Delta 36 5100 Review: Powerful, Accurate Contractor Table Saw

Delta has a long history when it comes to woodworking equipment. So long, in fact, that it’s not uncommon to find a Delta machine that has been in service for 50 years or more. The Delta 36 5100 table saw seeks to continue this tradition, but will it stand the test of time? Part of the Delta 36 5000 series of contractor-style table saws, the 36 5100 stands out for a unique design but deserves recognition beyond that. We’ll cover it all in our Delta 36 5100 review.

Delta 36 5000 Series Overview

The Delta 36 5000 series is a lineup of four table saws that share major features but differ when it comes to the included extension wings. They slot in below Delta’s flagship Unisaw and above their 36-725 and job site saws. The Delta 36 5000 can be considered the base model with stamped steel wings and 30 inches of ripping capacity to the right of the blade. The 36 5100, which we will focus on in this review, is the same saw with cast iron extension wings.

The Delta 36 5052 and Delta 36 5152 both feature 52 inches of ripping capacity. Like the 5000 and 5100, one (the 36 5052) features pressed steel extension wings. The other (the 36 5152) ships with cast iron extension wings.

If any of these saws are a consideration this Delta 36 5100 review provides a good overview of what to expect.

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Specifications

  • 10-inch max blade diameter
  • 5/8-inch arbor size
  • 13/16-inch max dado width
  • Left-tilt blade; 45 degree max tilt
  • 3 1/8-inch max depth of cut @ 90 degrees
  • 2 1/4-inch max depth of cut @ 45 degrees
  • 30-inch max rip right of blade; 15 inches left of blade

  • 1.75HP, 15A fan-cooled single phase induction motor @ 60Hz
  • 115V pre-wired; can be rewired for 240V service
  • Push-button switch with Blade Brake and overload protection

  • 57 x 44 x 33 inches
  • 260 pounds
  • 50-inch table width including cast iron extension wings
  • 27-inch table depth
  • Include extra right-hand stamped steel extension table

  • Heavy-duty Delta T-30 T3 T-square fence with one piece rails
  • 37-inch length
  • 2 1/2-inch height
  • 57-inch guide rail length
  • Square steel tube guide rail
  • 3/4 x 3/8-inch T-slot mitre slot

  • 10-inch, 40T blade included
  • 3,600 RPM minimum rating
  • 0.073 maximum blade body thickness
  • 0.102 minimum kerf thickness

  • 2 1/2-inch dust collection port
  • 4-inch adapter included

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Design and Build

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Delta 36 5100 is its fairly unique design compared to the standard table saw. It features the open base typical of a contractor saw, but rather than traditional legs utilizes steel tubing.

Delta 36 5100 Casters

The tubing is attached to two fixed casters and a single swivel caster in a tripod arrangement. A foot pedal can raise or lower the saw to engage the swivel caster and allow for easy mobility. When the saw swivel caster is disengaged, the saw rests on two adjustable rubber feet and the fixed casters.

Overall the design is beneficial, but given the unique arrangement it can post some difficulty in getting the saw leveled. In addition, the number and type of casters can make maneuverability a bit tough in tight quarters.

Build Quality

The tubular steel legs make for a sturdy base, and the casters are heavy duty. The “cabinet” itself is comprised of fairly thin sheet steel that follows the cues of the tubular frame. The total package is fairly robust but a bit short of the quality of some other saws in this class like the Jet JPS 10TS.

This seems to be a common theme with the Delta 36-5100. Some aspects of its build and design are right up there with the competition. In a few areas the materials don’t quite seem up to par. Despite this, we see no reason why Delta’s saw could not stand up to the day-to-day rigors of the average shop.

Delta 36 5100 Storage

One nice aspect of the saw’s design is the amount of onboard storage. There are dedicate spaces for the fence, miter gauge, extra saw blades, and arbor wrench.

Table Top

The Delta 36-5100 ships with a solid cast iron table top and matching cast iron wings. The table is level and mostly smooth, but it definitely benefits from a good coat of wax and some elbow grease. Some faint marks from the machining process were evident out of the box.

The table is 27 inches deep and 50 inches wide when the extension wings are attached. A pressed steel extension is also included to further expand table surface area.

One point of frustration is the included blade insert. Delta has designed their table top to utilize an insert that is far thinner than what we have seen before. This makes the creation of homemade zero clearance and dado inserts tricky, to say the least. It’s possible, but requires a bit of extra machining. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the included insert does not provide enough width to use a dado stack much wider than 3/8 inch.

Assembly

The saw goes together quickly thanks to its thoughtful design. A helper is beneficial when it comes time to flip the saw upright. A total weight of over 200 pounds isn’t exactly easy lifting.

The saw comes set up from the factory, so once assembly is finished one could jump right into their next project. Still, it is recommended to go over each point of adjustment to make sure nothing came out of alignment during shipping. If adjustments are needed, the Delta 36-5100’s instruction manual details the steps necessary making for a painless process.

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Cutting Power

As a saw prewired for 120V service, Delta has pushed the 36-5100 about as far as a saw in this class can go. The 1.75HP motor is about where a 120V contractor saw will max out. The single-phase, fan-cooled induction motor matches well against others in this category, and comes with the same caveats.

This saw can handle just about whatever you throw at it, but consideration must be given to feed rate. Overloading the saw by forcing a piece of hard maple through the blade will either trigger the motor’s overload protection or trip a circuit breaker. It’s beneficial to get a feel for the saw and work to its strengths. Slow and steady is the way to go for heartier woods, while lighter stock such as pine is no sweat for the Delta 36-5100.

Included Blade and Replacement Options

One curious decision by Delta was designing the Delta 36-5100 for full kerf blades. A thin kerf blade is usually preferable with less powerful motors as the thinner kerf offers less resistance. The included full kerf carbide combination blade doesn’t do the saw many favors.

The thickness of the riving knife limits blade selection and all but excludes most thin kerf options. Still, a higher quality full kerf blade offers a boost over the serviceable stock option. When selecting a blade you will need to make sure it features a minimum 0.102-inch kerf thickness and maximum 0.073-inch blade body thickness.

An arbor lock makes blade changes quick with the included arbor wrench. However, the positioning of the locking mechanism puts your hand in a slightly awkward position when swapping out blades.

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Delta 36 5100 Fence

Delta 36 5100 Casters

The included fence is modeled after Biesemeyer’s legendary T-square model. Delta’s acquisition of Biesemeyer means the 36-T30 T3 fence is a fairly accurate replication, but there are some differences. Delta saves the Biesemeyer-branded fences for their top-end Unisaw line.

The Delta-branded fence is different in a number of aspects. The extruded aluminum fence faces are the most notable difference. The Biesemeyer fence utilizes laminate-faced plywood. The Delta T30 T3 fence also rides on a steel rail that is slightly less robust than that of the Biesemeyer, though it remains a single-piece rail. This helps keep the fence accurate across it’s full run. (Lower-tier Delta saws, notably the Delta 36-725, feature a finicky two-piece rail that can suffer from alignment issues).

Accuracy and Adjustments

As with most T-square fences, dialed-in adjustments make for a very accurate cut. The Delta 36 5100’s fence features several points of adjustment on its foot that allow the user to bring the face within pretty tight tolerances to the blade and table top.

The locking lever keeps a firm grip on the rail. Slippage is not a problem. This is aided by a catch on the fence body that secures the assembly to the rear rail. This also differs from the Biesemeyer, which glides on the table surface and requires no rear rail. While the increased security is nice, the need to interface with the rear rail can post some problems if you would like to pair the saw with an outfeed table.

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Miter Gauge

The included miter gauge allows for cutting angles of up to 30 degrees and features stops along its travel to lock the gauge at 90, 75, 60, 54, and 30 degrees. Finer angles can be locked in, but one sticking point is the size of the stops. They are large enough to interfere with the miter gauge’s ability to hone in on an angle that is close to a stop. It’s a rare situation that this would get in the way, however. It is unusual for a woodworker to need an angle measuring 87 or 48 degrees. This might pop up occasionally when trying to match an odd angle formed by a measuring error or in restoration work.

The gauge can be manually calibrated should the angles not be true to their intended measurement. The bar fits the standard 3/4 by 3/8-inch miter slot and features very basic set screw adjustments to obtain a snug fit. The leading end of the bar utilizes a circular mechanism that catches in a track at the bottom of the Delta 31 5000’s miter slot to keep it secure to the table when performing cuts.

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Safety Features

Delta’s 36 5100 is designed with a number of safety features to give the operator confidence in their cutting and ripping tasks. These include a riving knife and blade guard, quick stop Blade Brake technology, and overload protection.

Riving Knife

The Delta 36 5100’s riving knife and blade guard are a single assembly that can be configured in a number of ways. The total package includes the plastic blade guard, the riving blade, and a set of anti-kickback pawls.

A riving knife is a must-have feature that greatly reduces the risk of dangerous kickback by preventing a workpiece from binding on the blade. Once rare to see included, nearly all modern saws ship with some form of riving knife. The knife on the Delta 36 5100 sports adjustable blade alignment and quick-release mechanism. The quick release allows the knife height to be adjusted for through and non-through cutting operations (such as rabbets and dados). It also makes it easy to remove the riving blade entirely.

Blade Guard and Anti-Kickback Pawls

The riving knife is the point of attachment for both the blade guard and the anti-kickback pawls. While the blade guard is constructed of clear plastic and its left and right halves move independently to accommodate varying stock and cutting procedures, it can be a bit cumbersome to work with when dialing in blade height. The design, which pivots on the riving knife, does not work well when a shallow depth of cut is needed.

A set of anti-kickback pawls further prevent kickback by insuring wood can only move in the feed direction. They certainly work, but, as with the blade guard, mileage varies depending on stock thickness. When not desirable either or both the guard and pawls can be removed.

Blade Brake and Overload Protection

Delta’s quick-stop Blade Brake shuts off power to the blade in seconds, cutting back on spin down time and allowing the operator to maneuver their workpiece with one less safety hazard. The electric brake is similar to what has become common on high-end circular saws and does make a big difference compared to saws that lack this feature.

While less of a safety feature to protect the user, overload protection is a nice touch that will help keep the Delta 36 5100’s motor from wearing down prematurely. Should the user overload the motor by forcing a hard or knotty piece of stock through the blade at too quick a rate, the motor will simply shut down. To restart, a reset switch on the motor must be engaged.

Overload protection is not benefited by the accompaniment of a magnetic switch. The paddle switch that starts the motor is nice and large, making it easy to locate and engage should the saw need to be stopped in an emergency. But without a magnetic switch, should the motor overload or a circuit trip the operator must remember to set the switch to the off position before restoring power. A magnetic switch prevents this by resetting the switch when power is cut; the saw must be switched to off before it can be powered back on. This is not the case with the Delta 36 5100.

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Dust Collection

The Delta 36 5100’s dust collection system consists of a blade shroud routed to a 2 1/2-inch dust port. The shroud does great job of directing sawdust through the port and not onto the floor below. The 2 1/2-inch port means you can benefit from this dust collection with only a shop vac. No separate dust collector and ductwork needed.

If you do have a full-fledged dust collection system in your shop, the Delta 36 5100 includes a 4-inch adapter to accommodate attachment of 4-inch diameter hose.

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Delta 36 5100 Alternatives

Those in the market for a contractor-style table saw have no shortage of alternatives to the Delta 36-5100. Aside from the other saws in the Delta 36-5000 series, which share many identical features, interested buyers should also consider saws from manufacturers including Jet, Powermatic, and SawStop.

The Jet JPS-10TS (read our full review) has a price that compares the most favorably to the 36 5100. For a few hundred extra the user gets a saw that matches up quite well with Delta saw but perhaps offers better fence options, a user-friendly blade guard design, and a bit more of that high-end finish.

The Powermatic 64B and SawStop CNS series of contractor saws each have their benefits over the Delta 36-5100, but buyers can expect to pay a good deal more in comparison. The next step up would be into the realm of hybrid table saws.

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Delta 36 5100 Review: The Verdict

Delta Power Tools 36-5100 Delta 10-Inch Left Tilt Table Saw with 30-Inch RH Rip

Last update was in: November 20, 2017 14:02
$1,220.00

The Delta 36 5100 is a saw designed with every facet of the hobbyist or home woodworking experience in mind. While it lacks some of the power and advanced safety features of professional saws, its accuracy and ease of use strike the perfect balance. Delta’s legendary status only adds to the appeal of this saw. The Delta 36 5100 is a contractor saw for the serious woodworker who is ready to take the next step in their hobby or career but at an entry price that is easier on the wallet than many other saws in its class.

8 Total Score
Powerful and Innovative

The Delta 36 5100 brings professional features to a class of saws that is perfect for the serious hobbyist or home shop operator. With plenty of power and accurate cutting abilities, this contractor can take the operator's craftsmanship to the next level.

Build and Design
8.5
Cutting Power
8
Rip Fence
8
Miter Gauge
7
Safety Features
7.5
Dust Collection
8.5
PROS
  • Unique tubular frame design with built-in casters
  • Easy, accurate adjustments for perfect cuts every time
  • Smartly designed dust collection
CONS
  • Blade guard can be a bit cumbersome
  • Cannot accommodate thin kerf blades
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