I recently upgraded from a lower priced contractor's saw. My main consideration in this upgrade was price and value. In short, I wanted the most saw I could get for the money on hand. My limit was $800.
I poured over the various woodworking forums searching the archives for opinions about various saws and kept coming to the same conclusion that for what I had to spend I could get a top of the line contractors saw, or I could opt for a low priced cabinet saw like the Grizzly G1023. After reading the various posts and asking a few questions of my own, I determined that while the Grizzly may not have the reputation of some of the other fine cabinet saws, the people who owned them seemed satisfied that they got their money's worth. My feeling was that even a low priced cabinet saw was more saw than the lighter weight contractor's saws, so I called Grizzly's toll free number and placed my order. The lady at the other end of the phone was very helpful and answered all of my questions quickly and courteously.
My saw arrived at the Kansas City depot of Consolidated Freightways three days later. I specified that I would take delivery at the depot because I was told the freight company would only deliver the 400 lb. saw to the back end of an 18-wheeler, and it would be up to me to get it off the truck and into my shop. Taking delivery at the depot meant they would load the saw into my pickup truck with a fork lift and I would not have to burden my friends with lifting such a package from the high bed of a semi-trailor. Still, it took four of us to set it down from the bed of the pickup truck and carry it into my garage/shop.Packing
The saw arrived with some damage to the carton. The packing consisted of two large styrofoam pieces, one covering the top and another covering the bottom of the saw, with everything encased in a cardboard carton. While the carton had some holes and tears, there was no damage to the saw itself. I felt that the carton was a minimal package for something that heavy. Especially since it was coming all the way from Taiwan. Never the less, the saw arrived undamaged.Cleaning and Assembly
The table and wings of the saw were covered generously with cosmoline, and required about a half a roll of paper towels plus lots of elbow grease to clean. Of course, this is part of the fun of receiving a new tool, and the cosmoline, while messy, does protect the finish of the table.
When I finished cleaning the top, I noticed that there were some casting ridges near the blade insert that were not ground and polished out (see Figure 1). One of these ridges was pronounced enough that I could easily feel it with my fingernail. I sent an e-mail that night to Grizzly's customer support and received a return authorization for the table the next morning. I called them and gave them a credit card number to guarantee the return of my table top, and they shipped the replacement table that afternoon. It arrived two days later. I had 30 days to return the original top before they would charge my card, plus they paid for UPS shipping back to Memphis.
Assembly was easy enough, but other 'fit and finish' problems showed up as I attached the wings and the optional motor cover. The motor cover has a slotted tab welded to it, and a threaded knob is supposed to go through the tab into a hole in the cabinet of the saw. The hole in the cabinet was a full 1/4" out of alignment with the tab (see Figure 2). This can be fixed by drilling and threading a new hole, but still is a nuisance.
The other major problem with fit was the alignment of the wings. The holes didn't match up with the holes in the table, causing the wings to overhang the edge of the table about 1/16" (see Figure 3). This could be fixed by taking the time to enlarge the mounting holes in the wings, but I decided not to worry about it as it didn't interfere with the operation of the saw or the fence.
I also found three set screws (see Figure 4) that had not been tightened at the factory. These loose screws allowed the motor assembly to be lifted by hand, creating slack on the belts. This is not the method for changing the belts. There is another bolt that is supposed to allow you to loosen the belts from the motor. I believe these screws bear on a shaft that controls the raising and lowering of the saw. In any case, only the weight of the motor was creating tension on the belts. I tightened the screws with an Allen wrench and moved on.
Other than these few things, the saw went together well and the other alignment tasks went without a hitch. The table on a cabinet saw is bolted to the cabinet at the corners, so you loosen those four bolts and shift the table top to align the blade to the miter slots. I find this much easier than moving the trunions on my old contractor's saw. The trunions on this saw are massive, and I'm glad I don't have to move them.Operation
"The proof is in the pudding" as they say, and the proof of a saw is in the quality of cut. I already had a Vega Pro fence that I installed on the Grizzly, so I can't comment on the quality of the standard fence. It uses a round front rail and seems "beefy" enough, but I've heard that it's not as good as the Vega or other good aftermarket fences. Many of the messages here at Badger Pond mentioned a 'nickel test' to check the smoothness of a saw's operation. The idea is that if you can stand a nickel on edge and start the saw without the nickel falling over, you've got a smooth running saw. Figure 5 attests to the smoothness of the Grizzly G1023. I decided to go a penny further, so look on Figure 5 as my 'six cents worth', and notice the polished surface. Very nice.
Using the saw is a delight. The power (3hp) and smooth operation makes for beautiful, effortless cuts, and the Vega Fence assures me of an accurate setting for ripping. Gone are the days of setting the fence, then measuring the distance from the blade, running a test piece, checking the width, etc. With the Grizzly and Vega combo, I just dial in the measurement on the fence ruler, and make the cut. The polished surface of the table lets the workpiece slide easily through the blade. I waxed the surface after cleaning it. Grizzly's manual suggests rubbing in talcum powder with a blackboard eraser to fill any microscopic voids in the table, but I'm happy with it just as it is.Summary
So... am I happy with my purchase? Absolutely! Is the Grizzly the equal of the more expensive cabinet saws on the market? I don't know. I don't have any experience with them and can't compare the two. I've read that the more expensive saws don't have the fit and finish problems I found with the Grizzly, but it's hard to imagine a saw running any smoother or cutting any better. Of course, time will tell as to how it stands up through the years. The dovetail ways that allow adjusting the tilt have a good fit and operate smoothly. And as I said above, the trunnions and other castings are massive. That accounts for the vibration levels being so low.
I will say this. I think this is the best new saw you can buy for $785 ($695 + $60 shipping + $30 for the optional motor cover). Especially if you already have a good aftermarket fence to install. If you buy one, be prepared to fix a few things here and there, and don't hesitate to call Grizzly's customer service. They were tops in courtesy, helpfulness and prompt response. I got the feeling that they are really trying to build their business on customer service and a reasonably good product for the money.
Finally... here's what a satisfied customer looks like. This picture also illustrates one more change I'm going to make to the saw. You'll notice that the magnetic switch is mounted on the right side of the cabinet. That means I have to lean over to turn off the saw, often with a cut off piece of wood still sitting on the table next to the spinning blade. I don't like ever getting in the path of that blade when there is a cut-off on the table, so I now shut the saw off with my foot. As soon as I find the time, I'm going to mount the switch on the bottom of my fence rail on the left side of the blade where it should be!
I'll be happy to discuss my experiences with anyone thinking about buying the G1023.