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A Tradition of Excellence: Powermatic 66 Table Saw Retires

by Mark Stephens | August 4th, 2009
Beauty and Braun: The Powermatic Model 66 is not only a gorgeous saw but it performed at the top

Beauty and Braun: The Powermatic Model 66 is not only a gorgeous saw but it performed at the top

Back in 1966, Powermatic made huge leaps in table saw design with their Model 66 saw, and since then it’s become an iconic benchmark for all other cabinet style table saws.

This Made-In-The-USA saw ran smoother than any other table saw and would do so for decades without a hitch. Powermatic set the bar high with the no-nonsense cast iron and steel construction, exclusive 3VX belt drive system, an extra wide stable trunnion, and the tilting arbor on butter smooth worm gears driven by heavy cast iron wheels.  The mighty Model 66 was the heaviest saw in its class, which meant vibration free operation.  In turn, the saw became renowned for unmatched accuracy and dependability for over 40 years.

And it was also just a beautiful machine.  Woodworkers would invite their neighbors over for a barley pop while they stood around in the shop just admiring the size of this thing.  And the perfect gold painted cabinet.  They’d take turns looking at their reflection in the polished table top.  The real fanatics would turn it on and just watch it run for a minute, humming along without a single vibration.

“I promise to make new kitchen cabinets for everybody I know if I could just have a Powermatic 66.”

Whoa!  The guts-and-glory under the hood of the Model 66

Whoa! The guts-and-glory under the hood of the Model 66

When a woodworker thought about buying a new saw, this was the one that took over his nighttime dreams. He’d even get delusional about all the projects he’d tackle. “I promise,” he’d say, “to make new kitchen cabinets for everybody I know if I could just have a PM66.”

No saw was as robust, solid, or smooth as the PM66. No saw was as sought after as the PM66, either. You may even remember this table saw if your high school shop class had one.  I recall one being in mine.

You can use the fine polished table top surface as a mirror when you shave . . . should you get tossed into the dog house for buying this saw.

You can use the fine polished table top surface as a mirror when you shave . . . should you get tossed into the dog house for buying this saw.

They say it’s better to bail out when you’re at the peak rather than fade away. So, 2008 marked the end of the Model 66. Just like the Yankees retired the number 3 in 1948, and the number 9 in 1984, Powermatic retired the number 66 in 2008.

That kid had a good run for 42 years.

Woodworkers Source brought in 10 of the last Model 66 Table Saws ever made. The last of the best-of-breed, red-blooded-made-in-the-USA table saw could be in your shop.   Right, it lacks a few modern features like a riving knife – but what this saw has that no other saw has is the memorable legacy. This saw could very well be the same model with which you learned woodworking all those years ago.

Guess what? Your great-grandkids could too.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 1:17 pm and is filed under Featured Specials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Bill Bartmann

    Excellent saw. I want one.

  • http://www.woodworkerssource.com Mark Stephens

    The PM2000 has some modern features that you’ll like. The arbor lock, integrated mobility, and the riving knife for example. As the next generation to the 66, you’ll see these kinds of improvements with just as good performance. It’s won editor’s choice awards in Fine Woodworking, maybe some others that I can’t recollect right now.

  • BWB

    I am interested in it’s replacement – the PM2000. Any thoughts on that?

  • http://www.woodworkerssource.com Mark Stephens

    Excellent, Jim. Thanks for that comment.

  • Jim

    When I retired in 2002, I ordered one of these beauties complete with 5 horses, a sliding table, and an overhead vacuum guard. It took four of us to load it into my pickup and we were all straining to just short of hernias. It is the center of my retirement woodworking shop and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Truly one of the best investments I have made. I spent the year before retirement studying the machines on the market. Some purchases took more study than others. The Model 66 was the easiest decision.