Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fixing up Vintage Table Saws Part 2

In my last entry I bought and fixed up a vintage Craftsman table saw from around 1972.  I found this saw on Craigslist but initially it was not the one I wanted.  The one that I did want to buy was bigger and had a belt driven motor, but I never heard back from the guy selling it.

It took days for me to remove the rust and dirt and I had to remake the extensions and put the whole thing on a mobile base.  The only problem I have with this saw right now is that when turned on it trips the surge protector in my workshop.  So I'm waiting for my friend to stop by and see why it's doing that.

I was all set to make this my new, primary table saw, but then I finally heard back from the first guy I contacted on Craigslist and he still had his table saw.  In fact he was giving it away!  So I drove to his place and picked up this beauty.

This saw is bigger than the first one, has considerably less rust on the top and insides, and runs on a belt-driven motor.

This is a slightly later model built around 1975.

It does have some imperfections - most notably the handle that lifts and lowers the blade is broken.  Just the handle - not the whole mechanism.

The first table saw was much more quieter than my HF saw, but this one is even quieter.

And it's easy to get square!  This is the biggest problem I had with my Harbor Freight table saw - no matter how hard I tried the blade would never stay at a perfect 90 degree angle with the table top or fence for very long.

I brought this saw home late one night so I couldn't wait for morning to come.

The next morning I took a few more beauty shots of it.

Aside from the bolts and side of the table, there's virtually no rust on this thing.

The top has almost no rust as well, but someone did paint on the alphabet.

This saw is not as heavy as the first one, but it is still pretty heavy and difficult to move around.  But instead of making a frame with casters on it, I will utilize the cart from my HF table saw - which I won't be using anymore.

I removed everything from the cart and cleaned it up.

Then, using my jigsaw, I removed the slanted sides which were once attached to the sides of the HF saw.

I trimmed the excess wood I cut with a flush trim bit on my palm router.

Then I sanded...

...and I put the new saw on the cart.

Not exactly a perfect fit, but it works well.  The new saw then was attached with screws and washers from the inside.

Before I went any further I needed to do something about that handle.  I drilled a hole through it and inserted a long bolt and nuts to make a makeshift handle.  This will work until I am able to track down and buy - or make -a proper handle.

Next I cut some more of the 1x4 wood I have to cover up the gap on both sides of the cart, near the base of the new saw.

This will keep the saw dust from flying around a little.

To remove the paint I decided to try out the furniture stripper, since it did a good job on a recent dresser restoration.

The stripper did alright, but most of the paint was removed with lacquer thinner. The little bit of rust that was on the top didn't come off with the stripper at all.

But I'll get back to removing that rust once I buy some more vinegar from the store.  Next I wanted to tackle the insert plate for the new table saw.

The insert sits a little low on the table because it is missing 3 of 4 small screws meant for adjusting the height of the plate.

These screws are tiny.  I eventually bought a bunch of similar sized screws from Lowes, but none of them fit.

But I was able to use 3 screws from unused countersinking drill bits that were the exact size.  Using the Allen key that came with the countersinks, I was able to adjust the height of the insert to match the table.

There is one not-so-positive thing about this saw is the fence.  It's identical to the perfect fence on the first saw, but this one sticks a lot.  I wound up taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning each piece.

The plastic pieces on the bottom of both ends were a bit worn so I swapped them with the pieces from the first table saw's fence. Since the first table saw fence is much smaller and lighter, the worn pieces shouldn't do too much to affect it.  But this fence is longer and heavier and needs all the help it can get.

After cleaning the new pieces, the fence worked well - but still not as well as the other fence.  But it's a degree that I can live with.

Next I wanted to adjust all the jigs I had made for my HF saw so that they fit on the new saw.  First up was my cross sled.

As you can see the tracks don't match.

I removed the screws from the tracks on the sled and began removing them with a chisel.  These were made of MDF so they weren't too difficult to remove.

Then I sanded the bottom smooth.

Next I cut some new runners out of pine.

These fit in the slots perfectly!

Then I added glue and positioned the sled on top of the runners, and flat against the fence (which is parallel to the blade).

When dry, I drilled holes with countersinks and added screws.

The sled works beautifully, but is a little stiff.

I added some furniture wax to the runners...

...and then it glided perfectly!

Although I glued it on backwards.  The old back is now the new front.  No biggie.

I also discovered that my HF feather board fits perfectly in the tracks of this saw.  Finally!  I could never figure out why Harbor Freight sells a feather board that doesn't work with a Harbor Freight Table saw.

With the sled done and the feather board finally of use, I next turned to my other jigs that were once made for my old saw.  Revising these to work on the new saw took very little time.

For the time being I have all of my push sticks on the bottom of the cart.

But I liked having them on the side like before, so I went about reattaching them.

I even drilled a small hole in the cart to hold the small Allen key that adjusts the small screws on the plate insert.

The wires that once got in the way on the floor...

...are now clamped to the side of the cart.

And it fits nicely in the corner.  It sticks out a bit more than the other saws did, but that's okay.

The next day I decided to further clean the extensions.

They're not terrible looking, but could be made a little nicer.

So I used some vinegar and a scouring pad to remove some of the dirt and paint that had accumulated there for God knows how long.

And after some time scrubbing, the extensions look better.

Better.  Not perfect, but better.

I then cleaned off the whole top with some lacquer thinner.

Then I decided to make a new miter gauge to fit this saw.  To do this I'm going to use a different miter gauge that doesn't fit.

First I cut a new runner made out of pine.

I trimmed the pine to a reasonable length at the miter saw.

Next I disassembled the old miter gauge.

Using the old runner as a template, I traced the holes onto the pine runner I just made.

Then I drilled the holes to match the old runner.

And finally reassembled it.

And now I have a miter gauge that fits the tracks of my new saw!

Squaring up the miter gauge is easy with a speed square.


Then I just went about cutting pieces of wood for fun.

The cart has a dust containment system which consists of an empty area beneath the saw to collect dust.  I clean it up by opening the door in the front and vacuuming out the dust.

However, the back of the saw is open - which may not be the best to containing dust.  In time I'll see how much dust this creates.

At this point there were 3 table saws in my garage workshop.  Both Craftsman saw are on mobile bases.  The HF saw was just on the floor. 

This stand is in not-great shape, but I figured I could clean it up a bit and make it work for my HF saw.  

Also, having a stand for this saw might make it a bit easier to sell.  So I put the stand on my work benches.

I began using the wire brush on my angle grinder when I realized that the stand is a little wobbly, even after tightening all the bolts.

So I decided to use a piece of plywood to both stabilize the stand, plus make a surface for the saw to connect to.  I placed the saw on the plywood and outlined it.

Then I trimmed the plywood on the table saw.

I connected the stand to the plywood with screws and washers.

Then I drilled holes in each corner of the plywood.

This was so I could cut out a space for saw dust to fall through when in use.  It's not the prettiest or even straightest cuts, but it won't be seen when the saw is connected.

Then I went on with cleaning the stand.  Because of a lot of the heavy rust, I decided to try out a sanding disc on the angle grinder.

This took off the rust and crud quite easily.

Once the stand was as clean as I could get it, I spray painted it with leftover gold paints I had.  Black would have been better, but I ran out and didn't feel like buying anything new at this point.  This gold paint was always a bit runny, but it looks better than the raw metal and rusty stand did.

While the paint dried I then created a mobile base, pretty much like the one I built for the first Craftsman saw.

When the stand was dry I connected it to the base.

Then I connected the plywood top...

...and finally my old saw.

The gold stand and the blue body of the saw actually look good together.  Perhaps the new owner of this saw will find an easier way to get the blade to be square.  Again, I really enjoyed this saw - it's a great hobby table saw, and I've simply grown past it.

Both of these new saws are great and just need their one little thing to make them complete. My friend (who is quite busy) hasn't shown up yet to fix the electronics of the first saw, and I have yet to find the handle to the second saw.  So to end this lengthy blog entry, I'll do a comparison of all my table saws.  

Craftsman #1 works great (when it doesn't trip the surge protector).  The sliding fence is the best out of all of my saws.  It's compact enough and is in the middle when it comes to noise.  The blade is easy to get square and the top is super smooth.  It however is the heaviest of all the saws, and the brittle, heavy extensions are a negative for me.  But as I did, the extensions can be remade with lighter materials.

The Harbor Freight saw is by far the lightest and most compact of all my table saws.  That is probably the only positive I have at the moment.  It's the loudest saw by far.  The fence isn't great and it's almost impossible to get the blade to be square with the table or fence.  The fence itself is wonky at times, locking in a position not-parallel to the blade.  There are also no extensions sold for this saw to make the top longer.  This is one of the reasons I built a new top and new fence for the saw.

This saw can accept a dado blade, but only to about 3/8" (that's as thick as I've had it).  But it's a powerful saw for the money I spent on it, and it's a great saw for a beginner.  At this point in my woodworking life, I can move past beginner equipment.

And finally to Craftsman saw #2.  This one is my favorite, and is the largest by far - this can be a positive or a negative.  Since I have the space for it, this is a positive for me.  The 2 extensions are not as fragile as the Craftsman 1, and have solid tops so I can use it as a surface to work off of (unlike the table saw #1's original extensions which are perforated). This saw has a belt-driven motor which makes it the quietest of all the saws and the easiest to maintain.  The fence works okay - it does get stuck often.  This saw is easy to square up and adjusting the insert plate is a great bonus.  It's not as heavy as the saw #1 but definitely not light. 

And with that I'll end this entry.  I still have more in store for these 2 Craftsman saws, so come back soon!