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Welcoming a new friend into the WOOD Magazine shop

After months, heck, years of anticipation the new Delta Unisaw is firmly planted in our WOOD Magazine shop. It arrived last week, and I tore into it Friday after clearing out a space in the shop. With help from a curious throng of spectators (oh wait, those were other WOOD editors), we got it uncrated and set into place in almost no time.


First order of business was attaching the cast iron extension wings, and then leveling them with the table. Using a Starrett 4′ steel straightedge and a 2×4 (as a third arm) I got the wings perfectly flush with minimal effort. One thing I like is the use of setscrews to level the wings, so you don’t need brash shim material as in the past. Very nice.


Next, I fastened legs to the extension table. It’s a substantially-built table with steel framework. Here I’m adding clips to hold the rip fence.

The magnetic power switch is beefy, too. The box secures to the table wing without any flex or wobble, and the “on” switch is recessed enough that you can’t accidentally turn it on. The “off” switch is easy to bump off with a thigh.
Leveling the extension table proved to be the trickiest part of the setup, because the provided flat washers kept raising the table as I tightened the bolts. Problem was the bolts were just slightly too large in diameter, and rolled up the bend in the angled steel. Finally, we ground flats on the washers to avoid the corner, and that took care of it. From there, adding the fence rails was a breeze.

Fully assembled, but still not ready for action.

I checked the arbor shaft for runout, and found it ran .005″ out of round. Curiously, though, the arbor flange was only .002″ out of round at its outer rim. And when I checked runout with a Forrest registration plate the runout was down to .0015″. I don’t know why it got better, but it needed no adjustment. I talked with engineers from Delta who created this saw, and they agreed those runout numbers seem out of whack. They suggested that my testing method of spinning the blade by pulling on the belts likely introduced some deflection to the arbor. When I tested with the Forrest plate I turned the plate itself, which they said supports their theory. At any rate, the runout where it counts—at the point of cut—was a negligible amount.

Incidentally, I like the one-piece arbor nut/washer. (There’s a single nut for use with wide dado setups.) It’s also nice to have a throat opening large enough (5″ wide) to get my hand in to change blades.

The blade bevel settings were dead-on right out of the box.

If adjustments were needed, the bevel stops are located on the front of the saw on the outside of the cabinet (the large hex bolts above the handwheels). No need to reach deep inside to make those changes. I like having both the blade height and bevel handwheels on the front, but I also found during use that without looking I frequently grabbed the bevel wheel when I wanted to change the blade height. Better keep the bevel wheel locked to avoid accidental changes.
The top was aligned to the blade within .0015″ out of the box, so I didn’t need to make adjustments. If I had, the four hex socket screws are easily accessible below the top. This requires a 10mm hex wrench, which Delta does not provide. The Biesemeyer rip fence was too tight out of the box and would not slide freely on the fence rail. Because I also had to adjust it square, it was only a few minute turns of the two adjustment screws.

The miter gauge is pretty common, except for the nine detent settings, which are adjustable from the bottom. It was not set accurately out of the box, but we easily fixed that. This gauge will work, but I still wish tablesaw manufacturers would partner with a company like Incra or JessEm and include a high-quality, hyper-accurate miter gauge with these very nice saws.
The storage drawer under the extension table is a nice feature, particularly if you don’t build your own cabinet for storage of blades and other accessories.

Okay, so I finally got around to using this saw. I ripped and crosscut all kinds of wood of varying dimensions, and not surprisingly, the Unisaw powered its way through everything without even once bogging down. You wouldn’t expect a 3-hp saw to bog down, but I had to check. One of the things I noticed early on is that the dust collection is average at best. To be fair, our central system is plumbed with a 4″ drop to fit the saw that used to sit in this spot. This Unisaw has a 5″ port and comes with a 5-to-4 reducer, which I used. I suspect it collects better on 5″ duct. I’ll have to check that later. I suspect, though, that most users will have 4″ ducts.

UPDATE: After testing this saw with a single-stage dust collector and a portable cyclone, both with 4″ and 5″ flex-hose, I’m convinced there’s no problem with the Unisaw’s dust-collection abilities. It does, however, clear debris much better with 5″ duct, as you might expect. After further investigating, we found a problem with the filter on our central-system cyclone that was choking air flow.
For now, a good bit of dust accummulates behind the blade on the table surface; usually dust sprays in my face on a tablesaw, but with this one it goes out the back more.

The dust shroud around the blade corrals most of the dust and funnels it directly by 4″ flex-hose into the dust port. (When I was making thin cutoffs, they fell through the standard throat plate into the shroud and stayed there.)

For any dust that escapes into the cabinet, the dust port has a narrow opening below the 4″ inner port to help suck up loose dust. I found this only worked with the dust that got close to the port. Again, that might improve with 5″ duct. (This photo was taken before the strips collected in the blade shroud, shown above.)

Another feature I really like about this saw is the quick-release riving knife/guard assembly. You activate the clamp by a lever under the front fence rail, and the riving knife slips into it in one of three positions, no tools needed. Remove the guard and anti-kickback pawls (an easy, tool-less job), and the knife works great on its own to prevent kickback. The guard and pawls work well, including on 45° bevels, but as with any guards they get in the way with narrow rip cuts and dadoes.

Delta did not send us a dado throat insert or zero-clearance insert, so I made some from poplar, an easy task at the router table. I appreciate that when installing my shop-made inserts, the 10″ blade lowers fully below the level of the plate, so I don’t have to make any relief cuts prior to cutting the zero-clearance kerf. I wish all tablesaws had this feature.

We’ve got a lot of work to do with the Unisaw yet, so I can’t give a full rundown of its performance. But the initial showing looks promising for the next generation of an industry standard now in its eighth decade. Read a full review of the Delta Unisaw in the September issue of WOOD Magazine, due out in mid-July.

Bob Hunter

Tools & Techniques Editor

WOOD Magazine

Categories: wood | Tags: , , ,
1 Comment

One Response to “Welcoming a new friend into the WOOD Magazine shop”

  1. Was wondering how this new saw stacks up with the PM-66. I have the 66 with a Bies fence and the three horse Baldor. (all USA made) Dado insert came with saw. Thanks for the review.

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