Since 1939, Delta table saws (more specifically, the Unisaw models) have been somewhat of a benchmark in woodworking cabinet saws. Over the years, the company has offered a number of different sizes of table saws, including portable and contractor-type models (I actually own a 15+ year old Delta contractor table saw).
Currently, the Unisaw line of cabinet saws are the only models they offer. The current crop of Delta Unisaw machines get excellent owner reviews; in fact, I did not find a single negative review of the new Unisaw.
A new line of Delta Unisaw models became available in early 2009. They all have the same features and are essentially the same saw, just with different extension table sizes and motors. The features that are common to all four of the new style Delta table saws are:
- 31" x 40" cast iron tabletop including cast iron extension wings. More table surface in front of the blade than other tools in its class makes it easier to cut long pieces of wood accurately.
- A Biesemeyer fence system is standard on all new models of the Delta tablesaw.
- Extension table with storage drawer. The drawer has an organizer for accessories (up to 5 blades, the blade guards, throat plates, riving knives, blade wrench, push stick, etc.). There are also storage cradles for the miter gauge and fence under the extension.
- 4300 RPM blade speed, left tilting blade, and a 1-1/8" maximum dado width. Wide throat plate opening makes it easier to change the saw blade. Easy access blade lock lever eliminates the need for two blade wrenches on the Delta tablesaw.
- Tool-free split guard with anti-kickback pawls and an adjustable-height riving knife are easy to remove and adjust. You get a clear view of the cut line, and it is easy to convert from through cuts to non-through cuts and swap out different thickness riving knives as needed.
- Single cast, one piece trunion system that is more accurate and precise than trunion assemblies that are made from several different parts bolted together. The new Delta Unisaw is the only saw in its class with this feature.
- Dual front cranks make it easy to adjust blade height and angle from the front of the saw.
- Dual dust collection system has a shroud that collects dust that is thrown directly off the blade, plus gets the dust that falls to the bottom of the cabinet.
- Manufactured in the US, using American-made parts for the major components, and the Delta tablesaw comes with a 5-year warranty.
Here is a video showing many of the features of the new Delta Unisaw:
As I said earlier, the new model Delta table saws are all basically the same saw, with different motors and extension tables. The models are:
- 36-L336: 3 HP motor, 230V single phase, 36" maximum rip to the right side of the blade.
- 36-L352: 3 HP motor, 230V single phase, 52" maximum rip to the right side of the blade.
: 5 HP motor, 230V single phase, 52" maximum rip to the right side of the blade.
: 5 HP motor, 230V three phase, 52" maximum rip to the right side of the blade.
Most owners of the new model Delta table saws are very pleased with the performance and features. It is reported to be a smooth, quiet, and sturdy piece of equipment. The features outlined above make it a very easy tool to use, and most folks that actually own the new model Delta tablesaw sing its praises.
I was able to locate 27 separate owner reviews (from Amazon, Woodcraft, Rockler, LumberJocks, and CPO Tools) for the various Unisaw models, and the average for all of them came out to 4.5 out of 5 stars, which is terrific. This average was brought down a little by a couple of folks who had trouble getting replacement parts.
As with anything though, there are going to be a few shortcomings and complaints. A number of people have unpleasant things to say about Delta/Porter Cable tools in general since the company changed hands a few years ago, and the company just recently (01/2011) has changed hands again. That being said, the complaints I found specifically about the new Delta table saws are:
- If you don't use dust collection or if your system is undersized, the blade shroud causes dust to be expelled at the back of the blade. Even with an adequate-sized dust collection system in place, the saw lets more dust escape than some other cabinet saws.
- The drawer is not large enough to suit some folks, and some owners have removed it and built their own set of drawers under the extension.
- Extra depth of the tabletop in front of the blade can actually be a safety disadvantage, especially if you are "height challenged" like myself.
- A few minor complaints about the fence not quite measuring up to the Biesemeyer reputation.
- No blade brake.
There is one model of Delta table saw that I have not yet mentioned. Model 36-R31 is based on the previous version of the Unisaw. The extension table is optional, and it does not share the updates and features of the new Delta Unisaw line. I expect it is still being offered only because it has a right-tilt blade, where all of the new models of the Delta tablesaw are left-tilt. As of this writing (2/2011), it is listed on their website, although I couldn't find it for sale anywhere online.
Note: If you are buying your first table saw, or need help tuning up one you already own, I would recommend getting a good book on the subject. The two that seem to be recommended most often on the woodworking forums are Jim Tolpin's Table Saw Magic and Kelly Mehler's The Table Saw Book. Both have good ratings on Amazon, and they cover all the basic operations, as well as safety, maintenance, and accessories.
The new model Delta table saws bring the almost legendary Unisaw into the 21st century, and it is obvious that they did their homework on finding out what woodworkers want. No other cabinet saw on the market offers the same features as the new model Delta table saws. If you are in the market for a $3000 or so cabinet saw, the new Delta Unisaw is a must-see. You can get more detailed information about the specs and options on Delta table saws at DeltaMachinery.com.
Of course, if you are looking at a machine in that kind of price range, you also need to take a look at the Powermatic PM2000. The PM2000 has a great reputation, gets good reviews and has a large and enthusiastic fan base. If the Delta table saws are a little out of your price range, Grizzly and Shop Fox both offer good-quality cabinet saws that are a great value.