|Review by thetinman||posted 03-11-2014 03:58 PM||143641 views||26 times favorited||259 comments|
EDIT: This review was edited to add a link to a my blog on how to easily and safely align the blade. The sections on blades and blade alignment have been removed from this review and are now in a stand alone process.
Delta 36-725 Table Saw blade alignment link
FOLLOW UP REVIEW: http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/3881
TABLESAW ADDITIONS: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/101376
A few friends and I share our shops and the fun of woodworking. Among us we have a diversity of age, knowledge, woodworking experience and financial flexibility. Among us there exists a wide verity of table saw types and brands. Only one of us has the luxury of a true cabinet saw. (Yes. we all hate him too but he has good beer.) The rest of us mere mortals make due with our finances such as they are. Of the type/price saw that the Delta is, two of our friends own the “orange” one and one owns the “gray” one. (He picked up the “gray” for $378 when Lowes was dumping them for the new Delta.) The “orange” and “gray” work well but each has its weak points. One of our friends upgraded from an old Ryobi and bought the new Delta 36-725 about 5-weeks ago. I’ve been very impressed with the saw – so much so that I sold my old Craftsman and bought one. Now understand, I’ve owned many table saws and owned that Craftsman for over 20-years and it has served me well. I’ve had it so long that Craftsman can’t remember when they built good stuff like that. I’ve never out-worked the old girl. She was showing her age but we aged together and understood each other’s quirks. Given the opportunity to use the Delta several times I knew it was time to go Hollywood and trade in my old girlfriend on a new model. (I hope my wife don’t read this. I’ve had her longer.) I just finished the assembly and all the adjustments. These are my comments – with a bit of personal humor.
Before I begin, I understand that everyone has his/her opinion as to what is good or bad – junk or quality. As a retired engineer I use only one definition: “it is a quality product if it meets or exceeds the expectations of the intended customer”. With that in mind, I will not compare this saw to the expensive cabinet saws or to the smaller portable job-site saws. Such comparisons simply make no sense to me. I will also not jump $200-$300 to such things as the Grizzly. I’ll stick to the $500-$600 price range because for most people this is an upgrade or replacement and they will never outgrow such a saw. At present there seems to be only 3 top runners in this price/type of saw – the orange one, the gray one and this one. Given the past 5-weeks, I can now say I’ve used all three of them quite a bit and bought, what I believe, is the better choice for the money.
I would also add this; my shop is only 11-1/2 feet wide. This saw is about 2-inches less width than my Craftsman. I have a bit over 3-feet left on either end of the saw to walk around. I have plenty of space before and after the saw in my 22-foot long garage to work. Shop width has never been an issue and my Craftsman did not have wheels. If you wanted to move it you got 3 men and a small boy with his dog to help. The point I’m trying to make is, if you’ve never owned a shop saw don’t feel like you HAVE to buy a smaller saw just because you have a small shop. If you share the garage with cars and storage, the wheels make it easy to move against a wall or even roll into the driveway if need be. Buy the saw you want and not what others perceive.
Delta calls this saw a contractor saw. Call it what you will – a hybrid, a compromise – it is a fine design producing an accurate, well built and reliable shop saw with far more capability than a job-site saw and at a price more affordable than a true cabinet saw. I simply call it a shop saw.
This saw is stable, quiet, powerful and accurate. It takes time to put it together properly but is well worth it. The evidence of attention to detail is evident everywhere in this saw. It is designed to be less expensive but not cheap – and there is a difference.
The fence system is just plain second to none for a saw of this type. If you think you need another fence then you’re a wood technoid and I love you for it. But you won’t need another fence because this one is flawed.
There is very little play in the miter gauge and there are recessed screws you can use to tweak it even more if you choose.
Adjustments are easy to understand with everything easy to reach. The fence and the riving knife both needed adjusting on my saw. 20-minutes were needed to bring them both in perfectly.
The back panel of the saw is removable providing access to the motor, bevel gears, etc. Setting the saw at 45-degrees provides easy access to the motor should the need ever arise. (We all know what “easy” means when it comes to the motor.)
The throat plate is sheet steel. The days of milled steel or aluminum plates in this price range are gone. There are 5 adjustment screws to fine-tune the plate level with the table. Also, the back of the painted throat plate is polished steel for the anti-kickback pawls to ride on without cutting into the painted surface.
Speaking of throat plates – NOTICE TO ALL MANUFACTURERS – STOP putting those welded spring fingers on the ends of sheet steel plates. Welding displaces and distorts the steel. Go back to the tried and true front/rear screws with a keyway at the back. We don’t change plates every 5-minutes and don’t need distorted but easy to remove plates. If sheet steel is to be then at least don’t screw it up for us. What are you people thinking? (Sorry, but I hate stupid gimmicks.)
The pedal to raise/lower the saw takes little effort. Once raised you don’t even notice the weight. It moves easily on the 3-inch wheels. It is a fine choice if you want to park cars in the garage and store the saw against the wall. Moving out of a garage into a driveway to work is no problem. (Tip: put the wheel lever to the left, not the right, as described in the assembly later.)
Specs don’t seem to agree on the weight of the saw. That’s because it is still changing. My saw came in at 216-lbs. after weighing all the parts and adding them up.
The blade height and angle hand wheels work smoothly and drive steel shafts and gears rather than plastic ones and are held by bushings not plastic sleeves.
The lock knobs on the hand wheels hold everything securely with only a snug tightening. (Don’t honk these things down. You don’t have to.)
This saw has more power than I need. I used carpet tape to laminate up a 3-inch piece of red oak from scrape. It went through easily. In fact, I ran it at the same feed rate I was used to with my Craftsman and burned the oak a bit. I increased my feed rate slightly and got a fine cut.
The saw is quiet and has little vibration. (Yes, it passed the nickel test. I did it only because I knew someone would ask.) I raised the blade to 2-inches and set the blade at 45-degrees. I did not lock the depth or miter wheels and ran the saw for 15-minutes. Nothing had changed at the end of the time. Just for snaps, I ripped a 2-foot piece of select pine and it was still in. Of course you don’t want to actually work this way. But I have found that the job-site saws and other saws of this type/price just aren’t this balanced, well fitted and tight.
The miter gauge blade is 13-1/2 inches long measured from the face of the gauge. It holds a nominal 1×12-inch board with ease. The table is deep providing ample lead-in to cross cut this stock lumber. A 12-inch (nominal) board sits comfortably on the table with inches remaining before it hits the blade. We live in a ¾-inch world and standard wide stock is 12-inches (well, anywhere from 11-1/4 to 11-5/8 nowadays). This means wide stock can be easily cross cut on this saw and possibly save the cost of a sliding miter saw. After all, table saws were doing this a great many decades before job-site saws introduced the need for sliding miter saws. Money is always an issue for us mere mortals and this functionality is worth consideration.
Like all the others, the dust chute on this saw does a good job if you want to run the shop vac all the time. Some people working in a garage may pop breakers if they try to run the saw and vac together. If you take off the back panel you will see that the plastic pipe is hinged where it attaches to the blade shroud. A wing nut holds it in place or releases it. This makes it easy to clear clogs caused by wood chips or dust build up because you didn’t run the vac often enough. Please note that, if you don’t run the vac, the spinning blade actually sucks air from the outside and blows more dust into the air – right at you. All these new saws do this. Thank you for saving us from ourselves Washington. I tested opening the plastic pipe and that reduced the blowback.
I always feel uncomfortable when asked if I would recommend a product to someone else because so much is subjective personal preference. I’ll simply say that I would buy another in a heartbeat.
The motor is wired for 110V but can now be rewired for 220V if desired. I don’t know if they changed the motor or just finally said it could be rewired.
Problems With New Designs
It is a new design and is clearly still going through some refinements. My new saw has changes compared to my friend’s 5-week old one. I will point them out as I go. The manual with the saw has not been updated at all from the first design iteration. This makes assembly a bit confusing but it is not terrible if you think your way through it. Most confusion comes from what hardware to use. When the book and the hardware bags don’t match, count the hardware and use the stuff that adds up.
Another drawback with new designs is the unavailability of accessories or, even worse, replacement parts and service. Frankly, after using the saw many times and liking it, I banked on Delta and hope nothing goes wrong too soon. But, recognize there is an inherent risk. They don’t recall these things at their cost like cars.
I’ve included some assembly steps in this review because the owner’s manual has never been updated and think some corrections/updates are needed. Also, I’ve seen many questions from people who have never assembled a saw like this and felt this might be helpful. Finally, the review continues in some ways as we move from unpacking to finished assembly.
Assembly: Let’s Put This Puppy Together
Step one: open the first beer. This is a 4-beer project. Everyone knows that machinery and electricity are scary and dangerous. Don’t attempt any of it without a beer to calm your nerves. If you have friends over to help don’t forget your manners – you buy the beer.
First Look Opening The Box
The packaging is well planned and suited for the product. The top piece of Styrofoam is compartmentalized and holds all the parts/components/bags of hardware. As you take all the things out you notice that none of the hardware bags are marked with names or letters. They all say that the plastic is not a toy and not to let babies and small children play with it. No such warning is on the saw so I guess babies can play with that. Sorry again, I have developed an intolerance for the idiots that cause such labels. Now I need a magnifying glass to read cooking instructions for all the large, bold type nutritional labels and warnings. Whatever happened to Darwin?
First Look Under The Hood
After all the parts are removed and you take out the top large piece of Styrofoam, the inside of the saw is visible. It is packaged upside down and there is a clear view of the trunnion assembly, motor housing, bevel gears, dust collection cover and table casting.
The gears are steel, not plastic. The dust collection is a metal housing with plastic piping out the back of the saw. The trunnion assembly is cast alloy and is attached to the saw top and not the framing. This should not be surprising for this type/price of saw. The “supposed” frame mounted attempts in this price/saw type are flimsy and not worth the effort. If you’re going to do it then do it right – cast iron workhorse – or don’t pretend. All of the mounting surfaces are machined, radiused and reinforced which should preclude the tendency of some cast alloys to crack. The table iron casting is simply superb – better than expected. There are no gobs of excess cast iron from poorly made cast bodies or overflow vents like on other brands. The point is that, this is a cost conscious saw, but the attention to detail and workmanship shows it is not a cheap saw. The impression is a quality minded design and manufacturing team.
Now For Assembly
Don’t take the saw out of the box. The top is protected on Styrofoam and cardboard. Build from here, cut the sides of the box and tip it over to right it when the entire base is done. Remove the Styrofoam when the saw is on its back. The first step is to bolt the two halves of the leg/stand assembly together then slip them into the top frame. Think for a moment. The pedal for raising/lowering the saw is centered on the right side with a reach to get to it. Flip the legs around so the pedal is on the left and make life easy. The saw does not care. Everything is symmetrical. When you push the legs into the top frame you may not find the holes. Check for tape over the holes from painting. Ironically they taped the through-holes but painted the new threads for attaching the side panels.
The next step is to attach the metal side support panels. The book says there is only a front and back panel and they attach with nuts and bolts. Wrong. There are now side panels also and all 4 panels are connected with bolts into threaded holes. The threaded holes were not taped so getting the screws going will be a little snug at first. Just look for the bag containing 16 bolts (hex screws).
Attach the 3” wheels and leveling feet and she’s ready to tip over. Don’t over tighten and bind the wheels.
Before Moving on, it is important to celebrate overcoming the owner’s manual to this point. Have a beer and take 5.
Cut the box corners so the box just falls apart. Use a 4X4 rather than a 2X4 standing on edge to protect the dust pipe. My wife and I flipped this thing over without breaking a sweat. Building in the box and using the legs to pull her onto her back is simple. Now it pivots on the 4X4 and lifting it to its feet is a breeze. Knock the big piece of Styrofoam off while it’s pivoting on the 4×4. Now, before you do anything else, turn the miter wheel a bit and remove the hunk of shipping Styrofoam under the motor. Otherwise you’ll have to take off the back panel and do it at the end – if you notice the tag on the angle wheel at all. Styrofoam sure smells when it melts if you forget. Now flip her upright. Once she’s upright go get one of your wife’s best towels and wipe off all that oil. (If you actually do that you’re one of those that need all the warning labels and deserve what you get.)
The book says to attach each side table extension with 3 bolts/nuts. You only use two. It also says to make sure they are level with the cast iron top. Really! With 2 bolts? Just attach them for now and level them (critical in more ways than one) when you put the rails on. Use the long steel fence guide as a straight edge. It is heavy and stays in place. Just bolt the table extensions so they are even at the cast table edge for now.
OMG! It’s A Split Rail And Fence Guide Design!
Of course it is. Think about it. This saw is designed to be shipped to and stocked in one of the warehouse stores. The designers have to take this into account. It is actually less cost for the manufacturer to use one-piece rails. That cuts down on parts manufacturing and stocking. But, adding another 15 or 20-inches to the rail length means bigger boxes. That would cross the container size threshold for the next higher shipping cost. Also, the standard shelving bays in these stores can hold 2 boxes of this size but only one if it were larger.
Now let’s put these rails on and concentrate on the critical points. The end result will be a fence that is square no mater where you put it and an accurate tape measure (if that’s important to you). Regarding the fence tape measure, don’t forget it all goes out the window if you change to a different thickness blade. You can, of course, readjust the plastic indicator.
When attaching the rails GET THEM STRAIGHT. This is the most critical, and somewhat frustrating, thing to do. Blow this and the fence guide does not have a chance – the fence guide just follows what is done here and your saw fence depends on the fence guide to be consistently square. The 5-handed trick here is to hold your mouth just right while you attach the rails, making sure they are straight while you are now leveling your side tables. Simple. You just have one hand tightening the bolt while your 2nd hand is holding the nut under the table and your 3rd hand is holding the provided alignment gauge and your 4th hand is aligning the side tables and your 5th hand is adjusting the rail. Joking aside, I did it myself and when it was done wondered why I didn’t get my wife out there to help. Start by attaching the rails to the cast iron table using the guide provided. Just remember to keep both pieces of angle iron straight (as though they are one piece) through the whole run. Have wifey hold the alignment gauge for you if you get too flustered. Just be sure she gets a beer too. The picture shows how it should be when done – straight all the way across both pieces of rail. You could go buy a piece of 2-inch angle iron and cut it, drill it, etc. but this is an age-old design and it can be accomplished well.
That piece of black something above the silver straight edge is the long fence guide used as the straight edge to adjust the table extensions. I noticed it in the pic and thought it might be confusing without explanation.
The straight edge on top of the rail shows no gaps. The rail is straight. Now the fence guides will go on straight and the fence will be square no matter where you put it. Remember to do the same exacting assembly on the back rails. Then come back and check the front again. Don’t get flustered if you have the rails straight on the cast iron and they go out when leveling up the side tables. Just keep fine-tuning and everything will come out right in the end. It sounds worse to describe than to do. Just take your time here.
Congratulations, you have just accomplished the most critical, difficult and frustrating part of putting your saw together. Have another beer and take a break. You’ve earned it.
Now attach the fence guides. There is slight play is the holes. Use your straight edge. This is actually pretty easy to get correct now that the rails are straight. When done the fence guide should be straight (as though it is one piece) on top and on the front edge. On my saw the tape measure is not aligned straight from the factory. It affects nothing. It just takes away from the appearance of a job well done. All this attention to detail and they blow a simple step like this.
The only assembly remaining is finish up by putting handles on the height/angle wheels, the fence handle and other small final assembly stuff.
Check everything – your fence alignment, miter gauge, riving knife, etc. and tune as needed. The instructions are clear on everything except the riving knife where they show screws A, B, and C in the pic and then tell you to adjust D. For the riving knife, there are 4 screws – 2 for the knife to blade alignment and 2 for the vertical alignment. The screws are in pairs under the throat plate on the left side. The knife-to-blade alignment is in front and the vertical alignment is in back of these. The large screw is the locking screw and the smaller in-board one is the adjusting screw. Avoid the temptation to take the easy way out and hold the riving knife in place with your hand and then tighten down the locking screw. It will not stay there because it is no longer in contact with the adjusting screw. Once again, take your time and do it right. By the way, I only threw in this last caution because one of my friends, an “orange” owner, kept adjusting the knife with his hand. He would brag about how easy it was to adjust but blamed the saw because it would not stay. Doing it wrong is not the fault of the tool.
When everything is assembled and tuned up, take everything off the table and clean it. Now wax everything with a good hard paste wax. Floor wax, car wax, whatever. Don’t use the liquid. It is not hard enough and may contaminate your raw lumber. My personal preference is hard paste floor wax. I’ve was taught, and continue to use, Johnson’s floor wax but it is getting harder to find. The only place still stocking it is my local “helpful hardware store”. Don’t glob on the wax –just a thin buffed out coating is all that’s needed.
Now your new saw is ready to use. All you have to do to keep her and all your other tools happy is to have a “shop day” about every three months. That’s where you go out, open the hood (back panel) clean her inside and out, grease as needed, etc. and a new coat of wax. Check and retune the fence, miter gauge, etc. if needed. Yes I know the “your going to die but don’t sue me” warnings that say to do this before each use. Yea right. If something goes out of whack I notice and tend to it immediately. Otherwise, I hit the run button and have fun. Somehow I just don’t think I’m alone in this.
Now, have that last beer and stare at the beauty of your new saw and revel in your sense of accomplishment. And, I dare you not go out and take a peek later after you’re done for the day and have gone into the house. Don’t confess later – we all know you did.
-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain