Power Tool Mods #1: Delta Contractor Table Saw - mods to date

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Blog entry by Mark Colan posted 08-24-2010 08:43 PM 15000 reads 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Being new to lumberjocks, but not to woodworking, I have some past mods to write about.

Some are purchased mods; some are shop-made. Most of them have an impact that needs to be considered as I prepare to install an Incra LS32-TS-SF fence. The original saw is the 2000 edition of the Delta Contractors saw. The base saw is model 36-444, and it came with a cast-iron left extension wing, a laminated right-side extension table with two legs, and a Delta Unifence. All of these have served me well these past 10 years. To do it over again, I would have bought instead a Delta cabinet saw.

Modified Delta Contractor, front view

In this photo of the front, you can see two commercial accessories I use: a Delta mobile base, and a Uniguard saw blade guard with splitter.

The mobile base has been absolutely essential in my smallishl basement shop. Cutting large items requires placing the saw in a certain orientation for the operation. The up-and-down pedal is very handy for making the saw stay put, or moveable.

I have been very satisfied with the Uniguard saw blade guard. It gives me the saw blade guard I need without any hassle in use. I have to admit that I stopped using the splitter, which is easy to remove and return, but I intend to go back to using it now. To do it over again, I would get something like the Excaliber guard that includes dust collection.

Rear view of modified Delta Contractor Saw

Looking at the back of the saw, you can see two custom mods, aimed at trying to achieve a downdraft dust collection system.

Detail: Trunnion Box covered

The trunnion box was open in the back, and dust collection was impossible without covering it. Getting hardboard to fit it was very tricky. I ended up with two pieces which, together, cover the back. They needed various cuts and slots to accommodate the belt, the power cords, and parts of the saw that protrude. It took a lot of trial and error, and it’s not pretty, but it covers more than 90% of the hole and it makes dust collection possible (with the next mod).

The hardboard covers must be removed to tilt the blade. I don’t make a lot of cuts with a tilted blade, so no problem. I drilled some holes and tapped them for 1/4” screws, and screwed them in from the inside pointing out. The hardboard has matching holes, and wing nuts hold them in place.

Inside the Trunnion Box

I could not find a dust collector fitting large enough to cover the bottom opening, so I used some thin plywood, mounted the fitting to it, and cut a hole in the plywood to allow the dust to be sucked downward. I used a PVC elbow and a PVC coupler to extend it out the back, and a standard dust collecor fitting through another thin piece of plywood on the back panel, below the trunnion cover.

Detail: dust collection

Detail: dust collection

To run the dust tubes to a fixed place on the back of the saw, I used a PVC elbow, two pieces of PVC tubing, a piece of thin plywood to hold it all in place, and a standard dust collection coupling. I think I glued the PVC parts together.

If I had a saw blade guard that had integrated dust collection, I’m not sure that the downdraft collection would be necessary. The downdraft method works reasonably well, except that with all the velocity, some of the dust goes flying out anyway, and some fine particles do get into the air. Using the standard dust collector slows it all down, so it works out ok.

I am currently replacing the Unifence (which is very good) with a far more accurate Incra LS32-TS-WF fence. I also plan to replace the extension table, and make a hole for a router plate, so that the router can use the same fence.

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

2 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 08-24-2010 08:52 PM

looks like a GREAT setup. safery, dust collection, accessories – everything is accounted for. Impressive!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View intjonmiller's profile


20 posts in 1850 days

#2 posted 08-16-2014 06:58 PM

Hello! I recently picked up an identical table saw from the local classifieds for $10. The guy who sold it works for the gas company and found it on the side of the road as he was laying new gas lines. It had clearly fallen off of a truck and landed on the motor side. The cast iron top is fine (remarkably little rust) and the trunnions and such all look fine. The fence is missing and the fence guide thing (not sure the proper term here) on the front is mangled. But the motor was completely torn off of the mount.

I already have an old (1960s) Craftsman table saw around which I have done a lot of the mods you’ve done here. I don’t want to do that all over again but the motor on it is seriously under powered. The motor from this Delta saw seems to be perfectly fine and it is far more powerful than the onei have. Just the mounts on the saw and all of the external wiring was detached. I want to use it instead but I have no idea how all these wiring components are supposed to go back together.

With all of that in mind would you be willing to take a bunch of photos of different angles of the wiring for the motor and send them to me? It would be tremendously helpful! Remove any wire covers and such and snap a few shots. Shouldn’t take very long.

If you can do this please email them to this username at gmail dot com. Thanks? :)

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