Powermatic, that’s my brand. My, “If I find it for the right price, I will always buy it, even if I don’t need it,” brand. Powermatic has long been synonymous in the woodworking industry with “awesome.” In the table saw category it was always between the Delta Unisaw and the Powermatic 66 for the ultimate saw, the one that guys waited until they retired to afford. The one that made it possible to get through those last years of work, knowing that they would soon have one in their shop.
Powermatic planers are no different. If I find a Powermatic planer for the right price, I will snatch it up, knowing that I can always sell it for a profit. A few years ago, when the economy was still good, I bought a 20″ Powermatic planer for $700 and sold it on Ebay for $2,300. Good times. Real good times.
The concept is simple. Rock-solid tools, made in the USA. They sell themselves. Boy, do they sell themselves. They even sold me. Boy, did they sell me.
I was operating my shop with a 20″ planer from Sunhill machinery that I bought pretty early in my career for about $1,200. I still used it because it always worked fine for me and I didn’t want to spend the money to replace it. Until, one day, when a friend of mine mentioned that his 20″ Powermatic was just too big, and he was looking for a smaller machine. This was my chance to get the Powermatic into my shop. I worked out a deal where I would sell mine for $800 (which I did), buy him a new 15″ Grizzly for about $1,200 (which I did), and get the Powermatic for no additional money (which I did).
I had pulled it off – The “Great Powermatic Switcharoo.” I verified that it was like new, that it had a 5hp motor compared to my 3 hp and that it had faster feed rates, which meant that I would just put boards in one end and watch money fly out the other. There was no doubt that this was going to change my life… until I actually picked it up.
I walked into the shop, squinting because of the bright halo of light surrounding the machine sent from heaven. I stumbled closer, feeling my way through the maze of tools, until I could just catch a glimpse of the one and only – same damn machine I just got rid of. It wasn’t the exact same, it was painted gold instead of blue, and it did have a bigger motor and I assume a different pulley for faster feed speeds, but it was the same machine. Need I even say, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
Somewhere along the line, Powermatic just gave up and bought the same planer from Geetech in Taiwan/China that is sold by Grizzly and others. They did take the time to change the paint, which I am sure accounts for the extra $1,000 you will spend if you don’t buy the Grizzly machine. I was floored. It is one thing to have your equipment made overseas from your own designs and meeting your own specifications, but they just jumped on the back of their great reputation and decided to ride into the sunset, hoping no one would notice. I am sure it makes life easier. Now, all Powermatic needs is a sales force and someone to make sure Geetech doesn’t brag too much about the equipment they are making for Powermatic.
I’m really not mad. The machine worked great until I burned it up with my other tools. It was stronger and faster, and I liked the color better. I just didn’t like getting blind-sided like that. I would have been mad if I had spent the extra money for the Powermatic instead of buying it from Grizzly.
For fun, I put together a little slide show of the Geetech machine in all of its different paint colors. See a resemblance?