Contracter Saw: Upgrade or Replace

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Forum topic by GregD posted 02-14-2010 04:13 AM 1710 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

02-14-2010 04:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am trying to decide whether I should upgrade my 17 year old Delta Contractor tablesaw (model 34-444) or replace it with a cabinet saw.

On the positive side the top is in good shape, no measurable runout on the arbor, and over time I have added the following upgrades: 30” T2 fence, link belt, PALS, and a dust collecting blade guard (not yet installed). When I am careful I can get the saw to cut to my satisfaction. (Can any saw make up for poor technique?)

There are several negatives that bother me, however. The alignment of the blade with the miter slot goes out by 20 thousanths after 2 or 3 months of light use – fortunately the PALS and my Align-IT make it not too annoying to set it straight when I need to make critical crosscuts. Both sheet metal wings have a high corner and frequently leave gray smudges on the work. I would like to have good dust collection with the blade other than 90 deg. to the table. I would also like to mount a narrow outfeed table, about 12” wide the length of the table & wings, to the saw.

These problems would go away or become a lot easier to resolve if I replaced it with a hybrid or cabinet saw.

The upgrades I am considering are:

1. Make a plastic laminate covered plywood or MDF router table board that extends from the cast iron top to the right end of the rails and add a dust collection enclosure around the router. BTW, MDF is the usual choice but what are the disadvantages to using plywood?

2. Replace the left wing with a plastic laminate covered plywood or MDF board.

3. Mount a 12” wide outfeed table along most of the length of the rear rail.

The rails on the T2 fence system are 1/8” angle iron, 1-1/2” on the back, that or 2” on the front. I would thing they would have no problem handling the extra weight. But the rails are bolted to the cast iron top which is bolted to the saw cabinet. Are either of those likely to have an issue with the additional weight?

If those upgrades would work well I think I can live with or resolve the blade-alignment and dust collection issues.

-- Greg D.

12 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#1 posted 02-14-2010 04:16 AM

If you can afford a new one go for it. It will be much better than paching up the old one.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1896 posts in 3694 days

#2 posted 02-14-2010 04:20 AM

I’m going through that same dilemma right now!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3698 days

#3 posted 02-14-2010 04:49 AM

What Jim says, you can’t take it with you :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Spiffpeters's profile


11 posts in 3126 days

#4 posted 02-14-2010 05:00 AM

I was going to go through all the bother of trying to make my old Craftsman CS usable. Then Ridgid slashed the price of the R4511.

No regrets. And what a world of difference.

I had a T2, PALs and the link belt on the old Craftsman. But the lack of DC and a splitter/riving knife were simply insurmountable obstacles.

If cost is not a major facotr, get a decent TS. The accuracy, repeatability and ease of setup (the ol’ craftsman required two hands to raise/lower the blade) will take about thirty seconds to appreciate.

-- Some say the glass is half full, others say it's half empty. I say the glass is too big. George Carlin

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#5 posted 02-14-2010 01:20 PM

Greg, it really depends on how you feel about the saw. It is a lot like a vehicle. If it is still running but you have reached the point where you are tired of spending money on it then it is time to replace it. Some selling points with regard to replacing the saw are that newer saws will be safer to operate and have better dust collection.

Another issue is the type of woodworking that you want to pursue. I replaced my contractor saw with a cabinet model about a year ago and couldn’t be more satisfied. It was a vast improvement, not only in the safety department, but also in the saw’s performance and reliablility as well.

I agree with Topamax’s comment that you can’t take it with you.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View iamwelty's profile


259 posts in 3138 days

#6 posted 02-14-2010 03:14 PM

You deserve a new saw. Go For It!

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#7 posted 02-14-2010 07:15 PM

ARGH!!! I was hoping for a push in the other direction.

So I spent some time online and I am tempted by the price and features of the Grizzly G0690: cabinet saw, riving knife, 3HP motor (I use 220 for my TS). Several LJs like the saw. I’m sure I would notice and like the upgrade.

I am not so eager to jump into the price range of the new Delta Unisaw or the Saw Stop cabinet saw. The Saw Stop mechanism is really cool, but getting cut on the TS is only one of many risks to life and limb in the shop. And the new Unisaw is – well – awesome, but how much of a difference would I notice relative to the Grizzly?

Once again it seems my woodworking hobby is being replaced by my woodworking tool collection hobby.

-- Greg D.

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3071 days

#8 posted 02-14-2010 08:07 PM

I never believed in spending money on old stuff.
You can spend as much as you want , it still is old.
It makes me thinks about a 75 old woman (or man , to not get in trouble with women reading this) who would get a face lift, she might look better but she still is 75 years old.

-- Bert

View mikedrums's profile


102 posts in 3058 days

#9 posted 02-14-2010 08:44 PM

I would keep an eye on Craigslist and any auction sites you know of (not talking about ebay, I’m mean real auctioneers).
So far, I’ve gotten at least half the big tools in my shop off Craigslist.
The jointer for $75, the bandsaw for $100. They were both older models, but work great. The jointer needed a new fence assembly, but I found that on ebay for $25.

My best score, was the Delta 36-982 table saw for…. $225.
It’s a $900+ saw and was under 3 years old. You know the story… bought for one project and sat in the garage.

You can see both saws on my workshop page.

With a little patience, you can find really good deals on Craigslist or some regional auctions.

View PCM's profile


135 posts in 3067 days

#10 posted 02-20-2010 03:58 PM

Hi Greg,

Two years ago I was dealing with similar issues on a Delta Contactor saw which I bought in 1989. After examining everything I decided to up grade to the sawstop industrial cabinet saw. Their contractors and professional saws were not yet on the market. Both of the later two saws are excellent. As a company sawstop has been extremely responsive to correct any issues and answer my questions (best customer service you will find); if you can afford it the quality and safety are without parallel. Good luck.

View goggy's profile


74 posts in 3438 days

#11 posted 02-20-2010 04:18 PM

I agree with Scott. I was in your situation as well and narrowed it down to either a Grizz or reconditioned Unisaw. I got the Unisaw and love it! Both are very good choices.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#12 posted 02-20-2010 06:25 PM

I decided to take the “buy the best tool you can afford” advice and ordered the Sawstop Professional Cabinet Saw last Sunday. I am looking forward to a long and happy relationship with it.

Thanks for the comments.

-- Greg D.

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