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Buying used Unisaw

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Forum topic by manyironsinfire posted 01-26-2011 08:23 PM 4179 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


01-26-2011 08:23 PM

How does $500 (possibly lower) for a 1972 model 34-450 delta unisaw sound? With a 50” biesmeyer fence? How bad is restoring these? Things to look for and run if i see?

I would also have to replace motor, it’s 3 phase. I can make a mounting bracket, shouldnt be an issue. I hear the motor pulleys are a weird size, 3/4? So i’d have to find a different pulley down there.

Whats reasonable for hp? 1.5, 2 hp?

I looked at our unisaw at work last night and am thinking now this is the route i want to take.


21 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51451 posts in 2137 days


#1 posted 01-26-2011 10:31 PM

It sounds to me like you would have a lot of work and expense restoring it. I have seen newer Delta Unisaws on Craigs list and Ebay for just a few hundred dollars more that are in good working condition.

From a hp standpoint, it probably would depend on what you expect to cut. If you are doing boxes etc, you wouldnt need more than 1.5 or 2 hp. If you are doing heavier lumber I would do a 3 hp.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#2 posted 01-26-2011 10:35 PM

Here’s a series of great videos that shows what’s involved in a restoration:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/video_delta_unisaw_restoration_part_i/

As somebody who purchased a 1993 Unisaw for $500 on Craigslist, I can tell you that you need to be careful on how much it will take to get it going the way you want. For me, it didn’t come with a miter gauge and the fence was a bit chewed up…but that was okay because I had the miter gauge already and I knew I’d get an Incra fence eventually.

While you might not need to do a full restoration, you still need to consider replacement costs to make it functional for how you want to use it. For me, adding what I needed gave me a saw with great value and functionality. But if you are needing to replace a motor or add a phase converter…in addition to other things…then it might not be all that great of a deal. At that point, a new Grizzly might be the way to go.

But beyond the motor itself, a refurb or restoration is actually very simple. The Unisaw is basically the same all throughout it’s history (except with the recent models), so nothing is unique to your make and model. Likewise, outside of replacing some bearings (or motor issues), it’s mostly just a matter of cleaning (rust removal), relube, cosmetic improvements, and realignment.

The standard motor for these saws is 3hp 240V. I would not have anything less in a cabinet saw.

Honestly, I would not buy a used saw if I had to replace a motor.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Loren

7566 posts in 2304 days


#3 posted 01-26-2011 10:57 PM

3 HP motors are pricey to replace. A 3-phase saw is more likely to have been used
hard in an industrial setting as well.

You won’t be able to sell a used 3 phase Unisaw motor for even $50 even
if you can find someone who is interested at all. Therefore you’ll be
absorbing the whole cost of putting in a new or used motor.

Some Unisaws have 2 HP motors. I wouldn’t want less than 3 either, but
if a sub-3 HP motor than will work is available to you cheaply, that could
work.

I wouldn’t recommend paying more than $300 for the saw. Explain to the
seller the motor replacement issue.

You can get a static phase-converter for about $150 that will run drop the
motor’s power by 1/3. If the saw has a 5 HP motor (it might), a static
converter will get you about 3.2 horses.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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David175

101 posts in 1345 days


#4 posted 01-27-2011 02:09 AM

the motors on the grizzly 1023 saws will fit unisaws

-- Dave..Pensacola Fl.........In GOD we trust

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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


#5 posted 01-27-2011 08:18 AM

I see what you guys are saying. Does sound like it needs to be cheaper. It is missing the motor cover, but i can make a sheet metal cover easily. Can use this for a bargaining tool as well. Surprisingly, the blade guard is there. Doubt the miter guage is. The beismeyer fence is what got me excited. It might be trashed, hard to tell from picture.

I forgot to mention its a 3hp.
Charliel, it’s actually looking like 220 will work for me. This is in my father in laws shop. He told me theres only 110 going in, but more i thought about it i realized they hardly ever do that. Took the panel cover off and sure enough theres 220. However, amperage is going to be kind of limited i think. It travels a good distance.

Maybe I’ll call before i run up to look at it, see if they would take $300. If they don’t, i’ll keep looking.

Now on the hp thing, you guys talk like 3hp is absolute minimum. Theres lots of guys using contractor saws with 1.5hp 110. Guy at work has a 1hp, he makes furniture and cabinets. I really don’t know what its like though, all i’ve used is our 3hp 3 phase unisaw at work.

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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


#6 posted 01-27-2011 08:20 AM

Oh, I was really liking the sound of left tilt, this uni is right like most of them it seems. Am i going to regret that? Doubt i would even tilt the blade that often.

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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


#7 posted 01-27-2011 09:01 AM

By the way, just has the left side wing by looks in the picture and the extention covers where a right wing would normally be. Same as our uni at work. Is this common? Is that another game changer?

View Loren's profile

Loren

7566 posts in 2304 days


#8 posted 01-27-2011 11:02 AM

Actually the difference between 2 and 3 HP isn’t too major when working with 4/4 stock and sheet goods. When you’re ripping 8/4 oak you notice it. In most cabinet work, a smaller motor is a little slower but plenty strong enough.

The issue with buying a cabinet saw with less motor than you might want later is that the cost of a new motor is substantial.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#9 posted 01-27-2011 04:42 PM

It’s not that you can’t survive with lesser than 3hp. I know CharlieL is big on this point…most people can do everything they need with a contractor saw, even thicker stock if you use good technique and sharp blades.

It’s more that with lesser motors you lose an advantage of cabinet saws over contractor saws. My point is that if you want a 1.5hp saw, you might as well spend less on a contractor saw.

This is why I don’t quite understand the concept of a hybrid saw. While those saws have the cabinet mounted trunnions for easy alignment and do not have a motor sticking out of the back, I’m just not sure the cost is worth it above a contractor’s saw.

So, if I were going to buy a cabinet saw, I think your cost is best justified only with the bigger motor.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#10 posted 01-27-2011 05:06 PM

Gotcha, Charlie. Good points. There does seem to be a lot of variance.

I know that I was happy to get rid of the motor sticking out of the back of the contractor’s saw once I got my cabinet saw, but then again, the motor still sticks out of the SIDE…meaning less versatility with where I could use my router extension table and less room to build an accessory cabinet under the wing.

And since many people build an outfeed table for their saws, the contractor’s saw motor doesn’t have to pose that big of an issue. So, perhaps this “disadvantage” is more of a mental thing?

One advantage to cabinet saws is their dust collection capability, so I guess there’s that…but I still don’t think that’s a huge advantage given the difference in costs.

Again, I just think you need the bigger motor to make the purchase cost effective.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#11 posted 01-27-2011 05:15 PM

Manyirons:

You mentioned something about amperage and distance, so I assume you are thinking about voltage drop with a long run. But truthfully, voltage drops are worse with long runs of 110v. 220v plays into your advantage there. For example, a 110v/15a saw will lose about 5% voltage after a 100 ft. run, which is the maximum allowed voltage loss at your furthest receptiale.

On the other hand, a 220v/7.5a saw will lose only about .5% voltage after that same run. This is because running heavier gauge wire for the 220v is much more efficient, with less resistance. Of course the cost of a long run of 6 or 8 AWG wire has to be considered at first, but I still say it’s the way to go.

As for right tilt vs. left tilt…mine is right tilt, which is typical of Unisaws. With a Bies fence, that shouldn’t be too big of an issue. I’ve been reluctant to cut bevels in narrow boards since I could only use one-side of the original unifence. However, since I upgraded to the Incra TSLS, I can simply reverse the fence for bevel cuts.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


#12 posted 01-27-2011 05:43 PM

If I do it, i should probably just spring for a 3hp motor and shut up about it. Then I’d have a full capacity cabinet saw. I guess I figured if i found a 1.5hp or 2 hp motor cheap enough and decided later i needed more power, the cost would be small of the upgrade compared to losing my money on a 2hp chiniese saw. I won’t get the riving knife with a uni, but i’ve kinda confinced myself thats a lot of hype.

Cosmic, yea i’m a little confused. I was talking to am electrician at work about it. The NEC book says go down a size for runs over 100 ft. So this machinery shed has 150ft of 6 gauge wire ran to it. Attached to this shed on the back side is the shop i work in, which is another 100 ft away. This shop currently has a 12gauge 110 wire ran back there with one outlet and 1 lightbulb in a 40×40 shop, pretty sad.

I’m not sure what to do to be honest. I do agree that it should be cheaper, but in looking around at other uni’s on the web, it doesnt seem to bad really. Theres 3 phasers that they want 650 and they don’t have a beismeyer, the old jet lock.

Found another one about 15 minutes away from me. Its 220v, has a unifence(not crazy about) they want $850. Sounds a little steep too.

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Beginningwoodworker

13341 posts in 2329 days


#13 posted 01-27-2011 05:49 PM

I have a 1.5 hp Unisaw, but it older Unisaw made USA motor. You might wont to look for a Unisaw from the 40’s and 50’s. I think those Unisaw has bullet motors that was 1/2 hp to 1 hp. I think those was a 110 volt.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51451 posts in 2137 days


#14 posted 01-27-2011 06:09 PM

Just an added comment. The riving knife isnt hype. It’s a great safety feature and necessary with saws that have a lot of HP. The force of a board coming at you with a 2 or 3 HP saw when it kicks it back is incredible and can just about knock you off your feet if you get hit in the torso. I learned by experience and it wasnt fun.

There are folks out there that can custom build splitters and riving knifes. I have added a link below from the person that made mine if you are interested.

http://www.leestyron.com/sharksplitter.php

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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manyironsinfire

48 posts in 1340 days


#15 posted 01-27-2011 06:18 PM

I mean over a splitter, i agree you need something but i was saying the riving knife is hype. Am i thinking wrong on this? The only time you would really use the riving knife is for a non through cut, i wouldnt think that would be a common cut except for cutting tenons. you can’t have a riving knife on a uni anyways. They move up and down with the blade. I was thinking could rig up a splitter so you could adjust height for non through cut work.

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