Revamping my Delta Contractor Saw #3: Prep and Tune-up

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Blog entry by Mark Colan posted 08-23-2010 04:01 PM 5286 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: It's Here! Part 3 of Revamping my Delta Contractor Saw series Part 4: The Day of Truth »

The new fence has been sitting in its boxes since it arrived Wednesday. I promised myself and my wife that I would get to a certain stopping point in the current project – a kitchen pantry extension in the basement – before starting the next. The basic structure (a closet and a wall along a 100-year-old stone and block wall) was up, but it needed to be painted. Some trimming out, and a couple days to paint it, has taken my spare time in the past few days.

While paint was drying, I cleaned up the saw and performed my standard alignment procedure. To my surprise, the alignment of blade and miter slots was zero to 0.003” within the range of the blade, even after using the saw for the past two years (not constant use: I have a busy job with some travel). I did not bother installing the PALS, because I don’t think I can get much better than that. The trunnion bars, which I discovered a few years ago were out of skew until I fixed it (a bear of a job) were also perfectly aligned, within what I can measure.

BTW I use the SuperGage and MasterPlate from for aligning my saw. They make it easy to align the saw, and it makes a huge difference in the quality of the cuts, and the safety of the saw. I’m glad I invested in them. And while not strictly necessary, I used the 123 Microgage to get the throat plate perfectly level with the table top (see my review in the reviews section).123 Microgage used to align throat plate

I blew out the inside of the box with the dust collector running to get it clean, so I could examine the inside workings better. (Some time ago I enclosed the trunnion box for dust collection purposes – I’ll blog about that later.)

There were some places where sawdust has collected, apparently with pitch, because I could not scratch it off with my fingernail. I got an old toothbrush and some blade/bit cleaner, and it cleaned up nicely.

The cranks for raising/lowering the blade and for tilting the blade had a bit of a squeak here and there (not surprising after 10 years of use in a basement). I bought some graphite spray to handle this problem, after noticing during the last alignment, and the works run smoothly (more easily) and without squeaks now.

I installed a Power Twist V-belt, replacing the original Delta belt. It reduces vibration as advertised, but it makes its own noise, perhaps a bit more than the original. What I did not expect was how well it solved a key problem in installing my new fence! (discussed in next entry).
Power-Twist V-belt on Delta Contractor's saw

Notice the two pieces of masonite on the back of the trunnion box to enclose the works? This is for dust collection. It works well, but MUST be removed before tilting the blade. Look closely and you may see a black mark near the belt. The slot needs to be cut a bit wider to clear the new belt; the Delta belt was narrower.

I plan to write a blog entry on my table saw modifications. They have an impact on installing the Incra fence, so if you’re following this blog closely, have a look.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

4 comments so far

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3022 days

#1 posted 08-23-2010 04:10 PM

Looks good, great job :)
How well does the link belt work? I was thinking of getting one and just wondered if you got to try yours out?
Thank you for sharing:)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3742 days

#2 posted 08-23-2010 05:00 PM

Looking good. I anticipate your next blog.

I have installed some masonite on the back of my saw that is similar to yours. Yours is tighter than mine. I get a lot of dust leaks from a gap between the top of the front panel and the saw table. Have you found a way to eliminate them (without using duct tape)?

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2841 days

#3 posted 08-23-2010 07:54 PM

@SB1: So far I have installed and run the link belt without cutting, since I am in the middle of installing a new fence. I think the old belt worked reasonably well, and (when new) may have passed the “nickel test” (can the saw run with a nickel balanced on edge?). With periods of not being used, the belt got vibration which faded as it got used again, due to being in one position.

The link belt will probably not “learn” one position. It has less vibration, and it has the key feature of being variable in size, which I needed to solve a problem. But I’ll write a review later when I have more experience with it.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2841 days

#4 posted 08-23-2010 07:57 PM

@Ampeater: I used duct tape, but I used a few layers of it to create a gasket, so that the sticky side is only on the masonite, and the unsticky side faces the saw without sticking to it.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

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