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by Mark Stephens Aug 4, 2009 5
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.”
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.
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.
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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