Living with the saw you got

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Forum topic by UrbaneHillbilly posted 03-11-2010 02:32 AM 2492 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View UrbaneHillbilly's profile


22 posts in 3592 days

03-11-2010 02:32 AM

Hi Guys,
I have been following along in the threads where people are looking to figure out what to buy as far as a table saw. I thought another good discussion to get going, and one that would benefit me, is what to do when you have to live with the saw you got.

I got a pretty sweet deal on a Delta Contractor’s saw. Its a few years old and needed some tuning but I got a couple really good blades and the saw serves me well. I can’t afford to upgrade now and I need to show my wife some productivity before I can move up anyway.

Like a lot of used saws, the guard had been removed and lost. It didn’t have a splitter, and as far as I can tell, this saw won’t take a true riving knife. I take safety seriously and have spent a lot of time working with very dangerous items (guns, high power lasers, saws, farm machinery etc…). I have spent a good bit of time building various accessories for the saw to make it safer including out-feeds and in-feeds, various pushing set ups and a cross cut sled is in the works. However, I still worry about ripping and when I see guys in a place like this say things like, “working without a riving knife is really asking for it”, it gives me pause.

So what would you guys do? What will make this saw as safe as possible? Being an engineer with access to machinists and machines, I don’t necessarily have to go buy something, but could do something custom.

Anyone else out there gotta live with the saw they got?

24 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5695 posts in 4205 days

#1 posted 03-11-2010 02:46 AM

You could do a lot worse than a Delta contractor’s saw!

I think I would move post-haste to install a splitter … either order one from a Delta dealer, or build one into a zero clearance insert (search for ‘splitter’ here … you’ll turn up some decent info).

A lot of LJ’s remove the guard, but if you feel having one would improve the safety of your saw, then there are sources for after-market guards as well as articles/plans to build one of your own.

Oh, and to answer your last question … I’m quite happy with my Jet … for now!

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 03-11-2010 02:50 AM

I have owned my current Rigid 3650 for 5 years and hope to have it for at least another 5. So far it’s all the table saw I need and I still like it every time I use it. I sold a 3 month old Craftsman to help pay for the Rigid.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View UrbaneHillbilly's profile


22 posts in 3592 days

#3 posted 03-11-2010 02:59 AM

I should have said that in general I am pretty happy with the saw. The space it takes is reasonable and I can’t believe that the relatively small motor can handle so much.

Zero clearance inserts are on the list for the next time I have time to be in the shop. Do you recommend making my own splitter or buying one to build it?

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3610 days

#4 posted 03-11-2010 03:03 AM

Henry -
The short answer is to get an owers manual (probably from the Delta website, and see if there are replacement parts available for your saw. Easy, huh? – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View TheDane's profile


5695 posts in 4205 days

#5 posted 03-11-2010 03:08 AM

Q: “Do you recommend making my own splitter or buying one to build it?”
A: Either way … depends on what you are most comfortable with. The important thing is to get one ASAP.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3601 days

#6 posted 03-11-2010 03:21 AM

It sounds like you have the same saw that I have. Mine was also a sweet deal – used and the splitter and guard were lost – so was the miter gauge. That was fine since most stock miter gauges are horrible anyway. The first thing I did was to purchase an Incra miter gauge. Mine had a Biesemeyer fence so I was in good shape there. The previous owner had also put a new 2hp motor on it as well. I put a link belt and machined pulley kit on it to reduce vibration. I also added pals to make lineup and adjustment easier. My first attempt at a splitter was to bolt a 1/8” piece of steel in where the OEM splitter guard would have attached just behind the blade. This proved to be a pain as it had to be removed anytime that I wanted to cut dados. Also, when i discovered thin kerf blades, it was too thick and caused the material to bind. I eventually settled on a zero clearance insert with a splitter glued in place. You can make them in different heights for different situations and it is as simple as popping out the insert and putting in a different insert. More recently, I have made a custom extension table, a router table extension and an outfeed table. Now to come up with an effective dust collection method.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3601 days

#7 posted 03-11-2010 03:33 AM

Here is a link for an ant-kickback splitter for Delta table saws.

Also many suppliers offer after market overarm guards. There is also one here on LJs that was about as ingenious as any I have seen.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4594 days

#8 posted 03-11-2010 03:35 AM

I used the Delta contractor saw for about 6 years and did not have any thought of upgradeing until I started cutting some long 45 degree cuts on 4/4 oak. That seemed alittle much to ask for the 1 1/2 hp motor. After about a year of looking and talking it over with the wife I ordered the shop fox with a 5hp motor. I stll have my delta and I’m using it as a dedicated dado saw. I love it and really saves time not changing the blades out all the time, but does take up some shop space. Your saw will serve you well for along time, you will only upgrade because you out grow your saw not because the saw lets you down. Just remember it is what it is and plan your cuts around that. Hope all that makes since and helps in some way. I forgot to mention that I have the manual for mine. It they are the same and you need parts give me a shout and I can look up the part # for you.

-- F.Little

View UrbaneHillbilly's profile


22 posts in 3592 days

#9 posted 03-11-2010 04:04 AM

When did splitters become standard equipment anyway? I know the big cabinet saw in shop class didn’t have one 20 years ago..

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 3687 days

#10 posted 03-11-2010 04:10 AM

I also had a contractors saw (Delta/Rockwell), I was very happy with it as it was able to do everything that I needed it to do. As has already been stated I improved it by buying a link belt ( they really do make a big difference in the noise and vibration), then I found an Incra 1000SE miter gauge on sale, then I bought a Biesemeyer fence for it. After all those additions it was a great saw and I was very very pleased with it. I continued to look at the Craigs List for an old Unisaw and found one last month that was built in the early seventies for $140.00. The Incra miter gauge and the Biesemeyer fence made the move to my new saw and I was able to sell the old contractors saw for $150.00.
So the moral to the story…Take your time, make the saw that you have now the best that it can be (a Delta contractors saw really is a very good saw), if you can find an old Unisaw then most of the additions that you make to your contractors saw can and should be moved to the Unisaw.
By the way, I didn’t have and never did buy a splitter for my contractors saw but the first purchase for the Unisaw was a splitter…...had I bought one for the contractors saw it also would have made the move to the Unisaw.
You can call Delta parts and service and they will send you for free a copy of the owners manual and a parts list. Getting parts for an older/newer Delta or Delta/Rockwell is not much of a problem and their service people are extremely nice to talk with.

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4006 days

#11 posted 03-11-2010 04:34 AM

As far as safety items in lieu of a riving knife. Board buddies was mentioned earlier. They keep the board to the fence and only rotate one direction thus performing as a featherboard or kickback pawls. I have a set but have not mounted them yet. Feather boards are a nice feature and a magnetic based one can be a real convenience. Hope this helps, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Ger21's profile


1088 posts in 3673 days

#12 posted 03-11-2010 04:41 AM

>>>So what would you guys do? What will make this saw as safe as possible?

The simple answer is learn how to safely perform any operation you’ll be doing, and always pay attention. For the last 15 years, I worked in a large custom cabinet shop with 20+ guys. We had 4 table saws, and none of them had guards, splitters or riving knives. Only one injury in those 15 years. A young guy with no experience had a 3/4” x 3/4” board kick back.

-- Gerry,

View dmorgantx's profile


70 posts in 3625 days

#13 posted 03-11-2010 05:28 AM

I have this saw and it has been a very good saw for me. Being a smaller saw can be a blessing. For example- as a beginner and learner- I’ve made a few mistakes when working around it. I’ve found myself in a few kickback situations that- although still dangerous- I’m sure would have been much more dangerous on a 5hp saw than a 1.5 (I was able to bind the blade / force the work piece in such a way that the outcome didn’t result in injury. I’ve learned a lot and the saw has been forgiving.

I have struggled with a few things though- dust collection for one. The June 09 FWW mag had a good write up on how to dust proof one of these but the intricate fittings involved are proving to be tough.

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 3983 days

#14 posted 03-11-2010 10:11 AM

Make it safe using whatever you can afford then after you show and tell the wife some production save your money and buy something better or keep what you have. But never work with something that isnt safe your health and safty sould be first.


View ackychris's profile


103 posts in 3555 days

#15 posted 03-11-2010 10:18 AM

I have a Ryobi 10” contractor-style saw, and I’ve regretted a lot of things about it from day 1. For starters, I have to square the fence to the blade every time I reposition it. In lieu of a miter slot, there’s a sort of sled thing that the miter gauge snaps into—the whole sled moves on runners. While it works fairly well, it makes the saw less compatible with jigs like crosscut sleds—I haven’t actually gotten around to designing one that will work with this. The blade tilt is very difficult to set precisely—it stops at 45 degrees, and you really have to force it to get it the last degree or two. It’s not a positive stop, though, so if you force it too much, it goes just a shade past 45…just enough to make mitered corners off-square. The throat plate isn’t the standard kind, and I haven’t figured out how to install a zero-clearance plate with this system—as is, there’s a huge gap on all sides of the blade. And maybe most frustrating is that the blade guard and splitter assembly doesn’t lock in well enough. I finally removed it after a scary moment ripping a small panell—the splitter had managed to lean to one side of the blade, so when I was halfway through the cut, the right side of the panel ran into the splitter instead of going past it, trapping the panel in place with the blade spinning in the kerf. I shut the saw off, and as soon as the blade stopped and my heart started again, I took the whole assembly off. I can work around most of the saw’s deficiencies, but I really wish I’d not opted for the bargain saw. So, I use my bandsaw for every cut that I possibly can, and I try not to do anything but square, 90 degree cuts on the tablesaw. If anyone has any ideas for upgrading a Ryobi, I’d be thrilled to hear them—this saw really defies customization.

I think it’s this one—or at least very similar to it:

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

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