1950 Unisaw Rebuild

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Forum topic by danjo posted 10-05-2012 03:50 AM 5082 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 2122 days

10-05-2012 03:50 AM

I recently bought this 1950 Unisaw on CL for $100.

I have been slowly but surely cleaning it up. I removed the arbor assembly and replaced the bearings. I took the 1 HP 3 phase motor to a local motor shop. They said it runs great but could use some new bearings($125). Included in this charge they would give the old motor a good cleaning and have it like new. I have also located a VFD converter through this shop for $230. After shipping and tax my total cost for repairs and converter would be $375. Okay so here is the QUESTION. For around $300 I can get a new Leeson 1.5HP single phase from
I will also have to buy a new pulley and belts $100
The switch on my saw is rated up to 1.5 HP single phase so this saves me the cost of a new switch. I am leaning toward getting a new motor for this saw. Anyone see any reason to stick with the old motor?



14 replies so far

View toolie's profile


2134 posts in 2655 days

#1 posted 10-05-2012 12:08 PM

not when this is available from the same site for $60 more:

if you’re upgrading, might as well make it count.

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

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3507 days

#2 posted 10-05-2012 12:14 PM

Great project. Keep us posted on your progress. I would change the motor to a single phase. It would also make the saw more saleable if you ever decided to sell it.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2941 days

#3 posted 10-05-2012 12:48 PM

toolie = +10

Toolie got this one right!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View danjo's profile


20 posts in 2122 days

#4 posted 10-05-2012 03:57 PM

I agree with toolie also but my switch is rated for 1.5 single phase max. A new switch sets me back another $200.


View Everett1's profile


213 posts in 2561 days

#5 posted 10-05-2012 04:10 PM

also, assuming it’s the bullet motor, the bearings are meant for 1725 RPM. Newer motors do double that i believe, about 3450 RPM. You’ll want to be sure the bearings in the arbor can handle that (at least that is what i read when i cleaned up my 1946 unisaw

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

View toolie's profile


2134 posts in 2655 days

#6 posted 10-05-2012 06:06 PM

judging from the shape of the motor cover, it’s probably not a bullet motor. they usually go hand in hand with the rounder motor covers. also, the base appears to be more from the 60s/70s than the 30s /40s. i understand that new magnetic starter adds $200 to the project, but it’s probably worth it. purchase cost + pulley and belts+ switch+3hp motor = total outlay of $760. try finding a newer 3hp cabinet saw with that build quality and mass for that much.

going with the 1.5hp motor originally linked would take the cost down to $500. it appears the issue is whether the additional 1.5 hp of the 3hp motor is worth ~ $260.

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

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3574 days

#7 posted 10-06-2012 02:11 AM

I think Grizzly has magnetic switches for 3hp motors for about 70.00. Of course I would go for the higher power. I led just fine with 2 ridgid ts in our shop for a long time but now we have 3 cabinet saws all are 3 hp and I guess I just would prefer the larger motor.

-- .

View BigFoot Products Canada's profile

BigFoot Products Canada

711 posts in 3420 days

#8 posted 10-06-2012 02:41 AM

You can’t beat the old stuff.. Looks like a GREAT buy.. What Brand is it? It almost looks like a Rockwell Beaver Model 4200??
I LOVE the Old Beaver Tools..
I say go with the NEW motor..

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3700 days

#9 posted 10-06-2012 04:31 AM

Nice Unisaw, that will make restore project.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#10 posted 10-06-2012 04:42 AM

You could get a VFD on ebay for $130 shipped and you’ll probably
find out the saw runs fine with no work needed on the motor
bearings. Since you’re looking at replacing the motor anyway
(and low amp used 3 phase motors have little value) what’s the
harm in running it on a VFD?

I’m sure the motor guy is honest, but he’s not exactly disinterested.

VFD bipasses the mag switch so that’s out. You can hook up
a 12v remote switch to the VFD.

There’s no upside from a resale point of view to outfitting a
Unisaw with a new single phase motor less than 3 HP.

View danjo's profile


20 posts in 2122 days

#11 posted 10-06-2012 04:16 PM

Good input everybody. The problem that keeps me up at night is….By the time I rehab the Unisaw I could have found one like this (asking $1100 PM 66) 3hp ready to saw.



View toolie's profile


2134 posts in 2655 days

#12 posted 10-06-2012 04:46 PM

and there might be a $250 one owner hobbyist unisaw with a 52” fence and a 3hp 1ph motor about to hit CL in your area. then again, it may never happen. better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. if you like the saw you have, loren made some very good suggestions for an economical way to get the saw functioning.

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

View RipFence's profile


77 posts in 2720 days

#13 posted 10-07-2012 04:30 AM

Have you shopped for used stuff over at “OWWM”? Some of those guys will have a ton of Unisaw parts and the group is really helpful when it comes to rebuilding.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2202 days

#14 posted 10-08-2012 03:47 PM

Ditto to the restoration project!

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