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Thread: Craftsman 22124 compared to the GI 50-185M1

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Rochester, NY

    Post Craftsman 22124 compared to the GI 50-185M1

    I've been a big fan of the GI contractor saw since I bought mine in January 2003. About a month ago, the Orion made Craftsman 22124 became available to me for $594 with free delivery (long story on that deal...). Having helped a friend research his 22124 purchase, I was familiar with the saw and impressed with it's performance. The features and price got the best of me that day and I seized the moment and signed on the dotted line. Now that the dust has settled I'm not disappointed.

    After assembling the first 22124, I was sick upon discovering it had excessive arbor runout and vibration. I called the store and was offered an exchange, and was told they'd bring out a new one and pack up and retrieve the defective model. The second unit was much better and I breathed a little easier!

    The 22124 and the GI cut comparably enough that I can't really comment about any significant differences. The stock Leitz blade on the Sears is pretty good....the teeth are small and won't hold up to many sharpenings but it cuts nicely. I was running a Forrest WWII that's due to be sharpened on the GI, so there's really not a good comparison for the blades. The fences are comparable....the commercial Biese is stouter than the GI's homeshop Biese, but it's also alot heavier and will take same time to adjust to the weight. The miter gauge on the GI is considerably more substantial, but the Craftsman has a slotted aluminum crosscut fence that'll come in really handy as part of a router fence (Sears is giving me a second identical piece for the other half of the RT fence as a reward for my troubles with the first saw).

    DC is better on the 22124 b/c of the full cabinet. I had added a back panel to the GI so DC was pretty good on it too. I like the smaller footprint of the full cabinet compared to the splayed legs of the GI's stand. The extra weight is noticeable too...At 400# the 22124 is 33% heavier and is more stable. Vibration is about the same between the two...I had added a link belt to the GI, and the Sears comes with a poly-v serpentine belt which is actually quieter than the link belt and just as smooth. It's possible that power transmission is more efficient with the serpentine belt, but I haven't ripped enough heavy stock to really notice yet. I don't miss having a motor hanging out the back at more lifting up my workbench by accident, or needing to remove the dust panel on the back.

    The Craftsman has cabinet mounted trunnions that are easier to align and stay aligned better than contractor saw trunnions. I added PALS to the GI, but really prefer the cabinet trunnion design. The Sears splitter is alot easier to remove than the GI's, but I prefer the GI's blade guard housing but b/c it was attached to the spliter it was a pain. I've already modified the 22124's guard so I can at least tolerate it....the GI's guard collected dust in a corner most of the time, and I just added a splitter to a ZCI for ripping.

    As expected, the manual to the 22124 is better than the GI's, but it's small issue for me. The GI's handwheels and handles are clearly nicer than the Craftman's...I didn't think this would be much of a concern, but I'm finding myself looking to upgrade them already. Also, the arbor threads, arbor nut, and arbor washer are all higher quality than the Sears equivalent, but I can honestly say this IS a small issue to me. The 22124 has wider wings, a right side extension table, and an folding outfeed table that's made from pretty substantial sheet steel...kind of impressed with that. The on/off switches are very similar style, but the Orion made saw has a knee kick paddle over the off switch that's a really nice safety feature.

    Overall I'm happy with 22124. I was happy with the GI too, and if a ridiculous price hadn't been offered on the Sears I would have never jumped on it. The GI is a well proven workhorse that's at or near the top of it's class, and at $699 or less is a solid lifetime value. The 22124 is less proven but offers a ton of features and some design advantages that I suspect will show up on many saws in the future. At even money, I'd lean towards the 22124 for the reasons I mentioned, but it's not that easy to get a 22124 under $ the 22124's price nudges the $900 mark it loses some appeal, and I'm sure I'd be seriously checking into a Griz or Shop Fox 3hp cabinet saw at that price... other than running on standard electrical circuits, the 22124 is really no threat to a full blown commercial type cabinet saw, but I find many folks like me don't need one. The 22124 will do everything I need it to and is a pretty impressive saw that's really well suited for home hobby use. Even though I've had my fair share of misgivings for many Craftsman power tools, this tool merits a look beyond the name tag IMO, and it seems that many owners feel the same way.
    Last edited by scott spencer; 05-23-2005 at 5:49 PM.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  2. #2

    Nice review

    I am glad that you were able to look past the name tag. It seems as though you gave the tool a fair review. I would much rather see a review like this, even if it is not favorable to my liking.
    I suppose that I am an anomoly. I have had no ill experiences with my Craftsman tools. I continue to use them, along with others, on a daily basis. Others have obciously had bad experiences. And I feel for them. At this point, I just can't jump on the band wagon that continues to bash Craftsman tools. I might add that I don't buy their cheaper consumer grade tools very often. I did, however, recently buy a consumer grade drill for my father. There is a considerable difference in the quality between the one that I bought him and the Craftsman drill that I bought for myself. His would not last me very long. But mine continue to serve me quite well every day.....

    Kudos to you on a fine and fair review.
    Member - Uncle Sam's Misguided Children '82-'85.
    Once, Now Former, But Always!

    "Among individuals, as among nations, the respect for the other's rights brings peace."
    Benito Juarez

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Upstate New York
    Scott, great review, very fact filled and data driven. I'm glad to see that you're as pleased with your new saw as you are! I know that I'm thrilled with mine, but I didn't have as good of a saw to compare it to as you did. I'm looking forward to seeing the first project off that bad boy!
    Last edited by Tom Pritchard; 05-24-2005 at 5:58 AM.
    "Be true to your work, your word, and your friend." -Henry David Thoreau

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Zip code saw


    Once again I have to agree with you, I own this saw and straight out of the box it worked fawlessly. The only complaint I had was when I got mine home and out of the box the paint on the cabinet was scratched up on the front, but nothing I could not live with.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Hi Denny - It's been 2-1/2 years now, and I appreciate the 22124 more now than I did when it was new. I've slid the rails 10" to the right, and have added a good size router table. Have made quite a few projects with it to date... No issues, no worries...
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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