New to me Unisaw - any problem areas?

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Forum topic by scolba posted 09-01-2012 02:43 PM 6707 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 3010 days

09-01-2012 02:43 PM

Hey guys!

I’ve been lurking here for a while, but figured it was finally time to register and join the community.

As a new woodworker, searching for a ts was a challenge. I wanted to find something that was decent quality, but still budget friendly. Long story short, I think I stumbled into my (hopefully) last table saw. For a scant $180, I managed to get my hands on a well maintained, though externally a little dirty), Delta/Rockwell Unisaw (34-450). The serial number, and original manual, indicate that it’s from 1966. It came with the original guard, fence, miter gauge, standard, and dado inserts.

Based on how it appears to have been taken care of before, I really don’t have any immediate plans of breaking it down and cleaning the individual parts. I am just going to run the 220 today to my garage, align it, and try it out.

So what I am wondering is, are there any known issues or anything with these saws that always seems to pop up? Anything that I immediately need to/should correct or adjust?

Thanks a lot!

-- There is a very fine line between "hobby" and mental illness.

23 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6571 posts in 3409 days

#1 posted 09-01-2012 02:56 PM

You have a saw that’s built to last a lifetime, and those sirens you hear are the cops coming to pick you up for stealing it! Some of the early fences were not as good as the ones offered later, but you are set to go. You might want to check all the motions and see if anything needs lube and so on, and the belts may need replacing but generally there isn’t much to worry about. BTW, congrats on a great buy!

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3591 days

#2 posted 09-01-2012 03:00 PM

I agree with Fred on the saw. I recently bought a newer Unisaw at an auction for $180. I hope it is the last saw I ever need. If you change the belts you want to go to a place that can get you a matched set of belts. Belts come in mathced sets of 2 or matched sets of 3 etc. It isn’t the same as picking up 3 belts with the same number off the hook and installing them.
Welcome to Lumber Jocks. Good to have you aboard!

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3766 days

#3 posted 09-01-2012 03:09 PM

scolba and grandpa, can we go with you when you are out looking for tools?



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4074 days

#4 posted 09-01-2012 03:35 PM

Good grief what great buys there!

I got my 1992 Unisaw a few years back off CL for $500…and that’s a steal. I replaced the belts, with regular v-belts (none matching) ...and it runs fine…but I’ll likely upgrade to the link belts soon. Even so, there’s little to worry about with these saws, which is why the same design persisted for so many decades. When you get it running you might have some issues with arbor bearings and such, but that’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick McMaster-Carr or Grainger order. As with all old machines the motor is the wildcard, but when you steal the saw to begin with, putting money into a new motor is less painful. Even so, if you have a small motor repair near you…or know your way around them yourself…you might do a little inspection and cleaning.

Regardless, this purchase gives you a ton of options…as now you could really update it with a new fence and miter gauge if you want (it’s not a necessity) and the saw becomes custom fit, just for you.


-- jay,

View JK0702's profile


138 posts in 3047 days

#5 posted 09-01-2012 03:46 PM


Welcome to LJ’s and congrats on a great saw. You got a fantastic deal at $180.00. I have a unisaw and absolutely love it, it will certainly be the last one you need. The older unisaws are built better than the new ones, so you did well. I would recommend, if you can, that when you run your 220 to your garage that you install a sub panel. That way you can flip off the circuit when the saw is not in use (for safety). It will also give you more electrical options for your garage in the future. Just my 2 cents worth. Enjoy getting to know the saw.

-- John - Huntington Beach, CA --- Growth occurs when we get out of our comfort zone.

View knotscott's profile


8392 posts in 4291 days

#6 posted 09-01-2012 04:17 PM

Congrats on a great deal. You’ll want to check the blade to fence alignment, and install a good blade. You might want to upgrade the fence too….for what you paid, you could install just about any fence on the market and still have a very low cash outlay for a Unisaw. You could also make or buy a zero clearance insert for it….phenolic and birch ply are good materials….no flexing.

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

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3842 days

#7 posted 09-01-2012 05:18 PM

Scott, that is a great deal as others have already said! I have a newer version (1970’s) and have not had any issues with it at all.

Others have already pointed out most everything I would have stated, so all I can say is Welcome and All the Best!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View scolba's profile


8 posts in 3010 days

#8 posted 09-01-2012 07:55 PM

Thanks for the welcome and the advice guys!!

So when you are talking about matching belts, is that a concern if i upgrade to link belts? or is there really no such thing as matching with those? They belts seem to be in excellent condition, so they may have been replaced recently, though one of them does seem a little different than the others.

Also, if one does need to lube some of the moving bits, what is the preferable type of lube? And does one put it on the worm gears only, or do the slides in the brackets get some too?

So I ran into a little bit of a snag. I was very much doing things in the wrong order, i guess. I got all the work done for the 220, and then started to work on the saw. I opened up the switch box, which i had done before, but apparently my brain didn’t process t hings correctly. Anyway, this is what I saw (ha, saw…get it. groan):

Hmm….that says 3 phase. Uh oh. So i take off the motor cover. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I hardly ever see them online with motor covers on them. This one seems to be an original rectangular one. Interesting, but not really important right now. :) So I take the cover off to get my first real good look at the motor.

Crap. It IS 3 phase. So looking at that label again, am I to understand that I can wire it 220, single phase, by just skipping L2 at the switch, and it would then be running at 1.5 hp? Is that my best option? Or do I need to look into other devices to get the full power? Is there a resource available about those phase converters or the VFD (I think?? some 3 letter deal…lol) so I can read up and learn about them?

One thing that did surprise me, is the condition of the motor! I can’t believe how clean it is! I mean, once i got the layer of sawdust off of it. It looks almost new! I guess having that cover on its whole live (probably) really made a difference.

In the meantime, my shop fox mobile base showed up, so i won’t be without SOMETHING to do. :)

-- There is a very fine line between "hobby" and mental illness.

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3591 days

#9 posted 09-02-2012 12:35 AM

Scolba, mine is also a 3 phase. I think it is still a great deal on this saw. If I had to buy a new motor I think I would come out on it. Maybe not but prices seem to be regional. I hear these guys on LJ talking about these bargains and they don’t happen in my area. I seldom see a Unisaw on Craigs list and never see a Powermatic…that is local I mean. When I say local I mean in a 250 mile radius. I plan to use the static phase converter on mine. These fellows will stone me for saying that but it is very afordable and like I said if I replace the motor I think it is still a bargain. I looked at the rotary converters and by the time I buy a motor for it and get the converter I might as well go ahead and buy the motor for the say. I have a friend that has wells in the oil field. He has run motors on static converters for 10 to 15 years and they are still going. Never know I might not need a Unisaw in 15 years. You only get about 2/3 the HP by using the static converter but this is a 5 hp motor to begin with so that is more power than I have had in the past by far.
The answer to your question is not you cannot run this saw on your single phase line by disconnecting wires. That lets the smoke out of them and then they are no good. Good luck on your decision. This is my plan at the moment.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 4463 days

#10 posted 09-02-2012 01:13 AM

Scott, first let me say a big welcome to Lumberjocks.

Second, a very big congradulations on the great deal, at 185.00 that is a good deal.

I am no electrician but it appears Grandpa might have given you the answer you are looking for. I have never read or heard anyone ever running a 3 phase motor on single phase power.

I currently have a PM 20” bandsaw and a PM66, both are 3 phase motors. And neither of those machines are in service at this time. As budget will allow I fully intend on swapping out the motors on both of those machines, starting with our PM66. The motor will cost me around 380.00 shipped for a brand new Leeson for the PM66 where-as utilizing a phase converter might cost around 150 to 200. But the motor on my PM66 does not look nearly as clean as the motor on your Unisaw and so for the extra 200 – 250 bucks I can be rest assured that the new motor should give me several years of service to come. And as far as I know, the motor on my PM66 might not even work, although it probably does. But since my motor is a 1985 how many years will it have left.

So on future purchases you might ask the seller or check for yourself on the phase. Anyway you go, I still believe you scored an excellent deal.

Oh, and if I am not mistaking, your stock fence is the older style pipe fence. If it is, I just wanted to say that the pipe fence that came with our 80s model PM66 has a 50” cross cut capacity and actually works way better then I had anticipated. I am currently using that pipe fence on a 3 hp Grizzly cabinet saw we have in our shop. I probably will never upgrade that fence as it will remain with the Grizzly.

-- .

View scolba's profile


8 posts in 3010 days

#11 posted 09-02-2012 02:02 AM

So I think what I’m seeing on that label is just info for the switch. How IT can be wired for various motors. Rats, thought I lucked out. :)

So the static converters are an option, and I have been digging up info on vfd’s too. Aside from the dust and vibration sensitivity, I really like the idea of a vfd. Just more stuff to buy. Lol

I tell ya Jerry, I was rather surprised by the fence on this thing. I wasn’t expecting it to be this smooth, and even movements, and really like the adjusting wheel. There’s a sale right now on the Delta T2 that I really want to take advantage of, but right this very second with my limited experience, I’m having a hard time finding a reason to do it.

-- There is a very fine line between "hobby" and mental illness.

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3591 days

#12 posted 09-02-2012 02:57 AM
I am looking at something like this.
This would be better but you have to have a motor that will be comparable to the motor you have now if I understand this correctly.
This is a link to one site that has motors. My saw motor would cost $579. $750 is still not a bad price for a good Unisaw but I think I will use up th emotor on this saw before I go for the new one. There are probably other sites that might even be cheaper….haven’t shopped in depth.

View DylanC's profile


206 posts in 3590 days

#13 posted 09-02-2012 03:15 AM

If I’m reading the photo correctly, its a 2 HP motor. I did a lot of research when I bought my 3-phase Uni (5 HP) and settled on a static phase converter from Grizzly. If I had a 2 or 3 HP motor (like you do) I would’ve definitely gone the VFD route. The third phase is cleaner on a VFD (better for the motor) and it will give you a soft start-up. Although you may have trouble with the magnetic ON switch, IIRC (might want to look into that). And the VFD gives you some speed adjustment options if you ever come across a cheap 3-phase lathe or drill press. But you have to be a bit careful of running older motors at less-than-full-speed. They can get overheat the windings, I hear.

Of course, my static converter has been working just fine, and its a bit cheaper. Just don’t get the static converter from Enco. They’re made differently and aren’t recommended for tablesaws. You can read a bit more in my old blog posts.

VFD Link
Blog Post 1
Blog Post 2

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View cpd011's profile


91 posts in 4153 days

#14 posted 09-02-2012 03:32 AM

I still need to post pictures of my 1947 Unisaw but I would say that you can’t go wrong upgrading to the Delta T2. I love it and thinks it’s heads and tails better than the original stock fence. Don’t get me wrong I love old iron but the original fence wouldn’t always lock down square.

View DylanC's profile


206 posts in 3590 days

#15 posted 09-02-2012 04:36 AM

Update: after looking back at my old posts and jogging my memory, I remembered a bit more. First, VFDs and magnetic starter switches don’t always play nice, and working around that isn’t always worth the trouble. Second, with a good static converter you can eventually “upgrade” to a homemade rotary converter. But an static converter will de-rate your motor by 1/3. Not a big deal for guys like Grandpa me who have 5hp motors. Most new Unis come with 3hp now anyway. For you, though, I think the vfd is the way to go. That will let you use the full power of your motor. But you’ll need to be clever with the wiring. Maybe in your case a new (used) motor is your best bet.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

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