Gettin' fixina tune up my Unisaw #2: A few more photos, videos and status report

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Blog entry by Bothus posted 09-18-2009 02:47 PM 3839 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Initial photos and videos Part 2 of Gettin' fixina tune up my Unisaw series Part 3: Disassemble! (Don't worry Johnny 5 you're safe) »

Unisaw serial number label

Unisaw motor serial number label

I welcome everyone’s comments and suggestions. This is my first Unisaw. It’s my first cabinet saw for that matter.

I haven’t a clue what should be done or how to do it but here’s an update.

Last night I got on ebay and bought a new set of Delta belts. I saw a lot of link belt advertised but I’ve never tried those so I thought I would stick with the original design for now. Maybe I’ll try a link belt on my old craftsman TS.

I also bought a new cursor for the Unifence and a used Delta Stacked Dado Blade (‘cause I don’t have one and once I get started on ebay…)

In addition I bid on a new splitter and blade guard.

Today after work I will cut a new table board. I plan to make it a router table. Looks like the previous owner had done that as well.

Other than that I haven’t decided how far I want to go with this project. I originally figured I would just tune it up and start using it but now I am thinking maybe I should do a complete tear down and rebuild.

I was thinking maybe I would strip it completely apart and repaint everything, replace everything that needed it and then put it all back together.

Not sure yet.

Last night my wife said she wished I had bought a SawStop. I explained to her that I only paid $500 for this (so far not counting ebay) and I SawStop would be $3,000 or more. I would love to have a SawStop. I’ve never seriously hurt myself and I have a great respect for power tools but I plan to keep woodworking until I’m old and grey(er) and you never know what can happen so I wouldn’t mind having that extra saftey feature.

Then I thought maybe I should completely restore this saw, sell it and put the proceeds toward a SawStop.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Okay now some questions for all of you:

What is the best way to clean/polish the cast iron table top? You can see in one of the videos that it has a pretty big stain on it.

How far would YOU go in fixing this Unisaw up and why?

If I decide to disassemble it completely how big of a job is that time wise?

Finally, having seen the photos and videos is there anything that jumps out at you that should be addressed regardless of which route I decide to take?

I can’t wait to hear your comments. Seriously I can’t wait, so say something even if it is just “Hi”.

I’ll post more when I can.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

11 comments so far

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3366 days

#1 posted 09-18-2009 03:00 PM

fix it up ,
get to work ,
pay attention !

enjoy .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3738 days

#2 posted 09-18-2009 05:09 PM

I think I would be doing a lot of disassembling and cleaning, you will have to decide about painting. Certainly new belts, lubricating any thing that appears to be a friction point. For cast iron I prefer (and this is highly debatable)fine sandpaper on a ROM sander and then working up through the grits to remove the fine scratches. At 600 and up its more like polishing. If you use this method be sure to wipe the table to remove residue from the previous grit. The fine grit sand paper clogs very easily. Good luck and continue with the great blogs.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Mike's profile


252 posts in 3408 days

#3 posted 09-18-2009 05:59 PM

I saw an older style Unisaw there was the before and after picture. It had been compleltely re-done. Send some more pictures as you go along through the process.

-- Mike, VT

View Neodogg's profile


94 posts in 3452 days

#4 posted 09-18-2009 06:50 PM

I think you should give it to me, I’d love to have an Unisaw to fix up! I’d restore the whole thing, looks like you have a good foundation to start with. Replace the belts, check all the bearings, and lube it up. I agree with rtb about the using sandpaper on the top and when done put a couple coats of Johnson Past Wax. Best of luck, and I’ll be looking forward to the drop off, service and deliveries use the back of the house.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem!

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3812 days

#5 posted 09-18-2009 09:22 PM

My opinion is that the biggest danger (for most of us) is kickback with a TS, not running flesh through the blade. Keep the guard on or get an overarm guard if thats your concern. Does the SawStop alleviate kickback better than other saws of similar price? Nope, and as such a case could be made that for the price the SS is less safe. All this has been debated before – ad nauseum.

My intention is not to demotivate you but it seems as though you are trying to be convinced into doing the long, sometimes tediously hard work of restoring an older cabinet saw. If that is the case IMHO you will never complete a full restoration and may become frustrated with it. I may be wrong but if true, you might consider simply getting it cleaned up, functioning well, and either using it or selling it.

It seems to me that the guys that are successful at doing these restorations arethe ones that enjoy the process of doing it along the way and get satisfaction from acheiving each step as well as just having the finished project.

If you do find the necessary motivation, and are inclined to spend the time to complete a full restoration I commend you (and will stand corrected). I am hoping you will ultimately prove me wrong, and would very much like to follow along with your re-build.

Please view these comments with their intent as being helpful and not derisive.
Good luck however you decide to go with it.

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3202 days

#6 posted 09-18-2009 10:04 PM

Ratchet, thank you for your well thought out reply.

You make a good point about the SS. No need to start up the debate again so I’ll just leave it at that.

You are also right on the mark about the restoration, not that I was trying to be convinced into it necessarily but I am very concerned that if it takes too long I would never finish it.

I typically go full steam ahead on a project for about 2 months then my back goes out so I take a month off and then one thing leads to another… (did I mention the kid’s wedding present was 2 months late?).

This is why I asked the question about how long someone thought it might take. If somebody responded and said “I’ve done 6 of these, the first one took 5 months but now I can do them in 1 month with my eyes closed…” that would allow me to make a somewhat informed decision.

So the plan at this point is to go over and start taking it apart later this afternoon. I will keep you all in the loop and will decide as I go (with my fellow LJer’s helpful advice) how far I go with it.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View EEngineer's profile


1103 posts in 3639 days

#7 posted 09-18-2009 11:03 PM

Hmmm, where to start…

I agree about blade guards, don’t use one myself. I would rather have better view of where the blade is.

I agree about SawStop, ‘nuff said!

Cleaning the table – I used naval jelly (phosphoric acid) and plastic scratchy pads (scotch-brite?). This left the original machining marks. I don’t like the idea of sandpaper, but many others have done that. I have since discovered Evap-o-rust (I love everything but the name) and I will use it instead of naval jelly if I ever do it again. It worked wonders on some old hand-planes I have. See OWWM for a detailed description of how to clean and restore a rusty table.

How far to go? Well, just as far as you want. The paint on my old saw was still good, nothing was too rusty underneath, so I stopped at a table cleaning. If the bearings are good and tight with little to no runout at the arbor, why even take the top off? The size of the cast iron trunnions in Unisaws, there can’t possibly be enough rust to affect the operation of the saw. Clean all the sawdust out and use it.

DO, however, realign the saw. As mentioned here before, I think misalignment is more dangerous than anything else, leading to kickbacks.

And pictures, lotsa pictures – I love watching old arn get restored.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Gpops's profile


248 posts in 3470 days

#8 posted 09-19-2009 04:48 AM

Hey, talk about safety! put a cover on that electrical panel before you back a pipe clamp into it. Or maybe with the insurance money you can buy a saw stop :-}. ENJOY THE REBUILD

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3202 days

#9 posted 09-19-2009 06:15 AM

Excellent point Gpops. That cover should not have been left off for any amount of time.

Good thing you didn’t notice I put 10AWG wire on 60 amp breaker… don’t try that at home… I think a 10 awg wire would probably melt before a 60 amp breaker tripped.

-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View mikethetermite's profile


597 posts in 3291 days

#10 posted 09-22-2009 07:01 AM

On cleaning the tabletop.
Try a bottle of Rust Free- Rust and stain remover. Work it in with a scratchpad like the kind you use to clean pots and pans. Rockler and WoodCrafters and others sell Rust Free. Works great, but be sure to clean cast iron with soap and water after using Rust Free. Then seal with wood wax etc…
If it is not cleaned well, it keeps on working and you will end up with white spots on your cast iron.

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#11 posted 01-29-2011 01:46 AM

Thats going to be a nice saw for you, I have a Unisaw and I love my.

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