Restoring Rockwell/Delta 4" Jointer - 37-290

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Forum topic by RicBiscuit posted 11-29-2018 11:12 PM 1647 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 421 days

11-29-2018 11:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question jointer refurbishing

Hey All – I was at my Wife’s grandmothers house over Thanksgiving and I was tasked to go find the Christmas tree lights in the garage. When I opened the back door of the garage I was amazed to find a separate shop with a plethora of old vintage tools. Apparently her grandfather had been into woodworking and selling his crafts at the flea market. I offered to help take some of the tools off her hands since they looked like they hadn’t been used in many years. What caught my eye was a little 4” jointer (I was slightly disappointed it wasn’t a 6”). I knew Rockwell/Delta was a reputable brand (at least at one point?) and I traced the serial/model number back to somewhere in between the 1970-73 era using the OWWM database. I’m extremely new to the woodworking scene and tools in general, but I figured this would be a great opportunity to try and fix this thing up and learn more about how a jointer works in general. I had been using a jig on my table saw as a replacement for a jointer this summer, but I got really excited about actually having the tool.

It runs and is relatively rust free, but the vibration is kinda bad. I’m thinking this could be due to the old belt rather than the shaft or cutter head being out of whack? I think the knives are in OK shape, but I’ll probably replace them anyway. The machine has all of its hardware (gib screws, handles, etc.), the fence is very square, but my major concern is the outfeed and infeed tables. When I try to move them up or down the handle only turns about a quarter turn in either direction and stops. I haven’t tried to force it anymore because I’m concerned of breaking something. I’m guessing there is either some old chips or the threads are gummed up. My problem is based on what I can see I’d need to take the gib screws out and slide the tables off the main assembly, which is concerning to me since I might not be able to get it put back together?

I think it is in pretty good condition, but since I have no experience I’m curious as to what extent do I need to restore/tune this thing up so that it is safe and also runs well? What items/components should I give some TLC too? I certainly don’t want to over do it and take this thing apart if I don’t need to. I will try to post some pics as soon as I figure out how (my first post on this site).

Your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated!

8 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


7582 posts in 2803 days

#1 posted 11-29-2018 11:28 PM

Sounds like you got a 37-290 “Deluxe” Jointer :)

The serial number should give you the exact year, not a range. Most likely your tables are not moving just from lack of operation and need a bit of lubrication/persuasion to get them sliding again. If you don’t already have it, the manual for that machine can be found here, and there are are a couple of other documents over at the vintagemachinery site you may want to look at as well. That will give you the parts diagram so you can see how it all fits together.


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

View shampeon's profile


1900 posts in 2787 days

#2 posted 11-29-2018 11:35 PM

Figure on replacing the belt and it’s always a good idea to replace the bearings on old machines. The belt is likely the cause of vibration, so I’d do that first and check.

The tables might have gibs on the dovetail castings that are too tight. If your jointer has them, they’ll be 3 screws on the back of the jointer on either side of the pulley on the dovetail ways.

This manual has a section called Adjusting Table Gibs, for reference.

Replacement knives and bearings for these machines should be pretty cheap, and restoring it will be a good way of learning about jointers. I did my first old machine restore on a 1930s Craftsman 4” jointer.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Phil32's profile


840 posts in 508 days

#3 posted 11-29-2018 11:56 PM

I have the same jointer, acquired under similar circumstances. The suggestions above are excellent. Also check the bolts that secure the cutter head bearings. As I recall there is a single bolt from the underside securing each bearing, and they do work loose. Reinstall with a lockwasher or other method. It can be a very useful machine for you.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5522 posts in 2913 days

#4 posted 11-30-2018 12:05 AM

Good find. I’d clean it up, check all the nut bolts etc and a new belt. Beyond that including bearing I would’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View RicBiscuit's profile


10 posts in 421 days

#5 posted 11-30-2018 03:40 AM

awesome! thank you all for your replies. It looks like it is actually a 1970 machine, thanks for attaching that manual as well. In terms of a new belt, is there a specific brand that you guys prefer? I’d heard a notched V belt could help reduce vibration too, is this actually true? I also heard that there is a jig that helps you replace the knives safely and accurately, anyone ever used one of these?

Lastly, I was just going to buy some Boeshield and wipe this thing down to remove the rust. Would you say I just need to hit the areas that I can obviously see rust or are there areas of the machine I should specifically be targeting? It’s pretty cold here in Minneapolis, do I need to wait until it warms up to clean the rust off?


View Phil32's profile


840 posts in 508 days

#6 posted 11-30-2018 03:49 PM

Re: rust removal – you may want to clean the dovetail ways of the infeed/outfeed tables. They need to slide!

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View ricklaney's profile


1 post in 125 days

#7 posted 09-18-2019 01:10 AM

Where can you get replacement blades for the Delta Rockwell 37-290 4” Joiner? Found one in running condition, they are asking $100 but the blades have a chipped out place.
both say that the part is obsolete.

View RicBiscuit's profile


10 posts in 421 days

#8 posted 09-18-2019 02:02 AM

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