Have you ever wanted to restore a piece of woodworking equipment?
Well follow along in this episode where I walk you through my experience restoring a Delta Unisaw from the late 1970’s.
Not only will I give my experience, but I will point out a few things you can do to make your tool restoration project go a bit smoother.
Finally, I leave off with some notes of the unexpected, and whether it was worth the effort or not.
If you want watch the podcast give it a watch here:
Hello, and welcome to the 10th episode of the Buddy Podcast. It’s kind of amazing, we’re on episode 10 already. Today, we’re going to talk about me restoring my Unisaw table saw and kind of the process and what I went through and then ways to help you do a restore of any tool that you might get or including a Unisaw. But before that, if you’re listening on the website, please feel free to subscribe in any podcasting application. We’re available on most major platforms. If you’re there, please go ahead and feel free to leave a review and let me know what you think. If you’re listening in the podcasting applications, please feel free to hit the website and leave comments, critiques and criticisms or read the transcript of this episode there. And feel free to subscribe to the email newsletter to get updates, not only when new podcast episodes comes out, but other content I might release as well.
Finally, if you’re on YouTube, please feel free to hit that subscribe button, hit the notification bell and turn on notifications. It really helps you to know when new episodes come out on YouTube. So with that, let’s go ahead and jump into the first segment and that is, what am I thinking? What’s going on in this shop? What’s life? Well, for one this weekend as I’ve talked to in previous episodes was a work weekend where we did our monthly first Saturday of the month tasks, except we forgot that it was the last day of February, the 29th. So we actually did our beginning of the month tasks yesterday. It went pretty well. Things didn’t go as quick as I thought they might, but that’s life. We still got a lot of stuff done and got all of our routine maintenance done. So that was really good. Then we just got everything done. But one thing I was thinking about during the day and then a little bit this morning is… So I don’t have any insulation and I don’t have a conditioned space for my workshop.
I was actually thinking about building a little Arduino-based temperature and humidity thing to put out in the shop so I can have a constant digital readout of what the current temperature, what the current humidity is for summer and winter. Just kind of a fun thing and then to also know like just what’s what and what’s going on. So I was just thinking, I want to get more into electronics and incorporating electronics stuff into projects that I do. And I’d be curious, what do you all think about that? Would that be something interesting to include in content that I create? I definitely want to do that and depending on reaction to that, might determine how much of electronic stuff that I do and actually show versus just do and do. I definitely, I have a background in teaching programming and understanding how to teach people to do that kind of thing. So if you want, I can help teach that as well as other stuff that I’m doing. I think it’d be a lot of fun to help teach incorporating woodworking and electronic stuff because it can be kind of confusing to figure out.
There’s stuff that I still need to learn, but I already have some of the basic understanding on how to do at least parts of it. So let me know what you think. So with all that in mind, let’s jump into our main topic and that is restoring my Unisaw. So this is going to be a kind of fun to do because I’m going to go over kind of from the beginning to the end of my table saw restoration, [inaudible 00:03:29] some of the process that I went through. And then finally end up in additional costs and was it worth it, kind of analysis. And also might help you in the end to determine whether you think it’s worth it or if it’s not. So with that, let’s kind of go through the basics and go through kind of step by step, from the beginning to the end. The best place to start [inaudible 00:03:51] the beginning. So with that, why was I getting a table saw? Well, I wanted to do some projects around the house.
I just kind of got to a point where I was tired of IKEA crap and my wife says she wanted the IKEA boxes that you get that you can do like the fabric shelves in. And I’m like, “I don’t want one more piece of IKEA furniture in the house, I could probably make that out of plywood.” And that’s where it all started. So I started researching doing that and I’m like, “Okay, I need to do this. I needed to do this. I need to do this.” Started watching videos on woodworking on YouTube. And it just kind of snowballed from there. I was like, “Well, I have this table saw here but it’s not very stable, so I need to do some long cuts for dealing with the larger wood. And I’m not sure I could do that well on the table saw.”
So I was actually going to go about building an outfeed table for the old craftsmen table saw and looking at that, looking at the price and it was just a bunch of other things. It’s like, it didn’t look like it made economic sense to go ahead and use the table saw that I had because it was kind of like just a store on the bottom shelf. You pick it up, put it on a tabletop and you cut a few boards with it that are small and that’s about all it’s really good for. So I started researching, what are some good table saws to get? And I saw like these contractors, portable table saws and I found a DeWalt that are really like. And I was like, “Let’s do that.” And it was like $350, $400 or something like that. And we weren’t in a hurry to buy it because I’m like, I don’t necessarily want to do this stuff in the cold, so we’ll wait a little bit, save up a little money and buy one in the spring.
Well, we were talking to my father-in-law about it and he’s like all over government auction websites and he’s like, “We’re about time for when schools do their end of the year. Like we’re selling everything off to buy new stuff and I’ll bet you, some someone will be selling on a table saw in a driving distance.” So we’re like, okay, whatever, and nothing and nothing and nothing. And finally, like we were getting to the point, it was getting closer to March and we were like, “Let’s just go ahead and pull the trigger and just buy a table saw and we’d be done with it.” So about a week later we were going to go buy it and then all of a sudden, boom, something hit the auction website. And it was the Unisaw that I ended up buying. At first we were looking at it, I actually wasn’t interested in the Unisaw because they had a Powermatic 66 table saw. At the time, it was on there on the auction for like $200. This thing is a three horsepower 52 inch wide base, a cabinet saw, power… like it’s the cream of the crop, sorry, five horsepower motor.
I mean it is the cream of the crop table saw and it looked like it was in good condition and again, $200. So that was where I was going. I was trying to get that thing. Probably three days before the auction ended, it spiked up to like 1200 bucks and I’m like, “I’m out. I’m not in the hobby that much yet to spend $1,200 on a cabinet saw when I might not do this very much whereas $350 is a little bit of a better investment.” However, my father-in-law saw in there [inaudible 00:07:18] said Unisaw and they had some really, really crappy pictures of it and so super skeptical about it. So I was just like, “Ah, I don’t know.” So a little more time went by and we’re like, “Let’s go ahead and bid on it because it’s super low.” And in the end we got it. We got it for like $400 area, so maybe 450, I actually don’t remember, it was almost about a year ago actually. Sweet. Then we went and got it and we’re like, “Oh wow, this thing actually looks like it can be pretty good.”
It ended up being a three phase three horsepower cabinet saw, Unisaw, had a cast iron top to it. It didn’t look the greatest, there were definitely some blemishes. I still haven’t gotten some of those out but it looks like it was going to get the job done. It came with extension table with it. So that was like, it was great. I mean, there was some extras like, we got more than what we expected. We also got this, over thing to kind of help hold material down for safety stuff. I still need to figure that thing out because I actually just forgot about it until just now. But it came with a lot of extra stuff that weren’t in the picture and I think that’s one of the reasons it went for so cheap because it just didn’t look great in the pictures.
Anyway, we ended up getting it. We went and picked it up. They actually loaded it in the forklift into the back of the truck and we took off and came home and we got back to my father-in-law’s house because since this thing is phase, he needed to work on some wiring and I had to buy, it’s either VFD or VHD I get the thing stuck in my head. But it’s basically a converter from single-phase to three-phase. Fortunately my father-in-law has three phase, so he just plugged it in to make sure it would work and it worked. So from there we got the VFD, I spent like $120 for it. He got it. He’s actually an electrician and a certified electrician and he figured out how to get it to work with the VFD. So from there we’re like, “Hey, this will work on this system. It’s ready to come to my house.” So we did went and we load it up on the back of a trailer, brought it home to my house and I got to figure out how to unload it off of a trailer by myself.
Fortunately, it was a tilt trailer and I was able to wiggle it all the way to the back and wiggle it onto a dolly and kind of move it around. So yeah, I mean that’s how we found, got and got the cabinet saw home because the thing was heavy. So with that in mind, I mean, so that is the why and the getting. The next is actually how am I going to do this? I’ve never taken apart a piece of machinery like this. I’ve never messed with a table saw this much before. I have no idea what I’m doing. So it’s time to start researching. So I just started Googling. I took the model number of the table saw and just Googled the crap out of it. And there’s not a lot of information for that particular one. It really honestly took me a couple of months to realize that most Unisaws and I didn’t really click on us until I had the thing mostly torn apart.
But most Unisaws the that are like this are almost the exact same on the internals. So you go, you see, you watch one video or one set of pictures and get almost the exact information that you need out of it. If I had only known because there wasn’t… the 37, 441 Unisaw, isn’t what I was able to find very much. Anyway, so with that in mind, I just kind of pressed on, researched and I was [inaudible 00:11:04] found a couple of things. I had really good descriptions that were taxed and I’m like, “You know what? Let’s just start, because if I don’t start it, then I’m not going to get it done.” So with that, let me give you some of the resources that I hit for actually doing research. The first one is YouTube. I tried to watch a bunch of YouTube videos and I’m going to tell you there’s not a lot of great information out there for restoring this particular tool. There are some better tutorials or better process videos for other ones but not necessarily for the Unisaw in the detail and the information that I needed specifically.
I had a couple of different forums. There’s the old woodworking machinery forum, I think owwm.org as well as lumberjocks.com. Both of those provided a lot of good information on there for figuring out things that I needed to do. Finally, Google, just Googling stuff. Every now and then a tutorial would pop up where somebody was doing a restore and they would have like one little nugget of information that I needed and it helped me in understanding the next thing that I needed to do. So I mean, after that, I mean that was kind of the research that I did. I just had to piece it all together and kind of hold it in my head and in the end, very little of it actually mattered. So I’m just going to be honest, some of the research just, it didn’t matter, but however it gave me confidence to go ahead and start.
So now let’s get into starting the actual thing and the first step is to break it all down. The thing that I recommend though is to document everything and document it well. I wish I would have done this better. I actually recorded the entire process of me breaking it down and putting it back together. I eventually want to put up a YouTube video of it. I don’t know when that’ll happen, but I have hours of content of me doing every single step. So that, for one to record it and potentially help other people and two, so that I could put it back together. And I would have content to be or I would have the information to do it, to be able to put it back together. The one thing that I didn’t do that I wish I had done is every single step along the way, take a picture. Every time you take off a bolt, take a picture. Every time you take off a washer, take a picture.
Every time you unscrew something, take a picture. Like take a picture of everything. There were entire assemblies that I never got a good picture of from multiple angles and there were so many times that it’s like, I need to see this thing right here over here. But I just didn’t get a picture of it at that angle and I just totally regret. So just take tons of pictures, tons and tons of tons of tons of tons of pictures. Even though you might be taking a video of it all, which is really good and really great and helped me a ton, get lots and lots of pictures. I can’t stress that enough. I have a future projects and I’m going to restore an Atlas drill press, and I’m totally going to be taking a lot more pictures of that. So the next step on preparation is I kind of thought through, “Okay, now once I pull this off, once I pull these pieces off, I probably need to lay them out.”
So I got a table and started laying things out and literally I went from one side here to over here across the table from like left to right and every bolt I pulled off, I would put in order across the table. So that all I had to do in putting them back together is go the exact reverse direction. Well, one table wasn’t enough. I ended up with three tables of kind of stuff from, not only from being able to clean and have a work area, but to have the different components. And then just kind of some storage for tools that I was using at the time. So like I totally wasn’t prepared for the amount of space that it was going to take off and it was right in the middle of my shop. So it really took up some space as well, trying to do all this. And while I had intended for it to only take a couple of weeks, I actually ended up taking a couple of months, which I’ll get in to why here in a second. So with that, like preparation is just, realize that you’re going to need more space than you realize for all of your parts.
The other thing that I did was the really small, tiny pieces that were a collectable in units is I would put in a Ziploc baggies and label them. But again, I would put them in the order and in a couple places actually took pictures of the layout of what they would be before I put them in the Ziploc baggie and labeled them. I wish I had done that a lot more again, because there were a few pieces, I just needed that other angle and I didn’t quite get it. So the final thing on preparation for all of this is to realize you should go slow in your process. Like don’t get in a hurry unless you’ve done this before. And then if you’ve done this before, just listen to the story of me breaking, of me doing it. But go slow, don’t get in a hurry and you’re going to be fine especially if you’re documenting everything well.
So now actually on to the breaking down of the table saw and this actually went not too bad. One thing to note was there was a lot of dirt, a lot of grime, so a lot of gunk everywhere. I don’t know what they were cutting with this thing, but in some cases, man, there was something pasted on there and I’m not exactly sure what it was. It’s kind of gross but I mean, I got it. I mean, I eventually got to having wrenches. Multiple wrenches of the same size made things a lot easier when trying to break over some of the bolts. I had to get a breaker bar, a couple of spots but I got it. So I got them, I took the wings off first of the tabletop. I totally recommend doing that because it’s a cast iron top. And I thought about trying to do the whole thing totally bad idea because the top is so heavy. Took the wings off first and then I went to take the main top off and that went reasonably well.
Just be really careful because I didn’t really like look before I grabbed and I grabbed a spot and it was kind of sharp, I thought it was going to cut my hands. I was a little nervous. But I also recommend something like this if it’s going to be a like exposed metal, go ahead and put some kind of cover over it so that it’s less likely to have some of the air infiltrate, especially if you’re in a humid environment. In my case, like it helped a little bit to prevent it from rusting even more because actually had like one corner exposed from the rest and it rusted a lot quicker than the rest of it. Which was all surface rust, which I’ll explain about getting off later. So with that I had the top off and it came to taking out the guts and man, this to me, getting the guts out and back in was probably the two hardest parts of the entire process.
I watched the YouTube video of somebody just popping it in there and I’m like, how did you do that? I had to wrestle that thing. I mean, pulling it out, I mean I had to man-handle, I had to yank and pull and grab and swear and all kinds of other stuff to try to get the stupid thing out. I felt like I was going to break something. Obviously I didn’t and I’m not sure I could because the thing is made of… so thick and just, it is very well made. Anyway, so I was able to get this stuff out. I mean, I basically had to unscrew every single bolt. One of the parts that was a little frustrating was the part that actually like holds the motor up and then it tilts when you go to tilt the table saw blade, it moves the motor with it. It’s kind of the motor mount thing and getting that thing off of the main, I think trunnion area was like, was a total bear and finally got it off and it came out and totally wasn’t expecting it to come off of the bar and it fell to the ground.
I don’t know what happened, freak of nature thing and boom, when it hit the ground, like broken half. This is not a part that is produced anymore. I was totally like, I literally just stopped right there, came in the house and just told my wife like I think I just screwed up and might not be able to do this restore now. After, coming down a little bit, getting some pictures, posting it on a forum, I got some advice, the people are like, “You could just braise it back together,” and I’m like, “I ain’t the person to do that.” Fortunately my father-in-law, he knows how to do that stuff and he was confident that he could get it figured out and he did. He got it. He got it welded back together and all was well again and so I just continued about the process.
So again, it was bringing stuff down, pulled the motor off as well and kind of set that. That thing was heavy. I think that was like 70 pounds but got it off, moved over and I got it again, I got everything out. Then I got everything laid out on the table like I did and then I started breaking everything down, taking off all the bolts. I took every single bolt out of the entire thing and took it out. It was kind of just standard things, take off a bolt, pull the parts apart, get the washers and then once I got it all laid out and organized and everything, I started cleaning. Took a wire brush and it took some super clean, which is a purple bottle of got at O’Reilly’s and I just started cleaning. Went through many, many a shop rags, like the blue ones that you can throw away, as well as the plastic gloves that you get at harbor freight.
I went through a bunch of those as well. I got a bucket and just started spraying down all the parts. I’d let them soak for a minute or something like that, take a little scrub brush and scrub and I’d make sure they were super clean. Then I would dry them off and set them to the side and then I went through that with everything. Even the big parts, like I would spray it down, wait a minute, scrub it down and spray it, wait, scrub, spray it, wait, scrub. And just a lot of time I went through almost a that full bottle of cleaner to clean all of the different parts. Then I had to take a chisel be like the screwdriver and use it as a chisel on several different things to get gunk off of it. Then just did lots and lots of scrubbing. I think I cleaned around four hours, total cleaning up everything. Once I got all of that stuff clean, I took the cabinet itself, I kind of went outside and just kind of rinsed it down with water to see what came off.
And then I took that super clean and wiped everything down and just went after it. The school that had it previously had actually drawn some stuff on the side for like, where the miter and gauge goes. They’re like [inaudible 00:21:58]. So I had to like scrub and try to get the permanent marker off of that and should a bunch of that, like just cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and it turned out pretty nice. Then once I finally got everything clean, I took a look at it all and I was like, “Okay, do I need to at this point, paint it?” And painting it, I took one little spot on something and did some like paint thinner and like tried to see if it was possible to get it off. The paint really wasn’t all that bad. So I opted to not paint anything except for one little piece and that was because the paint had flaked off of that.
So I scrubbed it off and just took some black spray paint. And it is on the inside of the cabinet, so it’s not going to look weird and sprayed that and called it done. Would it have looked better had I taken the extra time to paint it? Of course. But I don’t think I needed to in all reality. There’s a couple spots here and there but in the end, I mean, the paint was great. It was still in good condition and will last for many more decades. So I just opted not to paint anything and I think the future will determine whether that was a good idea or not and we’ll see. We are done with cleaning and we’re ready to start looking at the parts. While I was breaking everything down, I found all the moving parts that existed in the thing, which actually weren’t that many.
They were the trunnion, the motor, like they had like giant gear things as you twist the thing. The handles like it rotate stuff, different directions up, down, and then at an angle. And those are just kind of giant mechanical things. The only things that moved, moved as part of the machinery were the belts. There were three belts and then the bearings inside of the part that actually rotates the saw blade itself. Then the bars that you turned to actually do the gearing to raise and lower the saw blade and tilt left, right. So there really wasn’t a lot necessarily to look out to replace, just mostly it was just make sure everything stayed clean. However, I wanted to replace the moving parts that I could. So I replaced the belts. The belts were so annoying to find what I needed to get specifically because you would read in some places that you need a matched set, which is basically as they are cutting up all the belts.
It’s like slice, slice, slice, and there’s a slice, slice, slice, slice. Yeah. Then that way you have three that are off of the same reel of belts and then you got your right size, you got your right thing and then others are like, “Oh, it doesn’t really matter.” Then I saw different ways to measure the belts, try to figure out if they’re the right ones. I spent probably two hours researching and trying to figure it out. I went to O’Reilly’s. I went to I think AutoZone and took the belt in and they were like, “Well, we don’t really have anything that’s close enough.” I mean, they had a couple that were like close, but they were like two wide and a couple spots. And I’m like, “I don’t really know what to do.” Then finally, ereplacementparts.com. You want to know a website that looks like a scam in my opinion, ereplacementparts, looks like a scam.
I was so like weirded out by some of the design elements that I’m like, “This can’t be real.” But I saw people buying stuff on forums and I’m like, “Oh, okay. I’ll give it a shot.” And they had replacement belts on there. In my opinion they were a little expensive but in the end I was glad that I found it because I just bought them off of there, got them in, put them on and they worked great. And I’m like, totally work that, I should have done that from the beginning. One of the other parts that need to be replaced were the bearings that go in, that actually rotates the table saw. These weren’t actually all that bad, but they weren’t really all that great. However, since I’m replacing stuff and I have it all taken apart may as well replace the bearings and this actually turned out to be super easy. I found a place in or a town near me Tulsa and they had a bearing plate or that kind of industrial manufacturing place that sells parts. Took the thing up there and I’m like, “Do you have this kind of bearing?” And they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s just a standard thing. No problem.”
They found it and bought it and I think it was $10 for two or something. And I got like the premium ones because there’s was an extra like 75 cents for the premium bearings. I’m like, “Whatever, okay.” So got those out and then those went right back on, super simple, which was [inaudible 00:26:54]. I’m glad that was totally like stress free on that part. Because the real stress came from the motor itself and this sucker was a pain to deal with because at first when my father-in-law, first plugged in the motor, it didn’t work. We’re like, “What, crap, we’re going to have to replace the motor.” And then eventually figured out a little bit of wiring and the thing and he got it, wired it properly and it worked just fine. There was like, “Ooh,” because I started researching motors and it’s not just a standard three horsepower motor. It’s kind of a standard three horsepower motor. The problem is it has custom mounting bracket that is a nonstandard mounting bracket in a sense, so that your vendor locked in to a buying a particular motor from Delta.
Unfortunately they don’t sell it with that mounting bracket anymore, so you’re kind of screwed. They don’t necessarily have… it’s just the market isn’t big enough to sell a custom mounting bracket that’ll actually work right to be able to mount to a motor and so you’re kind of screwed. Anyway, I was taking things apart and as I was taking it apart, looking at it and cleaning it and getting up to shape, it basically turned out that the motor wasn’t bad. One of the problems was there were a bunch of fan blades that had broken on the fan and it had apparently lit on, like did a little bit of fire ish, maybe a little bit at one point. And it wasn’t really too bad. I mean I haven’t had any problems with the motor so far. So yeah, so I had to replace the fan. I’m going to get to that in a minute. One of the other problems that I didn’t hit on, because I was kind of waiting to talk about the motor is that it has this pulley thing that’s on the front of the motor, on the shaft of the motor that you attach the belts to and that go up to where the saw blade is and it just kind of goes round and round and round and round.
Well, somebody had taken it off at some point and they didn’t put it back on all the way. And when they didn’t put it back on all the way and they shoved the thing back into the table saw, it actually rubbed on one of the shafts when it was running and ground down the shaft by 25% in some spots maybe a little more. Fortunately the shaft is non-structural and so I didn’t actually end up replacing the shaft even though it looks ugly. You’re not going to see it. It doesn’t change the functioning of it. However, I was trying, I spent, every time I was looking, I was trying to figure out why this thing was rubbing. When it looked, everything looked normal and looked proper. Well, once I finally got ahold of it, it actually took that pulley off and compared and did a few things. I realized somebody didn’t put that pulley back on and then they just tighten down that screw to be able to get it to stay on that shaft as good as possible. And they just were like, “Okay, whatever. We’re good.” And oh my gosh, that caused many problems that I finally got solved with the motor.
Fortunately I didn’t need to replace the pulley. I need to replace the little square key thing that kind of holds the pulley onto the motor shaft. I got that replaced in there and got it tightened down, got a flush. I got the pulley flush with the top of the shaft, which is what it’s supposed to be and a spun great. When I got it back in there and didn’t rub it all and actually had perfect alignment for the pulley up top for the saw blade itself. I mean it ran great once I figured out what was going on. So like that was super nice and I think that was adding extra friction, which was bogging down the motor sound, which might’ve caused some of that flame out a little bit in the end, who knows? So back to the blade, looking at the blade, you couldn’t tell, there was not a part number on the blade itself. And super annoying because when I go to Google different parts of the nut, there’s like three separate numbers on the thing and Googling any one does not render out what the actual fan is.
I got kind of close in a couple of spots, trying to Google it. But since this was a white labeled Delta motor, I also didn’t know what kind of motor it was to look for a proper band for it. Well, I was eventually able to figure out after some research that I needed to find somebody that actually dealt with fans every day. So I found industrial manufacturing place in Oklahoma city that dealt with electrical motors all the time. I just took the fan in there and they were like, “Do you have a partner?” We’re like, “No.” And they were like, “Oh, well, we can’t do anything.” And I was like, “Oh my God.” I mean, I was so deflated because here’s this huge company that you would think would be able to figure it out. And I just, I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I didn’t know what kind of motor it was. I didn’t have any information other than the fan blade. And I think the lady saw how deflated I was at that point because I didn’t know what to do after that. And she’s like, “Hey, let’s go in the back and take a look at our scrap bin and look at a bunch of the fans that are in there and see if there’s anything in there.
So we took it out. We did a couple of comparisons. We never found anything that was close. And so I was like, “Oh my gosh.” So we took it back in, she did a couple of measurements and we couldn’t ever actually find anything based on a diameter of where the shaft would go and a couple other things. We found stuff that were close but were never thinking that she was like, “You know what, let me try something.” And she took the three different numbers and added SP to the end of the three different numbers and boom, there was the part number. And found the part, like measured stuff specifically that were on the… from the catalog on the fan itself. And [inaudible 00:33:02] there was the thing, there was the fan blade and it was like, yay. I mean the fan blade costs like $45 and I could have it shipped to my house in two days. I was super ecstatic. I bought it and found out that it’s a bowel door motor. Awesome. Now I know what to do for the future in case I ever have to replace it again in the future.
Anyway, that was like being able to find places that will actually replace parts is a huge time saver as like having never done any of this before. I felt like I felt inept at doing it because I didn’t know where and how to replace some of these parts. So if that’s how you feel where you’re trying to do some of this, totally understand you’re not alone and just start asking people questions. I have no idea what I’m doing. Can you help me? And usually whenever I can get that across, people are very helpful because everyone wants to help people. And that ended, worked out this time. Anyway, like it was super amazing to be able to get that taken care of. I got the motor, got it back and now I am done. We’re getting all the replacement parts I need and I’m ready to reassemble the table saw. Whew. So reassembly of the table saw really wasn’t that crazy in a sense. It went fairly well because I had everything laid out. I did a lot of prep work and since everything was laid out, most of it went back together in a lot of cases stuff would not fit back together wrong.
I didn’t realize that in a couple of places when I was taking it apart. I’m like, “Man, I really need to remember this. And fortunately I remembered it, but as I was putting it back together, I realized there’s no way this would have fit any other way. So if that kind of worked out for me otherwise though I watched the videos that I’d taken a couple of times, kind of scan through and find the right thing and then I’d go back out and replicate the reverse of what I saw. I think some of the hardest spots for me was getting the shaft back on to the main motor mount thing kind of. Because you got to get there, you got to get a steel washer in there and then you got to get that down at like the square key on the side. And you’ve got a couple of other things in there. Just trying to get that all lined up exactly perfect because the tolerance was so tight.
But once you get it like perfectly lined up, that shaft just slid on like it was butter and it was amazing. But man, I pinched my fingers so many times trying to get that smashed it a couple of times, trying to get that thing in there. It probably took a half an hour, but I finally got it in there and it worked great. And yeah, so there’s going to be high precision areas that just might take you some time, be patient and you’ll make it through. The other troubling spot like I mentioned in the beginning, was trying to get all that crap through the top of the thing and back in there. That took me 45 minutes. I actually went back on the camera and watched. Took me 45 minutes to take this assembly, the bolts to the side of the cabinet and shove it back in there while keeping the bolt things on top. Oh my gosh, that was so annoying. And I don’t know that I ever… Again, somebody else online did it like that.
And I was just like, how? I tried to replicate exactly what you… I’m holding everything the same exact way. What’s going on? I finally just had to like jam it in there and I got lucky once trained to do it and I went in there and I’m like, “This ain’t ain’t coming back out.” So [inaudible 00:36:36] anyway, but yeah, it went back in there. Once I got that in there, everything else kind of just flowed from there. One thing I did do wrong is the shaft that raises and lowers the saw blade. Actually one I put in backwards and two, I put in the washer and like a stop washer thing in the wrong order. I totally like could not get gears to line up because of it. So that was one of those specifically where I wish I had taken more pictures at different angles. Because I was watching videos, I was like trying to turn my head to see if I could see at that angle, even though that’s impossible. I was just so frustrated. But that was one of those specifically where if I had had another angle of that, then I would’ve gotten it and it would’ve worked out great.
So definitely can’t reiterate it enough. Take lots of pictures. So other than that, I mean the reassembly of everything went fairly smooth, everything went well. And like, “Oh my gosh,” because it would take just a finger and spin the handle thing to raise and lower the saw blade, it was great. Just everything worked out really well. Then, so once I got everything back in the cabinet, everything looked like it worked well. I got the motor mounted back on and that was an interesting thing to do by myself. Again, this is a 70 pound motor, clearly cleaned up, replaced working altogether. What I ended up doing is I have these salt buckets that we use for the cows and I kind of put the mower back on there, sat down in a chair that I had and scooted up next to the cabinet saw, pick the motor up, set it on my lap, and then kind of like just rolled it forward into the cabinet saw and hurried as quick as I could to shove the pin through to hold the motor on the mount. Fortunately, it went on pretty but I was hugging that motor a lot, trying to like maneuver it just right. That was fun.
Anyway, so we got that on there and the final thing to really do at this point was put the top back on. However, I hadn’t messed with it at all in literally a couple of months which led to some more intense cleaning in a sense. So what I basically at that point did is I took the tops and I kind of put them over. I flipped them upside down and I took that super clean and I just soaked it because the bottom of this thing, it was nasty, because had never been cleaned. It’s a hard place to clean, dust and gunk and condensation and all this other crap accumulates at the top and it just kind of sticks there. And then I’m taking like screwdrivers and like scraping out the muck. I’m getting a razor blade and like scraping off the dirt and all kinds of other stuff and you’re trying to get everything off.
I mean I’m just soaking that thing and super clean and just scrubbing and scrubbing and getting brushes and going for it. I mean, it probably took me 45 minutes to clean the back of this thing well. And there’s so many grooves and crevices as well to clean that it took a while, but I was finally able to get it. It was still well painted, it didn’t really need any touch up at all. And so I was like awesome and flipped it back over to start working on the top. And man, somebody, I didn’t notice this before because I hadn’t really paid a lot attention, but somebody, I don’t know what they were doing, but they scraped something across the top and let these huge grooves in the top of this cast iron tabletop and they were so deep, there’s just no way to sand them out. I was so frustrated. But hey, what can you do? So from there, what I did is I took an orbital sander that I got and pop some 60 grit sandpaper on there and just started saying in a way.
I actually at first started with a Brillo pad and when I wasn’t getting anywhere with that, I went with the sander. I think it took two minutes. Then I just started going over it with a sander, getting all the rust off, getting all the rust off, just keep on going. And finally got most of the rust off and I went up in a sand grits and eventually got to a 220 grit. Got to smooth out really well and it was looking primo. Definitely still scratches but once I got to the 220 to get the kind of the surface stuff off, get all the rust off of the top, like it was looking good. Somebody had also apparently painted on it at some point and so to take a little razor blade and scrape off paint, that was a fun time. But I got that off as well. And then there were the two tracks where the miter saw went and that was a totally different story trying to clean that out because it kind of goes down into the T-track and split out underneath metal in a sense.
So what I ended up doing for that is I took a piece of plywood, they would fit down in the slot and wrap some sandpaper. And I just scraped back and forth in the in groove and at least got the main bottom part of the T-track sanded out. Then what I did is I took the sandpaper and kind of shoved it into the side underneath that T track and scraped back and forth and I just did the best I could. It’s probably not amazing in there, but I got what I could get and I think it turned out okay in the end. So with that, everything is clean and so I put it back up on the top of the cabinet saw, did some adjustments. I measured with a gauge that I got, the distance from the miter slot to the saw blade and then tighten it all down once the gauge read the same on either side of the saw blade. So once I got in that main part, then I bolted on the wings and rolled it on over next to the electrical socket and read it all the white, put everything back in on the wiring. This is something that’s also took a lot of pictures of is, of what the wiring looked like so that I could replicate it later on down the road.
Fortunately that went primo because I had enough pictures and then I just plugged it in and hit the start button and nothing happened. So frustrated. So I unplugged it, plugged it back in, hit the button after about two seconds started and it was like, whew. Then I unplugged it and plugged it back in, after about two seconds that started and I was like, “Well, at least it’s working sometimes, at least it’s starting eventually.” So after that I was like, “Okay, like went through a lot of work. I’m kind of done for the moment. We’ll take a break from this cause there’s not really anything I’m doing.” So I kind of walked away and then a couple of days later I came [inaudible 00:43:29], plugged it in and it didn’t start at all and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” So I unplugged it, plugged it back in and it started almost immediately. And so I literally just let the thing run for about 10 minutes at that point, just let it go. I guess that worked something out because it started off right away, every time since then.
So now I have a working table saw that I can actually cut stuff with and totally restored it all myself and had a lot of fun along the way learning. So now let’s get into the final part of restoring the table saw and that is the unexpected. So when I got the table saw, it did not have a fence. Sorry, it had a fence, it didn’t have a fence rail, which makes the fence completely useless. Yay. However, there’s a site, very super cool tools, VSCtools.com, I think. And they had all the plans and instructions for free on how to make your own rail because they’re selling a biesemeyer, their own custom biesemeyer fence. So I was like, this is what I’m going to do. So I started planning and bought a couple drills to be able to do it started sourcing parts to be able to do the rail.
Fortunately, my father-in-law was going up to Menards in Kansas to do a little shopping up there to get a bunch of stuff. And about 20 miles off the highway on Facebook marketplace, we saw somebody was selling a biesemeyer fence and rail for $100, which is amazing because if you were to buy a brand new, it’d be $450. So we were like, let’s do it. So since he was heading on up there, he just kind of hopped over, picked it up and it came with an extension table as well that we totally weren’t expecting. So now for the price of $100, I got a fence rail and an extension table to be able to put on the table saw if I ever want to. Totally amazing deal, totally unexpected. And it just really made things nice. But it was an unexpected thing when I first got it because there was an additional expense that I wouldn’t have had to pay out had I bought something brand new. And that’s kind of where I’m going with these next few things is had I bought a table saw brand new, these are costs that I would not incur had I bought a brand new.
So let’s go over a few of them. One is the VFD, the variable frequency drive to be able to convert three-phase to single-phase. That was $120 plus my father-in-law’s time. If I had to pay an electrician, it would have cost more and it probably would’ve had to find potentially a specialist to specifically do that thing. The next thing is just like I mentioned the fence. The fence would have been $450, brand new. Found one on the Facebook marketplace for $100, worked out well. The next thing is the kind of the throat plate where the actual table saw comes up and down from. This was actually an ignorance part on mine of using table saws. I was like, “Well, everyone’s upgrading to a zero clearance one so I’ll just buy one of those from the beginning.” So I went ahead and bought one, got it in and I was good to go. Only the last week I realized, wait a minute, the zero clearance plate isn’t going to work on doing angled cuts.
Crap, and so I ended up buying a another kind of plate, that allows for angled cuts. That took me probably half an hour to find to verify that the thing would work, as well just to make sure it would work with mine. Because it’s actually was in a sense built for the 36-000 series of Unisaws and I’m running a 34-000. Fortunately, again, like I mentioned previously, a lot of them are the exact same ended up working out, but that was another $62 that I had to spend. Anyway, that was not a fun time. The next thing is since this is an older table saw, there isn’t a riving knife on it. So there is a little bit of a safety concern. Granted people who have been using this thing for years and potentially not having a lot of kickback issues, but I wanted to try to be safe and have something similar to a riving knife.
So I got a micro jig splitter for it and that is something I need to install and that was about $30. The next thing is I didn’t get a miter gauge with it and I didn’t really know what a miter gauge was at the time. And after doing research, I figured out I needed a miter gauge to do some of the stuff. So I ended up buying one of those up for some research. I went with an Incra miter gauge that was $75. So again, another expense that had I got something new, I would have at least gotten a basic one to get me started, but I didn’t have anything at all like that. Then the next thing is getting push sticks. Push sticks generally come with new table saws. I went a little extravagant on this and got two grippers because I wanted to start with those from day one to try to help with being safe.
That was a $110 to get to gripper advanced and so that one just up there. One of the other things that I had to buy was I had to buy a bolt gauge to make sure I got the right size bolts to attach the fence to the table saw. So I had to buy a little gauge for like eight bucks. Once I got that it made finding the right size bolts super easy and because I couldn’t find the right threading or I couldn’t tell what the right threading was or the right size. Once I figured that out, I was able to go get the bolts. Everything worked out. Spent a couple of dollars on bolts and I was done. The final thing that I got, and this doesn’t necessarily come with new table saws, it might in some cases, but I’ve also bought a mobile base for like 75 bucks from grizzly and that’s working out great and everything is great.
All of the additional costs minus the mobile base was about $540 on top of, let’s say the initial $450. So in the end for the table saw, I was in it for about $1,000. So if we get into the analysis of was this worth it in the end, it’s kind of debatable in a sense. I can go out and buy a Unisaw on Craigslist right now that’s roughly equivalent for about $1,000 it comes with 85, 90% of what everything that I just mentioned, including the additional plus [inaudible 00:49:52] they’re generally restored. So from a perspective of buying a Unisaw in the state that I have it at now, it’s debatable whether it was worth the money. Coming from the perspective that I have a three horsepower table saw, that’s a cabinet saw and will last me probably for decades because the thing is so well-built for $1,000 all in. Yeah, it was worth it because this table saw would have probably costs me $3,000 had I bought the equivalent grizzly and probably 4,000 for the equivalent Powermatic and 5,000 if I had gone with the equivalent sawstop.
So maybe 4,000 for the sawstop. I was exaggerating tiny bit. Anyway, so in the end, like was it worth it? I think so. I think it was because not only do I have a story now with it, now it’s a piece of equipment that I’m more endeared to. I also understand very well how it works and can use it essentially for the next 40 years without any real problems, I think. So I think in the end for me it was worth it. I don’t know if it’d be worth it for other people. I know other people, they don’t want to go through a restoration process, [inaudible 00:51:09] a tool. And for some people, it might be too much effort and too much work. So you have to keep that in mind for you. Do you want to do the restore or do you just want to jump into doing woodworking? I tend to be cheap sometimes and so I was willing to try to go through the restore first.
I think one of my biggest, biggest problems in this whole thing was remembering what I had to do across the entire thing. And that’s really why I recommend documenting everything through the entire process because I lost my job about halfway through this restore. And by losing my job, I mean, the company that I was with, we ran out of money because it was a startup and the company sold and I wasn’t offered a job at the new company. Because in a sense they already had somebody that I was duplicative, I duplicated the other person’s job, so they didn’t need me. So I kind of put the restore on hold for about a month while I found a new job. Fortunately in a couple of weeks I found a new job. Once I got settled again, I went back to doing the restore and got everything working. So that’s why I really, really, really encourage the documentation from the beginning and going from there. So in case something major happens, you’re not trying to remember what did I do six months ago.
Anyway, so with that, I’m not going to really go on to the last segment of the podcast of a failure because I feel like there were several built in to my story of restoring my table saw. And I really hope that this was fun and interesting and engaging. Please let me know what you thought of this, of me sharing my experience because this is kind of the first time I’ve done this kind of a thing in a podcasting setting. I would like to know how well I did or did not do. Then also, I hope that this kind of gave you some ideas and tips and tricks to go through whenever you go to restore your own project. Not necessarily just a Unisaw but any other tool because I plan to take some of these same principles and restore an Atlas drill press and sometime in the next year.
So with that, I thank you for your time. Please feel free to visit the website and subscribe to the email newsletter so that you know when new episodes come out and definitely leave comments of how this is going because I would like to make it better for you. Have a great day and we’ll see you in episode 11.