Great saw for a beginning woodworker

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Review by jstewart posted 01-22-2008 06:29 AM 13350 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great saw for a beginning woodworker No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve owned my saw for only a year now, so I haven’t had as much time with it as many of the other LJs out there. Still I think I’ve become good friends with it already. As a person that is new to woodworking, I think this saw is outstanding.

Up front, let me make this clear. The model number 36-979 refers only to the saw with 2 cast iron wings. I bought the Delta 36-980 which is the saw (36-979) plus a 30” T-fence. Other Delta models such as the 36-977, 978, 981, and 982 are all the same main body with varying features ranging from stamped steel extension wings up to a Biesemeyer fence system. Of course, the prices range greatly as well.

Overall (for those that don’t want details)
I have been extremely happy with this saw. It has the features I really wanted (cast iron top, mobile base, and a good fence w/ at least a 30” rip capacity) for just over $500.

Why I Am Happy
Being new to this, I didn’t want to monkey around with things too much. I borrowed a friend’s dial indicator to check everything out before attempting my first project. The arbor was perfect. The fence needed a little calibration after assembly, of course. This fence makes that task really easy. Simple adjustments of a couple of small set screws takes care of everything.

When I first put this saw to use, I was amazed at how quiet it was, even when sawing through wood. This is very important for me since I work in the garage, not too far away from my wife and a sleeping baby. I’ve never once been told to keep it down. This is worth millions.

This saw, like all contractor’s saws, is fairly mobile. The integrated mobile base makes it easy for me to move this from the corner of my garage out to the middle to have plenty of room to work. This was a much needed feature since I don’t have a dedicated shop space.

Being a Delta saw, I have had no trouble finding accessories that fit this model, even at small, local woodworking stores.

I don’t have a dust collector in my garage, but I hope to get one some day. It’s nice to know that when I do, this saw has a collection port instead of just dumping all of that dust on the floor (or throwing it into the air, which is worse).

I have had no problems getting a 3/4” dado stack on this arbor. I never tried to go wider. The specs say you can, but I can’t attest one way or the other on that issue. It seemed like the motor had no problem plowing that 3/4” stack through the red oak I was working with. I haven’t used the dado extensively, but I’ve been happy thus far.

Things I Wish Were Different
The measurements on the rip fence are fairly accurate, but not perfect. Of course, this is the case with all left-tilt saws since the blade thickness has an effect on the measurements. Right-tilt saws don’t have this problem.

The standard blade insert has a large gap around it. You will definitely want to purchase a zero-clearance insert if you want to reduce tear out. The Delta brand zero-clearance insert costs a ridiculous amount of money compared to some 3rd party versions. I own a Leecraft insert I picked up from Woodcraft for under $25. I bought a second one which I turned into a zero-clearance dado insert.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I really can’t think of any big complaints.

-- Joshua, Olathe, Kansas

View jstewart's profile


141 posts in 4900 days

4 comments so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4684 days

#1 posted 01-22-2008 11:20 AM

Sounds like you picked a winner. You can make your own inserts for your saw out of Baltic Birch without too much trouble.

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 4573 days

#2 posted 02-07-2008 12:54 AM

If you think it’s a great saw now, put a set of machined steel pulleys and a Fenner Drives PowerTwist link belt on it and you’ll be amazed.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4482 days

#3 posted 08-25-2008 05:35 AM

Thats a nice saw.

View Bendwoodworks's profile


1 post in 2346 days

#4 posted 08-02-2014 03:41 AM

I have this exact saw and fence. It is very quiet and vibration free. The fence is very accurate and as good as a Biesemeyer. Great for the small shop

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