Goodbye Old Unisaw

How about this news? Delta is introducing a new version of its flagship table saw, the Unisaw. That’s probably not such big news since at Delta’s big AWFS event last July in Las Vegas an early prototype was shown (click here for videos from the show). But here’s the real news: This saw is to be built in the United States. Could we be looking at a turning point in woodworking machinery? Could this be the beginning of a swing back to “good ole US of A” manufacturing?

The saw isn’t just to be assembled in the States; the plans are to build it here, too. Delta’s updating a plant in Jackson, Tenn., for the Unisaw, and some parts, such as castings, are coming in from Wisconsin.

There’s not much more information to tell as of yet, but I can tell you that the controls for raising and tilting the blade are on the front of the saw. And when officials showed the prototype in Las Vegas in 2007, the controls were digital. I’m not sure if that feature will remain on the final version, but it would certainly be a change from the standard. Also, I’ve been told the new saw will have a look similar to the new Delta dust collector design, a bit higher price point (which is to be expected when you upgrade the trunnions to be beefier), and, of course, a riving knife.

I wonder why are we seeing this move back to U.S. manufacturing. Maybe this is due to higher oil prices? How’s that, you ask? It once cost $3,000 to bring a container over from China. Today that number is closer to $8,000 (depending on where oil prices are when you read this). If you can squeeze around 75 table saws into a container, that adds about $65 to each saw. This is one example. There must be more.

In the coming months more information will come from Delta. I hope there’s a working prototype at the IWF show in Atlanta come August. I know I’ll be looking at the Porter Cable/Delta booth for sure.

How about it? Is “Made in America” an important part of your purchasing decisions (aside from price and quality)? Leave a comment and let us know.

-Glen D. Huey

11 thoughts on “Goodbye Old Unisaw

  1. woodzapper

    I would always buy "Made in USA", I’d just wait and save up a little longer to purchase it.
    Ever try shopping in the Pentagon’s mall store? Not one single thing sold there is made here in the good old USA. Ask the any clerk there, and you can tell you’re one of thousands to ask. Just Sad, enough said.

  2. Tommy

    There is a ton of old great equipment and most of us are barging hunters, so new equipment will have to be first class and reasonable. This migration to overseas forced many like my self to reach back in time and find what was at our door step in older used equipment. Now we are trained for quality and bargain’s and any thing coming out of the USA will help to swing back the market. Thank you for listening.

  3. Mike

    I live in the UK and I to hope that the high price of Oil will see a return to home manufacturing, but no doubt the cost will be pushed on to the consumer somewhere along the road.

  4. Brenda

    "Made in America" — music to our ears. My husband and I have been discussing how nice it would be to have something "made in America," but it has become practically impossible to find such a thing. While my husband waited for me to finish an eye exam, he wandered around the store where signs were posted everywhere saying, "Celebrate America." Yet, he could not find one item in the store that was made in America. Menards had "patriotic" T-shirts — not made in America, but Honduras! What patriotism! PTL for high oil prices if it will bring industry back to America!

  5. woodisgreat

    I see it again and again at work (Woodcraft). The customer comes in and looks around and says "Any of these made in the USA"? I repeat "Nope, Taiwan or China." And they look disappointed. The problem is that they assume that if one of the items were in deed made in USA that is would be the same price. Sorry my friend it would not be… It would be twice or three times as much with less features. Case in point, I had a customer wanting to get a set of wing dividers. I showed them the ones made in India (woodcraft#148053 $12.99) and in the USA (woodcraft#06C21 $62.99). Both are the same size 6" but the USA one felt better in his and my hand. Price over came loyalty. I am glad that Delta is starting to make table saws here in the USA. But I think Price will always beat loyalty.

  6. huddles

    It’s about time tool manufacturers come home! I have bought Delta and Grizzly equipment for my shop and there is little to no difference except for the price. I would love to buy Delta machinery, even at a higher price tag if it is made in America and has the latest bells and whistles and strong warantees.

  7. dave brown

    If the quality is as good or better, I would definitely pay a bit more for goods made in America.

  8. David

    Regarding where something is made and a purchasing decision, I’m in a small minority of Americans that will not set foot in a WalMart- for any reason. WalMart isn’t the only company that actively pushes suppliers to move operations to China (and now, Indonesia and the Phillipines), but they very much popularized it as part of "modern" business management practice.

    There’s a great irony in the make-up of the customers of low-cost-at-any-price stores – many of them are factory workers whose lives have been turned upside down by the closing of the factories where they (and in some cases, 2 earlier generations of their families) worked.

    I apply the same principles to purchases of woodworking tools. While I generally find that the quality of woodworking tools is higher if they’re made in the US (Whiteside router bits being one example), I will purchase them even if the quality isn’t as good as something produced overseas, regardless of the price.

  9. Brian

    "Made in America" is a huge factor when I purchase tools. All of my router were "Made in America". Now they’re made in some other country.

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