Unisaw rescued

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Project by RMR posted 1547 days ago 3352 views 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This probably isn’t one of the smartest things I’ve ever done financially, but I am happy with the outcome. I won a Delta Unisaw, vintage early 90’s, on an eBay auction. The only reason I considered bidding is because – well I’ve always wanted a Unisaw – but, besides that, the saw was in Seattle, just 20 miles from my house, so no freight costs. This was a Boeing surplus item. It was sadly neglected but fundamentally sound, except for the motor and the starter switch, the fence, the rails, and on and on. If I paid myself $3.00 an hour, with the cost of my labor and new parts I probably could have bought a new saw; well—not quite that bad. But this turned into a labor of love and I enjoyed almost every minute. This is proof once again of the durability of these saws (along with a simple matter of money).

It had a three phase, 440V, 5 hp motor and an Allen Bradley starter. Turns out the motor was on its last legs and had to be replaced. The starter switch couldn’t be used either because the cost to convert it to 220V made it uneconomical to do so. I bought a new 5 hp motor and switch from Woodworker’s Supply. The fence was sound but needed a lot of TLC and new sides. And it needed rails and a miter stick. These items and other things I purchased from Mike’s Tools. I was also able to get parts like decals from Delta. Other than that, a good cleaning, some paint, and removing a lot of GI gold (rust), it was ready to go.

The top and side tables were badly rusted but, to my delight, they cleaned up nicely. They are flat and not cracked, I got very lucky. The under carriage was in good condition, oh and it needed belts and a mobile base. I built an extension table and a removable drawer underneath.

In the end I got a terrific saw that I am very happy with. It wasn’t a wise investment because it could have been much more costly to restore. I got extremely lucky that it didn’t have worse flaws. But it’s a sweet saw now and it will never be left in the rain again.

Kent, WA

-- Bob, Kent, WA

23 comments so far

View levan's profile


405 posts in 1615 days

#1 posted 1547 days ago

nice save Bob. Looks new now. Looks like many happy days of cutting wood ahead

-- Lynn "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1063 posts in 1610 days

#2 posted 1547 days ago

Wow that’s the same saw???
Nice job

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1800 days

#3 posted 1547 days ago

Very nice, and I’ll bet you know everything about that saw. That is one of the advantages of going through the whole thing. If it performs half as good as it looks it ought to be great.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 1773 days

#4 posted 1547 days ago

Nice work, you really did a great job on this.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View OttoH's profile


862 posts in 1646 days

#5 posted 1547 days ago

Fantastic save, that is a great looking saw!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View a1Jim's profile


112027 posts in 2213 days

#6 posted 1547 days ago

Enjoy Bob

-- Custom furniture

View jerryz's profile


164 posts in 1915 days

#7 posted 1547 days ago

I know that you are very proud of the outcome, it looks like it left the factory yesterday, as a bonus you now know the ins and outs of that saw.

Congratulations and happy cutting….

View dmoney's profile


191 posts in 1715 days

#8 posted 1547 days ago

sure is a beauty now, I’m jealous!

-- Derek, Iowa

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 2414 days

#9 posted 1547 days ago

Great job. I’ve brought 3 Shopsmith’s back to life and I really enjoyed the effort. When I bought my cabinet saw my uncle told me to find a used Unisaw. Said you could not go wrong with one. I ended up with a Grizzly but I still wish I had a Unisaw.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

609 posts in 1706 days

#10 posted 1547 days ago

glad you did it, great saw you’ll have many years of use

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View NormG's profile


4114 posts in 1640 days

#11 posted 1547 days ago

Great find

-- Norman

View Blake's profile


3437 posts in 2510 days

#12 posted 1547 days ago

I love stories like these. Nice job on the restoration.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3344 posts in 1830 days

#13 posted 1547 days ago

Greetings, For my money you just can’t beat a Unisaw. I’ve got a 5 hp Uni, and theses things are beasts….. You did an excellent job of restoration on that beast… you should get years of enjoyment out of it… Like you, I wanted a Unisaw for years (I used a Sears contractor saw for 25 years…still got it), but it wasn’t a Unisaw…..Finally got one in 2009, and it’s the best $’s I ever spent, so I tell my wife…... enjoy….

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View Dusty56's profile


11644 posts in 2324 days

#14 posted 1547 days ago

It’s amazing that they were able to destroy a 5HP motor….how much was the new one ?
Your saw looks better than new : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 1667 days

#15 posted 1547 days ago

Turned out great. Very nice saw.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

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