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Should I buy this unisaw?

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Forum topic by Josh2061 posted 01-24-2017 01:13 PM 882 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Josh2061

4 posts in 322 days


01-24-2017 01:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

I’ve been searching craigslist for a long time for a good deal on an old table saw to upgrade my very cheap portable craftsman. I keep hearing about how good unisaws are and I finally found what may be a good deal on a restoration project. From what I can tell from the serial, it’s a 1959 1.5 hp 220v. The cabinet is a bit rusted and missing all the doors but the table seems flat and the arbor seems like its in good condition. Owner is asking for 300 and says he has a lot of people interested.

http://nashville.craigslist.org/tls/5969437785.html


25 replies so far

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toolie

2094 posts in 2463 days


#1 posted 01-24-2017 01:26 PM

If it’s a bullet motor, there will probably be a host of encouraging comments that you should run to get it as fast as you can. Having owned one that I refurbed and sold, I don’t miss it. It’s a right tilt, has a poltentially useful but temperamental fence system and the table top and sings are smaller in overall surface area than more current saws. $300 is not a bad price if it’s all operational, but IMHO, i’d look elsewhere.

-- there's a solution to every problem.......you just have to be willing to find it.

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MrUnix

5980 posts in 2033 days


#2 posted 01-24-2017 01:41 PM

That saw has seen better days, but it’s not too far gone yet. All that surface rust is pretty easily taken care of, but the fences will probably leave you wanting more (most likely micro-set, as the Jet-lock wasn’t introduced until 1960 IIRC). Definitely not a plug-n-play machine, but would make a really nice restoration candidate. Figure at least another $100-$200 for new bearings, belts, paint, wiring and misc. hardware. At $300, it certainly isn’t a steal… but as long as there isn’t any other gotchas, you could wind up with a really nice saw. Guess it depends on how you feel about doing a restoration and how mechanical you are.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Josh2061

4 posts in 322 days


#3 posted 01-24-2017 02:46 PM

Thanks for both of your replies. My main issue is my current table saw is a pain in the ass and I don’t want to spend $1000 for a cabinet table saw. I mostly work with smaller dimension lumber so I’m not sure that the size of the table is a high priority. It seems like people all say that one of these modern fences is a requirement but I’m not sure why. As long as it locks square reliably, I think I would be fine with it since I am used to measuring from the blade. And as far as it being right tilt, could I not use the fence on the left side of the blade? One thing that does disappoint me is the lack of a riving knife on old machines as my girlfriend is beginning to do projects with me. So I’m on the fence on this one. Is the fence and other modern equipment that important? My budget is about 800 max so I could potentially go with a grizzly hybrid saw I think.

Thanks

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bigblockyeti

4694 posts in 1555 days


#4 posted 01-24-2017 03:06 PM

If you’re near a bigger city like Nashville, patience and an ability to act quickly will eventually yield a very good saw for $800 or less that shouldn’t need anything to get up and running beyond plugging it in.

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Josh2061

4 posts in 322 days


#5 posted 01-24-2017 03:12 PM

You would think so.. I’ve been looking for months.

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MrUnix

5980 posts in 2033 days


#6 posted 01-24-2017 03:16 PM

If you decide to go the restoration route, you could wind up with a solid machine for half the price of a new Grizzly. Depends on how far you want to take it. The micro-set fence, while certainly not a Biesemeyer, will get you running. Right tilt versus left tilt is a personal preference more than anything else… I have both, and don’t have a problem using either. As for the riving knife, you wont find one on any vintage saw – only on those made after around 2009. But it shipped with a splitter and guard, and you could probably find one pretty easily over at OWWM or on the bay. There are several after-market alternatives as well, and I think (I’m not sure, you would have to research it [1]) you can put a disappearing splitter on it as well.

Cheers,
Brad

[1] IIRC, the disappearing splitter was introduced in 1963 along with the overarm Uniguard.

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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alittleoff

445 posts in 1111 days


#7 posted 01-24-2017 05:42 PM

Most of the old unisaws were right tilt, or the ones I have seen were. I find nothing wrong with it myself. I know it hasn’t bothered me at all. I love those old unisaws, it’s just something about them. When I bought mine it was a mess but about 6 mons. Later and some help here from MrUnix, I now have the best saw I’ve ever owned.
Gerald

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bigblockyeti

4694 posts in 1555 days


#8 posted 01-24-2017 05:59 PM

I have an older Unisaw and one of the best things you can get for them is a Unifence. It completely removes any of the drawbacks of a right tilt saw while adding capabilities that no other fence system has. I missed out on one 6 months ago that looked new and was being offered for only $100, I was second in line of many callers, needless to say the first guy got a heck of a deal!

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BenjaminNY

122 posts in 1236 days


#9 posted 01-24-2017 08:05 PM

If it is going to need a new fence then it’s not worth it.

By the time you buy a new fence, replace bearings etc, you are well on your way into grizzly territory.

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MrUnix

5980 posts in 2033 days


#10 posted 01-24-2017 08:13 PM

If it is going to need a new fence then it s not worth it.
- BenjaminNY

Not entirely… a BIesmeyer T3 can be had for under $200 new. Used commercial version can be found around the same price or less. You would still wind up with a significant hunk of cabinet saw for less than a new Griz hybrid. But the best way to get one is to find an old Delta contractor or similar saw for cheap, with a BIesemeyer or Unifence installed on it. Swap out the fence, then sell the saw to recover most, if not all of your money.

Or just have more patience and wait for one in better condition and with a Biesemeyer or Unifence to come along. (don’t you just hate hearing that :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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BenjaminNY

122 posts in 1236 days


#11 posted 01-24-2017 08:46 PM

Or do what Brad says if you fancy a little Craigslist adventure :)

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alittleoff

445 posts in 1111 days


#12 posted 01-24-2017 10:52 PM

One thing about the unisaw, when you spend good money for a fence, you have a good saw sitting under it.
Gerald

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runswithscissors

2558 posts in 1859 days


#13 posted 01-24-2017 11:32 PM

You say a fence is okay as long as it “locks square reliably.” Neither that fence, nor the Jetlock also mentioned, will lock square reliably. You will have to square it up every time you move the fence. I had one of a Rockwell contractor’s saw, and I despised it.

A T square type fence is what you want. There are many to choose from, but any will require the round pipe fence rails be replaced by square tube rails.

I have a used Unisaw myself, and like it very much. But that one looks pretty rough. May be worth restoring, but the price seems high to me.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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jimintx

509 posts in 1419 days


#14 posted 01-25-2017 03:41 AM

~
I say the purchase decision will depend mainly on your hobby aspirations:
Do you want to be an antique machine restoration guy, or do you aspire to do woodwork?

On top of all the other issues already listed, I see these two:
1. That old cabinet will not make for good dust collection as it won’t seal up very well.
2. The motor is listed as 1.5HP. I believe almost all of us Unisaw advocates are using 2+HP, at 220v.

I have no idea at all why anyone would criticize a right tilt saw. My Unisaw is right tilt, and the ancient Sears saw I had for my first 15 years of woodworking before that was the same. Not once, never, have I said, “Dang, I wish this thing tilted the other way.”

Lastly, I wanted to add my agreement for the wonders of a correctly installed, tuned, and maintained Unfence.

.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

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jbay

1852 posts in 733 days


#15 posted 01-25-2017 04:26 AM

I’m not into restorations myself.
A descent plug and play unisaw could be found for 5 or 600 hundred I would think.

The only reason I would buy this is if I lived close to a lake and had a boat that needed a good anchor. LOL

If I were going to get it to restore, I wouldn’t give more than 150 bucks for it.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

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