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It’s sad to reach the end, but we learn to accept it. And that’s where we are in the Delta Unisaw Rebuild videos.

Episode six (click here) has more than a couple tidbits of information to absorb. In this segment, Popular Woodworking Magazine Publisher Steve Shanesy walks through a simple comparison of the 1944 vintage saw and the 21st-century Delta Unisaw. The differences are huge from the standpoint of safety and convenience to operate.

He talks about how the blades raise and lower, about the differences in table size (does size matter?) then he wraps up with a comparison of the fence setup found on the vintage saw and the newest version of a Biesemeyer found on today’s Unisaw.

Then Mr. Shanesy does something that many old-woodworking-machine owners might find upsetting , off goes the old fence and on goes a new Biesemeyer. In the end, not only does the World-War II era table saw have a rebuilt interior and reworked motor, it has a new fence system and is ready for use in any modern-day shop.

Take a look at the video, then take a minute to be part of our survey. We want to know if the vintage fence system should have been left on the saw, or should the table saw have been fitted with the newest Biesemeyer design. But before you answer, take a minute to think. Are you making your choice based on the machine’s appearance? What role does usability in the shop play? Or are you thinking something entirely different.

By all means, leave a comment and let us know what you think.

To watch the previous episode (and link to the earlier segments) click here.

– Glen D. Huey

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Showing 15 comments
  • gilbert

    Many of us just can’t afford to buy the latest and greatest equipment, much as we might drool over it. I recently rebuilt a 66 model that was in much worse condition than the one in the video. In spite of that, I wound up with a very good saw for less than the cost of a cheap contractor saw. After using lesser saws most of my life, I feel I am safer with the old Delta than a newer cheaper saw, even without all of the latest safety gimmicks. I would however paint the throat plate bright orage, it’s a cheap bit of insurance. I couldn’t find anyone who would sell me a Bissemeyer fence, so I went with a Jet Exacta II. An excellent fence. I also added a magnetic switch and a modern 3hp motor.

  • Kirk Brinker

    Steve will put the saw to use. Improvements will make the saw that much more fun to use. I would add the other upgrade items that the guys listed above.

  • Andrew Gieselman

    Up-grade the fence, by all means, but Biesemeyer is not the only choice. I have retro-fitted both the Biesemeyer and the Vega to vintage Unisaws and I prefer the Vega. It has smoother action when moving the fence to a new position.

  • Darrin Snyder

    You bought it, do what you want with it.

    As far as the new Unisaw, very disappointed. I have put two of them together, and on both saws, the wings did not mate well. The front and back of both wings were flush. The middle was almost 1/32" lower on both sides. This happened with both saws. For the money they are charging for this saw, it needs to be better than that. I will stick with my PM2000.

  • Gordon Birdsall

    I just finished upgrading my unisaw with a Biesemeyer today.Next is the switch.If you plan on using your saw,it makes a big difference.

    Gordon Birdsall

  • Duane Peters

    If it’s going to be a working machine, the new fence is a useful upgrade. I, too, would like to see a riving knife added.

  • Paul Stine

    In the words of guitarist Joe Walsh, "You bought it, you name it."

  • Alfred Poor

    Add another vote with Tom’s. If it’s a museum piece, keep the old fence. But if you’re going to use it, get a modern blade (as already done in the video), upgrade and maybe move the switch, and if you’ve got the budget, get a better fence. The purpose of a tool is to get a job done; why handicap yourself just for the sake of historical accuracy?


  • Stephan Larson

    First off who is the guy in the flowered panties in the background at the end of the video to the far left behind the vertical wood? I like Joel would rather have a working efficent tool than something that is less that optimal

  • Joel Jacobson

    Old tools can be either collector’s artifacts or "users". That’s up to the owner. We see this with hand tool collectors who pay much, much more for something in the original box.

    Rather than be a purist, I’d rather have a working, efficient Unisaw than a conversation piece.

  • Jonas

    I agree with Tom. But only if you intend to use the saw regularly. If its more to be a show piece, then I’d leave the old fence.
    Anyway, I think the old style rounded cabinet looks better than the new square one.
    All in all a good series of videos and a fine end result.

  • Ken Drake

    I took my old unisaw upgrade a little further.
    I installed a Leesson 3hp motor and a magnetic switch along with the General Square T fence. I have located a second old Unisaw and intend to do the same upgrades. I did put away the old fence and rails for safe keeping and left the old switch on the front for show.

    Ken Drake

  • Tom Bier

    So, anybody want to use an old steel sawblade instead of carbide? Didn’t think so. Grease up the old fence & save it in the Beisemeyer box along with some 1940’s vintage sawblades just in case some future owner wants a 1940’s version of Colonial Williamsburg.

  • Bruce Jackson

    I’m with Derek. In fact, a closer look at where the splitter is supposed to go presented to me the opportnity to retro-fit a riving knife. I know it calls for machining and metal-working skills, but surely in Cincy there is someone who’s willig to help for a six-pack of beer. Or am I dreaming? Yeah, for me, it’s the riving knife to improve safety and performance.

  • Derek

    I say leave the old fence. If you want an ‘up to date’ saw, the fence is only part of the concern. I’d be more inclined to retrofit a riving knife. Now you have an old saw with a modern fence but none of the modern safety advantages that you pointed out in the video.

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