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Delta 36-725 Contractor Tablesaw: Follow-Up Review

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Review by thetinman posted 131 days ago 9211 views 16 times favorited 76 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Delta 36-725 Contractor Tablesaw: Follow-Up Review Delta 36-725 Contractor Tablesaw: Follow-Up Review No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

EDIT: THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED ONLY TO ADD A LINK TO ADDITIONS THAT WERE ADDED TO THE SAW.

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:

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/98639

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.

REVIEW SUMMARY

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.

THE SPECIFICATIONS

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.

Saw

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”

Motor

1-1/2 HP belt drive
5/8” arbor
10” max blade diameter
Amps: 13 120-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:

http://www.deltamachinery.com/downloads/manuals/table_saws/36-725/DELTA_36-725_Contractor_Table_Saw_Manual_Eng.pdf

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.

Of importance, there is still no mention of adjusting the blade alignment. One gentleman wrote an original review comment stating that he had talked to a Delta representative and described how the blade could be adjusted using the motor sliding rod clamps. He said that he did it that way. He has either pulled his comment or I can’t find it. I followed up on his comment and knocked my blade out of alignment and brought it back in his way. It worked. I also found another way that worked by adjusting the sliding rods in the clamps. However, in my opinion if you are not familiar with tablesaws or machinery in general I cannot recommend either of these two methods. They were review comments intended for discussion and exploration and were primarily between me and a gentleman I know to be a retired tool and die maker. Unless you know what you are doing I feel that a mistake could be made and cause the entire motor assembly to fall. I recommend only that the trunnions be used for blade alignment. I knocked my saw out of alignment and used this method to bring it back in. This method works without the danger of damage or injury.

I have talked to Delta also. The first time was before I had my saw but a friend had bought one and his blade was out about 0.006”. The Delta rep at that time said the blade was not designed to be adjusted. We adjusted it to within 0.002” using the tried and true trunnion method. He was the owner and said that was good enough – and generally it certainly is. I have knocked my blade out of alignment and used the trunnions to bring my saw dead on. The amount of “out” is up to you – your needs, your skills and your patience. I have since talked to Delta again and was told to use the trunnions. We discussed using the motor sliding rods and he said that it probably could be done that way but he felt, as I do, that it could be dangerous. I describe how I do blade alignments safely later in this writing.

The parts diagram is also available on-line at:

http://www.deltamachinery.com/downloads/manuals/table_saws/36-725/Manual_DPEC002777.pdf

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.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/99601

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

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.

THE SAW BLADE

Let’s start with checking blade alignment.

All owners except one have reported that the saw blade was parallel to the left miter slot within 0.002”. These readings only come from those who have dial indicators (which are not necessary). Let’s see if we can navigate through some of the murky water here. The most “out” I’ve seen – and I emphasize – on a good saw blade properly installed, was 0.006”. That’s 6 one-thousandth of an inch. If you get a large gap, the first thing you should do is check the saw blade by turning it with your hand and check for blade wobble – not blade alignment. Turn the saw on and let the blade come up to speed. Now turn the saw off and watch the blade. Did it appear to wobble as it slowed down? Don’t align to a bad blade or an improperly installed one. Properly installing a blade is covered in the next section. I’m not saying that it is impossible to get a saw completely out of whack – I’m just saying it’s improbable and to check other things first.

To put things in perspective, a dollar bill is about 0.004” thick. A blade aligned to 0.002” inch is half the thickness of a dollar bill. Don’t let all these tiny numbers make you feel that they are super important. In fact, they simply are not. A blade out in these small numbers offers no real danger to you or your saw. The most that will realistically happen is there will be a little extra saw marks on the cut lumber. These will be so slight that very little additional sanding will be needed. A blade that is really out is a danger – especially where the back end is out towards the fence. The back of the saw blade will want to grab the wood and throw it right back at you. Don’t even try to use the saw without aligning the blade that is really out of whack.

Use the miter gauge in the left miter slot to check the blade alignment. Contrary to popular conversations, it is not necessary to use or even own a dial gauge to check blade alignment. Rulers or simply sticks of wood were used long before dial gauges came along. Mark a tooth on the saw blade and rotate it to the front of the saw. Using a ruler or piece of wood slide it along the face of the miter gauge until it just touches this tooth. Hold the ruler/wood steady on the miter gauge face and move the miter gauge to the back of the blade. Rotate the blade backwards until the marked tooth is in line with the ruler/wood. If it touches the ruler/wood then the blade is perfectly aligned (parallel to the left miter slot). If it has a gap, the back of the blade is towed out away from the left miter slot. If it pushes the ruler/wood away then the back of the blade is towed in towards the left miter slot. If the misalignment is small it is perfectly acceptable to ignore it and use the saw the way it is. You will probably never notice a thing.

Given all this, I obviously used a dial gauge to set up my saw. Not because I needed to as an owner but because I was trying to learn the saw and evaluate comments and answer questions that arose from the original review. I intentionally knocked my blade out of alignment a few times to evaluate the best methods of bringing it back in. I used the dial gauge as an evaluation tool for comparative measurements. I would not have used it to simply set up my saw otherwise. I used a dollar bill as an example because I have used a dollar bill as my “feeler gauge” for many years. Dial gauges, in my experience, are just not needed.

Oh no! The dreaded blade alignment!

OK, you feel that your blade needs to be aligned. As I stated previously, I can only recommend the tried and true method of using the trunnions to align the blade. There are other ways. One other way is down right simple if you know what you’re doing. It’s down right dangerous if you don’t. Those that I am confident about have already been told the “secret receipt”. All others get the trunnion method.

Take off the back cover and look inside. Follow the motor sliding rods up past where they attach in their coupling and to where the entire assembly attaches to the table. This is the rear trunnion. There is one just like it at the front. Just crack these bolts loose. DO NOT keep turning the bolts out. Just loosen them. It’s tight in there and it is a reach but you can get to them. Now think about which way you want the back of the saw blade to move. Using a piece of wood against the trunnions (back/front/back/front), TAP the wood with a hammer to just tease the trunnion over in the direction you need it to go. A tiny movement here goes a long way up top. Check the blade. Keep doing this TAPPING and checking until the blade is in alignment.

Now the trunnion bolts have to be tightened and here is where people can get so frustrated that they gain the strength to give the entire saw flying lessons. As the bolts are turned to tighten them down they may bite into the trunnion and twist the blade back out of alignment. Do you really want to do this again? Here are a couple of tricks I’ve learned and use to keep the aligned blade where I put it while I tighten down the trunnion bolts. First get 2 pieces of wood to put on the side of the fence opposite the saw blade and between the fence and the saw blade. Now move the fence (and board) so it is up against the blade. Lock the fence down. Put the other piece of wood against the fence opposite the blade and clamp the blade to the fence. Once again a word about too much force – just clamp the blade against the fence. You are overcoming the tendency of the bolts to bite and thereby twist the blade out. You don’t have to crank the clamp down. The pieces of wood are to prevent the clamp from denting the aluminum face of the fence and the saw teeth from biting into the fence. Now tighten the trunnion bolts in this manner: snug one on the back trunnion, then one on the front, then another on the back, then the front and so on. Keep alternating the trunnions and the bolts making the bolts tighter and tighter until all of them are tight. I learned this years ago from some maintenance guys in a machine shop where down time is lost money. I thought, and asked at the time, about damaging the blade by clamping it. The maintenance guys said it was fine. I’ve used this method many times over the years and it has worked well for me. Use an old dull blade if you have any concerns. I’ve never hurt a blade.

Have a beer when you’re done. You’ve earned it. You have conquered the unjustly scariest thing in tablesaw alignment. By the way – keep your methods a secret so you can revel in the frustration others go through.

Let’s talk saw blades

The blade that came with my saw is a fine blade. It is thin. It does not have much carbide and won’t last long. But it works. I’ve read a lot of people saying they just throw away the supplied cheap blades. Well, this blade may not give the results of a better blade but I’m a Harry Homeowner and I have to use my tools for a lot of things other than fine woodworking. I keep blades like this, including my old ones that have seen better days. I don’t throw them out. These are the blades I use for other stuff, like building fences, doghouses or even cutting aluminum door thresholds. Nope, I don’t throw them out. I use them for the projects where cut quality does not matter. The only exception/caution I would give is to throw out cheap dull blades or have better ones sharpened if they are excessively dull. There is no value in saving on blade cost while overworking your saw. Here, if it’s a “don’t care” project, and you don’t have serviceable blades, go buy a cheap blade for the project and throw it away when done.

I did notice that the supplied blade did not run true when I first installed it. I could see a noticeable wobble when I turned the saw off and the blade was slowing down. I instantly knew what the problem was. It was me. I had not taken into account the thinness of this blade and tightened the arbor nut too tight. I loosened the nut a bit and the blade ran true. Which brings us back to the point of not honking everything down on a tablesaw. It’s not a head assembly on a ’66 muscle car. It’s a tool. Generally speaking, I tighten the blade by just snugging the arbor nut then giving another slight turn, say about a quarter turn. The arbor nut tightens in the direction of rotation and there is no chance it will loosen, only tighten. There are certainly saw and blade experts on this site that can explain this better than I and possibly give better tips. But this is how I do it. And, just like I did with this blade, anytime I change blades I run the blade up to speed and turn the saw off and watch the blade. I see the wobble, if any, as the blade is slowing down. It’s a simple, quick check to avoid making a cut that leaves a wider kerf and more saw marks than the blade is capable of and then erroneously complaining about a particular blade type or manufacturer.

I have a couple of my “good” blades. By that I mean that I can’t afford the $100 and up blades anymore. My blades now run 35 – 50 bucks. I’ve always been partial to the combination blades for just about everything except when I run thick stock and switch to the 24-tooth rip blade. I’ve relied on the Diablo type for quite a while but I recently switched to an Irwin Marples 50-tooth combination blade. Irwin used to be a trusted name but I gave up on them years ago. Maybe they are returning to woodworkers rather than just contractors. We’ll see. This Irwin blade has it all over the Diablo. Smoother cuts. Less chips in the face. I was in need of a new blade and expected to buy another Diablo until I read a couple of reviews on the new Irwin Marple series. When one particular guy reviewed the blade (no offense to others intended) and blessed it I figured I’d give Erwin another shot. I’m glad I did. Aside from stock lumber, I swear this blade cuts plywood better than my 60-80 tooth blades I’ve counted on for years. I did not ask the gentleman for permission to use his name here so I won’t. But he is the guy that I read to learn real facts about saws and blades and I’ve learned to trust his judgement and assessments in the short time I’ve been here. I don’t need to say his name because everyone knows who Knotscott is anyway.

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




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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days



76 comments so far

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keninblaine

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#1 posted 131 days ago

tinman: You are very generous in spending a lot of time to provide all this detailed information on this saw. I haven’t bought one yet as I don’t have an immediate need, and who knows, maybe Lowes will put it on sale sometime. But I am bookmarking your threads so I can find them easily when I do get the saw. But most of all, your full analysis gives me the comfort I needed that this is a good saw for my needs. I don’t need one a lot, but when I do, I want precision, safety, and reasonable ease of use.
Thanks very much. You likely saved me over $700 by not buying more saw than I need.

-- Ken, Blaine Washington

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Ttier315

46 posts in 175 days


#2 posted 131 days ago

Terry, your reviews leave me speechless, I feel like I’m sitting in a classroom. With every update I’m learning something new. I’ve been woodworking off and on for the better part of 40 years and never thought through the concept of the blade barely clearing the work piece but the way you explain it makes perfect sense. I had learned early on to never use more blade than you need, never questioned the wisdom of it, just did it. Yet, your explanation is an epiphany! This update, as your others are, is thorough, concise and full of useful information. Delta (or any tool manufacturer for that matter) would be lucky to have you as their manual writer. You explain things so clearly that even I can understand it. Great job again, we’re lucky to have your insight.
Tom T

-- Tom T, upstate NY

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The Box Whisperer

561 posts in 704 days


#3 posted 130 days ago

As usual, an exceptional review/follow up from Tinman. Not only do you take care of us member by addressing and answering individual questions, but the attention to detail is just astounding. Not only do you cover everything, but the way you explain things makes it very clear and easy to “see” Ive said it before and Ill say it again, Ive never read a better review then yours. We are lucky to have you around here.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

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ccerav

6 posts in 150 days


#4 posted 130 days ago

Terry,

Awesome follow-up. Excellent information. Great tip about the blade height. One more thing to file away in my notes.

I have done my share of larger scale building projects, like framing, decks, kid play sets, sheds, and the like. I’ve even done a good deal of trim work, i.e. moldings and casings. However, I’m very new at finer woodworking. Up until now, I’ve never come close to worrying about thousandths of an inch! I find the information you provide to be invaluable. Clear and concise to be sure, and for what its worth, I appreciate the humor.

Thanks for helping me learn. I am truly grateful!

Chris.

-- while(!succeed=try());

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Don Johnson

611 posts in 1414 days


#5 posted 130 days ago

thetinman – I wish I could buy one of these saws in the UK, if only because I would have your excellent reviews (Instruction Manuals ?) to aid me in setting it up!

-- Don, Somerset UK, http://www.donjohnson24.co.uk

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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days


#6 posted 130 days ago

Thanks all for your kind words of support. I hope that I was able to describe the new saw, answer the questions ask of me, and provide some clarity to a bit of confusion about some topics. I have enjoyed my new saw and enjoyed describing my experiences with it.

Don – your comments are uplifting. Thank you. I have spent some time in England many years ago. I must confess that your saws, etc. did seem quite a bit different and awkward than our American ones. However, after getting used to them, I must say that the concepts have stuck with me and I’ve wondered when we will catch up in some areas. Yes, I think that some things were overdone. But, overall the thinking was more in the direction things should go. We stuborn “offsprings” get there sooner or later.

Thanks again for your kind remarks.

Terry

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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Rick M.

3883 posts in 1014 days


#7 posted 130 days ago

Delta should hire you to rewrite the manual. The first review was exceptional, this one is among the best I’ve ever read. The “George Washington” tickled my innards. I already have an older Delta but were I shopping for a saw in this price range, I would be done shopping after your review.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

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woodcox

575 posts in 645 days


#8 posted 128 days ago

I dropped my girls off to grocery shop while I went into the blue store to take a look at the delta. I’d ask my mother to put this display together better. Like going to test drive a new Chevy and seeing the loose lug nuts after the door falls off. Most expensive tool on the floor and it looked like a child assembled it. I will now avoid the ceiling fan isle at this store. I know not to judge quality based on the floor models condition but it does make it hard to get a feel for it like this. I think there is quality, value and some innovation within this saw, it is also set at a good price point. It’s mobility is a great feature and works easily. The blade attitude actions felt smooth and easy in all directions, some plastic on the controls but applied well and felt confident that durability wouldn’t be an issue. Because of a monkey I have no opinion on the fence system as it was assembled to be useless. Power switch although small seemed good and located conveniently for bump shutdown. I do not remember seeing a tamper proof lockout though.
I do have a question about the blade guard/pawls-blade height operation. This saw had the blade,guard,knife and throat plate installed. When lowering the blade the pawls bottomed out on the plate stopping it at around 1-3/4”?above the table. Is this normal and is there a minimum blade height/stock thickness for using the pawls or are there more steps to be taken to get the blade below the table? Novice question?
Thank you for such great reviews on this tinman. I’m sure invaluable information for potential saw kickers such as my self.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days


#9 posted 128 days ago

Woodcox,

Thanks for positing and for getting home safely by avoiding the ceiling fan isles at this store. I try to answer your observations as you stated/asked them.

There is plastic on the saw, primarily as dress-up trim. I read many postings that the side panels are plastic also. This simply is not true. Most of these comments come from “isle lookers” where they didn’t go over and actually look like you did. The blade adjusting wheels/handles have plastic over metal. The handles thread into the wheels metal to metal.

The fence system “assembled to be useless” is not the fault of the fence. The fence is the classic Delta 3-point system and, except for screwing on the handle (again metal to metal), comes assembled in the box. What you witnessed must have been the laziest, worst fence rail assembly possible. Do the assemblers still have their jobs? As you may know the fence rail assembly process is the most critical and time-consuming part of the entire assembly process. It sounds like they made it the fastest.

The power switch on my saw is about 2-1/2” X 2-1/2”. The box the switch is in is larger of course. This is the same red colored switch on every saw I have seen. This is not small (in my opinion.) and it is, as you observed, located well. I have bumped it off with my hip. There is no child safety lockout on my saw or any that I have seen

I am at a loss to explain the riving knife/anti-kickback pawls/blade guard assembly stopping the blade from retracting. I’m having a hard time even picturing that improper assembly would do this. I never tested a “bottom limit” but I have cut quite a bit of 3/16-inch sheet stock without even thinking about it. The only thing that comes to mind is a caution I included in the assembly process in the original review – take out the Styrofoam motor packing block. I mentioned it because there is nothing in the owner’s manual – and I just checked the new one (nothing). There is only a tag on the blade tilt wheel telling you to remove it. You don’t notice the tag until the entire saw is assembled and you’re ready to fire it up. I only noticed the Styrofoam because I was inspecting, evaluating and taking pictures as I unpacked everything. I didn’t think anyone would notice it just following the assembly process. I thought at the time that the original saws were shipped without one and damage occurred, so the block and the tag were added. While I can’t be sure, I think the Styrofoam block is still inside the saw you looked at and is stopping the motor from moving through it’s entire range. If you happen to get back to that store, pop off the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls. Lower the blade without them. I’m betting the blade stops at the same place because the motor/arbor assembly bottoms out on the Styrofoam block. And, for God’s sake, stay away from the ceiling fans!

Thanks for your comments and observations Woodcox. I hope I have addressed everything in an understandable way.

Terry

EDIT ADDITION: I just reread your comments and noticed, besides the blade not going below 1-3/4”, you mentioned getting the blade below the table. The pawls and blade guard must be removed to lower the blade below the table. The riving knife is left on. There is no need to remove the riving knife except for things like a Dado cut. Even then, depending on the cut, you may be able to leave it on most of the time by simply and easily moving it to it’s non-through cut position (lower).

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days


#10 posted 128 days ago

I am posting this as a more complete description of the riving knife settings as a follow-up to Woodcox’s questions.

The riving knife has 2 positions – through cut and non-through cut. The through cut position is the high point and the riving knife is just above the blade. The anti-kickback pawls and blade guard are installed in this position all the time. The non-through cut position has the riving knife lowered below the height of the blade – the anti-kickback pawls and blade guard are removed.

I made the statement in my response to Woodcox that the riving knife can be left on for non-through cut operations most of the time depending on the “cut”. The best (most correct) description would be to say that the riving knife could be left on, in the non-through cut position, depending on the blade(s) used. For a narrow dado ¼-inch or less, I don’t bother with my dado blades. I just use my normal 10” blade and reset the fence for a second pass. Where I use my stacked dado, the riving knife, in the lower non-through cut position, falls just below the top of my blades. Just below. I use a 6” stacked dado set. If blades less than this are used I am quite confident in saying that you will be removing the riving knife to do the cutting. The point is that for a non-through cut the riving knife MUST be below the top of the blade. I see no harm in removing the riving knife for any such cuts regardless of what blade is used.

The lower non-through cut position is really just a place to store the riving knife. It has no impact/use during these operations. Many people prefer to have a standard “routine” that let’s them keep their mind on the job rather than thinking about the tool. No harm – no foul if your routine is to just flip the lever and take off the riving knife for all non-through cut operations without having to shift gears and evaluate whether or not you have to.

I hope this is a more clear and correct description of the riving knife use.

Terry

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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Keyser_Soze

66 posts in 205 days


#11 posted 128 days ago

Thank you for both of your hyper-informative and entertaining reviews. One of the few times I’ve slogged through that many words and not been bitter about the experience. You’ve convinced me that a contractor’s saw combined with best practices and a brain will be better for my use than a cabinet saw and a lighter wallet. Delta really ought to cut you in.

For those currently thinking like me, and whose Lowes refuse to take HF coupons, there’s currently a 10% off ‘online orders’ on the front page of sl*kdeal. Brings the 569 sale price down to 512 before tax. Keep telling us about your experiences/builds/modifications of the saw – you’re really the first to be this specific about it, and I know a lot of people were hesitating due to the lack of info out there.

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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days


#12 posted 127 days ago

Keyser_Soze…........And All Others

I don’t get squat from Delta:(

But I am happy to accept all donations:)

Terry

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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thetinman

218 posts in 172 days


#13 posted 127 days ago

Woodcox….....FOLLOW-UP:BLADE WILL NOT GO DOWN LESS THAN 1 3/4”

I’m out in the shop this morning working on some jigs. I had a thought (sometimes that’s dangerous). I raised the blade, reset the riving knife to the lowered position and reattached the anti-kickback pawls. Lowered the blade. The anti-kickback pawls hit the table right about 1 3/4” BINGO!

If you look at the saw again you’ll probably see that the riving knife is lower than the top of the blade. The anti-kickback pawls should not be attached in this position. Oh please stay away from the ceiling fans.

Terry

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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JohnEinNJ

84 posts in 981 days


#14 posted 127 days ago

What a great set of reviews! Thanks for taking the time to edumucate the rest of us. I just bought this saw (retired an ancient Craftsman), and mostly like the fit and finish, but haven’t used it much yet. I wonder if you could give your opinion on a couple of points:

1. Because of space constraints, I have to keep the saw in a crowded detached garage and wheel it out into the driveway to work. The driveway’s a bit bumpy, so I have to lift the saw up just a bit by the rails and wheel it on the pair of wheels on the opposite end. The swiveling lift wheel just binds up on the driveway if I don’t do that. Do you think this might tend to throw the rail alignment out over time? Would it be a good idea to re-set the screws with a little LocTite?

2. I’d much rather have cast iron wings than the stamped steel. Do you think there’d be any problem with the additional weight? During the rail adjustment part of assembly, it seemed to me that I was adjusting the rails to the table, and then adjusting the wings to the rails. So I’m a little concerned that putting on heavy wings might compromise the rail alignment.

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LJackson

152 posts in 227 days


#15 posted 127 days ago

This is the first time that I have heard of having the blade higher than just above the thickness of the board. Isn’t the blade’s travel under the table sufficient time for it to discharge any accumulated dust from within the gullets?

If doing it this way causes the blade to act like it was dull, then perhaps an experiment could be performed. Running the same wood through with the blade low and high, and if there is some way to measure the force needed to push the wood through at a constant speed, then we could prove what you are saying.

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