Unisaw rescued

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Project by RMR posted 06-06-2010 09:55 PM 4878 views 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This probably isn’t one of the smartest things I’ve ever done financially, but I am happy with the outcome. I won a Delta Unisaw, vintage early 90’s, on an eBay auction. The only reason I considered bidding is because – well I’ve always wanted a Unisaw – but, besides that, the saw was in Seattle, just 20 miles from my house, so no freight costs. This was a Boeing surplus item. It was sadly neglected but fundamentally sound, except for the motor and the starter switch, the fence, the rails, and on and on. If I paid myself $3.00 an hour, with the cost of my labor and new parts I probably could have bought a new saw; well—not quite that bad. But this turned into a labor of love and I enjoyed almost every minute. This is proof once again of the durability of these saws (along with a simple matter of money).

It had a three phase, 440V, 5 hp motor and an Allen Bradley starter. Turns out the motor was on its last legs and had to be replaced. The starter switch couldn’t be used either because the cost to convert it to 220V made it uneconomical to do so. I bought a new 5 hp motor and switch from Woodworker’s Supply. The fence was sound but needed a lot of TLC and new sides. And it needed rails and a miter stick. These items and other things I purchased from Mike’s Tools. I was also able to get parts like decals from Delta. Other than that, a good cleaning, some paint, and removing a lot of GI gold (rust), it was ready to go.

The top and side tables were badly rusted but, to my delight, they cleaned up nicely. They are flat and not cracked, I got very lucky. The under carriage was in good condition, oh and it needed belts and a mobile base. I built an extension table and a removable drawer underneath.

In the end I got a terrific saw that I am very happy with. It wasn’t a wise investment because it could have been much more costly to restore. I got extremely lucky that it didn’t have worse flaws. But it’s a sweet saw now and it will never be left in the rain again.

Kent, WA

-- Bob, Kent, WA

23 comments so far

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3991 days

#1 posted 06-06-2010 10:03 PM

nice save Bob. Looks new now. Looks like many happy days of cutting wood ahead

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 3985 days

#2 posted 06-06-2010 10:12 PM

Wow that’s the same saw???
Nice job

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4176 days

#3 posted 06-06-2010 10:17 PM

Very nice, and I’ll bet you know everything about that saw. That is one of the advantages of going through the whole thing. If it performs half as good as it looks it ought to be great.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 4148 days

#4 posted 06-06-2010 10:19 PM

Nice work, you really did a great job on this.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 4021 days

#5 posted 06-06-2010 10:27 PM

Fantastic save, that is a great looking saw!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4588 days

#6 posted 06-06-2010 10:34 PM

View jerryz's profile


164 posts in 4290 days

#7 posted 06-06-2010 10:35 PM

I know that you are very proud of the outcome, it looks like it left the factory yesterday, as a bonus you now know the ins and outs of that saw.

Congratulations and happy cutting….

View dmoney's profile


191 posts in 4090 days

#8 posted 06-06-2010 11:55 PM

sure is a beauty now, I’m jealous!

-- Derek, Iowa

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 4790 days

#9 posted 06-07-2010 12:02 AM

Great job. I’ve brought 3 Shopsmith’s back to life and I really enjoyed the effort. When I bought my cabinet saw my uncle told me to find a used Unisaw. Said you could not go wrong with one. I ended up with a Grizzly but I still wish I had a Unisaw.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 4081 days

#10 posted 06-07-2010 12:27 AM

glad you did it, great saw you’ll have many years of use

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4015 days

#11 posted 06-07-2010 12:30 AM

Great find

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

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4886 days

#12 posted 06-07-2010 01:24 AM

I love stories like these. Nice job on the restoration.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7139 posts in 4206 days

#13 posted 06-07-2010 01:27 AM

Greetings, For my money you just can’t beat a Unisaw. I’ve got a 5 hp Uni, and theses things are beasts….. You did an excellent job of restoration on that beast… you should get years of enjoyment out of it… Like you, I wanted a Unisaw for years (I used a Sears contractor saw for 25 years…still got it), but it wasn’t a Unisaw…..Finally got one in 2009, and it’s the best $’s I ever spent, so I tell my wife…... enjoy….

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4699 days

#14 posted 06-07-2010 02:20 AM

It’s amazing that they were able to destroy a 5HP motor….how much was the new one ?
Your saw looks better than new : )

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

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 4042 days

#15 posted 06-07-2010 02:51 AM

Turned out great. Very nice saw.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

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