The New Powermatic 18" Band Saw: Totally Overbuilt
Every time I go to Atlanta or Las Vegas for one of the big woodworking shows, there’s always one tool that makes me think about selling my plasma in order to get it into my shop. This year at the International Woodworking Fair, it was Powermatic‘s new 18″ monster band saw.
Barry Schwaiger of Powermatic demonstrated the saw’s features to us, though really the saw did all the talking.
The saw, available at the end of the year, reminds me of a lot of the old Crescent or Tannewitz band saws I’ve seen in professional workshops. The first thing I noticed is that everything on the saw is cast iron or steel.
“We almost had a no-plastic rule,” Barry says. “Except for the switch, everywhere you touch is cold metal.”
The saw has an 18″ resaw capacity under its bearing-style guides, which all adjust independently (nice touch). As evidence of the stoutness of the saw, Barry dropped the blade guide al the way down to the table. Then he invited us to try to move the guides. No dice. The guides are rock solid.
The table itself is a big chunk of iron and is tilted with a rack-and-pinion mechanism (all metal, by the way). The table tilts to the left by 14Ã?Â° specifically to accommodate people who cut their dovetails on the band saw. And the machanism has a clever way to bypass the 0Ã?Â° stop for the table to make this change effortless.
The blade-tensioning system appears quite robust, with large acme-thread screws. And its quick-tensioning feature has three settings. You can release all the tension to remove the blade, keep a little tension on the blade between jobs, or fully tension the blade for work.
The saw is powered by a 5-horsepower motor (available with either a single-phase or three-phase motor), and the saw operates at two speeds. To stop the saw there is a fancy footbrake that looks like it should be on a stock car, not a band saw.
“I told my guys I wanted this to be the Harley-Davidson of band saws,” Barry says. “They went a little over the top with that one.”
The saw, built in Taiwan, weighs about 800 pounds. Barry says the price will be “tickling $4,000.” That puts the Powermatic in the same price and specification range at Laguna’s 18″ Resaw Master Band Saw. And that, Barry says, is intentional.
“We’re going straight after Laguna on this,” Barry says.
P.S. You might want to also check out the video at the top of this entry that David Thiel shot while at the show. In the interest of full disclosure, the video was sponsored by Powermatic, but it really does show off the features of the saw.