Old Table Saw

Tom Wallace

Exeter, CA
Ok, I'm new, have done quite a bit of refinishing, now I'm wanting to actually build something of my own. So I'm starting to get some tools. I have 5 daughters, two steps on, two ex wives, and one wife, so, uh well funding is sometimes slim. Anyway my pop gave me this table saw. It works. No idea what or when it was made....

Look familiar to anyone? Not the prettiest, but price was right


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Looks like a Craftsman contractor saw from the 70's or so. Were great saws in their day, and still lots of them in use. I had one for over 30 years. Their weakest part is the fence, but that can be upgraded.
5 daughters, the weddings alone are enough to put you in the poorhouse--lol.

I agree with upgrading the fence. It will make a world of difference in convenience on that saw.

Also, where the blade spins, there are bearings. With the blade fully elevated and the saw UNPLUGGED!

give the blade some pressure sideways, both ways. If it feels like the bearings are bad, replace them.

You want a nice accurate blade path when its spinning.

Use some wet/dry sandpaper and de-rust the tabletop and then use wax with no SILICONE in it on the metal.

Silicone is this enemy of woodworking finishes as you already probably know.

1. Riving Knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owng8yV4ySI

2. Table Saw Tune Up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_A3Rh9y24Q

3. Blade Selection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SlkkEs-OlY
There are several after market fences available, most are $200+. If it's not in your budget, the one you have should work fine, you may just have to double check that it locks down squarely and if not adjust it until it does by bumping the rear side of the fence left or right. Measure off of the one of the miter slots to check that the distance is the same front and back when locked down. I grew up with one similar and you just made it a habit to set the distance to the blade from the fence, then measure what the distance is to one of the miter slots, then make sure the front and rear of the fence is that same distance before making a cut. If not, besides getting really bad saw marks, you can get a kickback or have your hand sucked into the path of the blade if not careful.

Follow Scott's advice and check the bearings and watch the videos. The one on table saw tuning is a good one especially.

One other note, when using a table saw, never stand behind directly behind the blade...always stand to the left of it. If your work gets wedged between the blade and fence, there is a good chance of a kickback, you don't want to be behind that piece.
Good advice so far. To further clarify the term "kickback", that is when a piece of wood is propelled backward (toward the operator) suddenly and at a high rate of speed (something like 130 mph if memory serves). Needless to say, kickback is a bad thing. It can seriously injure you.
And now a rambling opinion that you are free to skip :D.

To further define the term "kickback", this is something that many people take with a grain of salt or fail to give adequate credit to because they have never had it happen. In a best case scenario, you are cutting something and then, just like magic, the material is gone as if it vanished (this was my fortunate experience and a gift from the shop-gods as far as I'm concerned) . . . it happens that quick. Your eye cannot follow it, you cannot stop it and you cannot get out of the way. As you stand there baffled, you will hear a clunk or a bang or a crash as the piece lands somewhere in the shop.

Worse cases involve you meeting the blade or the kickback projectile meeting you. The stories of lessor kickbacks spawn from folks using small tabletop saws where one can actually overpower the saw when things go south. Once you get to the level of a decent jobsite saw up through contractor saw, cab saw and so forth, our mighty muscles become useless against this phenomena.

The gentleman below was good enough to share his mistake (cutting a small end off of a longer blank which kicked back in his face) with others as a warning in taking safety too casually. Remember that thing you read about staying out of line with the blade? He posted again about a year later and now bears a scar in the shape of a letter "L" on his forehead which he good-naturedly says stands for "loser". Kudos to him for keeping his sense of humor (sorry for the kind of gross picture, don't scroll down if it will bother you):

kickback victim.JPG

At any rate, this is not intended as a fear-tactic. We all drive cars everyday and lots more accidents happen on the road than in the shop. Put your tools in proper working order and follow your safety procedures and all will be well.

A splitter of some kind is not an option in my opinion. A poorly functioning fence or miter gauge is just asking for trouble. A tablesaw sled should be one of your first jig projects; they add safety and can make up for a poor miter gauge if that's all you have.

As mentioned, you can measure between the fence you have and the front of the blade and the rear of the blade each time you lock it down to assure it is parallel. Having had one of those fences I can pretty much tell you it will not lock down correctly by itself unless by rare accident. Double check each time, this is a safety concern.

Blade guards are another discussion as a poor one is more dangerous than not having one (this is not true of fences and guages; NEVER make a cut without a fence or a gauge/sled on the tablesaw, NEVER free hand). There is a ton of material out there on how to safely use our tools. There is a ton of experience and willingness to hole on this forum. Take advantage of it and us :thumb:.

Sorry for the long rambling tirade :eek:.

P.s. here's a pic of my 1970's Craftsman back when I had it.

Emerson Saw.jpg

That's an Align-a-Rip fence, an Incra miter gauge (ignore the shop made miter gauge fence position, you would never use one like that, it was for the pic), a PSI overarm guard/dust collection hood, a Rockler router table bolted on as an extension, etc. You can see the little plywood paddle I built over the power switch to allow me to turn the saw off with my hip. You can also see the bag of Ready-crete that I wrapped in plastic and set in the base to add mass for stability. It also has the usual suspects; machined pulleys, link belt, ZCI with splitter and so forth. Just an example of what you can do with the saw you show but, you should add the safety items first IMHO. Most of all, have fun!
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Tom, I have a similar version of that saw as well. Take the time to tune the fence and it will work great, but it does need attention from time to time to make sure it's still tuned.:thumb: I didn't tune mine right away and eventually took a piece of maple to the hand and belly on a kickback. I got very lucky compared to the guy Glenn referenced.

A fence upgrade is in my future at some time, but hasn't happened quite yet.
As freebie saws go, that one's got some good potential. It's an older US made Emerson/Craftsman contractor saw...definitely a 113....possibly a 113.298761, but they had dozens of iterations of basically the same saw. The basic design of this saw ended up in Ryobi made Cman contractor saws (315.######), and the Emerson and Ryobi made Ridgid contractor saws....all well regarded. Many of the parts are interchangeable. That steel fence was the weakest link. You might find a used Alignarip or Ridgid fence that'd be a direct bolt on, or you could scout a deal on the Delta T2 or T3 (~ $200 shipped)....or just make due with the one that's on there. If you watch Craigslist long enough, you might see one of the descendants mentioned above that has the updated fence...if it's cheap enough, buy the whole thing, take the fence, then resell it with the old Emerson fence.

In any event, get the fence and blade aligned as well as possible, and put a decent blade on it. They start at ~ $30 for a surprisingly good blade if you're selective. Good luck!
Be aware that the arbor on most of these C-man saws from the 70's, 80's & 90's has a problem it is 5/8" approximately the thickness of a blade out from the flange. The rest of the length of the arbor is just under 5/8". This can make using a stack Dado set difficult as none of the chippers & the outside blade will necessary be concentric with the blade next to the flange.

The fence on the saw I had was also complained about in WW forums of not being accurate however I used Loctite when I assembled it & it stayed accurate because the allen bolts that held the fence to the guide that clamped to the guide rail stayed in alignment. I later on gave this saw to someone that needed one but put a Ridgid fence on it first & kept the C-man fence it is a lot better more heavy duty fence the the Ridgid that went with the saw.

The C-man fence was installed on my Dad's C-man saw from the 50's. I bolted it on and checked for accuracy & it was right on the money. Of course I had already adjusted the blade tracking to the miter slots. Even Dad commented as we took off the Ridgid fence & installed the C-man fence how heavy the C-man fence & rail was compared to the Ridgid. I now have Dad's saw & will mate it with the cabinet base you see in the picture & with that base & this fence & dust collection & the 2 HP motor Dad put on it should be a nice set up along side my 1940 Unisaw.

Maybe this will give you some ideas of what you can do to improve your saw.


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