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Thread: Saving a Unisaw from the scrap yard

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie

    Saving a Unisaw from the scrap yard

    I have posted this before else where. Since I recently posted photo in another thread I thought it only fair to my saws ego to post "the rest of the story".

    Just a brief history on the saw. It was used in a small cabinet shop in Birmingham AL. The owner worked days at the Steel plant and ran his own cabinet shop at night. Full time according to his son, Sam. Dad had a stroke in his latter years and was unable to ever work again. The one thing he made clear was that his shop machines were to be kept! He expected to be able to go to work again but never did. He died several years latter and with the machines in storage.

    I will skip forward 20+ years when I met Sam, his son. The machines were in his garage in Winona Mississippi and as you can see storage had taken their toll on them. Had we not meet this saw was headed for the scrap yard.

    While many people would have thought that the scrap yard was the perfect place for the saw. I could see it for what it was, a diamond in the rough.

    I had never restored a wood working machine but it looked to me like restoring a car just on a much smaller scale. Having been a gear-head all my life and having lost interest in cars this looked straight forward and fun to me. I started tearing it down to it's basic components and then once it there was nothing left to disassemble I knew I must be done with this part.

    From here I stated removing the rust from the cabinet. All the rusty parts were stripped to bare metal and primed. Then it received a few coats of the very famous and highly debated (in OWWM circles anyway) Delta gray. Then I moved on cleaning the other parts of the saw.

    What I found was a saw that had actually been taken care of. I had but a few screws that I had to replaced. The saw was in very good condition. The motor was not acting exactly rights so I sent it to the shop for a complete rebuild. Other than the years of neglect the saw could have been used with just some lubrication on the moving parts. With all the pieces cleaned and painted I started to put it back together.

    One thing you may notice in the photos is that I did not try to restore the saw to factory condition. That is I didn't paint the inside of the cabinet except where there was rust. I didn't clean and polish pieces that did not show . Since I planned on using the saw heavily instead of looking at it, I saw no reason in making the hidden parts look new. I cleaned them and protected them. I just didn't worry about it being showroom new on the insides.

    These photos show her done and dusty. The way I like to see old machines. I have used this saw for a few months now I know why people love their cabinet saws. As I have said many times before It doesn't cut the wood any better than my contractors saw, but is sure is a pleasure to use. Had I not been given this saw I would still be using my contractors saw and perfectly happy with it. But this saw is special because of story behind it. Sam and I both think it would make his father proud to see it looking like new and being used again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Great restoration job Jeff! And great pictures and description of the job as well, thanks.
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Very nice job on the saw

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Super store and a great saw.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    cool story jeff! ya` done sams paw proud!
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Northville, MI
    Nice job. Looks like more work than I would be willing to do, I'm kinda lazy.

  7. #7
    Nicely done, Jeff. Restored old iron is a beautiful sight.

    I curious though. Was there much pitting from the heavy rust?

    Did you just paint over the pitting or did you fill it?

    Did you chemical strip or sand blast?

    I love to watch resto in the process. I rebuilt a basket case 66 El Camino a few years back and can appreciate all of the elbow grease you put into your Uni.

  8. #8
    Fantastic job! That saw is ready for another 40+ years! A good portion of my tools were considered junk by others - after a bit of work, they have been serving me well.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    That's a great resto job, Jeff. Ya done good. I don't really have the room to do a project like that, but someday I'd like to dive into something like it. I have a line on a 12" Parks planer that's in pieces, so perhaps that'll be my "old iron" indoctrination.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Thanks guys. I meant to ad there are more photos on my web site. Excelsior Woodworks

    Vaughn, from what I hear those Parks are great planers. I know they are sought after in the Old Wood Working Machines group I run it. Not the easiest thing to rebuild for the first project but worth the effort! Actually the rebuild is probably not that hard, It's the set up that can make you pull out your hair out. But by all means go after that thing. Even if you don't want I am sure someone will. Just don't let it get scrapped!

    I just finished a PM-100 planer rebuild and set up was not hard. I just learned there is a specific order in which you have to do everything. Else, you get to do it three times like I did before you get it right. Three days latter I finally had it planing beautifully. But thats another post for another day.

    George, I wanted to dip the base in an electrolysis tank but I was in a hurry to get this one going. Couldn't find a tank it would fit in. I am about do do a shaper and still looking for big enough tank. I sanded and ground it down with disc sander. Primed it and then used glazing compound to fill the small imperfections. It lots good from 5 feet away If you get up close there are some small imperfections but I wasn't aiming for automotive quality finish either. Because of the overhanging tables it simple does not show and I know it's going to get scratched up because I use it.

    When I do the shaper it's cabinet will be more visible so I will take a bit more time on it. It's not as bad rusted as this one was either. So it should be an easier job.

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