The assembly line consists of three
stations with four or five guys. The trunion is hoisted into the saw and
bolted in, the tags are hand riveted on (as in manual riveter!). The top is
lifted on, aligned to the blade with a dial indicator and torqued down,
shimming where necessary to ensure the table is flat. The last station a guy
slops cosmoline on the top and all exposed cast iron surfaces, wraps the saw
in plastic and air nails a crate around the saw.
When you buy a General 350 you are buying the best saw made today for under
$3000, Hell, even Keith Bohn (aka UA100, UniNut, etc.) said if he were
buying a new saw he would buy a 350.
BTW, I am not a fan of left tilt saws. All the arguments for them are
meaningless. If you dado a lot, you are going to want an accurate scale for
your fence rather than having to do math each time you make a cut to account
for the blades stacking on to the arbour backwards to a right tilt saw, for
me anyway, that out weighs all the "merits" of a left tilt. If you put a
sliding table on your left tilt, the point is at the bottom for bevel cuts,
which is one of the arguments people make against right tilts oddly enough.
Anyway, I can go on and on as to why the General 350 is the best saw made
today but I have things to do...
Every neighbourhood has one, in mine, I'm him.
Remove the "splinter" from my email address to email me.
Newbies, please read this newsgroups FAQ.
rec.ww FAQ http://www.robson.org/woodfaq /
Crowbar FAQ http://www.klownhammer.org/crowbar