Tool gloat: UNISAW! #3: I have the POWER!!!

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Blog entry by ic3ss posted 04-12-2011 04:00 AM 5037 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Parts arrive early. Part 3 of Tool gloat: UNISAW! series Part 4: Now I'm on the fence. »

Yesterday I had my electrician buddy over for dinner and plied him with beer and BBQ steak so I could get the lowdown on the right way to get 220v to my table saw. I made a late run yesterday to home depot and bought 30ft of 12/2 SJ cable, a 20amp breaker, cable plug, 20amp socket, a box, and 15ft of 12/2 romex. This morning, I found that the plug and the socket that the HD “expert” gave me yesterday were of differing types. The plug was 20amp 220v and the socket was 20amp 110v. So off to HD again this morning and I upgraded both plug and socket to the larger round spade locking type. When I got home I quickly found that the cover plate that I had for the first socket didn’t fit the new larger upgraded socket. I also needed a pipe nipple and locking rings to mount the switch to the saw, so off I go again. Projects are fun to work on, but this is the sucky part if your not well organized.

So I am really lucky in that the ideal place for my new 220v outlet is going to be a few inches below the power panel, so this means I don’t have to fish cable behind drywall, I don’t have to drill holes in studs, so it’s much easier.

I cut a hole in the drywall for the box, ran one end of the romex down an existing hole in the panel and right out of the box hole. I seated the box and screwed it down, stripped back the romex and connected then mounted the new socket.

I cut the romex to length to where the new breaker will go, then connected the wires to the ground bus and the breakers, then seated the breaker in the panel.

Now it was time to install cable and switch assembly in the saw. The switch box is mounted to the saw by a 3 inch length of pipe that screws in to a threaded hole in the bottom of the cast iron top. I screwed the pipe in to the top then mounted the box to the pipe.

I pulled out the old cable all together, the insulation was cracking on both ends and I just didn’t want to use it. I wired in my new cable to the motor and had to make a few adjustments to the switch in the box before I got it to where I was comfortable with it. Then it was time to test it out, fire up the saw for the first time since I bought it.

In the many reviews on the old unisaws and all the forum posts, I’ve heard about the motor bang wen it starts up. This saw doesn’t do that at all. It seems to start fairly quietly. In my last forum post, I talk about these Power Twist Link Belts that I decided to try out. The reviews saw that they are supposed to take out much of the vibration, and some people have said that they run quieter than the standard v-belts. When my saw runs with the top off and no blade mounted, I can hear the belts, it almost sounds like a fan running at high speed. Not quite what I expected, but not anything that’s annoying either. After letting it run for a couple of minutes, I shut it down and I noticed the belts were warm and seemed a little more slack than they were, so I loosened the motor and adjusted belt tension again. Started and ran again, seems to run fine.

NOTE: The only thing I found that’s not quite right with the belts is that with the top on and the blade elevation all the way up, the link belts sit a bit higher in the pulley and it actually hits the cast iron top so the outside surface of the belts would rub the top if you started it up with the arbor all the way up. I will have to make a conscious effort to check this before starting the motor whenever I’m cutting thick stock.

So at this point I put the top on and bolted the extensions on, paying close attention to leveling the seams. With the full width top on and bolted down with a blade installed and the throat plate in, this thing is a little quieter than it was with the top off, but it’s way quieter than my old Delta Shopmaster TS200LS. Which isn’t saying much, cause that thing’s a POS. The Unisaw just hums along.

When I was setting up for this last test, I realized I put the saw blade on backwards only after I took the picture, before I actually turned the thing on.

My fence needs some attention, so I’ll work on cleaning that up tomorrow, and I need to order some glide pads so it’s not so hard to move the thing around. Also, my mobile base comes in on Thursday, so with that on it will be pretty easy to work with it.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

10 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5011 days

#1 posted 04-12-2011 04:09 AM

The Unisaw looks good!

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5435 days

#2 posted 04-12-2011 04:14 AM

Going to be sweet when you get it done. I added a sub-panel to my garage so I could add other outlets and lights. Something to consider in the future (e.g. if you add dust collection).

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 4013 days

#3 posted 04-12-2011 04:55 AM

Did you use a romex with 2 insulated conductors or were there 3 insulated condutors. there should be 3 wires with insulation.

View ic3ss's profile (online now)


404 posts in 4115 days

#4 posted 04-12-2011 05:33 AM


A cable with three insulated conductors + a bare ground wire are for a system that uses 220v and 110v.

In a three conductor configuration, there would be a red wire which would be the second 110v phase. You would put black tape on the ends of this red wire to denote that it’s the second 110v phase. The white wire would be the neutral.

Black = hot.
Red with black tape = hot.
White = neutral.
Bare wire = ground.

In a two conductor configuration using romex, you take the white wire that would be the neutral if the system were using 110v, and you put black tape on the ends of the wire’s insulation. I used a sharpie marker to denote that the white wire is not neutral and is instead the second phase of 110v. So I end up with two blacks (hot) and a bare ground wire.

Black = hot.
White with black tape = hot.
Bare wire = ground.

Black to white (neutral) = 110v. Black to black (red or white with black tape) = 220v. My unisaw does not need 110v so there’s not need for the third conductor.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

View AmandasHusband's profile


58 posts in 4031 days

#5 posted 04-12-2011 02:45 PM

The saw looks good.

I don’t know if I missed it or not, but do you have the motor cover and dust door?

I just bought the new breaker and everything to run 220 for my new (to me) saw this weekend. I got the same 110 socket/outlet you did. So I’ll be heading back to HD to exchange it. But I’m running ½” PVC conduit about 10 feet or so along my garage wall for the outlet.

I’m really enjoying this series though. Looking forward to your next entry.

-- In this world there's two kinds of people my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5066 days

#6 posted 04-12-2011 02:59 PM

and jealousy rears it’s ugly head again (-:

View ic3ss's profile (online now)


404 posts in 4115 days

#7 posted 04-12-2011 06:36 PM

AmandasHusband -

I do have the motor cover and the front dust door, I just forgot to put them on when I took the pictures yesterday, I guess I was too excited to see it run.

One thing though, on my motor cover, it’s the square sheet metal kind and it’s mounted to the cabinet with long screw standoffs. Well the day I bought it, we tried to take it off and all of the eight screws that hold the thing on were stuck. The standoffs have a threaded hole on each end, and a corresponding screw through the sheet metal of the cabinet and the cover. We did manage to free up three on the outside and one on the inside of the cabinet, enough to remove the cover. Weird though, all of the threads look in good shape with no rust or anything I can see that would have caused this. It’s not like they were just on tight, we worked to get them all the way out. The screws look like the original ones. Oh well, it’ll be interesting putting it back on.

For your socket/outlet thing: It’s nice to know it’s not just me. :-]

I had thought of running a exterior conduit and making a power drop from the ceiling but decided against it. Maybe later.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 4013 days

#8 posted 04-12-2011 10:02 PM

I am really confused now. Are you running a 2 wire 220V to this saw. Which do you have? 2 insulated wies and a bare ground or 3 insulated wires and a bare ground? The bare wire is a ground and never a neutral. normally we see a black with 110V, a red with 110V and a white neutral. later the bare earth ground has been added. i just know of a house down the road from my house that was wired using the bare earth ground as a conductor in a 3 way switch. It burned and I just don’t like the smell of homes burning. The bare wire is a safety ground and not a conductor. If you can disconnect your bare wire and the saw will run then it isn’t a conductor. If you touch the saw and ground it then you were using it as a conductor. I was just reading how you plied you electrician friend with beer and got concerned. You handle it your way.

View ic3ss's profile (online now)


404 posts in 4115 days

#9 posted 04-13-2011 01:22 AM

Nowhere in my post did I say that I used the bare wire for a neutral. Please read again, I though I was clear enough.

I use 12/2 romex. This has a black, a white, and a bare wire. I can use this for 220v 20amp device if I use the white for the second 110v leg and tape or paint the ends of this white wire black. A white wire that’s taped or painted black indicates that it is not being used for neutral and that it is in fact hot. I then use the bare wire to bond the motor and cabinet to ground.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 4013 days

#10 posted 04-13-2011 07:09 PM

Hey! I doidn’t mean to upset you. I just wanted you to understand that most people don’t understand the difference in grounding or conducting. It seems that you have an understand so charge forward and good luck.
The thing that caught my attention was plied. When I look up ply in the Webster’s dictionary It says “to keep furnishing”. That can be as bad as plying and driving.

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