My new baby! (Delta Unisa X5) Now need some help staying safe.

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Forum topic by adamclyde posted 03-01-2013 09:19 AM 16449 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 2918 days

03-01-2013 09:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw table saw unisaw delta safety kickback alignment

First time poster here. I’ve been in the market for a good table saw for a while and had settled on a Grizzly Hybrid saw (Polar Bear G0715, I think). But after lurking here on this site for a long time I figured I’d go with the prevailing wisdom here and hold out for a good deal on a cabinet saw. After a few months of looking for the right deal, I scored this baby from Craigslist on Monday for $600 even:

It’s a 2004 Delta Unisaw X5, 3HP, with a 52-inch Biesemeyer fence system, Bench Dog router table insert and a mobile base. Even threw in a crosscut sled and great Magswitch featherboard. It came with all original manuals, bolts, etc. All except a blade guard and splitter (more on that below).

So first, thanks to all the folks over the years who have been suggesting holding out for the cabinet saw. I spent much less on this than I would have getting a hybrid new. (after wiring my workshop for 220, it will be about even, but I feel it’s the right investment).

Clean up was easy as it was in great condition. No rust at all on the top, a little on the fence rails, which cleaned up nicely with some WD-40. A little more clean up and Wd-40 and the gears turn like brand new. The Biesemeyer fence is in good condition (need to replace the knob), except for a blade mark on the face. I think it was a great deal. I hope so!

So first question (total embarrassing rookie question): Alignment has been pretty straightforward. But, in trying to make sure if the table and blade are perflectly parallel, I’m trying to do the trick where you measure from the miter slot to one of the teeth, then spin the blade and measure from slot to the same tooth at the far end. BUT… how do you spin the blade? While engaged with the pulley, it doesn’t seem to move freely. Do I loosen the motor/pulley so I can freely spin the arbor?

Second question, and more importantly: The one thing missing from this is the entire blade guard assembly, including splitter. I’m kinda paranoid about kickback and really like all 10 of my digits and my face. I see a ton of great aftermarket blade guards, but at this point, my concern is safety, not bells and whistles. I spent all my money on the saw and the electrical wiring, so don’t want to drop another $500.

It looks like buying the original parts from Delta will be around $170 (if I understand their replacement parts website correctly… very confusing). Is there another option that will yield the same or better safety for about the same price? I think in a year or two I’ll buy the overhead blade guard with integrated dust collection… just don’t have the $$$ for it now.

What would you recommend? Help me keep my fingers!

20 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8409 posts in 4380 days

#1 posted 03-01-2013 11:13 AM

Congrats on a great score!

I’d just rotate the blade by hand, assuming the saw is unplugged. You can use a glove if you prefer.

I wouldn’t spend that kind of money for a stock blade guard. There are some really good aftermarket splitters for that saw….Merlin, Excaliber, BORK come to mind (even the Microjig splitters are supposed to work pretty well), and there’s the BORK riving knife that should fit. I’ve had a BORK riving knife on my Shop Fox saw since 2008, and added the BORK blade guard a year or two ago….very happy with both.

Get yourself a good saw blade or two also.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile (online now)

Fred Hargis

6817 posts in 3498 days

#2 posted 03-01-2013 12:47 PM

What Scott said, that blade should move fairly easily. I think you’ve figured out the pricing on the OEM correctly, and it’s too much for a not-so-good setup. Best go with an after market, besides Delta parts are kinda in a turmoil right now due (apparently) to the ownership changes that have occurred recently. Pick a splitter from the list above, and add to that the Bies snap in, though it may be a little more expensive than the others. BTW, congrats on a good buy…that will be the last you’ll ever need. (and do follow the advice about getting a good blade or two.)

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

View MJCD's profile


608 posts in 3376 days

#3 posted 03-01-2013 01:02 PM

Safety Recommendations.

I have the same saw – for about 10 years now: whenever they first came onto the market. It’s a workhorse, and will serve you well.

1) Get the Gripper system: it includes an ultra functional push stick that keeps your hands away from the blade, and provides significant support to the keeping the wood moving through the blade, safely.

2) Magnetic feather guides – properly positioned, these press the wood against the fence, as you push the wood through the blade: they can be a bit cumbersome, but with some practice, they’ll ensure a straight push through the blade.

3) Get a cut-off stand – a good one – to receive wood that has cleared the back edge of the table: the table is relatively small, and it’s easy to have the wood fall-off the back edge. If the piece is long-enough, there is more wood off the table than on; and it will want to raise the wood off the blade – very dangerous (Kickback) and potentially could ruin the cut.

4) Blade Guard – I don’t know a good aftermarket (or OEM) guard. The ones I’ve seen are more dangerous than effective.

5) Be Extremely Careful; Aware; and Diligent in your Table Saw practices – all of the safety guards in the world will not compensate for unsafe or inadvertently-poor technique.

6) Respirator – the TS will throw-off significant airborne dust – which you will breath if not protected.


View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 3073 days

#4 posted 03-01-2013 01:13 PM

Looks brand new in the photo. A great buy.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View runswithscissors's profile


3128 posts in 3030 days

#5 posted 03-01-2013 11:18 PM

Check out blogs on retrofit riving knifes by runswithscissors (me), TTalma, and another whose title I don’t remember. Easiest way to google them is via the “search lumberjocks” box at the upper right corner of this thread. These are true riving knives, in that they move in unison with the blade, including tilting.

Quite a few people are using the BORK, but they don’t look very robust to me. I understand they are now making it out of stainless steel, which is an improvement over the earlier aluminum.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View blackcherry's profile


3345 posts in 4828 days

#6 posted 03-01-2013 11:48 PM

I had this same saw for a few years it a real work horse. For your after market blade guard I went with Shark Guard complete with overhead dust port and riving knife. You should be able to spin the blade back with no trouble try putting on a good pair of leather glove if need be and be sure to unplug the machine.

Splitters and riving knife packages – Shark Guard
Below you will see listings of different models with links to take you to an order page with shopping carts and prices for different splitters, splitter sets, riving …

View Scomel Basses's profile

Scomel Basses

169 posts in 3002 days

#7 posted 03-02-2013 12:07 AM

Congrats on a great score!

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 3254 days

#8 posted 03-02-2013 12:28 AM

You got the mobile base too! You lucky dog!

View RogerM's profile


807 posts in 3404 days

#9 posted 03-02-2013 01:21 AM

Adam – I have one just like it without the router feature. I bought mine in 2005 (for almost double what you paid) and predominately run it with a Forrest Woodworker II (or a Freud Super Dado) and love it. Very accurate, plenty of power and absolutely trouble free. I hope you have as good of luck with yours as I have had with mine.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Holbs's profile


2376 posts in 3034 days

#10 posted 03-02-2013 02:23 AM

i’ll buy it from you for… $601 :)

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View adamclyde's profile


43 posts in 2918 days

#11 posted 03-03-2013 12:29 AM

Folks, this is great info. Thanks so much!

I got wired up by the electrician yesterday… 220 running in the shop. Man, as soon as I turned it on, I almost shed a tear. So many years crapping around with a stupid Ryobi portable. It’s like going from a beat up Ford Pinto to a Beamer and skipping the Camry altogether.

So… back to the riving knife/splitter/guard issue, thanks to your info, I’ve sort of narrowed the choices down to just a splitter/RK at this point (blade guard will come later when I can afford a good one with a dust collection hood). And for the splitters/RK, with what I’ve read from the recs above, it seems the BORK or Shark are the two best options. The micro jigs look compelling… do they really work? I certainly like the price. I also like the Shark pricing too, but based on their info, only the Splitter works for my saw, and it’s on back order for 18 weeks! BORK looks good, just a bit spendy.

I’m going to keep looking.

The BORK looks really easy to pop on and off. But the Shark website is pretty tough to manage.

View Dakkar's profile


357 posts in 2932 days

#12 posted 03-03-2013 12:50 AM

The Gripper system is a very good idea. I kind of like this guy’s DIY “Super Safe Push Stick” idea even better. It’s handled a 3-sided box that slides over the fence. I’m thinking of modifying the concept sometime. I’ll post here when I do.

View toolie's profile


2200 posts in 3633 days

#13 posted 03-03-2013 01:12 AM

congrats on your gloatable buy. in the parlenace of WWs, YOU SUCK!!!! that’s one of the few saws i would dump my two TSs for. as far as your splitter is concerned, i’d use this one from the sawcenter:

while it doesn’t have a blade guard, for ~ $60 shipped, it’s plug and play.

congrats again on a great buy. that saw, cared for properly, could be in a family for generations.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View Noodle's profile


12 posts in 2633 days

#14 posted 02-22-2020 06:00 PM

Thanks for your post. I’ve had my X5 for 15 years. Paid way more for it than you did. Nothing but happy with the performance. My question is what did you actually install and how well it works for you. I took the original blade guard and splitter off and have been using it bare for years. Getting older has made we finally wise up and need to install something. But the more I read about options the more confused I get.

-- The days are just packed-Calvin & Hobbes

View tvrgeek's profile


1374 posts in 2654 days

#15 posted 02-22-2020 06:27 PM

I was not happy with the micro-jigs. As my Ridgid splitter is half an inch off the table and an inch behind the blade even when fully up, I am making splitters integral to the insert. You have a MUCH better saw and can run a real splitter.

Anyway, build a crosscut sled. ( or a few.)
Tenon sled, taper sled, sled, sled sled.
A pile of push blocks. Narrow and wide.
I keep a sacrificial one, a 2×4 with a handle and a 2 inch block of foam on it so I can keep the pressure on thin stock.

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