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Thread: Powermatic Build Quality

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
    Location
    Saint Louis
    Posts
    2

    Angry Powermatic Build Quality

    Finally decided to pull the trigger to upgrade my jointer and planer and Powermatic got the vote. Now, the wait for equipment from overseas. I got a mobile base for the jointer and it shipped from Tennessee the next day. The first one arrived with the box intact but it had significant paint loss and a dent. Going through the dealer for remedy got a response from Powermatic they would ship a replacement after I provided proof the defective one was destroyed. So, I cut it up and sent the dealer a photo ... then UPS showed up 3 hours later with the replacement. Same issues with 2nd one as first.

    It's obvious to me the prep (degreasing and priming) for painting was lacking and the packing was inadequate. This could become a do loop, so I am getting a quote to have it powder coated. The bigger issue for me is the response from Powermatic lacked contrition and put additional burden on me to the point I am thinking about canceling the whole thing. Hoping my experience is the exception rather than the rule and am interested if others have had positive or negative experience with Powermatic. Thanks in advance for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Tampa Bay area
    Posts
    743
    I have four large Powermatic machines and have only one real complaint. On my PM1500 the switch that kills the motor when you step on the foot brake was sketchy from the beginning. I could fiddle with it and it would work for a few months then hang up again. About three years in the switch failed completely. Probably should have called as soon as it first happened but did call when it completely failed. The person I spoke with said those switches are solid and only hang up from being dirty with sawdust and so on. Told me to step on the brake and let the pedal snap back up a few times and it will be okay. I tried to explain about a three horse dust collector ten feet away and the switch had been problematic from delivery. He was not going to listen to me. Finally said thank you and hung up. Took the switch off and found a part number on it. Somewhere around $3.50 from China and $7 and change from Amazon delivered next day with Prime.

    If China is selling the part retail for $3.50 how much is Powermatic paying for them? To this day I still think about Powermatic arguing with me about a part that cheap.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Okotoks AB
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    3,434
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    Powermatic has had some serious problems with delivering consistent customer service. My only interaction with them was when shopping for a new table saw & the call to them was met with rudeness, indifference, and a lack of product knowledge. I just assumed someone was having a bad day, but then heard of many others on forums with similar complaints. They also had a goofy system for the mobile base that used one of the blade cranks to raise & lower it that also had may complaints.

    So SawStop got the sale & I've been wary of PM since then.

  4. #4
    Well it's not really Powermatic lets be honest it's CHINA so quality is relative to all the other CHINA/Taiwan machines built over there. I'm assembling my new Powermatic PM1500 as I type this and assembled my new Powermatic 15HH planer recently.

    15HH Planer - The so called mobile base is an absolute joke and was not working as adjusted. No matter I ripped the entire nonsense off the machine and set her on a Grizzly 4 swivel Bear Crawl mobile base which works great! Big fan of those mobile bases I have 3 now. Fit, finish, setup were flawless I could not find anything to fine tune even with my high accuracy Mitutoyo measuring tools. There was a shipping rub in front/base paint. The same shipping rub both of the floor display models have at my local woodworking supply. These DO NOT come with Byrd Shelix cutterheads anymore, it's an Asian knock off of the same style. Machining on the cutterhead is different and they don't have BT marked (Byrd Tooling) inserts. Compared to other CHINA/Taiwan machines it's a cut above the competition and I'm happy with the purchase.

    PM1500 Bandsaw - Still assembling it and found my second issue today. Very minor but exemplifies the CHINA/Taiwan attitude across all brands, with maybe the exception of SawStop (more on that below). They knowingly ship defects and let customers take the hit they don't care. First issue is a 3/4 inch long gouge through the paint to bare metal below the serial number label on the column. Not shipping damage it got whacked in the factory before crating. No attempt to repair it just ship it. For $3,000 that just takes the shine off the customer experience. The 2nd issue is stupidity. The end caps for the fence rail are too small, they just fall out on their own under gravity which they obviously know but they ship it anyway. I can fix with a dab of silicone and tape them on until it dries but I don't like the stupidity of annoying the customer with stupid stuff like that not for the price premium they charge vs other brands.

    SawStop - I spent north of 6k on SawStop recently, a 5hp ICS with all the trimmings plus some router stuff. With one exception (design flaw in the overarm dust collector) it's flawless. Fit, finish, setup, instructions wow the best written instructions ever they have gone the extra mile and then some to engineer a positive customer experience. If they expand into other machines, jointers, planers, etc. watch out they will clobber the competition.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    Powermatic has had some serious problems with delivering consistent customer service. My only interaction with them was when shopping for a new table saw & the call to them was met with rudeness, indifference, and a lack of product knowledge. I just assumed someone was having a bad day, but then heard of many others on forums with similar complaints. They also had a goofy system for the mobile base that used one of the blade cranks to raise & lower it that also had may complaints.

    So SawStop got the sale & I've been wary of PM since then.
    We purchased a PM2000 for my brother back when they first came out so many years ago, the quality was shockingly poor. They obviously were cashing in on the iconic name at inflated prices but delivering the typical CHINA/Taiwan quality. There are some real contenders today. I currently own a new SawStop 5hp ICS and l love it. Wow it's quiet. Fit and finish flawless. The mobile base is genius. One design flaw on their big overam dust collector but other than that nothing to even nitpick about. Prior to this I owned the Grizzly 12 inch G0696X BEAST! That saw was absolutely flawless except for the placement of the stick on measuring tape on the rail. Weight, table thickness, it crushed every 10 inch saw with ease. I'd have another one sitting in the shop now except they have been on backorder for months and I decided I was at the age that I should opt for the SawStop safety feature.

    While I'd never buy another Powermatic table saw Powermatic is my current choice for bandsaw, planer and mortiser. While the table saw experience was sour I won't let that stop me from picking the best machine. If Powermatic has the comp beat then so be it.
    Last edited by Charles Coolidge; 06-29-2021 at 11:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
    Posts
    2,053
    I don't know about the PM1500 base but a number of the Powermatic bases are made in the US. If it has a US flag on it then it's made int he US. I know the base for my PJ882 is US made.

  7. #7
    I no longer see the advantages of choosing a Powermatic machine over a Grizzly. Grizzly has come a long way but their customer service has always been top notch for the most part. I have several Powermatic machines and have not had good experiences with Powermatic customer service and their parts department is a joke. Plus their parts are just ridiculously priced high.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    New Hampster, USA
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    61
    How does the curved PM cabinet fit on the rectangular Grizzly mobile base?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Holmes Anderson View Post
    How does the curved PM cabinet fit on the rectangular Grizzly mobile base?
    I don't believe the curved cabinet is an issue beyond aesthetics. Here's my 15Hh planer, the front of the cabinet is curved and it's snug on all four sides with no movement.

    wwtools03.jpg

    Lets take a close look at the Grizzly 4 swivel Bear Crawl, the caster has a cast metal hub with a urethane tire and bearings. That foot operated lift pin is about 3/4 inch in diameter.

    gmb03.jpg

    Here I extended the base with some steel tubing from Metals Supermarket. Grizzly sells rails to extend the base but were out of stock, the local steel tubing was relatively inexpensive.

    gmb02.jpg

    Here's the top side

    gmb01.jpg

  10. #10
    Well, I guess everyone's experience is going to be different. Back a few years ago, I purchased several large PM machines and had great experience with all of them, including my PM2000. All the machines from Taiwan were as close to perfect as I could want and I've been happy with every machine since, and I'm a picky guy.
    All that said, if you have any doubts, pull the plug now, before it's too late. You can always reorder later.

  11. #11
    Measured table flatness on my new PM1500 bandsaw just now, a .021 crown down the center. I'm on hold with customer service.

    Update: Finishing up with customer service as I type this. The customer service lady is quite nice and polite. They are sending me a replacement table. There you go my first interaction with Powermatic customer service went well!

    tablecrown.jpg
    Last edited by Charles Coolidge; 06-30-2021 at 12:13 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
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    2,203


    It seems that QC at Powermatic is a bit of an afterthought these days.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland
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    167
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Robbinett View Post
    I no longer see the advantages of choosing a Powermatic machine over a Grizzly. Grizzly has come a long way but their customer service has always been top notch for the most part. I have several Powermatic machines and have not had good experiences with Powermatic customer service and their parts department is a joke. Plus their parts are just ridiculously priced high.
    I concur well said.

  14. #14
    +1 more
    Many tools are living off a reputation long past. IMHO Pwermatic tools are overpriced for what you get. You can buy some other brands like a Grizzly, which are more affordable for those of us with a home shop and you get the same features for less. There are always debates about good build quality and quality control which are important but as the OP has shown it's not exclusive to one brand over another.
    I have a few Grizzly machines and I'm very happy with them. I could have bought a Powermatic machine but instead I bought 2 Grizzly machines.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    3,217
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Robbinett View Post
    I no longer see the advantages of choosing a Powermatic machine over a Grizzly. Grizzly has come a long way but their customer service has always been top notch for the most part. I have several Powermatic machines and have not had good experiences with Powermatic customer service and their parts department is a joke. Plus their parts are just ridiculously priced high.
    The 5 year vs 1 year warranty doesn't carry any weight for you? I know it's silly to ask a Grizzly fan questions like that. LOL

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