FrankenSaw Lives!

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Project by jonah posted 12-09-2017 05:36 PM 2722 views 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I found a Unisaw advertised as basically new on Craigslist, and it was unusual for a couple of reasons. First, the owner had bought it in 2002 and it had been sitting, unused, in his (climate controlled) basement since it was originally delivered. He’d never even plugged it in. The motor was still sitting on the shipping styrofoam and the base was still bolted to the pallet. It was indeed new. I made sure to plug the motor in and start it before I loaded it up, and it ran smooth as silk.

It included a 52” Biesemeyer fence, extension table, and mobile base but did not have the fence rails. We looked all over his house and couldn’t find them. He thinks they weren’t delivered and that since he never set the saw up, he never noticed. I talked him down a bit on the price because of the missing rails. I knew that if worst came to worst, I could make my own rails according to Allan Little’s instructions on the VerySuperCool Tools website.

I did have to replace the belts, since they’d been sitting for ~15 years in one spot. I picked up three belts at Grainger for a total of ~$13.

Fence & Fence Rails
I don’t have room for 52” of rip capacity, so I decided to sell the fence, base, and extension table. Since I was thinking of making my own rails, I decided to get the VSCT fence system. I was able to sell the Biesemeyer fence and the extension table for $300, which almost paid for the VSCT fence. The mobile base I sold for the same cost as a smaller Delta mobile base that’s a perfect fit for the saw, so both of those ended up being a wash.

I went looking at steel suppliers for the angle and tube steel I’d need for the rails, and didn’t have any luck finding the right length drops from the nearest place. I didn’t want to have to buy a 20-25ft section of steel, since I only needed two ~5ft lengths of angle and one 5ft length of tube.

On a whim, I dropped by a local tool dealer and he happened to have a set of 34” rip capacity Powermatic fence rails in stock. I picked them up for $175, which was more than I wanted to spend, but it meant a lot less work cutting, de-scaling, painting, and drilling holes in the fence rails so I went for it. That’s why you see gold rails on the saw.

I did have to drill a couple of holes in the rails and the table/wings, but I could make use of some of the existing holes in the rails. Drilling cast iron is always easier than steel.

Router Table Extension
I had picked up a Jessem router lift for $50 some years ago on Craigslist. I’d used it in a homemade extension wing on my previous table saw, a Ridgid TS3650. For this saw, I made a new extension table out of two laminated sheets of 3/4” baltic birch plywood and some oak edging I ripped off a stair tread. I routed the recess for the lift and then cut out the middle section with a jigsaw. I then built a hinged box to contain the router and make for better dust collection. I attached a switch, some hooks, and all the various bits and bobs for the lift to the front and sides of the box, so they’re always within easy reach.

Miter Gauge Upgrade
I documented this upgrade in a recent post.

Outfeed Table
I made a folding outfeed table using some 5/4 pine and a piece of melamine-topped particle board. I used folding leg brackets from Rockler for the legs, which you can see in some of the pictures. The outfeed table is actually pretty solid, though I wouldn’t want to sit on it or anything. I did make a support frame for underneath the particle board to add some rigidity. I used a piano hinge attached to a piece of wood I bolted to the rear fence rail to mount the table.

Shark Guard
I went with the Shark Guard ARK, which I really like. It’s a bit finicky to cut slot for the riving knife in the inserts, especially since the phenolic material they use for blade inserts is much harder than wood to cut. I used a jigsaw but never got the cuts quite straight. It doesn’t affect the function of the system at all, it just makes them a bit of an eyesore. I may have been better off using a bi-metal metal cutting jigsaw blade than a wood cutting one.

Other than the trouble with the inserts, I very much like the Shark Guard. It helps a ton with dust collection, and the riving knife works perfectly. With the knife and guard in place, the saw is a joy to use and there’s next to no dust flying around the shop.

A few more pictures:

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the saw. I’d originally planned on getting a Sawstop PCS, but this ended up being about 40% of the ~$3000 the PCS costs, and that’s with all the extras included.

I have two things left to do on the saw: a semi-permanent bracket and above-blade hose to plug into the Shark Guard, and a router table fence to attach to the VSCT fence.

I’m happy to take more detailed pictures or give more descriptions of the various upgrades I’ve made. The dual color scheme is even growing on me.

3 comments so far

View AlmostRetired's profile


221 posts in 1491 days

#1 posted 12-09-2017 06:32 PM

Great masterpiece. I stole you link an am buying those brackets for the table I am going to build when I get home.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3644 days

#2 posted 12-10-2017 03:21 PM

What a wonderful deal on a table saw! Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Woodknack's profile


13397 posts in 3157 days

#3 posted 01-05-2018 12:26 AM

Looks good Jonah

-- Rick M,

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