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Thread: General 350 vs 1980s Unisaw

  1. #1
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    General 350 vs 1980s Unisaw

    I've had the Delta Unisaw for a while with the Unifence and a 3HP motor and I like it just fine. However I just picked up a really good condition 2HP General 350 (with the crap fence) cause $100.

    Now I have to decide which to keep. I've got an older Bies fence sitting around with an 8' rail, so I don't have to put up with the crap fence. But which is the better machine? I know a 1.5HP motor from 40 years ago is a whole different level than a modern 1.5HP motor, but when did that change? Is a 1980s 3HP still signficantly better than a 1973 2HP motor or did that 15 years cover the time period where motor ratings started being skewed.

    The only real problem with the General is that there's no dust cover over the motor, so I'd have to rig something up, or find one to buy. On the other hand, the general has a riving knife.
    Last edited by Erik Litts; 09-17-2021 at 12:11 PM.

  2. #2
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    $100 ! That's highway robbery, was the seller conscious? Congrats, I just picked up a 1972 General 350, and also opted for the Bessy fence. I paid "a bit more." In case you need help dating it here's a link which should help. http://www.vintagemachinery.org/mfgi...il.aspx?id=363

  3. #3
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    Yes, a 1.5 HP motor from 40 years ago is much different than a quality new 1.5 HP motor.

    The new motor will have higher power factor and efficiency, it's a better motor.

    A riving knife is nice, and of course it's a General :-)

    That said, the Unifence is a far safer fence than a Bissemeyer

    Regards, Rod.

  4. #4
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    Just noticed you said it has a riving knife so it's either a newer model or has the retrofit kit installed. When available (not sure if it still is anywhere), the retrofit kit alone was over $800. Make sure you wear a disguise when you go out in public, there's probably an arrest warrant out for you for highway robbery.

  5. #5
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    Whatever decision I made between the two machines, the UniFence would stay on the one I picked to live in the shop for sure...and yea, a riving knife is a good thing.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    $100 ! That's highway robbery, was the seller conscious? Congrats, I just picked up a 1972 General 350, and also opted for the Bessy fence. I paid "a bit more." In case you need help dating it here's a link which should help. http://www.vintagemachinery.org/mfgi...il.aspx?id=363
    This purchase involved my most favorite of sellers: A bitter Ex-wife. Husband basically bailed a decade ago and she's had it sitting in storage since then. Just wanted it gone. She sold me the 1180 6" jointer with the full pedestal for $100 too. Both of them practically unused, but with a nice coating of surface rust from humidity over the years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Whatever decision I made between the two machines, the UniFence would stay on the one I picked to live in the shop for sure...and yea, a riving knife is a good thing.
    That was one thing I was pondering. I go back and forth on the Unifence vs Bies because the Unifence rail is 54" and my Bies is 84" and while I think it's really unlikely that I'll ever really need the extra 3 feet of rail, I just have this gut feeling telling me the second I sell it, I'll want it back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Sheridan View Post
    Yes, a 1.5 HP motor from 40 years ago is much different than a quality new 1.5 HP motor.

    The new motor will have higher power factor and efficiency, it's a better motor.

    Regards, Rod.
    Perhaps the notion of HP inflation I'm thinking of is referring primarily to gas powered small engines?

  7. #7
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    Keep in mind that few woodworking machines come with " Quality motors " as standard equipment. Small 5 hp or less motors are often price point components that manufacturers try to save a few bucks on. There are some really fine new motors but many that you find in our machines will be small frame, small bearing motors that rely on insulation to keep the internals safe. The old large frame cast iron motors were indeed less efficient but the fact that motors 75 years old continue to run speaks for itself. I've replaced or rewound many motors that were 20 years old or younger but far fewer of the really old ones. There are $250 5 hp motors and $1500 ones. You won't find many of the expensive ones in our typical machinery. Dave

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Litts View Post

    That was one thing I was pondering. I go back and forth on the Unifence vs Bies because the Unifence rail is 54" and my Bies is 84" and while I think it's really unlikely that I'll ever really need the extra 3 feet of rail, I just have this gut feeling telling me the second I sell it, I'll want it back.
    For me, the high/low that the UniFence provides is a lot more important than being able to do really wide rips along the fence. That's not something that gets done all that often by most folks, I think. It's more of a special occasion thing for the average woodworker or a production thing for a business user. I'm actually limited to 22" right now with the cut down cabinet saw I'm using in my temporary shop and honestly, I doubt it's going to cause me any pain. If I actually needed to rip something wider, I can pull out the tracksaw for a one-off cut. But I already miss the high/low and look forward to getting that back once I have a building up.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    IF they are both pushbutton control I would go with the riving knife. I would put the unifence on the one I keep. You can buy the longer unifence rail for about $100 and lean it up in the corner for "whenever". Or you can buy a complete longer unifence, with or without saw attached. And mix and match rails and sell the third saw.
    I bought a Unisaw just to swap motors and resold the now under powered one for what I bought it for. Motor swap was done and sold in about one week. I sold it to the used tool store to get rid of it quickly and easily. They have a forklift and cash.
    Bill D

  10. #10
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    I own a Unisaw with a Unifence,and a Delta Contractor saw with a commercial Biesmeyer on it. I like the bies for employees, who tend to be rough on stuff. The Unifence is in my mind the best table saw fence ever made. The high /low position and the ability to have a short fence piece usable with a crosscut sled for a stop . Or just to have the fence end before the blade, so offcuts are not trapped and flung across the shop. The ease of being able to adjust it perfectly square to the table top as well as every other direction needed. As you can see ,I really like these fences. Now on to the saws. I actually prefer the General saws, they are heavier where it matters (trunnions). This helps contribute to a very smooth running saw with almost no vibration. A Unisaw is also a very good saw, I have owned mine for 20 plus years. If I ever get another cabinet saw, (highly unlikely) it will be a Canadian General.

  11. #11
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    Alright, you've convinced me then. The answer is:

    The General with the Unifence in the Garage.


    Thank-you for the information and opinions!

  12. #12
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    You are giving up a saw with more power in favor of a saw with less power and an inferior fence? This sounds like a waste of time for swapping fences, in my opinion. Flip the General for whatever profit you can, and keep on truckin with the unisaw. I am unfamiliar with General's build quality, but my guess is their 10" saw isnt head and shoulders above Delta's 10" saw.

    Good pick up either way, you should easily make $500+ on the flip.

  13. #13
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    Patrick why are you advising him to flip it ,when as you state you are" unfamiliar with General's build quality" ? General 350/650 saws use standard mount motors unlike Unisaws so if more power would be required the motor would be easier to find a replacement for.

  14. #14
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    General is unusual in my neck of the woods, which is why I wanted to preface that I havenít used a 350. Perhaps you are from Canada, Mike? However, from what I can glean from years of reading opinions and looking at photos, their product line was awfully similar to Powermatic and Delta. Judging by the weight comparisons between the 350 and the unisaw/PM66, thereís not much difference there either. If it weighed 250lbs more than the unisaw, then yes, I could see your point. That weight would more than likely equate to a heavier saw carriage and trunnion design, thicker table castings, and an overall air of being more robust than the unisaw. However, that isnít the case. Itís a different design in the same class as the Unisaw. Is it better? Maybe, but my point is it might be 1% better. What will the 350 do that the Unisaw isnít already doing for the OP? Now take into account heís going to spend 2 hours drilling the 350 to accept the unifence, calibrate the machine, and then mount the bies on the Unisaw to sell it. It seems like a lot of time and effort for not much benefit. As they say, the juice ainít worth the squeeze.

    Now, if he had a 12-14Ē saw versus the Unisaw, then I think it is a different ballgame. To me, a 10Ē saw is a 10Ē saw. They are basic and relatively light duty machines. As to the motor issue, I purchased a brand new baldor motor in the Unisaw ďbunny earsĒ mount a few years ago. Parts are pretty abundant for the Unisaw In America too.

  15. #15
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    There's a consideration that no one has mentioned. Both saws are well out of production so no new parts being produced. Any parts replacements will rely on used parts pool. Which saw has a larger spare parts pool?

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