|Review by thetinman||posted 04-20-2014 08:37 PM||44474 views||38 times favorited||224 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
TABLESAW ADDITIONS: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/101376
I bought this saw over a month ago and wrote an initial review then. The review included many assembly tips as the owner’s manual had not been updated since the saw was first released to the market. While the review is for the Delta saw, it includes many assembly tips that may be of value to any owner of a new saw. Likewise, this review follow-up contains information that may be useful to other saw owners also. It covers many of the questions asked in the first review.
The initial review can be found at: http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/3822
The response to the initial review was surprising and overwhelming. I thank everyone for their comments and kind words. This follow-up is in response to the many requests for more information after I used the saw for a while and learned more about it. Also, many of those asking for more information are people new to woodworking or returning to woodworking after many years. It is with this view that I will attempt to describe things in a way that may seem too detailed or basic to many seasoned woodworkers. This site has a wealth of knowledgeable and skilled woodcrafters and I hope that they are not bored with some of the writing nor put off by a bit of humor.
Since I bought this saw I have built a desk (that my wife confiscated) for my radio equipment and a half-dozen drawers for a neighbor’s kitchen cabinets. The desk project can be seen at:
In addition, many of my tablesaw jigs/fixtures went with my old Craftsman tablesaw and I have been building new ones. I have been changing the designs as I build new ones, again with the view towards new woodworkers. For example, instead of using a dado I use dowels. Through dowels are easy and make strong assemblies. If you can drill a hole you can use dowels. Some new woodworkers may not have ever cut a dado or might have limited funds and not own a dado set yet. This may help them learn by making jigs that help them progress to other projects. Easy to make tenon or taper jigs, narrow strip jigs or even a basic T-square circle saw guide may help to build skills as well as shop inventory. Again, I hope the seasoned craftsmen (OOPS! I mean craftspersons, craftspeople, or any other non-gender specific craftshumanoid term) are not too bored with the projects as I begin to post them.
Delta has, in my opinion, had a few strokes of brilliance with this design. In many ways the primary brilliance was going back to tried and true basics of yesteryear and getting away from “everyone does it this way now. It’s what people expect”. The heavy tubular steel framework is one of these departures from the norm. Like a VW bug from the ‘60’s or an eggshell, curved/tubular designs provide much more strength relative to weight than box designs. A lighter weight can also mean that vibration is not absorbed within the tool/machine. Fortunately, Delta got it right and this thing is quiet, smooth and rock solid.
The 3-wheels and pedal lift is another example. The pedal is a simple lever and takes but little force to lift the saw. Like all tricycle designs (forklifts, etc.) it moves more easily and turns better in small spaces than 4-wheel designs. Also, the simplicity of a simple single-point lever means there are no adjustments or connecting rods to bend or wear out over time. Lowering the saw back on its’ feet is just that – lowering the saw. It does not just drop crashing to the floor. I put the pedal on the left side of the saw. It is easier to get at and has the least weight on the lift making everything easier to control. Of course I can’t know for sure, but I suspect that the engineers always intended it to be here. Some office geek probably thought there was not enough clearance under the left table extension and was concerned about a trip hazard. There may very well be some State or Federal regulations about minimum clearance. Unless you are Ronald McDonald and walk sideways dragging your feet you cannot possibly trip on the pedal on the left side.
Possibly the most brilliant “back to basics” is the motor assembly lift design. Most saws today mount the motor on a pivot and raise/lower the blade in an arc. More expensive saws use machined dovetails. These are fine designs if done correctly to tight tolerances. Unfortunately, for this price in today’s competitive market it is difficult to get it right all the time. Parts tolerances add and subtract in final assembly. Sometimes they add/subtract in all the wrong ways. Aligning and maintaining blade alignment is difficult or impossible in this situation. The Delta motor assembly rides up and down on polished steel tubes. (It reminds me of my dad’s 1954 Shopsmith – the apex of man’s quest for a multipurpose machine –in my opinion of course) The blade is easily aligned using the trunnions and it stays aligned throughout the range of heights. The only possible variation is that the blade angle might be slightly off. This slight variation is adjusted out one time using the 90 and 45-degree stops. Then it stays where you put it. The owner’s of the saw may never even know that there may exist a very slight angle on the lifting tubes as assembled/tightened in their locking collars at the factory.
I have been well pleased with the saw. It has performed completely to my expectations and exceeded some. All adjustments/alignments were made easily and have remained where I put them. The motor is powerful enough for my use and it cuts everything I normally do. I would not recommend this saw to those who typically run volumes of thick hard woods. It just is not designed for that. For those people I would recommend stepping up to a more powerful machine. But, that is it – the power of the motor. If you typically build shelves, cabinets and furniture, this saw will do a fine job for you. If, like me, you’re a Harry Homeowner and occasionally ask the saw to cut some 4 X 4”s it will do that too. I have read some statements from some new woodworkers or new owners that they think this saw will give them “good enough precision” for their use. Folks, that is simply the wrong point of view. This saw is capable of the same precision as any higher priced saw. Everything can be aligned and stays where you align it. The precision is up to you.
I have no buyer’s remorse with my new saw.
I left out the specifications in my initial review. A retired engineer left out the basic specifications! What a rookie mistake! I’m going to punish myself and delay having a beer someday.
Max depth of cut at 90-degrees: 3-1/2”
Max depth of cut at 45-degrees: 2-1/2”
Max rip width right of blade: 30”
Max rip width left of blade: 15”
Max dado blade width: 13/16”
1-1/2 HP belt drive
10” max blade diameter
120-volts, 6.5 240-volts
Note that the motor can be wired for 240-volts. The procedure is described in the new owner’s manual.
NEW OWNERS MANUAL AND PARTS DIAGRAM
A new owner’s manual has been written and is shipped with new saws. It is also available on-line at:
I have read the new manual and it is an improvement over the out-of-date original. The manual now includes many corrections/updates as well as instructions for rewiring the saw for 240-volts. The errors about adjusting the riving knife described in the original review have not been corrected. But, this is a simple procedure and not too difficult to figure out.
Blade Selection And Blade Alignment
See my blog at http://lumberjocks.com/thetinman/blog/45305
The parts diagram is also available on-line at:
Now lets start talking about understanding and using the saw.
THE RIVING KNIFE, ANTI-KICKBACK PAWLS AND BLADE GUARD
The riving knife works very well. This is the first saw I have owned that had one. All the previous saws had the splitter and anti-kickback pawls on the blade guard. Of course the blade guard assembly was a pain to put on and off so, like most people, I just left it off. Like everyone else, I learned to hold the work piece firmly so I didn’t get a “George Washington”. That’s where the wood is thrown back and up – right towards your face. You get wooden teeth – that’s a “George Washington”.
While ripping a piece of lumber with this saw I suddenly felt quite a bit of resistance. I increased my grip, stopped feeding, held in place and looked for what was binding. I saw nothing abnormal. I hit the switch with my hip and waited for the blade to stop. I looked and still found nothing. I lifted the anti-kickback pawls and pulled back on the piece of wood to remove it and it was stuck. I looked and found that I had cut through a twist in the grain and the kerf had closed and was binding on the riving knife. I mean it was tight. This was new to me. I never had a saw with a riving knife. In the past I simply held firmly and listened for the blade to sing if it began to eat a kerf. We’ve all heard the back of the blade sing as it eats a closing kerf. I always have a couple small wedges within reach to jab into the kerf to hold it open if this happens. I grabbed a wedge and popped it into the kerf and finished my cut. Well, I was impressed. My cut wasn’t ruined by the back of the blade gouging out a path through the twist. The board didn’t buck. It just got harder to push. Generally I do not like all the added expense, the typically less usable product and the 100’s of idiot labels Washington imposes on us. But I must admit that I like this riving knife thingy. It’s not in the way. It’s easy to remove for cutting a dado. And it simply works without interfering with anything. That’s one in a row Washington. Keep up the good work.
The anti-kickback pawls also work well and there is no reason not to use them with the new riving knife. I made an oak zero clearance insert and found the pawls could be a pain. They worked fine except when lowering the blade. As the blade came down the pawls did not ride on the ZC plate and rotate backwards, as they should. Instead the teeth stuck in the oak and pushed the back of the plate down. I had to remember to hold the pawls up with my left hand while cranking the blade down with my right. Only two solutions came to mind: file the points of the teeth down (as many do) or make a metal ZC plate. I couldn’t find anything but the thin hobby aluminum or copper locally. Then I thought about the plate that came stock with the saw and made a ZC plug to go into that. It works very well and actually stiffens the original plate. I made another for 45-degree angles. I use the oak ZC plate as a dado insert since the pawls aren’t used for a dado cut anyway. The link for the ZC plug shows how to make a single plug with a hand held router. A half-dozen plugs could be made at a time out of sheet stock on a router table or on the saw using a stacked dado.
Now let’s talk about getting the anti-kickback pawls on and off the riving knife. They are simple to attach and remove – after a lot of choice words until I figured out for myself how to do it. I confess that, more than once, they were very close to getting flying lessons. Now I don’t even think about it when I take them on and off. For those of you that may feel mentally challenged like I felt, here’s how I learned do it. Everything is from the front of the saw – as it should be.
Hold the anti-kickback pawls in your right hand and press the silver button with your index finger. Slip the pin into the slot and push down a bit. RELEASE the button. It will not “snap” into place as described in the manual if you keep the button depressed. Now finish by pushing down on the black plastic tab with your right thumb. It will snap into place. Press the button – slip into the slot – release the button – press with your thumb – snap. It is so blasted simple. Simply press the button with your right index finger and it will pop up to be removed. My God how long I fussed with this thing.
The blade guard is also well thought out and works well. Something I like about it sounds trivial. Both guards can be snapped into place in the raised position. It sounds trivial until you’ve used other saws where you have to hold them up with one hand (or your head) while you measure to the fence. They are a valuable safety device and I will not enter a dialogue here about whether or not they should be used. Table saw users simply have their way of working.
Now let’s talk about how many times the blade guard almost got flying lessons trying to put it on. Like the anti-kickback pawls, it is so absolutely frustrating to fuss with the thing so much and find that it is so blasted simple. Here’s the easy way.
Raise the saw blade up quite a bit. It does not have to be all the way up but high enough for the anti-kickback pawls to move down and out of the way. Hold the guard in your right hand. But here hold the metal bar with the plastic pieces on top of your fingers. Don’t try to find that blasted slot. Just slip the rounded end over the riving knife just above the anti-kickback pawls and resting on the pin. Now pull up and towards you. Let it find the slot. When it does continue pulling towards you but in a downward arc until the bar is horizontal. Now flip and close the locking lever on top and it’s in. To remove it just flip the locking lever then lift while rotating backwards and finally pushing down when the bar is vertical.
For both the pawls and the guard, try it a couple of times. I can’t really describe it but they are super simple if you stop really trying to do it. Just go with it and they just happen. In the mean time, feel free to express yourself in colorful ways.
The fence is a pretty darned good one for a saw in this price category. It’s the best fence I’ve ever had on a saw. It locks over the back fence rail and has two locking pads on the front fence head. The saw is locked by pressing down on the locking lever. The lever is attached to a cam inside the fence head centered between the two locking pads. The cam pulls the fence against both the front and rear rails to lock it securely. You do not need to force the handle all the way down. You’ll feel when it is tight enough. I only push mine halfway down – basically until the handle is horizontal. The fence does not move. I only raise this point to emphasize the fact that you don’t have to honk anything down on a table saw. That includes the locking knobs on the blade height/tilt wheels. Resist the feeling of comfort you might have by over tightening and learn what is tight enough on your saw and stop there. Your saw will last many many years without premature wearout and constant adjustments due to over tensioning.
Let’s adjust the fence.
First square the fence head. Yes, I know the book says to square the fence and then the fence head. I have found that squaring the head sometimes throws off the fence alignment slightly so I do it first. Squaring the head is kind of a mislabel as you are not really squaring the fence head (the part in front with the locking handle). You are making the left face (side) of the fence perpendicular to the table. It’s the only fence adjustment where “square” really means “square”. Lock the fence. Place a square against the left side of the fence and use the two nylon screws on top of the head to tilt the fence until it is square to the table. Turn the right screw clockwise and the fence tilts left. Turn the left screw clockwise and the fence tilts right.
This part is not in the owner’s manual. Note that the fence does not, and should not, sit flush on the table. There should be a gap. Ideally the gap should be the same all the way across the table. But that depends on how you assembled the fence guides. The assembly-supplied gauge does have some slop (tolerance) and the front/back rails might not be exactly where they should be in relation to the tabletop. The slop in the gauge should yield a fairly consistent gap. If the gap is really out of whack you should redo your fence rail assembly. Something went wrong during assembly. Many jigs for your saw use the fence. Some ride on it. You don’t want it really whacked out. If it is only a minor variance (as it should be) you can use the two nylon screws to level the fence. Note that you can only raise/lower the front not the back. Remember to square the left fence face to the table when you are done.
Now let’s parallel (square) the fence to the right miter slot. DO NOT adjust the fence to the front of the table – especially using a combination square and never with a big box store combination square. There are good squares and there are bad squares. The point is just plain don’t do it at all. The table, the blade and the fence work on being parallel. Forget square –think parallel. I know it is confusing when I tell you not to think square when it is called squaring the fence and worse when I throw in squaring the fence head. But just think parallel. Move the fence to the edge of the right miter slot and lock it down. It should be right at the edge of the miter slot all the way across the table. If it’s not unlock the fence and lift it off the front rail. Adjust it using the two screws in the back of the fence head. Just like adjusting the fence head they are just screws. Turn the right one clockwise and the fence moves left because you are pushing it out with the screw. The same for the left screw to move the fence right. To really dial it in, put a straight edge in the miter slot against the right edge. Hold it perpendicular with a square on the table and sight down it. There should be no gap (light) seen between the fence and the straight edge.
Now let’s take a look at how the fence is put together. Take it off and turn it upside down. Looking inside we see that there are no metal rods running through the fence as in some others. It is simply an aluminum tube with bolts on the inside. The side pieces (faces) of the fence simply slide over these bolts. If you wish to add a wooden fence, with or without T-Slots, just drill through the fence between the bolts. Then bolt on whatever new face you wish to add. Remember to recess the bolts/nuts in the new face.
THE MITER GAUGE
Squaring the gauge is a straightforward proposition and I found nothing noteworthy to mention. I’ll simply say that the miter gauge is substantial, works well and, as noted in the original review, has adjusting screws along the edges of the blade to fine tune it if desired. For those new to a tablesaw I recommend the addition of a wooden fence to the gauge. It will give you more holding power/stability as well as allowing you to work with shorter pieces. There are many designs for an added fence. I prefer a piece of 2 X 4 because it is thick and stable even when I cut into it. I run it through the saw to square the edges and then shape it, sand it and apply some poly to camouflage that it’s a 2 X 4 but that’s what it is.
SAW BLADE HEIGHT
A lot of people have asked about the proper blade height when cutting.
There is a lot of talk and concern nowadays about sawdust. The least dust you will get flying around is to have the blade just barely cut through the surface. But this is also the worst thing for your blade, your saw and it can be just plain dangerous. Put a piece of ¾” stock wood alongside the blade and lower the blade until it just sticks above the wood. It does not matter what blade. Use the blade you use the most. Count the number of teeth above the blade insert. This is the number of teeth inside the board. They cannot clear themselves of sawdust. They will plug up and act as the ultimate dull blade. The blade will heat up. Your saw will have to work harder to power the blade. Combine the ultimate dull blade with all of those teeth pushing the wood back and up – right at you – and you have a “George Washington” waiting to happen.
Now crank the blade all the way up. Notice that the blade can clear itself of all that sawdust. It will run cooler, last longer and the saw will have the least effort to make the cut. Count the teeth, or rather, don’t bother to count them. It is obvious that this is the least amount of teeth in the wood possible with a 10-inch blade. That’s a lot of sawdust and a scary amount of blade sticking up. There is a compromise. I adjust my blade to clear the gullets between the teeth plus about ¼”. I do not know what the best ideal height is. This is the height I use. Possibly a more knowledgeable guy than me can offer better advice.
This completes my follow up review. I hope that I have addressed the questions asked of me and provided some useful information about the saw. Good luck with all your tools. Have fun and stay safe.
-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain