Tool Test – Powermatic PM2000 Table Saw

From August 2006 Popular Woodworking

Features and Performance for Serious Woodworkers

My first look at the newest cabinet saw from Powermatic was last year when the company was still working out some final details. At the time, the most difficult concept to grasp was how the PM2000 would fit into the product line alongside the Powermatic Model 66 cabinet saw that has become an industry standard. In short, the Model 66 is designed for more physically demanding millwork situations, such as ripping hardwood lumber all day long.  The PM2000 incorporates features that will appeal to a furniture maker who switches between setups throughout the day.

Let’s look at a few of those new features on the PM2000. First off, it has an integrated mobile base. See it in the picture? You won’t! It’s built into the cabinet of the saw. To use the mobile base you pull the blade-tilting wheel (on the right of the cabinet) away from the saw to engage a second geared mechanism. That handle then becomes the adjusting handle for the mobile base. It lifts the saw only a fraction of an inch off the floor, but it’s enough to get things moving (please pardon the pun).
After use in our shop for a month or so, we’ve noticed that the thread pitch on the mobile-base lift requires more turns than we’d prefer and there seem to be some concerns with dust getting into the threads, affecting the ease of movement. Powermatic representatives agree and both of these items are under consideration for an upgrade.

Another question we had was about the “mobility” of the saw when a 50″-fence rail and extension table without casters is added. We were told (and we checked) that once the saw is raised onto its casters, the extension table can be lifted easily enough (again, a fraction of an inch is enough) and the saw can essentially be steered from the extension table without causing any harm to the saw.

Powermatic improved the blade-changing process as well, by adding an arbor lock that allows one-wrench blade changes, doing away with the stick that we all end up jamming against the blade to make the change. The lock is easy to use and a nice feature.

    The arbor lock works by sliding the spring-loaded red lever toward the blade support until the tooth engages one of the notches. A single wrench is then used to loosen (or tighten) the arbor nut.

The third major change (and our favorite) is the addition of a true riving knife. For those unfamiliar, a riving knife is a steel plate mounted behind the blade that raises and lowers with the blade (see photo below). Essentially it’s the splitter part of the guard, but it stays in place without the guard, providing an extra level of safety when using the saw. In our opinion this is a table saw addition that’s way overdue. At press time the riving knife will only be available as an accessory,  but we hope that will soon change.
Powermatic has also added a dust shroud around the blade to improve dust collection and included a good quality miter gauge.

    The black riving knife serves as a splitter to keep the saw kerf in the wood from closing after the cut, which could pinch the blade. The top of the riving knife is always just below the blade height, so it can remain in place when making grooves and dados.

We tested the 3 horsepower, single phase, 220-volt model with the 30″-fence rail system. You may prefer the 50″ rail set in your shop, but we felt the balance between mobility and capacity was best in this model. Conveniently, we had a 5hp Model 66 sitting in the shop at the same time, so we were able to compare the motor performance between the two saws.

I ripped a few pieces of 3″-thick white oak on both saws and found very little difference. Neither sliced like a hot knife through butter, but they also showed little difficulty in handling the task , a strong positive statement for the smaller motor on the PM2000. A 3 hp Model 66 is $150 more than the PM2000.
Other accessories that will be available for the PM2000 include zero-clearance and dado-insert plates. Because of the riving knife design, the PM2000 uses a different size throat insert than the Model 66.
To sum up, we like the PM2000 performance and the features it offers to both the home and professional woodworker. As a “next generation,” it stands proud alongside the Model 66.   

- David Thiel

More information on the Model 2000 Table saw from Powermatic

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