LumberJocks

Rockwell Unisaw

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by kyngfish posted 01-17-2020 07:13 PM 381 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


01-17-2020 07:13 PM

Looking into trying to get a used Rockwell Unisaw. Of all contractor saws they seem to be the ones that pop up the most for under a grand. So I have a few questions for people that know them well.

1. What should I check for when I go look at one? How do I assess if the bearings need replaced?
2. How bad is the jetloc fence? It seems to raise a lot of controversy, but other people seem to use them and like them.
3. If not this saw, what other saw should I be looking at?


19 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

4857 posts in 1205 days


#1 posted 01-17-2020 07:25 PM

While Rockwell made a few models of contractor saw, the Unisaw was a cabinet saw. Better understanding will be made by knowing the differences. Besides Cabinet, Contractor, they have added Hybrid in the past few years, and Jobsite.

This will help sort them out for you.

https://www.rockler.com/learn/the-right-table-saw-for-your-shop

Buying used is a good way to save money starting out. The look of what you are checking out will tell you much about overall care the saw has gotten, but the big question is does it run, and when running does it sound like a table saw, or a large grinding mass of bolts.

I think it’s better to let a few pretty good buys slip by, while you are finding info, than to rush to buy, and find you haven’t spent wisely.

Best of luck.

-- Think safe, be safe

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7673 posts in 2829 days


#2 posted 01-17-2020 07:42 PM

Check for broken/missing stuff… that is what will bite you in the wallet. Don’t try to determine if it needs bearings or not… you should replace them regardless. It’s not very difficult and is cheap insurance.

Jet-lock fence is not bad as long as the rails are straight and the head doesn’t have too much slop in it. The previous ‘micro-set’ version is a PITA as you have to adjust the rear lock every time you move it. The biggest complaint for the Jet-lock fence is that you can’t just pick it up and off the saw but have to slide it off the side.

The Unisaw was introduced in the late 30’s and remained virtually unchanged up until their redesign around 2009, so parts are mostly interchangeable between the years. During that time, it became the standard by which all others were compared to. But like Steve mentioned, at around 600 pounds, it certainly isn’t a contractor saw that could be easily hauled between job sites.

Cheers,
Brad

PS: Delta = Rockwell

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

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)

CaptainKlutz

2397 posts in 2125 days


#3 posted 01-17-2020 08:03 PM

For information on any USA made wood working tool, like Rockwell/Delta Unisaw; suggest you visit the Vintage Machinery site. They also have a sister discussion forum, Old Wood Working Machines or OWWM.ORG. You won’t find another place with the same depth/breadth of information on the old table saws.
You will need to register and join OWWM site to fully access the forums and unlock all the discussion groups.

+1 The Rockwell Contractor saw is not the Unisaw

Here is a random Rockwell contractor saw:

They sold 8” and 10” versions.

Here is a random old Unisaw:

And let us not forget the Unisaw Jr:

How to know if Bearings need replaced?
- Bad bearings make extra noise: rumbling, whining, screeching, grinding, etc
(Don’t be confused by bad/worn/old belts)
- When you turn the arbor shaft or motor shaft by hand, failing bearings will not feel smooth. Will feel rough or sort of like sand is inside.
- The shaft won’t turn. :-)

How bad is Jetloc fence?
IMHO – Depends on your patience level?
It gets job done when properly adjusted.
Making small changes, and hard to read scale make use more difficult than most modern fences.
Also can find them abused or damaged that hampers proper operation. Often damage or poor adjustments to clamping mechanism will not properly lock down your setting. Not uncommon to find bent fence tubes on abandoned machines, as folks think they are handles for picking up the saw (wrong!).
Replacement parts are hard to find, and can be expensive in used market.
This all adds to the negativity posted on the fence.

Here is nice LJ Blog that summarizes Table Saw very well.
https://www.lumberjocks.com/knotscott/blog/46865

Best Luck finding a saw!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


#4 posted 01-17-2020 08:38 PM

I guess I’m getting a cabinet saw then. :)

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

4857 posts in 1205 days


#5 posted 01-17-2020 10:34 PM

If it’s branded as Rockwell, it likely has one of the old bullet motors. They were mostly 1 hp motors, and could be wired for 110, or 220. Newer Unisaws started to carry a 3hp motor, they were only 220. Just throwing that out, if you need to factor that for current electric available.

The 220 isn’t a deal breaker, as most modern homes can allow for a 220 line. Just if it isn’t where you want the saw, you may need to allow for the cost of getting that going.

The old bullet motors had plenty of backside to get the job done if you are thinking it may not be enough power. You may just need to make allowance for slower cuts, fully letting the blade do the cutting.

-- Think safe, be safe

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7673 posts in 2829 days


#6 posted 01-17-2020 11:51 PM

If it’s branded as Rockwell, it likely has one of the old bullet motors.
- therealSteveN

I seriously doubt it… the repulsion/induction (aka: Bullet) motors were only used on early models, which all had Delta nameplates. It was only for a very short period of time in the ~80’s that they thought they would badge the Unisaw as Rockwell (example below), well after they had switched to induction motors.

But the best bet is to age the machine via it’s serial number.

Cheers,
Brad

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

View hkmiller's profile

hkmiller

199 posts in 712 days


#7 posted 01-17-2020 11:58 PM


If it s branded as Rockwell, it likely has one of the old bullet motors. They were mostly 1 hp motors, and could be wired for 110, or 220. Newer Unisaws started to carry a 3hp motor, they were only 220. Just throwing that out, if you need to factor that for current electric available.

The 220 isn t a deal breaker, as most modern homes can allow for a 220 line. Just if it isn t where you want the saw, you may need to allow for the cost of getting that going.

The old bullet motors had plenty of backside to get the job done if you are thinking it may not be enough power. You may just need to make allowance for slower cuts, fully letting the blade do the cutting.

- therealSteveN

My Rockwell Unisaw, built in the ‘70s, has a Baldor motor with Rockwell on the tag. So not all Rockwell Unisaws have A bullet motor.


-- always something

View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


#8 posted 01-18-2020 08:10 PM

So I bought the saw. Looks like a 3 hp motor. Blows my circuit breaker every time it gets up to speed. Only 15 amp breaker.

View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


#9 posted 01-18-2020 08:32 PM

Serial number suggests late 70s model. Also the Baldor motor. 3hp 115/230 volts.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7673 posts in 2829 days


#10 posted 01-18-2020 08:35 PM

Nice score… looks to be a 1979 model if I read that serial number right. Has the often missing lock knobs and dust door as well! May or may not have had a motor cover from the factory, as those were optional. You are running that on 230v, correct? IIRC, those 3hp motors draw something like 32A at 115, and 16A at 230. Post a picture of the data plate on the motor.

Cheers,
Brad

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

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)

CaptainKlutz

2397 posts in 2125 days


#11 posted 01-18-2020 09:09 PM

Welcome to the Unisaw club.
Remember, now that you have a Unisaw, to stop looking for used Unisaw to see if you got a good deal.
If not careful, or have a cheap tool addiction; you can end with several. DAMHIK

Brad you have better eyes than me, can’t read the 1st 2 digits on that SN at all?

Cheers!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


#12 posted 01-18-2020 09:18 PM

No motor cover :). Going to need to fab one up if I want anything resembling dust collection. And you’re on the money with the motor. I think I’ll probably do the bearings and the belts. Does anyone have locations for aftermarket bearings. The ones I see for the arbor are like 80 bucks. Motor plate is a little faded :)

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7673 posts in 2829 days


#13 posted 01-18-2020 09:30 PM

Does anyone have locations for aftermarket bearings. The ones I see for the arbor are like 80 bucks.
- kyngfish

Great place to get bearings is Accurate Bearing (read this first) up in Illinois. Quality bearings for cheaper than most on-line places and Lynn ships ‘em out fast. Think I paid around $30 total for all 4 bearings I needed, including shipping.

Cheers,
Brad

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

View kyngfish's profile

kyngfish

68 posts in 720 days


#14 posted 01-18-2020 09:31 PM

SN is KR1710

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)

CaptainKlutz

2397 posts in 2125 days


#15 posted 01-18-2020 09:51 PM

+1 Accurate bearing.

But: When it comes to bearings, I can get them locally for less than online. Took me some phone calls to find the cheap place in town, but it was worth it. Plus I know I am getting decent quality bearings from US, or Japan. I have had great luck with NTN made in Taiwan by NTN USA. I use mainly Japanese made bearings in motors, as they are cheapest that my bearing shop recommends. Stay away from the Chinese made bearings. IME they seldom last a year with continuous duty.

Suggest you don’t buy bearings till you tear the motor/arbor down. On older saws, you never know if the saw was rebuilt with newer components? So you might need the expensive extended shoulder bearings, or you might not?
Motor bearings are more consistent for sizing, but you still never know. Have seen 5HP motor where damaged shaft was turned down, and non-standard bearing was used.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com