The Unisaw Experience #1: The deal of a lifetime... my first Unisaw (maybe my one and only!)

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by MrMeasureTwice posted 07-29-2012 01:54 AM 6728 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The Unisaw Experience series Part 2: Tearing it down, inspection, cleaning, and a clearance issue... »

Fellow Lumberjocks,
I submit to you the story of my Unisaw (so far…).

On June 26th, a Unisaw popped up on Craigs List with a price of $300 – I hesitantly clicked expecting one of two things to happen. Either the posting would have been deleted already because I did not see it within 37 seconds of it being listed and sold, OR, it would actually be a heap of PARTS for a Unisaw. But, I clicked anyway… Lo and behold, it was still listed, and NOT a pile of parts! Immediately clicking on the email link I sent a brief email stating the following: “Hi – I want the saw. Will be there in 45 minutes, cash in hand, just need help loading. Can you do that? – Thanks, Jim”

Within 8 minutes, I got a reply. Reluctantly I opened the email and found that the saw was still available, they were there ready to help me load and they would even let me see it run before we loaded it!! HOLY SAWDUST! I finally hit the mother lode of table saws for a RIDICULOUSLY low price of $300.

I ran out to the van, ripped out the seats leaving them in disarray in the driveway and I hauled BUTT to the location only 31 miles away…

42 minutes later, I am rounding the last few corners into a nice, upscale neighborhood near the waters of San Francisco Bay around 7PM. Left, right, right and a left into a cul-de-sac and I coast along looking for the house number… 1542 – there it is in the court, and my sawdust radar locked onto the saw – the top glistening in the evening sunshine and a small crew of 3 men and one woman are milling about smartly, apparently picking up for a garage sale.

Van parked, cash in left front pocket, I walk up and introduce myself to the woman, Joanne, and she smiles as I shake her hand. the men range in age from about 60 down to 30’ish. The 60 year old is clearly the one who owns the saw, but they all inhabit the one home, along with 3 children in the garage playing among themselves, unaware I have arrived – they don’t care about Unisaws. I named him COWBOY (he has a BIG tattoo on his forearm that says COWBOY – looks as if he was a Dallas Cowboys fan, but the S was left out, maybe, because his arm was too short… I dunno…)

COWBOY old pulls out a long, thick extension cord with an L6-20 connector, plugs in the saw and flips the switch without saying a word. It spins up and hums along smooth and clear. He grins and unplugs the saw, it winds down and eventually stops. “So, whatayathink buddy?” I said “I think I owe you $300!”
Joanne shuffles over and in-between us, facing me with her hand out waiting for the cash. I shoot a glance to COWBOY – COWBOY smiles and nods, so I hand the stack of 20’s over to Joanne.

COWBOY and the two fellas flip the saw over, and move it into the rear door of my Chrysler mini van – it fits fine and now slid deep into the van, I slam the rear door shut. COWBOY hands me the door and one insert plate for the saw and looks sad. He laments for a moment “I’ve had that saw for 22 years now – it’s been perfect and I’ve built three houses and countless cabinets with it. Take good care of her, OK?” I shake his hand, look him in the eye and tell him that his saw will be well cared for and used lovingly in the production of much sawdust, and hopefully some nice projects too.

COWBOY tilts his head, let’s go of my hand and says a hearty THANK YOU to me. Joanne has gone inside, most likely to add the money to the coffer of the garage sale. The 30’ish looking guy walked with me and said that COWBOY was his dad and they were losing the house since all of them were out of work and can’t make the payments. I told him I was sorry about that awful situation and that I wished them better times soon. He said so long as I got into my van.

They stood in the driveway and watched as I pulled away with COWBOY’s beloved saw. Inside I cheered a big HOORAY for finding such a great deal, but I also felt bad for COWBOY and family that they had to sell the saw in desperation. It bothered me a little too much and I turned around, pulled back into the driveway and hollered for COWBOY. He turned around and I asked him to come over to the van. When he got to the window he asked me “Didyafirget sumthin’?” I said no, but I wanted to give him some extra money to help them out. Handing him another $200 in 20’s, I told him that I hoped it would help a bit and I really would take good care of the saw. He just smiled a sad smile and patted me on my arm.

Backing out, he turned away, head hung low and walked into the house like a defeated Rocky, only $200 richer. It was not much, but we came VERY close to being in that same situation, so I understand their plight and felt like I needed to do something.

Besides, $500 for a Unisaw in running condition is still a very good deal.

Did I mention the Biesmeyer fence? Oh, well, it has one attached to it as well.

THe saw is serial number 115-3861, and, according to the Vintage Machinery Delta serial number wiki page web site, it was manufactured in 1955
1955 serial numbers: 113-9614—116-5949

So, COWBOY had it for 22 years, but I wonder who had it from 1955 to 1990?

In sawdust,
Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti

-- May your shop be filled with chips and sawdust all year long, – “Mr. Measure Twice”

18 comments so far

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 4670 days

#1 posted 07-29-2012 02:23 AM

That is a very moving and unfortunately familiar story. Your extra gift was incredibly generous.

We all like to find bargains on craigslist, but the backstory is that they oftentimes come at the expense of someones misfortunes. I was very lucky to purchase a jointer planer, dust collector, and bandsaw, on craigslist. They were purchased from a widow who’s husband never got to use the machine, a woodworker going out of business, and a person who had been out of work for more than a year. Depressing to gain from someone else’s loss.

Hoping for better times.


-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5123 days

#2 posted 07-29-2012 02:24 AM

Nice story!

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4254 days

#3 posted 07-29-2012 02:29 AM

Happy day for some, and sad day for some also. I can imagine how Cowboy felt. We will all be there some day. When we are just not able to do things. It will be a sad sad day for all of us. Congrats on this nice hunk-a-hunk-a machinery. Make Cowboy proud. A bit o tlc, and she’ll be like new

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 3641 days

#4 posted 07-29-2012 02:35 AM

That Is a HUGE motor!

-- My terrible signature...

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4809 days

#5 posted 07-29-2012 02:43 AM

Good on you!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4548 days

#6 posted 07-29-2012 03:10 AM

You made my day with your generosity.
Sleep well my friend.

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3662 days

#7 posted 07-29-2012 03:21 AM

You might be interested in this series of videos....

-- Visit my blog at

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 4912 days

#8 posted 07-29-2012 03:38 AM

FYI that is not a factory motor. It is also a right tilt be sure the motor will clear the cabinet. You might consider looking for a smaller motor to place less stress on the internals. They are not designed for the weight

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3877 days

#9 posted 07-29-2012 05:52 AM

You just renewed my faith in humankind. I think I am gonna sleep extra well tonight thinking about that story!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View chrisstef's profile


18140 posts in 4456 days

#10 posted 07-29-2012 01:48 PM

Great story, great gesture, and a great saw! Its very refreshing to hear of someone not forgetting their “neighbors” in these tough times.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View MrMeasureTwice's profile


129 posts in 3871 days

#11 posted 07-29-2012 08:29 PM

@djwong (David) - so true and I see it all too often in our city – we were on the top ten list of foreclosures for about 8 months along with a neighboring city. So much sadness because of the losses these folks suffered. I acknowledge that many of these folks leveraged themselves into the mess, but the banks were complicit in their dealings with sheister appraisers, inflating the prices of normal, ron-of-the-mill houses.

@Roger (in Kentucky) – I intend to send pictures of it to the lady, Joanne, once I am done. Yesterday, I took a lot of it apart to inspect and clean it up. Today I am tidying it up inside, checking bearings and hopefully putting it back together. Roger – part of my family originates from Kentucky – still doing the research, but grandma was from small town across the river from Cincinnati/Hamilton, OH area. South of Covington, KY

@Alexandre – yes, it is big, and not original – it should have had one of the “bullet” motors, but this one is a 2HP 230v motor, single phase Dayton Farm Duty motor. The specs for the motor can be seen HERE

@SirFatty – t hanks for the videos! They are well done and I stumbled upon them months ago when I began my quest for a Unisaw. Well done videos… MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

@jim c & exelectrician & chrisstef – I have had so many people do nice things for my family when we were down (I blew out my back, was on disability and got laid off while recuperating!!!) – I know the mental anguish people go through and I try, whenever possible, to help others in despair.

@MedicKen – I may do that – the original bullet motors are 84 pounds, this one is “only” 66 pounds, but it is BIG – have not checked clearances, so that along may make me seek out a smaller, lighter motor. Good idea and recommendation. Thanks!!

Thanks to everyone for the comments, support, links and ideas – I truly appreciate it.

In sawdust,
Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
Mr. Measure Twice

-- May your shop be filled with chips and sawdust all year long, – “Mr. Measure Twice”

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4140 days

#12 posted 07-30-2012 01:44 AM

Great score and a good story to go with it. The fact that you went back and gave ‘cowboy’ a bonus says a lot about the kind of person you are. That restores my faith in humanity somewhat.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4454 days

#13 posted 07-30-2012 02:12 AM

Cheers to all and sounds like it is a solid purchase, with a reason to keep in mind where it came from

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View MrMeasureTwice's profile


129 posts in 3871 days

#14 posted 07-31-2012 01:35 AM

@gfadvm – thank you for the kind words. I firmly believe in helping those who are really in a pickle.

@NormG – yes, solid indeed – one hefty machine!

-- May your shop be filled with chips and sawdust all year long, – “Mr. Measure Twice”

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 4468 days

#15 posted 07-31-2012 01:54 AM

Jim, that was a tremendous gesture on your part. As you said, $500 is still a steal for a running saw of that quality. Hopefully I can come across a deal like that someday. I look forward to seeing it completed.


showing 1 through 15 of 18 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics