old dewalt radial arm saw renovation

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Forum topic by awlee posted 12-07-2013 12:38 PM 2033 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 2561 days

12-07-2013 12:38 PM

I just picked up a 1958 Dewalt MBF radial arm saw—just a great machine that still runs smoothly and cuts true. I want to ask the group’s advice about cleaning some surface gunk, stains, and a tiny bit of rust. I’ve read some of the older posts on Lumberjocks about renovating these saws, which mention “cleaning,” and I’m hoping you can tell me more details about what type of solvent or cleaner. I don’t want to remove or abrade that beautiful teal and speckled finish on the original. I’ve read posts on other sites that talk about sandblasting—eek, not what I want to do. Thanks a lot.

4 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5241 posts in 2733 days

#1 posted 12-07-2013 01:17 PM

The normal paint on those saws is a stippled, or rough, surface. It can be a little tough to clean but a stiff bristle brush can do wonders. You might also do a little dis assembly, remove the carriage and clean/oil the rollerhead bearings. I repainted mine, but I used a wire brush in a 4” grinder to remove most of the OEM paint, so you don’t have to sandblast. Sandblasting isn’t really that expensive, and a lot easier. The column screw may also need some cleaning, and some lube. If you have the carriage off, clean the ways (the grooves the rollerhead bearings ride in) they sometimes get packed with a sawdust grease mixture….do not put any lube on them. I would encourage you to replace the motor bearings….unless someone already did it, they will need it….with worn out bearings the motor will coast forever on shut down, and it may be noisy as well. the cost of new bearings is about $20-$30, and it’s really not hard though you do need a way to remove/install bearings (duh!). If you want to send me your e-mail (PM) I can send you 2 pdf files on rebuilding a Dewalt, the first is a cliff-notes rebuild article written by a real genius on these saws (Roger Hill), the second is a tune up approach that gets it laser accurate. They both use a 925 as the example, but everything (except some minor differences on the motor) applies to the older models as well. Those are great saws, and well worth some effort to rebuild. Here’s what mine looked like after a little rehabbing:

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View shampeon's profile


1897 posts in 2423 days

#2 posted 12-07-2013 05:00 PM

Fred’s got you on the right track. Those saws are great. I would use some diluted Simple Green and a stiff brush to clean the machine. There’s no need for stripping and repainting unless the the paint is in terrible shape.

If you’re missing any knobs, it’s impossible to find maroon replacements. You can find black or red new ones. Otherwise you’re SOL.

Find a negative rake crosscut blade to keep the blade from climbing the cut.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View awlee's profile


23 posts in 2561 days

#3 posted 12-10-2013 01:17 PM

Thanks very much, these are really helpful suggestions. Great job on your saw, Fred.

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3003 days

#4 posted 12-10-2013 08:07 PM

You got your self a good one, made right here in the U.S. of A.!

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

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