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View Josh2061's profile

Should I buy this unisaw?

by Josh2061
posted 01-24-2017 01:13 PM


25 replies so far

View toolie's profile

toolie

2168 posts in 3139 days


#1 posted 01-24-2017 01:26 PM

If it’s a bullet motor, there will probably be a host of encouraging comments that you should run to get it as fast as you can. Having owned one that I refurbed and sold, I don’t miss it. It’s a right tilt, has a poltentially useful but temperamental fence system and the table top and sings are smaller in overall surface area than more current saws. $300 is not a bad price if it’s all operational, but IMHO, i’d look elsewhere.

-- there's a solution to every problem.......you just have to be willing to find it.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7479 posts in 2710 days


#2 posted 01-24-2017 01:41 PM

That saw has seen better days, but it’s not too far gone yet. All that surface rust is pretty easily taken care of, but the fences will probably leave you wanting more (most likely micro-set, as the Jet-lock wasn’t introduced until 1960 IIRC). Definitely not a plug-n-play machine, but would make a really nice restoration candidate. Figure at least another $100-$200 for new bearings, belts, paint, wiring and misc. hardware. At $300, it certainly isn’t a steal… but as long as there isn’t any other gotchas, you could wind up with a really nice saw. Guess it depends on how you feel about doing a restoration and how mechanical you are.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Josh2061's profile

Josh2061

4 posts in 998 days


#3 posted 01-24-2017 02:46 PM

Thanks for both of your replies. My main issue is my current table saw is a pain in the ass and I don’t want to spend $1000 for a cabinet table saw. I mostly work with smaller dimension lumber so I’m not sure that the size of the table is a high priority. It seems like people all say that one of these modern fences is a requirement but I’m not sure why. As long as it locks square reliably, I think I would be fine with it since I am used to measuring from the blade. And as far as it being right tilt, could I not use the fence on the left side of the blade? One thing that does disappoint me is the lack of a riving knife on old machines as my girlfriend is beginning to do projects with me. So I’m on the fence on this one. Is the fence and other modern equipment that important? My budget is about 800 max so I could potentially go with a grizzly hybrid saw I think.

Thanks

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

5977 posts in 2231 days


#4 posted 01-24-2017 03:06 PM

If you’re near a bigger city like Nashville, patience and an ability to act quickly will eventually yield a very good saw for $800 or less that shouldn’t need anything to get up and running beyond plugging it in.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Josh2061's profile

Josh2061

4 posts in 998 days


#5 posted 01-24-2017 03:12 PM

You would think so.. I’ve been looking for months.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7479 posts in 2710 days


#6 posted 01-24-2017 03:16 PM

If you decide to go the restoration route, you could wind up with a solid machine for half the price of a new Grizzly. Depends on how far you want to take it. The micro-set fence, while certainly not a Biesemeyer, will get you running. Right tilt versus left tilt is a personal preference more than anything else… I have both, and don’t have a problem using either. As for the riving knife, you wont find one on any vintage saw – only on those made after around 2009. But it shipped with a splitter and guard, and you could probably find one pretty easily over at OWWM or on the bay. There are several after-market alternatives as well, and I think (I’m not sure, you would have to research it [1]) you can put a disappearing splitter on it as well.

Cheers,
Brad

[1] IIRC, the disappearing splitter was introduced in 1963 along with the overarm Uniguard.

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View alittleoff's profile

alittleoff

541 posts in 1787 days


#7 posted 01-24-2017 05:42 PM

Most of the old unisaws were right tilt, or the ones I have seen were. I find nothing wrong with it myself. I know it hasn’t bothered me at all. I love those old unisaws, it’s just something about them. When I bought mine it was a mess but about 6 mons. Later and some help here from MrUnix, I now have the best saw I’ve ever owned.
Gerald

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

5977 posts in 2231 days


#8 posted 01-24-2017 05:59 PM

I have an older Unisaw and one of the best things you can get for them is a Unifence. It completely removes any of the drawbacks of a right tilt saw while adding capabilities that no other fence system has. I missed out on one 6 months ago that looked new and was being offered for only $100, I was second in line of many callers, needless to say the first guy got a heck of a deal!

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View BenjaminNY's profile

BenjaminNY

136 posts in 1913 days


#9 posted 01-24-2017 08:05 PM

If it is going to need a new fence then it’s not worth it.

By the time you buy a new fence, replace bearings etc, you are well on your way into grizzly territory.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7479 posts in 2710 days


#10 posted 01-24-2017 08:13 PM

If it is going to need a new fence then it s not worth it.
- BenjaminNY

Not entirely… a BIesmeyer T3 can be had for under $200 new. Used commercial version can be found around the same price or less. You would still wind up with a significant hunk of cabinet saw for less than a new Griz hybrid. But the best way to get one is to find an old Delta contractor or similar saw for cheap, with a BIesemeyer or Unifence installed on it. Swap out the fence, then sell the saw to recover most, if not all of your money.

Or just have more patience and wait for one in better condition and with a Biesemeyer or Unifence to come along. (don’t you just hate hearing that :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View BenjaminNY's profile

BenjaminNY

136 posts in 1913 days


#11 posted 01-24-2017 08:46 PM

Or do what Brad says if you fancy a little Craigslist adventure :)

View alittleoff's profile

alittleoff

541 posts in 1787 days


#12 posted 01-24-2017 10:52 PM

One thing about the unisaw, when you spend good money for a fence, you have a good saw sitting under it.
Gerald

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3072 posts in 2536 days


#13 posted 01-24-2017 11:32 PM

You say a fence is okay as long as it “locks square reliably.” Neither that fence, nor the Jetlock also mentioned, will lock square reliably. You will have to square it up every time you move the fence. I had one of a Rockwell contractor’s saw, and I despised it.

A T square type fence is what you want. There are many to choose from, but any will require the round pipe fence rails be replaced by square tube rails.

I have a used Unisaw myself, and like it very much. But that one looks pretty rough. May be worth restoring, but the price seems high to me.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

921 posts in 2095 days


#14 posted 01-25-2017 03:41 AM

~
I say the purchase decision will depend mainly on your hobby aspirations:
Do you want to be an antique machine restoration guy, or do you aspire to do woodwork?

On top of all the other issues already listed, I see these two:
1. That old cabinet will not make for good dust collection as it won’t seal up very well.
2. The motor is listed as 1.5HP. I believe almost all of us Unisaw advocates are using 2+HP, at 220v.

I have no idea at all why anyone would criticize a right tilt saw. My Unisaw is right tilt, and the ancient Sears saw I had for my first 15 years of woodworking before that was the same. Not once, never, have I said, “Dang, I wish this thing tilted the other way.”

Lastly, I wanted to add my agreement for the wonders of a correctly installed, tuned, and maintained Unfence.

.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1410 days


#15 posted 01-25-2017 04:26 AM

I’m not into restorations myself.
A descent plug and play unisaw could be found for 5 or 600 hundred I would think.

The only reason I would buy this is if I lived close to a lake and had a boat that needed a good anchor. LOL

If I were going to get it to restore, I wouldn’t give more than 150 bucks for it.

View lurkey's profile

lurkey

14 posts in 1881 days


#16 posted 01-25-2017 04:53 AM

Looks promising to me. Micro set fence will lock square reliably as long as tube rails arn’t bent, though it takes a moment longer working two controls. 3hp would be better than 1.5 hp for sure but i suspect it will work just fine with a good blade, and really, are there that many 300$ unisaws popping up in that area?
I would definitely go take a look. It might be in perfect working order mechanically. The unisaw I bought was, and it looked worse than that one.

View Josh2061's profile

Josh2061

4 posts in 998 days


#17 posted 01-25-2017 12:01 PM

Well guys I decided to take the plunge. I thought and researched all day yesterday and reasoned that for pretty much any saw (even the hybrid grizzly) people suggest you upgrade to a biesemeyer or some other fence, so that cost can be mostly ignored when comparing my other options as I’ll be buying one no matter what saw I get. I don’t mind spending time restoring it (honestly how long can it take to remove the rust and paint it?). And as for the missing parts, apparently they are pretty easy to find as delta kept this same design for many years. Or I could just make my own doors if the cost is prohibitive. I tested it and it cuts well though I suspect from the sound of it that it may need new bearings but hey its almost 60 years old, I should probably replace them anyway. And the biggest factor: resale value. With the saw being 60 years old, it has probably lost nearly all the value that it’s going to. If/when I get ready for something else, I will probably be able to sell it for at least what I paid for it, more if I fix it up. Thanks for all the opinions guys and I would be very appreciative of an further advice that any of you have about restoring the saw.

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

921 posts in 2095 days


#18 posted 01-25-2017 02:51 PM

It’s great that you made a decision and took the plunge.

I hope you give us all a chance to see how it goes through pictures and stories in a “restoration” thread. If you do that, include some shots of the saw in current, pre-redo condition. The original craigslist ad is already taken down.
.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View toolie's profile

toolie

2168 posts in 3139 days


#19 posted 01-25-2017 03:14 PM

Google Unisaw restoration. There’s a 6(?) part series by the former editor of popular woodworking that’s excellent and covers everything you are likely to encounter as you start making the saw usable. And when you get stuck, sawcenter.com are the go to guys for all things Unisaw related. Good luck.

-- there's a solution to every problem.......you just have to be willing to find it.

View BenjaminNY's profile

BenjaminNY

136 posts in 1913 days


#20 posted 01-25-2017 04:42 PM

What toolie said* I’ve watched the video and if you have the same “bullet” motor it will be really helpful. The video also covered bearing replacement and even door replacement, all stuff you will need to do.

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2414 days


#21 posted 01-25-2017 05:58 PM

I have the jetlock fence on my 70s contractors saw, with some fiddling with the timing/adjustment of the rear rail lock, the fence works pretty good. There is alot of discussion on the OWWM site regarding using the fence.
I prefer the right tilt for use with the Excalibur sliding table attachment I use on my Delta cabinet saw.

View DirtyMike's profile

DirtyMike

637 posts in 1413 days


#22 posted 01-25-2017 06:02 PM

no

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7479 posts in 2710 days


#23 posted 01-25-2017 07:37 PM

I tested it and it cuts well though I suspect from the sound of it that it may need new bearings but hey its almost 60 years old, I should probably replace them anyway. And the biggest factor: resale value. With the saw being 60 years old, it has probably lost nearly all the value that it’s going to.

Probably replace the bearings?! I’d say most definitely… the first thing I recommend doing on ANY used machinery, unless you know it’s maintenance history and/or it’s relatively new, is to replace the bearings – both arbor and motor. Cheap insurance and will prevent potential damage down the road that could be really expensive.

As for value, consider this; in 1959, that Unisaw (without a motor) sold for $311. A 1.5hp repulsion induction motor and switch for it added another $133, bringing to a total of $444. So for $300 and given the condition it is in, I wouldn’t say that it’s lost much value based on original purchase price :)

Fully restored, that machine can be sold for many times what you paid for it. Strip it down, de-rust, clean, lube, polish, paint and replace the consumables (bearings, belts). What you wind up with will be a better than new saw for a fraction of the cost (original sale price adjusted for inflation would be over $3,600 in todays dollars).

For de-rusting, do a little research on electrolysis and evaporust. Table top can be cleaned up nicely just using a razor bade initially to get most rust/gunk off, followed up with solvents and a scotch brite pad (put under a vibrating sander to make it even easier).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Carloz's profile

Carloz

1147 posts in 1102 days


#24 posted 01-25-2017 08:39 PM


As for value, consider this; in 1959, that Unisaw (without a motor) sold for $311. A 1.5hp repulsion induction motor and switch for it added another $133, bringing to a total of $444. So for $300 and given the condition it is in, I wouldn t say that it s lost much value based on original purchase price :)

Cheers,
Brad
- MrUnix

$444 in 1959 dollars is $3,709.20 today.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7479 posts in 2710 days


#25 posted 01-25-2017 08:41 PM

$444 in 1959 dollars is $3,709.20 today.
- Carloz

Which I mentioned in the next paragraph after the one you quoted.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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