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I have finally assembled my new Unisaw.  Compared to my old Craftsman Contractor saw the Delta Unisaw is a BEAST!  I brought it home on the back of my Pickup truck and had to unload it myself.  The saw weighs in at over 600 pounds so I will let you imagine how I got it off the pickup truck.  The first thing I did was inventory the main components; remember I bought this at bargain hut so the Biesemeyer fence, extension wing legs and all the hardware to put it together is missing.  I ordered the 78-919BT2 Biesemeyer fence on Amazon which came with everything I was missing.  The fence box arrived in horrible shape but the contents where in perfect condition.  I also bought the 50-257 Mobile base because I do occasionally have to move the saw.  I can tell you the Mobile base makes moving the 600+ pound saw a breeze, literally one hand operation.

I began with the mobile base.  It was pretty straight forward and easy to assemble.  Getting the saw from the pallet on to the mobile station is another challenge.  I literally used brute force and some gentle persuasion and got it on the mobile base.  Once on the base it was easy to move to a better location for assembly.  I then moved on to inventory the parts from the Unisaw and the Biesemeyer instruction manual.  Most of the assembly  assembly instructions are in the Fence manual.  The inventory revealed that extra bolts, nuts, and washers are included in the kit.

Once I had all the hardware I began the step by step instructions from the manual.  They were fairly easy to follow with photos to assist in visually coordinating the process.  The cast iron extension wings were first.  This was quite a task especially as an one man job.  The wings are very heavy so I had to incorporate ingenuity using outfeed supports to help hold the wings up while I bolted the wings on.  The hard or difficult part with the extension wings is leveling them with the actual tabletop.  This took a couple of hours using a Veritas Aluminum straight edge, socket wrench, and allen wrench for the set screws.  I found the trick to getting them level is to coordinate tightening the main bolts with adjusting the set screws.  It was trial and error but I finally got it to about .0015 inches across the whole table and both extensions.  Is this amount of accuracy necessary, I guess it is since I went there?

Once the Wings are installed you start using the Biesemeyer fence manual for the rest of the major assembly.  I can tell you the rails are very heavy and once again I had to use my feed supports to assist.  One tip I can relay to you is the rail support / angle iron that supports the rail tube for the fence T-square needs to be adjusted about an 1/8 to 1/4″ higher from the leveler point.  The kit includes a metal leveling / positioning jig that places the angle iron square and level to the tabletop.  What I learned is this setting is too low and the fence drags on the table on the close end of the fence near the T-square which keeps it from gliding on the UHMW glide bearings on the bottom of the fence.  To keep from having to disassemble the guide tube and extension table I raised the guide tube using the extra 1/4″ inch washers sandwiched between the angle iron and guide tube threaded on the screws that hold the tube to the rail.  The washers are about 1/8″ thick.  This brought the fence just right and glides nicely along the rail tube.  I did have to plane a little off the bottom of the fence faces to allow contact of the front UHMW glide bearings and prevent fence faces from dragging on the top.

The fence was square to the miter slot and the miter slot was square to the saw blade.  I think deflection on the saw blade to miter slot was about .0001 of an inch.  I checked using a dial gauge attached to a jig that slides along the slot.  The fence was about .001 off but for me that is fairly accurate over 31 inches.  I did have to adjust the Angle indicator on the saw.  At zero degrees it was reading 1 or 2 degrees.  at 45 degrees it read 43.  This requires removing the protective window on the angle indicator and making adjustments inside.  It would be nice if the dial indicator allowed the indicator backing to turn from a bezel on the exterior to dial it in like a machinist dial indicator; that is petty complaint and just a thought.

Once I had everything together and dialed in I moved the saw to its location in my shop.  I checked to make sure the blade was tight.  I adjusted the throat plate to be level.  I adjusted the riving knife to the full up position.  The riving knife is pretty easy and nice to work with.  There is a lever in the front of the cabinet just under the table.  The lever allows the riving knife locking mechanism to disengage to move the riving knife up and down in height or completely remove it.  You do not have to remove the riving knife when using a dado set just completely lower it.  The kickback pawls and blade guard can be added or removed easily with one hand but the riving knife must be in the full up position.  A 5″ dust port is built in and the saw comes with a 5 inch to 4 inch reducer.  The blade has a shroud with a hose connected to it and the cabinet has a chute that is angled towards the dust port so what the shroud doesn’t get falls down the chute to the dust port.  I haven’t done a lot of cutting yet but it seems to be fairly effective for collecting dust.

I am ready to test this saw’s capabilities.  I grabbed some 8/4 oak left over from a door project.   I lined up my fence and checked the distance in comparison to the hairline indicator on the rail tape and made a quick adjustment to the hairline indicator.  I turned on the saw and was surprised at the instantaneous power.  The saw runs smooth as silk and is very quite.  I can actually have a conversation without excessively raising my voice.   Please remember I am comparing this to my old saw.  I moved the 8/4 oak through the blade with effortless movement.  The Full kerf blade cut the wood like a hot knife though butter without any sign of strain.  I could hear the angels sing, fireworks exploding, see more clearly and vibrant and float on air; it was that wonderful.

Now let me breakdown my pros and cons:

Pros:
Adjustment wheels in front
Power and accuracy
Riving Knife adjustment
Easy one hand blade guard and pawl removal and mounting
Out of the box accuracy
Dust collection
Built in USA
Ultra smooth and quiet

Cons:
Lack of Fence fine adjustment knob / tuner
No additional options / add-ons such as router table extensions or outfeed extensions
Too many alterations in fence and rail install

Overall I am very pleased with the the Delta Unisaw 36-L552.  It provides the power, stability and accuracy I wanted and needed.  The cabinet is solid the table is extremely flat and just makes me smile everytime I see it.  Most of all I paid over 50% less from retail price and it was actually built this year according to the manufacturers ID plate.  I will install a router table insert and build a routing fence jig that fits over my Biesemeyer fence.  I do not have a router table and find myself needing one quite often so that will be my first modification to the this saw.  If you have any questions or comments please leave a comment below.
 

 

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great review. I’m thinking about buying the same saw and I see where you said you bought yours for half what they retail and was wondering where you found that deal?

    • Matt thanks for your comment. The saw was brought to my attention by a co-worker. I have been talking about a new saw for several months and had broken it down to the Delta 36-L352. My co-worker just so happened to stop by a store called Bargain Hut which is next door to a Harbor Freight. He saw the Saw there and told me about it. This model was the 5HP 552 model which was even better. I called the store and told them I was going to buy it and left in the middle of work to pay for and pick up the saw. This Saw retails for about 2800 and I got it for a little more than half that price. Bargain Hut is one of those stores that gets it inventory from stores that go out of business. So really lucked out and got the saw I wanted and more.


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