January 30, 2014

Restoring a 1977 Rockwell (Delta) 34-461 Unisaw

My journey restoring a 1977 Rockwell International (Delta) 34-461 Unisaw

Backstory

Early in January I stumbled upon a great deal on a Rockwell International (Delta) Unisaw from the 70′s on Craigslist. Knowing that a Unisaw is a timeless classic table saw, its age of 37 years old did not matter. All it meant was a little elbow grease was going to be needed to have the table saw running like it did when it left the factory.

Thanks to the good folks at OWWM.org and VintageMachinery.org, I was able to identify that the Unisaw was built in 1977 in Tupelo, MS plus learn a ton of other information that is proving to be critical to the restoration process. Owwm.org and VintageMachinery.org are both essential resources for tool restoration. The depth and breadth of knowledge available is amazing!

Game plan

My game plan is to completely disassemble, clean, paint, and rebuild the saw in preparation for another 30 years of service. I am also replacing the arbor bearings and will likely replace the motor bearings too.

Visual Guide of Progress

Condition at time of purchase.
Unisaw-As Purchased
Unisaw-As Purchased
Unisaw-As Purchased
Unisaw-As Purchased

Detailed pictures before starting the restoration.
Unisaw Pre Restoration
Unisaw Pre Restoration
Unisaw Pre Restoration
Unisaw Pre Restoration
Unisaw Pre Restoration

Cabinet cleaned with Mineral Spirits to remove contact cement all over it.
Unisaw Cabinet Cleaned
Unisaw Cabinet Cleaned

Internal castings after Soda blasting, new arbor bearings, and painting with Rust-Oleum Machine Grey paint.
Unisaw Castings Painted

Custom mounted electrical control box recessed into the cabinet.
unisaw-starter-box-inside-cabinet-overall
unisaw-starter-box-outside-close
unisaw-starter-box-outside-with-cover

Inside of cabinet primed
Unisaw inside of cabinet primed
Unisaw inside of cabinet primed
Unisaw inside of cabinet primed

Exterior of cabinet with holes filled and ready for final sanding before priming. This is where I am at with the project as of today.
Unisaw Cabinet Ready For Final Sanding
Unisaw Cabinet Ready For Final Sanding
Unisaw Cabinet Ready For Final Sanding

~Nathan

11 Responses to “Restoring a 1977 Rockwell (Delta) 34-461 Unisaw”

  1. Kevin Nickell says:

    Nate,

    I can’t wait for you to post more pictures of the progress. That saw is going to be awesome. My dial indicator is available to you for calibrating the saw if you need it.

  2. Nathan says:

    Thanks Kevin. I will be needing that dial indicator in about another 2-3 weeks. I will likely have some more bearings to press though. I want to change the bearings in the motor as I hear it is fairly straight forward.

  3. Scott Franklin says:

    Looks great. I have an early unisaw much like yours that belonged to my Grandfather. I have been using it a lot lately but it has seen better days. I was going to undertake a project like yours to rebuild the old girl and upgrade the fence and make it a great saw again. I will be watching your progress for sure. Best of luck!

    Scott

  4. I use the same model as you restored; Mine is in good shape. I’ve never used a splitter, but plan to use a narrow-kerf blade that raiies the anti on binding. There is a fixed installation to receive a splitter, but I’ve not figured out how to install one. A splitter inserted (the clamping part is fixed)will be offset from the blade track. Likely something obvious I’m not seeing. How does it work?

  5. I have a Unisaw Model 34-461 (Rockler). I want to install a splitter in the adapter that is ahead of the blade. I don’t see how to install a aplitter without it being offset from the blade track. I don’t see a convenient way to adjust the clamp so the inserted splitter precisely follows the blade track.

    Hal Lindstrom
    Ellensburg,

  6. Nathan says:

    Hal,

    I do not have the splitter for the 34-461. I beleive what you are looking for is a riving knife, which Detla and Rockwell did not offer for these Unisaws. I believe around 2005 is when Delta redesigned the Unisaw to incorporate an internal mechanism that allows for a riving knife.

    The Bork is the only retrofit riving style knife available for this era of Unisaws. Be sure to do your research on the Bork as it has its downsides. I myself decide against purchasing a Bork since I would still have to manual adjust the splitter when I want a stop cut.

  7. David Winick says:

    Nicely done

    I have the same saw which was purchased from the original owner who had a custom cabinet shop in 1998. It’s a fine tool. You can balance a nickel on edge on the bed when running.
    My shop is full of Delta and Delta-Rockwell machines. I just picked up a 12″ RAS model 33-890 on CL for 200 bucks. It’s like new. Seems fewer people use power tools and they are flooding the market. Pity.

  8. Dear sir I need to purchase a manual for a Delta Rockwell 10 inch uinsaw 34-461 can you tell me where I might purchase the manual for 34-461 thank you for your time and consideration in this matter Darryle

  9. Nathan says:

    Ebay is liking going to be your best bet. You could also try calling Delta and see what they say. VintageMachinery.org may also have a scanned copy of a manual.

  10. David Beede says:

    Hey Nathan, I just picked up this very saw for $100 but it has no fence and is 3 phase. I’ve ordered the Teco FM-50-203-C VFD to handle the 3 phase issue. I’ve found the Delta Unifence [it has the rail] is no longer available, so I’m studying fence systems. Did you ever finish this project? I’m not sure how deep I’ll go into mine and will know more after getting it running. Probably new bearings. Do you have advice on the most important items for function, if I’m okay with the cosmetics of the beast. Thanks again for your documentation. Very inspirational. Best, David

  11. Nathan says:

    Yes I did finish my restoration David, check out http://nathanhein.com/2014/03/restored-rockwell-unisaw/.

    New bearings is a great idea. In short, do it while you have the saw apart/not tuned. Tuning the saw (blade, table, fence alignment) takes hours to get right. No need to tune these things and then find out your bearings are bad or near end of life.

    Thanks,
    Nate

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