Delta Unisaw Restoration

Sometimes being the “Back-up” pays dividends. Of the Popular Woodworking staff, I’m the back-up video guy. When it’s necessary, I’m called into action.

This past week publisher Steve Shanesy called me to action. Steve picked up an old Delta Unisaw at auction. (You can read an early blog entry about his find and what the saw was used for during the last 50-plus years if you click here.) He plans to refurbish the machine and as he does, I get a good look inside, outside and upside down of the saw and the restoration process.

Along the way, Steve plans to document the work in a series of short videos that explain just what has to be done to bring this bad boy back to life. In the first installment, he does a general assessment of the machine, takes a look at the saw’s top, the fence and the motor; it’s a big honking motor! And the wear found on the wiring will make you run to the shop to check your wires. You have to see it.

To watch the first installment of the series, click here.

- Glen D. Huey

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8 thoughts on “Delta Unisaw Restoration

  1. Mike Hamby

    Woo-Hoo! I recently was given a Unisaw in exchange for replacing some windows for one of my customers. It looks almost exactly like yours Steve. You mentioned in the video that by looking up the serial number you were able to establish when the saw was made. When time permits, would you please post the source you used to verify its age? Thanks. I anxiously await the next installment in the series as I’m working on refurbing my "dinosaur" as well. By the way, mine is in working condition but cranking up the blade and using the tilt crank require major effort so I really look forward to your advice on cleaning out 60+ years of sawdust and gunk from the inner mechanisms.
    Mike

  2. Steve Shanesy

    Hey, Everyone, just catching up on your comments. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Freddy, "newest and fastest" doesn’t do it for me in some areas. For example, my other hobby is keeping and riding motorcycles. With a couple exceptions, which I wouldn’t afford anyway, I’ll take a vintage bike any day. My two current rides are both Hondas from 1975. They look great and are extremely reliable. What’s remarkable about the old Unisaw is how similar it is to those built just before the all new model came out.

    Martin, we were thinking of you when we decided to do this project. :). We hope to run new installments every couple weeks so stay tuned.

    Larry, thanks for your note. I’m hoping the motor bearings are OK. Fingers crossed. I will be replacing the arbor bearings though. Can’t wait to get it operational and take for a test ride.

    Brian, we’ve done a number of articles over the years on restoring hand tools as you suggest. Check the web site.

    Jonas, thanks for your thoughts. I remember old Wadkin machines in some commercial shops where I worked years back. Was there a different US company called Wadkin, different from Wadkin Bursgreen?

  3. Jonas

    The best thing about old machinery is the absence of plastic. And also that the entire machine is generally made out of heavier parts which usually makes it more stable.
    Actually this old Delta saw looks a lot like the old Wadkin Bursgreen table saws from England.
    Nice topic and a good looking saw.

  4. Brian Gilstrap

    This is great. I look forward to all future installments. I love the idea of restoring quality tools from the past.

    Please consider extending this idea to the refurbishment of hand tools (chisels, hand planes, drawknives, saws, etc.).

    Keep it up!

    Brian Gilstrap

  5. Larry Eriksen

    After reading your article about your "antique" Delta Unisaw and looking at the pictures, I thought that you may want to know that I also have one. It was manufactured in 1943 and sold by Star Manufacturing(?) in Seattle during the second world war. It is almost complete except for the blade guard. I also have the original owners manual, a little dogeared, and the motor manual. I have replaced the bearings on the motor and a couple springs in the motor. Other than that it still runs like a swiss watch.
    For kicks, one time I called Delta/Rockwell for parts. I gave them the parts number out of the owners manual and they thought that I was out of my mind, as they do not have any parts list with the old numbers. I did have to replace the belt drive pully on the motor. They still have that part and listed under the original part number.

  6. Freddy Roman Maker & Restorer

    I must say what a difference between the two saws visually. Usually when talking about technology you would want the newest and fastest, yet I would take the Vintage tablesaw over the modern one in a heart beat. This can be an amazing thread. Good Luck & Thanks for sharing.

    Fred

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