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Unisaw vs other saws

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 12-06-2017 07:25 PM 876 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MrRon

4492 posts in 3080 days


12-06-2017 07:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

I have heard the original Unisaw of the late 30’s was the standard for all saw to come. I acknowledge it is a great saw, but how does it compare with all other saws both past and present? Aside from features, what make it any better than modern saws? Comparing a Unisaw with saw “A”,”B” or “C”, Is there any difference in the quality of cut? In other words, If I were to cut a piece of wood on all of the saws, would I be able to tell a difference between a cut made with a Unisaw and any other saw. That comparison could also be extended to include contractor and bench top saws. I would not be including the type of fence or the miter gauge used. It would appear to me that the fence makes the biggest difference between saws. A Biesemeyer fence used on any saw should produce the same results, right?

The bottom line here is: Would a 1939 Unisaw fitted with a Biesemeyer fence cut as well/worse/better than a Grizzly or Sawstop fitted with the same Biesemeyer fence? (Sawstop safety feature not a factor)


38 replies so far

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Carloz

971 posts in 428 days


#1 posted 12-06-2017 07:33 PM

There is much more to the quality of the cut than the saw used. The difference between a specific unisaw and specific powermatic could be smaller than difference between two identical unisaws

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avsmusic1

172 posts in 521 days


#2 posted 12-06-2017 07:36 PM



The bottom line here is: Would a 1939 Unisaw fitted with a Biesemeyer fence cut as well/worse/better than a Grizzly or Sawstop fitted with the same Biesemeyer fence? (Sawstop safety feature not a factor)

- MrRon


No it wouldn’t

In fairness though, this thread feels like the saw equivalent to asking someone to compare a Hummer to a Tesla measured solely on their ability to gets you from point A to point B traveling at the same speed.

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MrUnix

5991 posts in 2035 days


#3 posted 12-06-2017 07:38 PM

No. But one advantage of a Unisaw is that they (original design) were made for around 70 years with very little design change – so parts are plentiful and mostly interchangeable between years, and they have a proven track record of longevity.

Cheers,
Brad

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

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MrRon

4492 posts in 3080 days


#4 posted 12-06-2017 08:06 PM

What I’m asking is: Will a cut made with different saws be as good, better or worse? It would seem to me, saws with identical arbor runout, turning identical blades on a saw with a flat table and using an identical fence would perform the same regardless of it’s cost.

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jonah

1455 posts in 3135 days


#5 posted 12-06-2017 08:20 PM

A table saw, at its heart, is just a spinning blade with a fence. The advantages of a cabinet saw are stability, reliability, repair-ability, and adjustability.

There’s no reason you can’t get a perfectly adequate cut with a hybrid, contractor, or even jobsite saw, but it’s easier to get consistent results with a hefty cabinet saw. Brad also hit on the fact that Unisaws pretty much all use the same parts.

Modern saws have riving knives, which are unquestionably safer and more convenient than old style blade guards. Leaving aside the safety features of Sawstop saws, that’s their main advantage over older saws. Both will cut wood straight and square. People build incredible furniture with jobsite saws, after all. It’s just a bit harder and fussier to tune them to do so.

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jbay

1856 posts in 735 days


#6 posted 12-06-2017 09:11 PM



What I m asking is: Will a cut made with different saws be as good, better or worse? It would seem to me, saws with identical arbor runout, turning identical blades on a saw with a flat table and using an identical fence would perform the same regardless of it s cost.

- MrRon

Maybe when you are comparing 2 brand new saws,
Do the same comparison with the same 2 saws after 10 or 15 years of both saws taking the same abuse and there would probably be quite a difference.

Sounds like you are trying to make a point of why pay more for a better saw?

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

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Loren

9625 posts in 3484 days


#7 posted 12-06-2017 09:35 PM

The only thing going against a Unisaw as
a good workhorse choice imo is the limitation
of the 10” blade.

Comparable Powermatic saws are heavier,
with heavier castings. I doubt this translates
into an improved cut. I had some INCA saws
which were built pretty light with a lot of
aluminum parts and they cut accurately.

Direct drive saws are thought by some to give
better cuts. The arbor shaft runs all the way
through the motor and there’s no belt to
introduce vibration. They also tend to be built
much heavier and require larger blades.

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knotscott

7785 posts in 3212 days


#8 posted 12-06-2017 11:06 PM

You’d probably have a hard time telling the cuts apart from any saw that was dialed in and fitted with a decent blade. The benefits of a good saw are far more obvious to the user than the resulting cut….more mass, more power, more table space, less vibration, easier adjustments, etc.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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sawdustdad

334 posts in 721 days


#9 posted 12-07-2017 12:24 AM

A 1939 Unisaw vs. a new Sawstop? Depends on how well the Unisaw has been maintained and how well both are tuned and aligned.

As a purchase decision—a nice older Unisaw, for under $1000 vs. a $3500 Sawstop? I’ll take the Unisaw. (and a couple other tools of as well).

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

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Roy Turbett

137 posts in 3416 days


#10 posted 12-07-2017 12:58 AM

I had a 1980’s vintage Unisaw with a 3 hp motor and Unifence. I sold it and purchased a 5 hp ICS Sawstop with a Biesmeyer fence. The overall quality and cut of both saws is about the same. I haven’t had an injury with either saw but did experience one misfire on the Sawstop when I changed blades and didn’t readjust the saw to compensate for a slight difference in the blade diameter. This mistake cost me over $100 for a new cartridge and blade. I also find it inconvenient to switch between dados and regular blades and remembering to use the bypass mode when needed. I also don’t like the Biesmeyer fence as well as the Unifence because it can’t be shortened when cutting dimensional lumber. The only thing I like better on the Sawstop is the riving knife. But the Biesmeyer splitter on the Unisaw worked well and was easy to install.

I also have an older Craftsman contractor saw with a 3/4 hp belt driven motor at a second home Obviously an apples to oranges comparison but works fine for occasional use.

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bonesbr549

1445 posts in 2903 days


#11 posted 12-07-2017 01:39 AM



I have heard the original Unisaw of the late 30 s was the standard for all saw to come. I acknowledge it is a great saw, but how does it compare with all other saws both past and present? Aside from features, what make it any better than modern saws? Comparing a Unisaw with saw “A”,”B” or “C”, Is there any difference in the quality of cut? In other words, If I were to cut a piece of wood on all of the saws, would I be able to tell a difference between a cut made with a Unisaw and any other saw. That comparison could also be extended to include contractor and bench top saws. I would not be including the type of fence or the miter gauge used. It would appear to me that the fence makes the biggest difference between saws. A Biesemeyer fence used on any saw should produce the same results, right?

The bottom line here is: Would a 1939 Unisaw fitted with a Biesemeyer fence cut as well/worse/better than a Grizzly or Sawstop fitted with the same Biesemeyer fence? (Sawstop safety feature not a factor)

- MrRon

Well, I’ve use very old unisaw’s, owned from a table top pos of a saw, a shop smith, a contractor saw, to griz 10” saw, and my current (and last saw) the Sawstop.

The all made cuts. The diff was repeatability and power. The table top unit was a total POS and never did well. The unisaw was a beast and great saw. Had the unisaw fence but never a problem.

the shopsmith for what it was was a handy tool. Only issue was set up time. Once set it was reliable. Underpowered on the TS side of things, but a wonderful disk sander and horizontal boring machine.

My Griz, I had for 10 years, and sold it for 400 less than I paid. It had the besmyer style fence and on the day I sold it id was doing the nickle test fine. Great saw and served me well. Only down side was I removed the safety equipment because it was so hard to get on and off. I did replace with the microjig splitter. the 3hp did real well with all excecpt the thickest of materials (3” or greater). It still did good cuts, but had to really baby it.

finally I talk about the sawstop. Heck of a saw and the best I’ve owned. The safety feature is the top of the list of the best, but its a very well made machine and they stand behind it.

I did get the 5hp and don’t regret the spend, because when I figure how long it will work for me, the annualized cost is not bad at all. Table is big and DC is great best of the saws i’ve owned.

So at the end of the day, will they all cut, yes. However there are differences. Its just what features do you want.

I’d put the SS at the top, and tied for 2nd unisaw/griz 1023 or greater.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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rbrjr1

95 posts in 42 days


#12 posted 12-07-2017 02:09 AM


The bottom line here is: Would a 1939 Unisaw fitted with a Biesemeyer fence cut as well/worse/better than a Grizzly or Sawstop fitted with the same Biesemeyer fence? (Sawstop safety feature not a factor)
- MrRon

I HONESTLY believe that the only real benefit that newer saws have over older saws are the following:
-ease of adjustment
-safety features

-assuming the older saws dont have cracked or warped castings on the trunion/cradle
-assuming the older saws have flat tables
-assuming everything is properly aligned and the same fence system is used on both
-the trunion/cradle for the arbor should be more than capable of staying true and in alignment on both (due to the design and materials used)

-- measure twice, cut once.

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MrRon

4492 posts in 3080 days


#13 posted 12-07-2017 04:46 PM

Thank you all for your opinions. What I’m trying to do with this post is to get down to basics. I think some people will spend a lot of money thinking that will insure better results over a cheaper saw. It may also keep people from buying a saw because they don’t have the money. I guess my point is: It is possible to do good work with any saw regardless of cost. Just about every saw will require some amount of tweaking to get it to perform it’s job. What it all comes down to is; it’s not the cost, quality or features of a saw that matter, but the operator behind that saw.

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EarlS

602 posts in 2184 days


#14 posted 12-07-2017 06:03 PM

Having owned a Unisaw for the past 12 years and comparing it to the couple of contractor saws I owned when I was first starting out (one was a Delta, the other one I don’t recall), I would go for the Unisaw every time. It is solid, reliable, sturdy, dependable, I never have to worry about it.

When I buy a tool or piece of equipment I want to get the best value I can from it. Generally, that means buying high end stuff that will last forever. This way I don’t have to worry if something is going to break, fall apart, or generally not function like it should. I want to focus on woodworking, not repairing my equipment. Nothing ruins the enjoyment of going out to work in the shop like having to fix something before you can use it again.

Most of my equipment is at least 10 years old and I bought all of it new.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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sawdustdad

334 posts in 721 days


#15 posted 12-07-2017 07:35 PM

Can you do good work with virtually any table saw? Yes. The trade off is that the less expensive saws will require more care to assure good, accurate cuts.

I used a Craftsman belt drive saw for 15 years and built some nice stuff. I had to measure the distance between the blade and rip fence every time I changed it. My unisaw has a scale that is dead on, and I can simply align the hairline of the Unifence with the scale, and run the wood. It’s dead on. Saves a bunch of time when breaking down lumber for a project.

The Unisaw will rip pretty much any lumber as fast as I can feed it. The Craftsman saw required a much slower feed, and, at times, a painfully slow feed. I had a 2hp motor on it.

I have a friend with a 1.5hp delta cabinet saw. You have to baby it when ripping a pine 2×4.

Most jobsite saws are tippy and need good feed supports for handling sheet goods.

All these table saws cut about the same, but some are easier to use…

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

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