About three months ago, I wanted to build a small furniture piece for my rec room. This quickly ballooned (as these things do) into putting together a full workshop. The plan to pick up an old $100 portable saw morphed into a recent contractor saw, and then on a whim, into a cabinet saw.
I discovered a late 1960s 34-450 Unisaw listed on CL for $500. No fence, miter gauge, blade guard, table, tools, or mobile base. Just a saw. Two weeks later, it was relisted for $250. The saw was formerly in operation at a cabinet shop, but was sitting in a closet for at least five years. We eventually settled on $100. In the process of taking the thing apart to fit it into my van, the seller discovered that the three-phase magnetic starter actually led to a single-phase 3450 RPM 3HP motor, so we added $50 to the price. The seller later found a recent Delta Uniguard and a 13’ JET Beisemeyer-clone fence. He agreed to $175 for those parts, so the total so far is $325. Deal aside, like almost all of the folks I’ve met through CL, he was a really pleasant guy.
Here’s a valuation chart I used when I was going through CL Unisaws:
There are no pictures of the saw fully assembled because it was dark when I bought it and in pieces when I got it home. A few shots of some parts:
I’d rate this saw a ‘good’ in condition. Issues I’ve encountered:
- A few teeth are chipped on the bevel adjustment trunnion piece. They caused chattering at certain bevel angles when the adjustment wheel was turned too fast, but not severe enough to merit replacing the part.
- The plastic knob that fits on one of the adjustment wheels is missing. Replacement cost: $10?
- The aluminum fan on the back of the motor was broken. That’ll be $25. Also, while the motor runs well, there’s enough play in the shaft to make me suspect the motor bearings are gone. They’ll be something like $15.
- The tack welds holding part of the top flat piece to the rest of cabinet were loose in one corner.
- It’s missing the plate on the bottom of the saw cabinet.
The saw was originally crudely sealed with a silicon sealant over the original gray paint. A few parts like the motor cover have random holes drilled into them (which were later covered in duct tape).
I want to repaint the cabinet with a decent finish, so step 1 was to get all the sealant, paint wear, and duct-tape residue off it. I first tried KS3 paint stripper. Almost a total fail, that. After an hour sitting on the cabinet, only tiny sections were beginning to come loose. Delta industrial paint is tough! I didn’t feel like waiting forever, so I pulled out the angle grinder with a 4” wire brush. Here’s the result:
That took about five hours including all the other little parts. I also went over it quickly with some 220-grit paper on my random orbital palm sander. After that, I JB-welded the loose top section. It’s sitting in my basement drying now.
There is one thing to be weary of with the angle grinder (beyond the usual face shield / leathers / earplugs): paint dust. I can’t speak for this particular Unisaw, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it had lead paint. Definitely not something you want to inhale. I used a full respirator and an air filter running full bore when I did this indoors, and I still regret it because it’s difficult to remove lead dust from the room once contaminated. Outdoor stripping would be much preferable.
The plan over the next few days is to use silicon sealant on all the gaps and seams in the saw cabinet. Done properly, it’ll be smooth enough to paint over. Can’t wait to get this beast running.