In my work, I hear from many of the woodworking machine manufacturers. One company stands out as a front runner when it comes to new machines coming to market: General International. As I survey their booth at the International Woodworking Fair, I saw many machines with a “new tool” sign. There are new band, scroll and table saws in the booth, and a new 16″ double-surface planer. Plus there are a couple new drill presses that are part of the company’s new “Fusion” line , machines that are designed in Canada then built overseas. And there’s much more.
One tool that caught my eye is a new benchtop table saw nicknamed “The Tank.” I shouldn’t really call it a “benchtop” saw because it’s more than that. (This is an insight into the thinking coming out of General.) Take this saw and set it on your bench and you have a benchtop saw. But if you order the saw with a sturdy fixed-leg steel stand (a second option), you have a new kind of contractor saw in which the motor is housed inside the saw, not hanging out the back of the unit. Finally, attach the Tank to a folding mobile stand (option three), and you have a unit that’s ready to travel or neatly fold up and be stowed out of the high-traffic area of your shop. One model, three configurations. That’s clever. But if the saw’s not up to snuff, clever doesn’t mean much.
The Tank, which General International calls the 50-090R M1, has a cast iron top that’s 20″ x 25″. The company has lightened the saw by using stamped wings and included a new Excalibur aluminum T-style precision fence system (36″ of rip area to the right of the blade). A 2 hp motor drives the arbor via a two-step belt. The saw includes a combination riving knife/splitter and a see-through blade guard with anti-kickback pawls. A second European-style riving knife is also part of the package. A shroud surrounds the blade, guiding dust to a 2-1/2″-diameter port that sticks out the bottom of the unit (more than a standard contractor-type saw).
The folding stand (50-095) doesn’t have sleek lines or a swanky design. It’s stark and tubular, but it does the job and is easy to operate. Step one is to grab the handle and release the lock to allow the front end of the saw to dip to the ground. (The look reminded me of a wheelbarrow at this point.) Next you move to the opposite end of the unit and lift the saw into the vertical position. To completely closed the stand, release the latch to allow the remaining legs to fold flat to the saw bottom. When collapsed, the saw is about as deep as a file cabinet.
Other features include a paddle-style stop switch at the switch and a throat plate that locks with a simple finger twist, no screwdriver required.
The Tank by itself has a list price at $1045. With the folding stand (a jobsite setup), the list price is $1185. Arranged as a contractor saw with the steel legs it’s expected to hit the market at $1280. General International expects to begin shipping the Tank in January 2011.
– Glen D. Huey