Offered a 1986 Delta Unisaw, but I don't have 3 phase...

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Forum topic by ItIsRocketScience posted 02-20-2012 05:18 PM 4297 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ItIsRocketScience's profile


22 posts in 2292 days

02-20-2012 05:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw unisaw

OK, to start off, I have a RYOBI 10” tablesaw that I pretty much despise. It has a built in miter sled with a surface not co-planer to the main table surface. It utilizes cam screws to adjust the heel-toe angle of the blade and continually drifts after maybe 100 feet has been run through (it went from .005” heel out to .050”!). In general, I’m just ready for a better table saw.

A few weeks back I posted on my local craigslist “wanted” section to find a RIDGID TS3650, initially offering $175. Sadly, no bites… until today.

I received an e-mail from a man with a 1986 Delta Unisaw, complete with a Unifence and a shelf for the unifence. He used it on a project for his church back in the day and then took it home once the job was done, where it’s sat idle since 1990. Why? Well, the saw utilizes a beasty 5 HP, 3 Phase motor. He doesn’t have 3 phase power, nor do I.

So, he’d like $175 for this setup.

I’d need to buy a new motor and belts (but the pulleys are still good). Looking at the Grizzly site, I can get a 1.5 HP single phase TEFC motor for ~$200. All told, I’d be looking at probably $450 to get this saw up and running, which is waaay more than I initially wanted to spend, but also a much higher quality table saw than I was originally planning on buying.

Well, that’s the problem. It’s not the same table saw if I swap in a 1.5 HP motor. Is this worth it, or should I just pass?


-- "Down in the arena are the doers. They make many mistakes because they attempt many things. The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and a spirit of adventure." -- Gen. David M. Shoup

25 replies so far

View jaydubya's profile


183 posts in 2778 days

#1 posted 02-20-2012 08:02 PM

Even with the 1.5hp motor you still have a hell of a lot more saw than you would be getting buying a used contractor saw. You can sell the 3ph motor and recoup some of your costs in the swap. it might be worth looking onto getting a 3hp motor and having your shop wired for single phase 220. you could look at the unisaw as a lifetime purchase, rather than a temporary thing like the contractor saw would be

View Tennessee's profile


2861 posts in 2481 days

#2 posted 02-20-2012 08:18 PM

Agree with jaydubya. Anytime you can get a Unisaw, complete with fence, for $175, you can figure out how to work around the three phase. I’d jump on that…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View cabmaker's profile


1721 posts in 2775 days

#3 posted 02-20-2012 09:57 PM

Do it !

View UltimateCarvercom's profile


12 posts in 2253 days

#4 posted 02-20-2012 10:11 PM

I would definately do it. that Delta saw will do you a better job than any portable contractor saw. I had a quality saw in the shop and contractor saws out on jobs. We always went to the shop when we needed it cut right. You will find that getting 220 to your workshop is not that hard.

-- Steve Groeneweg, http//

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3275 days

#5 posted 02-20-2012 10:19 PM

Buy it before someone else does. If it were in my city I would scoop it up in a second and then convert it. You can also get 3 phase converters that will convert it to 220.

View jaydubya's profile


183 posts in 2778 days

#6 posted 02-20-2012 10:45 PM

If you decide against buying it, you might be able to help another lumberjock get a good deal here. I would certainly buy it if i was close enough. How much should it run for someone to have a 220 outlet added to their shop?

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2642 days

#7 posted 02-20-2012 11:26 PM

If you aren’t all over this saw then there is something seriously wrong here. I could nearly afford to ship it to Oklahoma for that price. Look into phase converters or a single phase Unisaw motor. You won’t regret it in a year or 5 years or 10 years.

View barecycles's profile


257 posts in 2295 days

#8 posted 02-20-2012 11:32 PM

I’m in your same situation with a 3HP 3 phase unisaw. I hope to pick it up this weekend and for me that’s not soon enough. I would not let the 3 phase dissuade you from getting the saw. I already have a VFD for mine and I am in the process of adding my new circuit for the saw.

-- Sweeping up sawdust in Texas

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3635 days

#9 posted 02-20-2012 11:50 PM

can you take the motor out of the ryobi and use it for the unisaw?

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2770 days

#10 posted 02-20-2012 11:59 PM

as Nike would say “Just do it” It shouldn’t be to difficult to change out the motor

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View ItIsRocketScience's profile


22 posts in 2292 days

#11 posted 02-21-2012 12:43 AM

Wow, thanks for the responses. It sounds like I’d be crazy not to jump on this. A couple quick answers to the posts:

1) I don’t currently have 220 in my shop but it wouldn’t be that hard to run it. However, the only real benefits to that is being able to use the 3-phase at 220 via a converter (which you can’t do on 110) or to cut down on the power consumption (i.e. 110V 16A vs. 220V 8A). If I went with the new single phase motor, I don’t think I’d add in the expense to run the 220 line.

2) Bent: My Ryobi is a direct drive, whereas the cabinet saw is driven by 3 belts. A bit of engineering and that hurdle is overcome, but honestly the motor isn’t great as it is.

3) Barecycles: thanks for that VFD reference. Unfortunately, as you get to higher HP outputs (I’d be looking for a 5 HP output), the price jumps. Cheapest I can source is $600. 3 HP = $255. God it’s tempting!

I also just discovered that the Delta Unisaws do not use the standard NEMA 56 frames for the motor mounts. Ugh. $354 for a replacement 1.5 HP motor, $389/2HP, $496/3HP, $518/4HP.

Now, if I’m going to be replacing the belts with a link-belt, is there any reason to not modify the motor mount so that it will accept a standard mounting frame?

-- "Down in the arena are the doers. They make many mistakes because they attempt many things. The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and a spirit of adventure." -- Gen. David M. Shoup

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3639 days

#12 posted 02-21-2012 12:52 AM

I would buy the Unisaw and replace it with a 1.5hp to 2hp motor.

View jumbojack's profile


1674 posts in 2590 days

#13 posted 02-21-2012 01:04 AM

Buy it, sell it. buy something you can plug in.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2642 days

#14 posted 02-21-2012 01:37 AM

Get the saw and buy the correct motor for it. Don’t modify the mount. When using more than one belt like this saw uses, the belts should be bought in sets. That is not 3 new belts at the same time. That is a matched set of 3 belts. They should always be matched sets. I am sure there will be some folks that tell you that they use 3 link belts and it is okay but the correct way to do it is buy matched sets. They also cost more.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2964 days

#15 posted 02-21-2012 02:25 AM

Tough call but I would be tempted to put a phase converter on it rather than doing the motor swap. The new phase converters are pretty efficient and the extra power would not be a bad thing. 110v – 220v doesn’t make any difference as to power usage and 220 is more efficient (smaller wire, less heat.) The reason I suggest the phase converter is that 3 phase motors are generally much more trouble free in the long run. Some day you might get 3 phase power to run it directly. The Unisaw would be a lifetime purchase rather than something you would upgrade from. You are not going to upgrade it without significant investment.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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