Table Saw Upgrade

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Project by EEngineer posted 10-05-2008 07:03 PM 19804 views 7 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve blogged about the restoration of a 40-year-old Craftsman table saw. After restoration and tune-up, it has been an excellent addition to my shop. Buuut…

The switch always bothered me. Craftsman put a tiny rocker-switch on the bottom of the table. Reaching under the table and feeling for the switch was always a chore and, in a panic situation, trying to shutdown was downright dangerous!

Adding a new fence with 36” to the right of blade really improved the ability of the saw, but I was always fighting the long extension with no table under it for thinner stock.

And dust collection – a perennial problem with contractor saws.

1. I ordered a decent machinery switch from Grizzly. I mounted it to the far left-hand side of the fence – out of the way, easy to access. I really think the switch belongs on the left anyway – I am right-handed and tend to support stock with my right hand, leaving the left for starting. Also, in a panic situation, my right hand would probably be guiding or supporting stock and the left hand would be free to shutdown.
2. I enclosed the back of the saw and added a 2 1/2” dust port to the base of the saw for my shopvac
3. I rewired the motor and switch (still 120 VAC) with an accessory outlet to turn on the shopvac when I fired up the saw.
4. I built an extension to the table to fit between the extra length on the fence – 3/4” MDF edged in cherry and laminated with leftovers from a kitchen remodeling job years ago.

What a difference! The saw is much nicer to use now. As an added bonus, the switch seems to have improved saw performance, too! It used to dim the lights and take almost 3 seconds to run up to speed. With the new switch, it comes up to speed in less than 1/2 second and the lights barely flicker. I think the old rocker-switch was adding quite a bit of resistance to the circuit and causing the motor to draw more current. I was seriously thinking about running 220 to the garage but that seems unecessary now.

(Please ignore the messy shop in photos – there just never seems to be enough time to clean.)

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

18 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4196 days

#1 posted 10-05-2008 09:00 PM

She’s a beauty !! What brand of fence and rails are they ? The table extention is awesome . I have a similiar saw , but the side tables are stamped steel , not the open webbing like yours. Must be a cheaper model Craftsman if there could possibly be such a thing : ) Great job on the rebuild / restore .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4276 days

#2 posted 10-05-2008 09:03 PM

thats going to perform nicely for you for along time. great job fixing it up!

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4321 days

#3 posted 10-05-2008 09:30 PM

Good job!

-- Jiri

View EEngineer's profile


1120 posts in 4121 days

#4 posted 10-05-2008 09:35 PM

That’s a Ridgid AC1036 fence. I bought it secondhand from CL in my area. Huge improvement over the stock fence.

Near as I can tell, Sears went from cast-iron wings (look just like mine), to cast aluminum? (which I have) to stamped steel. I hear that saws could be upgraded to the cast wings for additional cost.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4330 days

#5 posted 10-05-2008 10:54 PM

This is a nice upgrade to your saw. Like Dusty I have stamped steel wings and to say that your fence addition was a huge improvement is an understatement to say the least. I like the extra support that you added to the saw and the electrical work is a nice plus.

Very nice job.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4231 days

#6 posted 10-05-2008 11:20 PM

Nice job on the saw. I for one like the older Craftsman table saws. How do you like the cast wings? I did not have any with mine, but have heard of people seriously injuring themselves during a kick back if fingers were in the holes of the wings at the time of the kick back. It is this reason that I never really tried to acguire that type of wing, but they really look nice.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View king's profile


71 posts in 4455 days

#7 posted 10-05-2008 11:37 PM

Nice job on the saw I liked the way closed up the back of the saw for better dust collection.

-- [email protected]

View EEngineer's profile


1120 posts in 4121 days

#8 posted 10-06-2008 08:09 AM

Brian – yeah, they look nice, but I think they are much, much sturdier and less likely to warp than the stamped steel. As far as fingers, if you search the web you’ll find a lot of people that filled in the openings in cast wings with wood. I haven’t quite decided to do that yet, but it is an option.

Here's an example...

I like the older Craftsman saws too. Properly restored and tuned up, they are the functional equivalent of the Ridgid TS2424, TS3650, TS3660, etc., which all get rave reviews on the web for modern contractor saws. Small wonder; they are all made by Emerson. You just gotta be careful… some of the later models of Craftsman saws cheapened things up to the point where they no longer work so well. I have read about problems where they skimped so much on the gauge of steel in the base on later models that they flex horribly when you crank in any angle on the blade. Even that can be fixed by reinforcing the cabinet side with a steel plate.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Woodman19's profile


1 post in 3670 days

#9 posted 09-29-2009 07:25 PM

I believe I have either the same year model as yours or real close. I would like to add two wings both side for room and support. I’m starting to try and build custom cabinets here in Pensacola for side money and maybe a very small type business. I had a Delta Uni saw that would have been great but there was no way I could afford or support a 3 phase saw. so I traded for this one and know they are great lasting saws. plus I didn’t have the cash out pocket to just buy a Rigid or something like that. I like what you did with the rip fence. I don’t have a clue if you could buy the original type it has but what you have on there is much more dependable and better. Im going to try and post a couple of pics of what I have. your welcome to email me about how you went about changes you made and what to look for in doing a fence system like you have. [email protected] I cant get them to show. I can email you some pictures and we could go from there. I could use help on improvements. I plan on having this saw for a long time if possible. Thanks again

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4181 days

#10 posted 04-27-2011 06:23 PM

Nice upgrade, that saw will give you years of good service.

View steve6678's profile


438 posts in 2568 days

#11 posted 11-04-2012 03:17 AM

my 1966 works well, new motor 1 1/2 hp Grizzly, PowerTwist belt, new pulleys, off set sizes for more rpm, I find the handwheels to be hard to turn, so raising and lowering, I use a lot of dry lube spray, the bevel adj. is even harder to turn, broke handles to both handwheels, replaced them both.
I also have to put new E clips on the raise/lower auger all the time to keep it from backing out on it’s own.
I use a sled for crosscutting so I am always raising/lowering the blade.

-- Steve - Dust sucks!

View steve6678's profile


438 posts in 2568 days

#12 posted 11-04-2012 03:18 AM

I added a Delta 40” T2 fence

-- Steve - Dust sucks!

View taoist's profile


124 posts in 2999 days

#13 posted 11-04-2012 04:29 AM

I like the table extension and bet that sheet goods slide well on it too. I also like the way you enclosed the back of the saw for dust collection but I have a question about how you tip the saw blade over to 45 degrees with the back enclosed that way. I partially enclosed the back of mine and it increased the amount of saw dust that comes up from the blade while cutting and sits on top of the table. It was just easier to open up the back and vacuum the inside of the saw every few months. The dust collection on the bottom of the saw doesn’t get it all but at least it doesn’t come up from below like when the back is enclosed.

View EEngineer's profile


1120 posts in 4121 days

#14 posted 11-04-2012 04:01 PM

Steve -

I find the handwheels to be hard to turn

I haven’t found that at all. Both of my handles are still original and the action works smoothly. I wonder if there is a mechanical alignment problem. I was taught to always lower the blade below the table after a cut. So I use the raise/lower wheel a helluva lot! I used white lithium grease when I rebuilt the saw – after it dries, it doesn’t seem to collect mush sawdust and things work smooth.

taoist -

Although the dust collection works, I am still not entirely happy with it. My previous saw (another old Craftsman – the 8” series 80) just had a open bottom and a sawdust collection box under it. I may return to that! I don’t see any more sawdust on the top but I need something to help funnel sawdust to the collection port. They make sheet metal things to do that but I think I might just return to a collection box when I (finally!) build a workstation for this saw. It has only been 4 years and counting that I put that off :)

And, yeah, the back enclosure gets in the way with angle cuts. I rarely do that and when I do, the back panels are just attached with magnetic strips, so I remove them completely and return them when the saw goes back to 90. It is not entirely clear in the picture, but that back is split into two pieces that meet around the motor mount – easy to remove, easy to replace.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View AD_WoodWorks's profile


3 posts in 1086 days

#15 posted 10-26-2016 12:10 PM

Has anyone upgraded the motor for this table? I just picked one up myself – my first table saw! I am concerned that this motor may not be powerful enough to take on a 3/4” dado stack with smooth cutting. Thoughts/Upgrade suggestions???

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