'54 Craftsman table saw (restore proj)

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Forum topic by Neodogg posted 02-17-2009 04:04 PM 5305 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 3451 days

02-17-2009 04:04 PM

Howdy, I was able to drag back my G-pa’s old Craftsman table a couple weeks ago. I was able to find the manual on and am guest-imating it to be around 1954. It is almost complete has the fence(removed for transporting), mitre gauge, and motor. I did a little test patch on the rust, does any one have any suggestions on restoring it? I was planning on taking the front plate off, sanding it all down and painting it. Also I was going to make some extension wings, couldn’t find the original one. It has the original motor, what things should I look for in that? Dad said it was rebuilt a couple years ago, I’m guessing new ball barrings? I greased up the underside and the blade moves smoothly up & down & all around. Going to have to make some blade inserts, can you use 1/4” hardboard or birch ply?

54 tablesaw

You can see a part of the ‘51 Walker-Turner drill press in the background.

Any help would be great.


-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem!

8 replies so far

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3788 days

#1 posted 02-17-2009 04:16 PM

That looks like a prodject that should keep you busy for a while. For rust, I’m a big fan of sand or bead blasting, it’s about the only way I know of to get rid of all of it. The last set of inserts I made from 3/8” masonite.

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Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3462 days

#2 posted 02-17-2009 04:57 PM

sand blasting as Woodchuck said.. also near the end of the sanding process a grinder with a cup shaped wire brush helps polish things up.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3697 days

#3 posted 02-17-2009 05:23 PM

I’ve heard great things about a product called Evaporust. Just paint it on and wait.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3747 days

#4 posted 02-17-2009 08:17 PM

What size motor: 3/4 or 1 hp? If you are going for disassembly, photo document everything before and after you are taking it apart: it will save you many headaches when you go to re-assemble it. Depending on how much it was used since the last rebuild, bearings are probably a definite. Several different options with respect to the rust, but I always use emry cloth and wet/dry sand paper with WD-40 – works good but requires a lot of work.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3417 days

#5 posted 02-17-2009 08:33 PM

I personally prefer to leave old things with the old look. I would grab Butcher’s Wax and steel wool to clean all the visible rust.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View EEngineer's profile


1103 posts in 3637 days

#6 posted 02-17-2009 09:25 PM

For the base, I’d have to go with sand or bead blasting (beads will remove less metal). If you sand the base, definitely use the cup shaped wire brush mentioned earlier or it will rust right up again, paint or no paint. The handles will clean up fairly nicely with a little scouring powder unless they are heavily pitted. Go easy on the machine-turned aluminum front plate or you’ll smooth it all off – unless it is heavily pitted, you may not need any more than a good scrubbing with a rag and some gritless cleaner.

For the top, sanding or bead/sand blasting may remove the original machining marks. That is not necessary unless the top is heavily pitted, at which point you’ll probably want the top reground anyway. Mine had minor pitting and I wanted the rust out of those pits so I used phosphoric acid (naval jelly) and a general polish with green scratchy pads to make it look like new again.

A saw this age, bearings are probably required all around (arbor and motor), clean and lube the lift and tilt mechanisms. Table extensions, blade inserts and many other parts for these saws are available on e-bay all the time.

See for info on these machines and techniques for restoring. Good luck and please post pictures during the restore process.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

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1103 posts in 3637 days

#7 posted 02-18-2009 04:14 PM

Evaporust looks very interesting. The phosphoric acid I used created nasty fumes and a slight disposal problem. Of course, it is an acid, so normal cautions about eye irritation, etc. apply. If I understand the chemistry behind Evaporust correctly, this is not an issue with it.

Has anyone tried this yet? I’ve got a couple other cast-iron tables to clean this summer.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3697 days

#8 posted 02-18-2009 05:21 PM


I’ve read about it on a different forum from people cleaning up old hand tools and such. It is a toss up between that and a brew made with Citric Acid that people are loving.

Electrolysis works and that’s what I use as I’m setup for it, but larger parts gets difficult without a large power supply and a swimming pool so I’m interested in these chemical methods.

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