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Ever sit an early morning coffee cup on the table top only to find a nasty surprise waiting for you the next day? Or how about finish spatter splashed onto the saw cabinet? How would you clean those? In this third segment of the Delta Unisaw Rebuild, Popular Woodworking Publisher, Steve Shanesy walks us through how to clean an old saw. This is information we all can use, unless you just purchased your table saw or it sits idle in your shop longing for work.

If this old Delta Unisaw was furniture (don’t strip that finish), Steve would have cleaned around 40 percent of the piece’s value as he freshened up the machine. But machines are not furniture. As a result, Steve actually increases the saw’s value by removing crud (I love that word!).

The cabinet, base, fence rails and top look so much better when he’s finished. You’ll want to jump back to previous installments to witness the improvements. Take a look for yourself in the video (click here).

It’s often said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. And with woodworking machines, I think that axiom holds double. Not only is a clean machine better looking, it operates and performs better as you work. And clean isn’t just on the outside. In this segment a new dust port is installed. You’re not going to discover 60-year-old sawdust in this machine in 2070.

I don’t think I’ll be restoring or rebuilding a 60-year-old Delta Unisaw in the near future, but I’ve learned tons of interesting information while recording and editing these segments with Steve. If you haven’t watched the previous two segments, you should.

Click here for Part I
Click here for Part II
Click here for Part III

– Glen D. Huey

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Showing 3 comments
  • Steve Shanesy

    Hi, Neil and Alan,

    I’d have to agree, Neil, that candy apple red metal flake always improves the look of MDF! Years ago, actually did some furniture pieces with automotive finishes. As you might guess, that was in the ’80’s.

    And Alan, yes I will treat the cast iron with rust inhibitor and your point is right on. As for the dust port/collection– I know that a 5" port is more ideally suited IF you have a dust collection system to pull enough air. I wonder how many people have a shop set up where they are actually using 5" hose or pipe to collect? My guess is most people reduce the size to 4" right off the machine. Makes me wonder what the difference in CFM and static pressure is required with a 5" vs. 4". I”ve also talked with some of the editors about sloping the bottom to channel the dust toward the port. The issue with this machine is the front door clean out. The bottom of the door is only 2" above the floor of saw and that wouldn’t provide much slope. I’m thinking through a solution that might suspend the front edge higher to gain adequate slope but would be easily lowered when access was needed to the interior of the saw– you know, when you drop the arbor nut!


  • Alan Schaffter

    I just completed the restoration of an old Max spindle sander using many of the same techniques. I might have missed it, but one thing I would recommend, is to protect the cast iron wings and top with wax, Boeshield T-9, or other rust inhibiting product immediately or you will be sanding again soon. Cleaning off the dirt and oils exposes those surfaces to immediate oxidation (rusting).

    The second comment- that appears to be only a 4" DC port Steve is adding. A 6" port would be much better. Additionally, those old saws did not have a sloped floor so the DC port will only be partially effective with many chips still piling on the floor under the cabinet. A sloped plywood or better, sheet metal floor that directs the dust and chips towards the DC port is highly recommended. Start with a cardboard template to get the right size, then mount the shelf with brackets or other method and seal its perimeter.

  • Neil

    Hi Steve: Been enjoying this series.

    Like how you bring up where an approach you’re using can be applied to furniture. IE: cutting lacquer with the wet/dry 400/600, and you’re showing your age :^) /experience going to the automotive store for color. MDF looks so much better when metal flake is applied. :^)

    Looking forward to the tune-up!

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