Tool Test: Powermatic PM1500 Band Saw
By Steve Shanesy
Powermatic’s new 15″ band saw is quite a package: good looking, heavy-duty in every way and packed with features.
The fit and finish make a strong first impression. The paintwork is excellent, parts fits well and the chromed handwheels and knobs say “quality.” Upon closer inspection, you find a remarkably stout fence (more on that later), beefy trunnions supporting a large table and heavy cast iron wheels. The rock-solid guide post moves easily on rack-and-pinion gears and supports a heavy-duty blade guard.
The PM1500 has a large resaw capacity at 14″ under the guides. Throat capacity is 14-1⁄2″. All that resaw capacity is supported by a 3-horsepower, 230-volt motor driving heavy cast wheels. I sliced 10-3⁄4″ walnut with ease.
The cast iron table is 21-1⁄2″ long x 16″ wide. It has two milled slots for the miter gauge (which is included). The table tilts 10° to the left and 45° right.
Now about that fence: It’s a Biesemeyer-style design, is easy to adjust and it clamps firmly in position. The impressive extruded aluminum fence plate is easily changed from its 6-1⁄2″ high position to 7⁄16″ in the low position by loosening two knobs on the fence back. The fence can also be easily fitted with a 6-1⁄2″-long, 11⁄2″-diameter steel pin for a single point of contact setup.
The PM1500 also features a magnetic switch and two unique electrical safety features. One is built into the blade-tensioning lever; a cut-out switch prevents the saw from powering up when the blade is not tensioned, which eliminates the risk of the blade jumping off the wheels when it’s loose. The second unique feature is a magnetic “key” located just above the on/off switch; remove it and the switch is disabled.
Upper and lower blade guides are beefy and, thankfully, require no tool when adjusting. Each element of the guides – double roller-bearing side guides and a rear-thrust bearing – can be adjusted independently after loosening by simply turning the knurled knobs that hold them in place.
The PM1500 has two dust ports that do an outstanding job. Band saws are, after all, notoriously difficult from which to collect dust. The upper port is positioned behind the blade just below the lower guide bearings; it sucks up dust close to the source. A second port is positioned at the base of lower saw cabinet just below the upper port. I was surprised how little dust was inside the machine after giving it a workout. To further keep things tidy, two brushes are deployed in the lower cabinet. The first sweeps the blade clean while the other sweeps the tire clean.
A second pleasant surprise with the PM1500 came at the first startup – it’s very quiet when running.
Was the band saw perfect out of the crate? Not exactly. The drift pin that levels the split table at the front of the saw was too long and prevented the fence from moving close to the blade. A call to Powermatic confirmed it was a tad too long and a fix was already in the works to correct it. PWM
Video: Watch a demo of the PM1500.
From the April 2013 issue #203
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