Old Craftsman TS v. newer Delta TS

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Eric posted 07-07-2012 07:49 PM 3197 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eric's profile


221 posts in 3143 days

07-07-2012 07:49 PM

OK. I can’t decide. I have an older craftsman TS. Its done well for me. The fence is not so great. I a wax on the fence guides has helped recently. Nevertheless I still check my fence setting by measuring from fence to left-hand miter slot at the front and back edges of the table to confirm the fence is not crooked.

I’m considering a Delta 36-979. It has cast iron wings (my Craftsman has the cast iron grid wings). Both are 1.5hp. The Delta table is a mere 4” narrower. The Delta comes with a T2 fence. (Yea!) The Delta appears to be new built within the last 10-12 yrs. (Boo!)

Do you favor older Craftsman or newer Delta?

TS similar to mine.

Delta TS

-- Eric

14 replies so far

View ajosephg's profile


1882 posts in 4193 days

#1 posted 07-07-2012 07:57 PM

Eric – Have you considered putting a T-2 Fence on your Craftsman?

I did this on a Delta clone and have been very satisfied. Pretty sure you can find a fence for under $200.

-- Joe

View Bertha's profile


13575 posts in 3325 days

#2 posted 07-07-2012 08:05 PM

I gotta say, I’d go with the Delta in this case. I’ve got an old JET contractor that had these stamped steel wings. I put a cast iron router table on one side and an undrilled one on the other. I can’t say it works any better but it’s just more ENJOYABLE to use. Feels flatter, runs smoother, just feels nice. The fence is likely a MAJOR improvement. My stock fence is actually really good, but when I slide my neighbor’s 2011 Unisaw’s around, I realize there’s a whole ‘nother world of quality that I’m outside of. I think you already know that you want that Delta;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 3143 days

#3 posted 07-07-2012 08:13 PM

HAHA. Of course I want the Delta, but is it worth my hard earned money to upgrade? For that matter, is it an upgrade? I’m a Norm fan so pneumatic nailers and Delta are attractive to me. haha! If I don’t evaluate it carefully, this could be an inpulse buy for me.

-- Eric

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 3143 days

#4 posted 07-07-2012 08:16 PM

Listen to me talk myself into it. The power switch is located on the left of the Delta. I won’t have to reach laterally across the plane of the blade to turn it off. :-)

Anyone have good of bad experiences tuning up Delta contractor saws?

-- Eric

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 3663 days

#5 posted 07-07-2012 08:52 PM

Well sir, since you ask, I’ll tell you. I was still at Delta during the roll-out of the ‘new generation’ contractors. The first iteration was a disaster. During my last three years we took in more -979s and -978s than any other model family that I can remember. While shipping damage was the worst offender, warped castings and missing hardware were right up there. Don’t get me wrong. We found a few good ones among the returns, but for the most part the first generation were junk. The Type 2s were a little better. If you’re buying new(doesn’t sound like it) be very picky. Reject any package damage. If buying used, all the normal precautions apply. On the plus side, we found very few with alignment issues, the machining was excellent, and the trunnions were good and beefy. A used one should be through all the birth pangs, and if the previous owner took care, you’ll have a nice saw. New, I’d say to avoid the Type 1 altogether…too many issues. The Type number will be on the box right after the model number on the barcoded label.
Edit…looking through my service manual, I notice that Type 2 was never released. My bad…old fuzzy memory at play here. Instead, look for a date code (usually the last four digits of the serial number) later than 03xx 0r 2003xx, the ‘x’s’ representing the week it was manufactured.

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4118 days

#6 posted 07-07-2012 10:29 PM

Is it just the Delta name, i.e. owning a Delta TS that gives you goosebumps, or is the Cman on it’s last legs and you need to replace a worn out machine? There are many experts here on LJs. I’m not one of them. I did go through a phase of brand snobbery, and in some cases, rightfully so. In your case, and just my opinion, I think it is impulsive, and would follow ajosephg advice and retrofit a new fence and rail. I use the Shop Fox “Classic” standard fence and rail. Rock sold and lines up perfect every time, absolutely no complaints. Here’s a link:

The T2 would work fine also. If the switch placement is inconvenient, and I understand that, you can retrofit a switch. Mount it to the left side, underneath the rail. Here’s a link to the Grizzly catalog page showing switches.

It’s not Buy American and sorry for that. Grizzly sells reasonable products that work well for the average amateur woodworker like myself. Good luck.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4384 days

#7 posted 07-07-2012 10:31 PM

That class of Delta is a reliable work horse. The T-2 fence is as good as any.

View Bertha's profile


13575 posts in 3325 days

#8 posted 07-07-2012 10:57 PM

Lol, is “Delta” considered brand snobbery these days? Man, I need to get out more. I bought a Delta bandsaw for $99 new. It was worth about that. I’ve got some great craftsman stuff, lousy Delta stuff, and vice versa. Since you mentioned the cast iron tables, I just assumed that was a big part of the decision. I consider that a huge upgrade, personally; and no one will argue that the fence is among the best. I’ve got a 1948 Delta sitting next to a 2004 Powermatic. I’d take the Delta all day, for the vintage, not the brand.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View knotscott's profile


8365 posts in 4007 days

#9 posted 07-08-2012 12:20 AM

There are pros and cons to each, and you’ll need to decide which features are most important to you. You didn’t mention the price of the Delta, which is pertinent info. The advantages of the Delta are the T2 fence, the built in mobile base, and the solid cast wings….the disadvantages are the connecting rods used as an arbor carriage underneath. The advantages of the Cman are the one piece cast blade shroud underneath, and the width….the disadvantages are the fence (a big one that’s fixable for $158 shipped), and the grated wings (small one IMO). The switch can be relocated.

Performance wise, they’ll be pretty similar once aligned and setup with a good blade.Weigh out those pros and cons and figure on what you’re really gaining for the money spent.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 3009 days

#10 posted 07-08-2012 12:33 AM

If buying the newer delta used, you could try to sell the craftsman for as close to what you payed for the delta. Then the money wont be much of an issue. With out the money being an issue which saw do you want to use?

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View Woodbum's profile


909 posts in 3697 days

#11 posted 07-09-2012 03:59 PM

Eric: I have a 1.5 HP (love the 3 HP sticker on your picture. “Peak” HP ?) Craftsman identical to yours. I bought it new in ‘86 and built a LOT of projects with it. Over the years, as I progressed in my hobby, I gradually added new pulleys and a link belt, a new Woodpeckers miter gauge and an Incra TS3 fence and partially alleviated the power problem with a thin kerf Woodworker II blade. Finally 2 years ago my motor crapped out. I figured 20+ years was enough, and a $200 motor was too much money to put in the CMAN and bought a 3 HP Griz and moved all (xcept the link belt) to the new Griz. Now I have everything I wanted and all that I need. I love my old craftsman and one day will put a new or rebuilt motor on it.(I have it stored for now until the new shop is finished) If you can afford the Delta or something else-go for it. You might consider the The crapped out motor was all that I needed to nudge me over the edge. My wife wondered why I waited so long and needed the motor problem nudge to upgrade. She is very supportive of my hobby. Lucky me!

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4376 days

#12 posted 07-09-2012 06:47 PM

I don’t know about the newer generation Delta contractors. I bought a new Delta 34-474 contractor in ‘98, which I think was about the last model to be made in the US. I’ve been working it in a commercial setting since, with no problems other than a motor replacement. Upgraded the motor to a TEFC, since the original was an open frame, which I believe led to it’s demise. I’ve used Forest blades since day one, and recently upgraded the Unifence from a 32” to a 50”. I don’t believe I’ll be upgrading the saw for something else. I’ll use my money for other equipment. If you can find one of the older, US made Delta contractors, I think it will serve you well.

View Krams's profile


6 posts in 1073 days

#13 posted 03-11-2017 12:53 PM

Kicking up an old thread- @tenontim – do you happen to have the manual for the 34-474?

-- Krams, Chicago

View Woodbum's profile


909 posts in 3697 days

#14 posted 03-11-2017 01:09 PM


-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

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