Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

PK200 Table Saw – First Look

Seeing as I’ve had this Elektra Beckum PK200 table saw in my workshop for a week now, I felt this would be a good time to take a glance some of the main features; things I’ve noticed so far; perhaps even some things I don’t like…

Great access for blade changing.

I haven’t yet had a chance to give it a good workout or even build its own stand, yet – now, I’m contemplating giving the right-hand table extension a dual-function by turning it in to a router table… I know I’m going to struggle to find space to store my current, stand-alone, benchtop router table otherwise. I’m gradually homing in towards a decision on which blades to buy and, by quite simple rotating the “commutator“, it seems as though the motor startup issues are now resolved [I’ll try to detail that in a future post].

In that first photo above, you’ll be able to note that Elektra-Beckum have designed this saw to allow clear and unobstructed access to the lower blade area, by means of removing a portion of the table to the left of the saw blade. Where most other saws would have a removable narrow ‘insert’ around the blade, this does mean that such a thing cannot be fitted to the PK200 model (at least, not without serious modification…). So, for a clean cut on veneered MDF for example, you would have to first lay down a sacrificial sheet of MDF or ply, to prevent breakout and chipping on the underside.

Also, I should add that, if you’re blade isn’t parallel with the left-hand mitre slot (and, you want it to be), it’s a real pain to adjust, as you need to do all the workings from underneath the saw, while also keeping tabs on how it’s looking from above!

No room for an insert plate.

Blade changing.

Now, you won’t see this on many ‘budget‘ table saws but, the blade tilt and rise-and-fall are control by two separate hand wheels:

Controlling the blade rise, fall and tilt.

While there is a Bristol lever to secure the tilt angle, there is no such lock to keep the blade set at any specified height. I haven’t yet had a chance to see how much or even if this vibrations through cutting are enough to alter this setting but, if you’re someone who likes to cut grooves and tenon shoulders on your table saw, I’m assuming this lack of a feature may disappoint you.

When I first removed this saw from the back of my car and decided to have a play with it, I found that the rise-and-fall mechanism, particularly when lowering the blade, was very stiff and awkward. It operates on a geared mechanism, which will probably need to be cleaned often if you lack decent dust extraction:

Gears for the rise-and-fall need to be cleaned.

After a minute with a small brush, there was a definite improvement in the operation of this mechanism.

I do like the design of the riving knife and the way it is fitted:

The all-important riving knife.

There’s a square plate that fits over this and then, you secure it in position with the two hex-bolts. This positive location does ensure that, in an event where the bolts either work lose or weren’t tightened securely in the first place and, as a consequence, the riving knife comes in to contact with the rising teeth at the back of the blade; there’s no risk of the knife being fired towards the operator at high speed. One downside though, is that, with no lateral adjustment to compensate for wider or narrower blades, you’re restricted to working with 210mm diameter blades, which not a size stocked by all suppliers. Unless you’re happy to work with a gap of greater or less than 8mm between the back of the blade and front edge of the knife… (the HSE certainly wouldn’t allow it!). I have no idea what the scale corresponds to but, with a 210mm blade, you can set it to sit just below the top teeth. However, in order to achieve a maximum 65mm depth of cut with the guard in place, you do have to set it much higher. I believe the L-shaped slot cut in to the top of the riving knife prevents the crown guard from being removed as you’re feeding timber through – at which point, it could become a projectile if it then came in to contact with the blade.

Note the 15mm gap with a 200mm blade fitted.

While some may look upon  the 65mm depth of cut on these saws as a limitation in your workshop; I still personally feel that the bandsaw is a much safer too for a small workshop and when you’re working alone. With increased thickness comes increased tension and stresses within the timber, which increase the risk of the blade binding and kickback. A second-pair of hands at the rear of the saw would be able to drive a wedge in to keep the kerf open.

How often do you need to cut 3in thick timber, anyway? I only ever seem to do it on large dining tables and, even then, I only require four cuts for as many legs. Besides, if you were cutting 3in hardwoods regularly, you would be looking for a saw with a much larger motor, anyway. This model has 1.8kw motor with an output of only 1kw (that’s just less than 1.5HP, I believe). I’ve yet to see how well this saw performs when cutting 2in thick hardwoods.

Let’s now take a look at the rip fence…

Reliable rip fence.

This has really impressed me. For a fence that is secured at only one end, it is very solid and reliable. I can push quite hard at the far end without getting any deflection – yet, I’ve worked with some cheaper saw where the fence locks at both front and back of the saw and it’ll move all over the place, without the ability to maintain its parallel setting. This fence has an aluminium extrusion which can be fitted so that it has a low profile that fits under the crown guard for narrow cuts in thin stuff. It won’t span the full length of the table but it can be withdrawn sufficiently to allow clearance after the last cutting tooth, after which solid timber can start to twist, curl and move. If the fence isn’t parallel, there are two screws underneath that can be slackened off to make the necessary adjustment. The only problem here is that you need to remove part of the front clamp to get at one of these screws.

One thing I didn’t like was this style of knob, which is more akin to a wing nut:

It may have been something the previous owner had fitted, as the Metabo saws come with Bristol levers as standard. Needless to say; I cut this thing off and glued on a spare M8 Bristol lever I happened to have going spare.

Another neat feature I found is this neat storage space for a push-stick so, there really is no excuse, now! 😉

P-P-P-Pick up a push-stick!

That just about sums up my initial impressions of this saw in its most basic form. As this saw has an aluminium top, I should point out that, unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to use any of the MagSwtich accessories with this. This does add to the lack of weight, however, which makes it very easy to move around on site. I haven’t mentioned the mitre fence because I don’t tend to use them. This one is a bit sloppy in the track but, that can easily be fixed.

In the coming weeks, I intend to add a couple of accessories; starting with the base attachment rails, which is a must-have before you can add any of the other accessories. I may also end up purchasing the dust extraction kit – I have some 40mm pipe left over from other jobs but, it’s not quite enough. I need to weigh up the costs of buying more and all the other bits against the £50 for Metabo’s ready-made set. Either way, I’ll need ‘something‘ to tip my order over the £100 mark for free delivery! 😉

I just can’t see myself spending £120 on an aluminium table (the width extension) unless it’s absolutely necessary… With the base rails fitted, I believe that I should be able to make my own ‘extension‘ and also double it up as a router table – very similar to what PaulR did in this thread on UKworkshop. Trouble is, I still need to purchase, fit and measure on the base rails before I can look at building even the base unit.

Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

2 responses to “PK200 Table Saw – First Look

  1. PHIL INWOOD 15/04/2012 at 21:23

    Hello there,
    Having read with interest the above, I followed your lead by buying a PK200 (green one) from eBay today. It’s in vg nick and I was pleased to secure it for £100. It has its rip fence assembly but the riving knife and plastic guard/dust extraction nozzle are missing. The previous owner was unable to fond them, telling me that they were something he never used .
    I’m not a trained bench joiner but have good carpentry skils and so would ask whether you consider the missing items essential for safe usage or unnecessary for safe operation?

    I’m not sure whether my request is something that you normally answer but if not, then please excuse me.

    kind regards

    Phil Inwood
    Northants.
    jinwood@btinternet.com

    • Olly Parry-Jones 15/04/2012 at 23:47

      Hello Phil,

      I wouldn’t consider using such a saw without its guard and riving knife.

      The crown guard would obviously work to protect you from the spinning blade and also, it can help to prevent timber from being thrown up at your face, as the up-rising teeth at the back of the blade will try to do. That guard only mounts to the riving knife, which is also essential in helping to reduce ‘kickback’, where timber binds on the back of the blade and is thrown back at the operator at high speed. As you cut in to solid timber (and, some sheet materials), the two halves either side of the saw cut (kerf) will move and attempt to close the gap, as moisture, stress and tension are released from within.

      Spares can be purchased from Power Tool Spares, among others.

      The riving knife may not be cheap but, I do consider it to be essential. That crown guard also looks dear but, you may be able to make your own that fits over the blade and bolts to the riving knife.

      I’d also advocate the use of a push stick to keep your fingers further from the blade but, it is not a replacement for either of the other two items.

      Hope this is of help to you. If you need to know anything more, please do let me know.

      Olly.

I welcome your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: