The Jet Tablesaw Experience
by Cian Perez
About a year ago (roughly Winter 2001), when I first started getting serious about woodworking, I purchased a $200 benchtop Craftsman tablesaw at Sears. I had that saw for only a year before I started realizing its inadequacies. It's definitely fine for onsite construction, trim, shelves, etc., but if you want to venture into furniture or cabinetmaking, then you'll appreciate the features which a true tablesaw provides.
The tablesaw may arguably play the starring role among all power tools in a woodworking workshop. At the lower end of the range, there's the benchtop tablesaws that I mentioned above, and at the high end of the spectrum, there are the 500 pound cabinet saws being lead by the wondrous Powermatic brand. But for most hobbyist woodworkers, a contractor's tablesaw falls in the sweetspot of price vs capability.
There are several options in the contractor tablesaw range, and all of them are generally very good. It seems to be dominated by Delta and Jet, but there's also Grizzly, Ridgid, Woodtek, and others. Expect to pay roughly $500 to $800 for a solid contractors tablesaw. (Although the beloved Harbor Freight does sell a $340 contractors tablesaw. The verdict is still out on this Central Machinery saw, but it does seem well equipped.)
In my search for the "perfect saw for me," I was fortunate enough to stumble across an online merchant (Woodworker's Supply) who was getting out of the Jet equipment reselling business. Thus, they were having a close-out fire sale on their remaining inventory of Jet power tools with huge savings being passed on to the consumer. Therefore, I was able to purchase my dream saw: a Jet Gold Series Contractor's Saw with Solid Cast Wings (JWTS-10CW2-JF) for significantly less than the going market rate, and I also got free shipping to boot!
It's worth mentioning that if I didn't get such a spectacular deal on this particular tablesaw, than I would've been a Ridgid 3612 owner. All those who know me acknowledge that I'm exhaustive, if not maniacal, in my pursuit for information, especially when it comes to getting the best bang-for-the-buck. Well, I found that the Ridgid has a bullet-proof pedigree and very impressive features for the money: a solid fence with a 36" rip, included mobile base, and cast (web) wings.
I have documented the assembly of my Jet tablesaw below. It may seem like it took me a long while with the indicated dates, but woodworking is only a hobby for me, so I took my own sweet ol' time putting this tablesaw together - a short stint every few nights or so and on weekends. Heck, I'll even admit that I went into my basement woodshop a couple times to realign and polish the top (just one more time) even before the motor was mounted. Most folks, however, dedicate the whole of an afternoon and can get this thing up, finely tuned, and running in about 4 to 5 hours.
Oh yeah, I got to tell ya' too - this is one heck of a toy, err, tool!
2.23.03 I unpacked all the components of the saw several weeks back when I first received it. Everything was well packaged, and none of Jet's immaculate paint job had been rubbed off on any of the parts. The screws were all clearly labeled, and were separated among four packages (stand, wings, motor, etc.), which made things very simple.
The stand components were made with very thick gauge steel. It goes together with both regular and lock washers (as it should be), and was fairly heavy when assembled. Definitely a different league than my benchtop Craftsman tablesaw's stand.
2.24.03 Assembled the Shop Fox mobile base. It's the heavy-duty model rated for 600 pounds and marketed to mobilize cabinet saws. I figure it'd be more than adequate to accomodate my saw's svelty 350 pounds.
2.26.03 I installed the main saw body onto the base - a task that I unfortunately had to do solo. Man-oh-man, this baby is HEAVY! Ten years from now, if I develop a dislocated disc in my lower back, I'm gonna have a pretty good idea why!
3.2.03 Got around to installing the solid cast wings. I opened the box where the wings were contained, and . . . Disaster! Apparently, a bit of moisture got into the box where the solid cast wings were packaged. The wings face each other in the box - flat top against flat top. It appears that opposing corners (one each per top) were affected. I'll have to call Jet and/or Woodworker's Supply to see how they're gonna remedy my situation.
3.3.03 I called Jet during the day. They said that since this was still a recent purchase, I should go through the retailer. I called Woodworker's Supply, but, of course, they're getting out of the Jet tool business, but they were decent enough to say that they'll contact Jet and try to do something for me. In the evening, I took a good look at the cast wings. The rust was limited to only a small area of opposing corners. Well, I guess you can see where this is going. I opted to simply hold onto them, clean 'em up, and install them. I cleaned up the affected areas with Boeshield Rust-Free rust remover. Several rags and a ruined Scotch Brite pad later, I was able to get the surface to an acceptable condition and appearance. Good enough for me. Besides, who knows if WWS and/or Jet would/could do anything for me. I mounted the wings, in a tentative manner as the directions instructed, until I could mount the fence rails.
Installing the wings can easily be done by one person by using a C-clamp and a couple lengths of 2x4. Clamp the wood to the table as shown in the following photos. Let the front of the wing rest on the "wooden third hand", and screw in the bolts while holding onto the back of the wing with the other free hand. The bolts will hold the wings to the table with only hand tension. Remove the "third hand" then get down on the surface with a flat-edge and tighten the bolts securely after you have everything aligned.
You gotta' love all that cast iron!
3.4.03 I contacted WWS and informed them to not bother trying to handle my rust issue. At some point in the evening, I aligned the wings, and installed the fence rails. In the following pic, you can see my Craftsman benchtop tablesaw which will soon be supplanted by the sea of cast iron standing in front of it.
3.5.03 Realigned and polished the top. I'm noticing that the left wing and the main body don't align perfectly along the table surface.
3.6.03 I notice that the left wing actually has a rise in the center along the edge where it meets up with the main saw body...
3.7.03 Using a straight edge and a set of feeler gauges, I reckon I have nearly a 0.2mm rise in the center of the left wing! I'll need to look at this closer... But I did install the splitter and blade guard this evening. Man-oh-man, what a pain that was! Now I fully understand why people don't bother leaving these things on. I also installed the blade that was supplied with the saw. This is another precarious task with a high degree of possible digit loss. I may need to go out and buy one of those thingamajigs that are made to purposefully hold the blade during blade installs.
3.8.03 Realigning the table again, I find that when the top of front edge of the wing is perfect across both surfaces, I get a 0.009" rise above the main table at the middle and a 0.006" drop below the table at the rear. Here is the puzzling thing... I removed the left wing and placed it top-surface-to-top-surface upon the main table, and I could not see any gaps between the two surfaces! I couldn't get any of my feeler gauges inserted anywhere. Then I lifted and moved the left wing to the other side of the table where the right wing meets the top, and again, no visible gaps anywhere. This was indeed bugging me. Could it possibly be that the the left wing was slightly convex and the top slightly concave, thus allowing them to come together perfectly when placed one on top of the other? But this theory was eliminated when I placed the wing on top of the right side of the saw. What are the odds that the right wing and table edge are exactly in the same concave/convex configuration? I surmised that these cast iron tops are not as perfectly rock solid and immune to flexing as I originally perceived. What apparently was happening when I placed the left wing on the table surface was that either one or the other was giving enough under the weight of the wing such that the two surfaces would mate up perfectly. Eureka! I had my solution. I mounted the left wing back onto the main table edge in a tentative manner. I aligned the middle of the wing where the two surfaces met, and tightened down the middle of three large bolts that hold it to the main table. Then I coerced the leading edge of the wing to line up perfectly with the main table and bolted down the front bolt. This left the rear edge of the wing to fall about 0.01" below the main table. A small clamp easily lined up the back surfaces and I tightened down the rear bolt. And Whoila! A perfectly aligned cast iron table top! Whew! Talk about a weight being lifted off my shoulders (pun intended).
I mounted the rear motor, installed a link belt (opting to not utilize the oem v-belt), and rewaxed the top. Then I wheeled the saw over to the only 20amp outlet in my basement, plugged it in, pressed the green START button, and . . . nothing. What the ??? I blew the breaker. Reset the breaker. Tried to turn on the saw. Same thing. Walked to the rear of the saw and read the motor plate "18 amps on 115V." I unplugged the saw and took the motor plate off. Maybe there was a short in the internal wiing or maybe it was accidentally wired incorrectly? Nope. Everything was in its place. I replaced everything and tried one more time. Same result. I do acknowledge that my house's security sysem does share the same circuit, but I didn't think the amperage pull on that system was all that much, maybe 0.5 amps, but I could easily be wrong here. I'll perform this test again at some point, but its now really pressing that I get the new sub-panel up.
This following photo shows how to install a motor on a contractor's tablesaw when you have to do it by yourself. The support raises the motor mounting platform to near level so that you can easily align the motor and the belt guard without the motor sliding off (and possibly doing significant damage to both you and the motor). Just be careful to not accidentally kick out the support until the motor's bolted in!
I aligned the fence to the right miter slot, and went over the top one more time with paste wax . This maybe the last view of the still impeccable and perfectly polished cast iron top:
3.16.03 Investigated my breaker issue again. I plugged in the saw and pressed the START button... popped the breaker. Alright, now I'm getting seriously worried. I unplugged the home security system that was sharing the circuit. Reset and repeat... same thing. I removed the belt cover and removed the link belt. I can spin the motor and arbor pulleys fairly easily, although I did notice some resistance when the belt was still on. Prior to removing the belt, I did verify that it was installed in the proper orientation. Reset the breaker. I then tested the fail-safe of the GFCI and reset it. Without the belt mounted on the motor, I pressed the START button, the motor whined to life but the breaker popped almost instantly. Hmm, close... Reset the breaker. Pressed START again. This time the motor spun to life, but the breaker didn't pop!
I read somewhere that you needed to let a brand new motor run for a short while to get everything "seated." Not quite sure if there's any truth to this statement, or if this was the same case, but I did let the motor run freely for about a minute or two. At least I'm feeling somewhat better now. I power cycled the motor a couple of times and the breaker held. I shut off and unplugged the saw and reinstalled the link belt. Plugged the saw back in and pressed START. The motor came to life with the carbide blade in tandem. COOL! Maybe I nailed it? I did a few cycles of turning the saw off and on, and the breaker didn't flinch. Then I replugged the home security system and power cycled the saw a couple times some more, and the breaker held. Boy, that's probably doing wonders for my home security system's circuit boards. I figured the combination of the new internals of the induction motor and the fairly snug fit of the new link belt was creating enough load resistance to pop the breaker. But after the motor "loosened up" and some initial wear was introduced to the link belt, everything seemed to work just fine.
This seems like an isolated incident, though, because I haven't heard of anybody else who owns this same tablesaw going through a similar experience. In fact, another owner mentioned that he was able to initially run his saw on a 15amp circuit upon which his lights were also installed. Go figure. Well, if anything, I do have Jet's two year warranty to lean on, should anything go wrong. All is well in Cianville.
The fully assembled toy, err, product:
7.26.03 Can't leave well-enough alone! Well, umm, before even getting the opportunity to cut a single piece of wood on my new tablesaw (because my woodshop is perpetually in progress), I upgraded the rip fence. I came across an I-can't-turn-this-down-type-of-deal on the industry design standard Xacta Fence. So off comes the Jet Fence and on goes the built-like-a-tank Xacta. So the tablesaw has now morphed to a fully qualifed Jet model no. JWTS-10CW2-PF. The following pic also shows my upgraded miter gauge to the Incra 1000SE.
Incra 1000SE and Xacta
8.23.04 Added the Biesemeyer Drop-in Splitter. Biesemeyer was gracious enough to paint the mounting bracket Jet white instead of the standard Delta grey. DON'T SKIMP ON SAFETY:
2.1.06 This saw was flawless and ran beautifully, but in a moment of weakness I sold this saw when I upgraded to a PM2000.
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©2010 Cian Perez / www.CianPerez.com