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The JET Deluxe Xacta Saw shows what happens when a company cares about improving one of their best tools.
Click image to enlarge

JET Deluxe XACTA Saw

Updated powerhouse

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Updated - 6-15-2011


The quality construction and liberal use of cast iron that helped make the previous JET XACTA Saws famous remain. Though I looked hard and long, I could not find anything that was "cheaped out" to offset the cost of the new features.

Power System

When JET says 3 HP, (left) they mean exactly that, at least. Power is not an issue with the JET Deluxe Xacta Saw.
(right) The magnetic switch is a nice feature that protects the motor and you when the power supply fails or gets goofy.
Click images to enlarge

The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw comes with a 3 HP (220V, 1Ph) motor that delivers every bit of that power because their motors are rated using a continuous duty cycle. None of the "Peak" or "max developed" hocus-pocus. A 5 HP version is also available.

An industrial type magnetic switch does as much to protect the motor as it does you. Its primary design purpose is protecting the motor from dangerous power fluctuations that can send the amp draw into dangerous levels. This may not be a common problem in most areas but if it occur, the damage is usually done before you know it is happening. This switch is way faster than you and actually prevents damage.

Another benefit of the magnetic switch is that should the power go out, the saw does not restart on its own when power is restored. The operator has to push the "On" button again to send power to the motor. If the idea of a 3 HP motor kicking in when you don't expect it isn't frightening, you don't understand the problem.

Motor power is sent to the arbor through a pair of nicely machined pulleys connected by a Poly-V belt. This style of belt is known for its smooth operation, resistance to slipping and low operating temperatures. The Poly-V belt has a very thin cross section, which dramatically reduces the friction between it and the sides of the pulley as compared to normal V-belts. Reducing that friction/temperature prolongs the life of the belt itself and the arbor bearings that eventually soak up some of that heat.

Arbor and Trunion

The arbor is full length to accept dados and has a nice pushbutton lock for changing blades.
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The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw has a full-length 5/8"-diameter arbor that is capable of using most stacked dado sets at their full 13/16" width. Combined with the 3 HP motor, the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw can actually use that much dado stack without strain.

The arbor is mounted in a heavy cast iron arm that affords the blade exceptional stability. The arbor is supported on both sides of that arm by large sealed ball bearings that should keep it smooth running for many years.

A pushbutton arbor lock is built in that makes changing blades easy and safer. JET includes an offset blade wrench that positions your hand further from the cutting edges to help prevent aggravating cuts and nicks.

The 8"-diameter cast iron handwheels are just one indication of how well this saw is built, and how smoothly it works.
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A full-width, heavy cast iron trunion assembly is mounted directly to the cabinet below the table. All of the trunion components are heavy duty, large and cleanly machined. The sheer bulk of this assembly goes a long way to soaking up vibration though there appears to be very little of that anyway.

Precisely machined worm gear drives control blade height and bevel adjustments. Both adjustments are actuated by 8"-diameter cast iron handwheels (spinner knobs on both) that may be a little overkill considering how smooth the gears work. The locking pins at the center of the handwheels are all steel and cleanly made, enabling them to secure height and bevel settings without causing those small but annoying changes we see on many other saws when they are tightened.

Table & Alignments

This alignment bolt, and three more like it at the remaining corners make aligning the miter slot and blade perfectly a simple, almost pleasurable task.
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The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw features a large, finely ground 29" by 42" cast iron table (with included extensions) that provides plenty of work surface for the large jobs, including 10" of clear table in front of the fully raised blade. Add the laminated wood extension table used with the fence systems and the useable surface grows considerably.

The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw has a pair of t-style 3/4"-wide by 3/8"-deep miter slots that accept all common (modern) accessories, including the full-featured miter gauge that comes with this saw as standard equipment.

The cast iron table mounts to the cabinet with four large hex cap screws, one at each corner and easily accessible from the outside. To make the critical blade to miter slot parallelism adjustment, simply loosen these four screws, bump the table into alignment and then tighten them down. Getting the miter slot dead on parallel to the blade has never been easier.

JET includes a setup sheet that was filled in at the factory by the worker who aligned that machine. I ALWAYS check the setup of a new machine, even this one. After going through the alignment procedures with my own dial indicator, I found the setup sheet to be accurate. This JET Deluxe XACTA Saw came from the factory with virtually perfect alignments that required no fine-tuning.

Cabinet and Dust Control

JET makes good use of the cabinet with exterior storage hangars (left) on the side and a nicely sized drawer (right) that is separated from the interior.
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The cabinet of the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw is well built and cleanly finished. JET includes hangars on the side of the cabinet for storing the miter gauge and fences when not in use. They also added a large drawer near the bottom of the cabinet that is sealed off from the interior. This provides a handy space to keep often used manuals and tools.

The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw comes with a very effective dust control system in the form of a wrap-around shroud that encloses the lower portion of the blade. That shroud is connected to a 4"-diameter exterior port on the rear of the cabinet by a 4"-diameter flex hose within the cabinet. Because the shroud is mounted to the same boss as the blade arbor, it follows it through height and bevel changes to maintain its very effective dust collection.

Modular Guard System

The blade guard system includes independent side panels (left) and a fully modular, tool-free design that lets you remove the assemblies (right) in seconds, and re-install them just as easily for use.
Click images to enlarge

JET's modular blade guard system eliminates most of the hassle-based reasons for not using this valuable assembly. This is a thoughtfully designed, well-made system that is very easy to use.

The blade guard consists of independent side panels that can be rotated up out of the way when access to the blade is needed such as for taking measurements. This independence allows the side panel with wood passing beneath to rise up when making narrow cuts, leaving the other panel flat on the table to help contain debris and dust.

The entire blade guard assembly is mounted on a hinge, allowing it to pivot up out of the way for more access to the blade. Press a button at the hinge point and this assembly is easily removed. The anti-kickback pawl assembly is also on a push-button mount that can be removed just as quickly. That leaves a bare splitter plate (also called a riving knife) that allows the throat insert plate to be removed over it.

The splitter plate is secured by a tool-free mount bolted to the same boss as the blade arbor so it remains perfectly aligned with the blade through height and bevel changes for maximum safety and effectiveness. Flip the locking lever and the splitter plate can be removed. JET offers a low profile riving knife that fits this same mount.

High-Value Fence System

The Xacta Fence II is a first rate system that is as tough as it is accurate. The HDPE faces are great to work with, very straight and very stable. You can't ask for much more of a fence system.
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The 50" JET XACTA-FENCE II fence system on this saw is both tough and accurate. (A 30" version of the JET XACTA-FENCE II is also available.) Based on the time-tested T-square design, JET uses high-end materials and manufacturing to insure the accuracy and durability of this system.

Rather than the common (and cheap) laminated wood, JET makes the fence faces are made from a pair of 3/4"-thick HDPE (high density polyethylene) slabs. This material is tough, super slick and stays straight in part because it is unaffected by humidity changes. The faces are adjustable up and down so you can position them as you like, using oversized access holes along the bottom of the fence arm.

The JET XACTA-FENCE 11 has adjusting screws in both ends of the t-square that allow squaring the faces to the table surface and the fence arm to the miter slot. Those hex head screws allow ultra precise adjustments, then hold those settings very well.

Heavy-duty steel mounting rails and a large front-mounted steel guide tube support the JET XACTA-FENCE 11. The fence has a magnified cursor lens that makes reading the factory-applied scale tape on the guide tube easy.

The fence locking mechanism parts are made using a powdered metal process that creates extremely accurate and tough pieces. This locking mechanism is deceptively easy to operate. I had to use it several times before I grew accustomed to how easily the handle locks the fence securely in place.

In the Shop

See It Work

I should note that the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw does not come with a blade, power cord or plug. Since nobody can predict what kind of plug (220V remember) you have or what blade you will want, JET skipped both and knocked a little off the base price. I know that may seem like clear thinking on the part of a manufacturer that some may find hard to accept but it does happen. Get over it.

The dust collection on the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw is as good as any I have seen. Connected to my POWERMATIC PM1300 dust collector, there was very little dust noted on the table surface even when cutting 2"-thick oak with a combination blade and the standard throat insert. Very little dust was found inside the cabinet after the evaluation period confirming the effectiveness of the blade-surrounding shroud below the table.

I used a Bosch Pro Series 40-tooth ATB Combination blade during the evaluation. Regardless of what type of wood or its thickness, the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw cruised through it without a whimper. This saw has more than enough power and delivers it very smoothly, even at steep bevel angles. The height and bevel angle adjustments are smooth, predictable and lock without annoying changes.

The modular blade guard system is almost identical to that found on the POWERMATIC PM2000 and deserves the same applause. This is a very effective, safe and easy to use blade guard system that eliminates all of the goofy reasons so many of us come up with for not using it. It is all tool-free and also accepts a low profile riving knife available as an accessory.

The JET XACTA-FENCE 11 is a pleasure to use. I did have to tweak the parallelism adjustment slightly to hit my comfort zone of 0.002" away from the blade at the rear. Incidentally, this was the only adjustment needed. The blade to miter slot adjustment was nearly perfect on the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw as it came from the factory.

This tool-free mount for the splitter/riving knife follows the blade to maintain all of its alignments.
Click image to enlarge

Making rip cuts with the JET XACTA-FENCE 11 is easy, virtually drag-free and predictable in terms of feed pressure and movement. Though I did a considerable amount of ripping during the evaluation, feed rate and pressure never changed even though I never waxed the fence faces. They are slick when you get them and stay that way.

Overall, the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw performed perfectly in every situation I could think of. Problems with accuracy are purely the operator's fault and have nothing to do with this saw. Make the cuts correctly and the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw does its part perfectly, every time. It has plenty of power for the toughest of cutting jobs and holds alignments very well. Keep the cast iron waxed, blow the dust off and check the alignments once in a while just to be a good woodworker and the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw will keep on performing somewhere between an exceptionally long time and forever.

Conclusions

The JET Deluxe XACTA Saw is a high end cabinet saw, loaded with equally high-end features at a surprisingly low price. I understand that the current street price of $2199.99 (6-16-2011) with the 50" fence and table is a major hit for the budget. The same saw with the 30" fence system is selling for $2049.00 (6-16-2011) However, the JET Deluxe XACTA Saw, with minimal common-sense care will be the last table saw you ever need to buy. Spread that cost out over forever, divided by the pleasure and safety of using a truly accurate, well-built cabinet saw and it is a steal.

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