Talk to any woodworker with a number of years under their belt and he will more than likely have some experience with Delta’s Unisaw. He will likely have his own opinion on the saw, as well. The Unisaw has been a staple of Delta’s product lineup for over 70 years. It has seen some tweaks here and there, but none more drastic than the updates featured as part of the Type 2 lineup introduced in 2009. Those improvements have modernized the saw without sacrificing the quality or performance that has brought the Unisaw so much acclaim. Those features and more are covered in the Delta Unisaw Review.
The Delta Unisaw Legacy and Type 2 Series Overview
Over its 70 year lifetime, the original Delta Unisaw saw few changes from its original design. There wasn’t much need for it. The The most notable change occurred when Delta introduce a model with a left-tilt blade. The original design was one of the few flagship saws to utilize a right-tilt blade and the center of heated debate over which orientation provided the best operation and results. The Unisaw was a true workhorse with many original models produced 50 years back still in service today. In woodworking history, it is perhaps only rivaled by the Powermatic PM66, a saw which also saw recent retirement in favor of a modernized equivalent, the PM2000.
However, the old school design of the Unisaw meant that it had fallen behind in terms of safety features. Delta did little to address this over the years, but their hand was forced. In 2008 it was mandated by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that new table saws would be required to include at least a riving knife out of the box. While the cliche goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” this new safety requirement may have been the impetus to bring in a new model.
The Type 2 is not grandpa’s Unisaw. In fact, some new features would make this saw seem alien to an older generation of users. Delta gave into the left-tilt side of the debate decades back and retains that feature with their new line. The Delta Unisaw is available in four different configurations: the 36-inch rip capacity, 3HP Delta 36 L336; the 52-inch rip capacity, 3HP Delta 36 L352; and a 52-inch, 5HP model. The latter is available in both 1 phase (Delta 36 L552) and 3 phase (Delta 36 L552PH3K) configurations. Pricing starts right around $3000.back to menu ↑
Delta Unisaw Specifications
- 10-inch max blade diameter
- 5/8-inch arbor size
- 4300 RPM arbor speed
- 1 1/8-inch max dado width
- Left-tilt blade; 45 degree max tilt
- 3 1/8-inch max depth of cut @ 90 degrees
- 2 1/8-inch max depth of cut @ 45 degrees
- 52-inch max rip right of blade (36-inch configuration also available)
- 13 1/2 inches left of blade
- 3HP induction motor (5HP motor also available)
- 230V, 1 phase, 60Hz
- 3450 RPM
- Belt drive
- Multi-directional ON/OFF switch with overload protection
- 87 x 37 x 35 inches
- 22 1/4 x 20-inch footprint
- 661 pounds
- 35-inch table height
- 40-inch table width including extension wings (82 inches including Biesemeyer laminate extension table)
- 31-inch table depth
- 1 7/8-inch table thickness
- Type 2 Biesemeyer T-Square Commercial Fence System
- 42-inch length
- 2 1/2-inch height
- 52-inch guide rail length
- 14 gauge 2 x 3-inch rectangular steel guide rail
- 3/4 x 3/8-inch T-slot mitre slot
- 10-inch, 40T blade included
- 0.110-inch riving knife (0.087-inch thin kerf riving knife available)
- 0.098-inch maximum blade body thickness
- 0.114 minimum blade kerf thickness
- Bi-level dust extraction
- 5-inch dust collection port (4-inch reducing adaptor included)
Design and Build
Like their newer 36 5000 contractor saw series, the Delta was not satisfied with minor tweaks when updating the Unisaw 36 L352. Instead, bold design decisions have led to a saw that makes some drastic departures from what is typically expected of a cabinet saw in this class. This is in direct contrast to competitors like the PM2000 and Jet Deluxe XACTA Saw, which choose to focus on instead improve upon the status quo.
The most notable of all is the decision to move the arbor tilt hand wheel from the side of the saw’s cabinet to its front. And rather than a gauge that tracks the bevel of the blade along its actual movement, Delta has devices their own bevel dial, which provides enhanced accuracy when adjusting the blade tilt angle. Easy to reach, easy to read.
The solid cast iron base and single-piece cast iron trunnion bring about smooth and stable operation. Amounting to over 600 pounds when fully assembled, the new Delta Unisaw provides stability that equates to accuracy in terms of operation.
Other nice features include on board storage for the included miter gauge, a true rise/fall riving knife that can be adjusted without removing the table inserts, an arbor lock for easy blade changes, and the largest blade opening in the cabinet saw category. More on all these elements later.
The solid cast iron table and extension wings are exceptionally smooth and flat. There is virtually no deflection in the table surface from wing to wing. Adjusting the wings for level can be tedious, but the design of the wings includes set screws that can be used to dial the surface into perfection. The included screws are a nice touch that help the user avoid using shims to correct any alignment issues.
The large blade opening saves the knuckles when going in for a blade change or riving knife adjustment. This, of course, means a larger throat plate insert, but thankfully Delta has not gone with the thin insert found on some of its cheaper saws. The minimal thickness on those contractor models makes crafting zero-clearance inserts difficult if not impossible. Delta also sells its own zero-clearance and dado inserts for the saw.
Each model includes a Biesemeyer-branded extension table, a laminate board that increases overall rip capacity. Also included is a drawer for storage that is attached underneath this extension table. The table could also be converted to or replaced with a router table extension.
Assembly is fairly painless, though the instruction manual can be a bit unclear at times. The saw arrives with the main cabinet mostly assembled, including the table top and hand wheels. Left for the user are the smaller pieces and finishing details.
These pieces include installing and adjusting the cast iron wings, the extension table, and the Biesemeyer fence system. The the elements that come set from the factory (blade and riving knife alignment, bevel dial and arbor-tilt) are great out of the box. The user might spend some time dialing in fence alignment and table level.
Full instructions are provided for the necessary adjustments and are easily accomplished even with little experience. Getting things within acceptable tolerances will require some fairly accurate measuring equipment.back to menu ↑
The original Delta Unisaw didn’t carve out a place for itself in the annals of woodworking history without first performing its primary task, ripping and cutting wood, flawlessly. Any saw that carries the Unisaw name is expected to offer no less than stellar cutting power and accuracy.
And no surprise here, the Delta Unisaw 36 L352 Type 2 is well-equipped with its 3HP, 230V motor. Thick hardwood stock like maple present no issues for Delta’s cabinet saw. If added power is desired, such as in a production environment, the 5HP option brings even more cutting strength.
Blade Details and Replacement
Delta includes a combination-style blade along with the Unisaw, but this is more an afterthought. The saw is set up for full kerf operation with an appropriately sized riving knife as the stock option. For those that would like to utilize thin kerf blades, an option thin kerf riving knife is available.
Where most saws boast a max dado blade width of 13/16 inches, the Delta Unisaw 36 L352 features an impressive max dado width of over an inch. For best dado operation the proper throat plate must be crafted or purchased. The Unisaw can also readily accommodate molding head cutters for added versatility.back to menu ↑
The modern Unisaw shifts away from its namesake fence system in favor of a Biesemeyer (now owned by Delta) commercial fence system. This fence is virtually identical to the class Biesemeyer T-square fence that has become the standard for accuracy and inspired endless copycats from various manufacturers.
Here Delta promises a fence accurate to within 1/64 of an inch thanks to 9-ply fence faces. An improved cam lock lever makes for effortless precision when combined with the slick nylon pads upon which the fence rides. Dual hairline pointers aid in locating measurements quickly on the guide rail’s tape measurer.
Adjustments are made using set screws on the fence’s foot and allow for the fence face to be aligned parallel to the miter slot and 90 degrees to the table surface.back to menu ↑
The included deluxe miter gauge rides in a standard 3/4 x 3/8 slot and includes a guide wheel at the front of the miter bar to offer further stability. The wheel rides a t-style groove in the miter slot.
The gauge itself is accurate and easy to use, featuring indent stops at numerous at the 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90 degree positions. These positive stops cover a wider range than most standard miter gauges. These stops are easily adjusted should they become misaligned (or if you need to repeatedly access some other non-standard angle). One issue with the stops is their size, which can often interfere with attempting to set an odd angle close to an indent.
Onboard storage for the miter gauge is built into the cabinet of the Delta Unisaw. This puts the gauge within easy reach and gives it a place to live when not in use. It cuts down on clutter and puts the miter gauge an arm’s length away at all times.back to menu ↑
As safety features were an important reason for the Delta Unisaw redesign, we might expect some care and attention placed into these elements. Improvements include an easy-to-adjust riving knife, blade guard, and anti-kickback pawls as well as a multidirectional power switch and overload protection with auto reset built into the motor.
Riving Knife and Blade Guard
The riving blade of the Delta Unisaw is one of its most impressive safety features. The unique design of the saw includes a lever at the front of the saw that allows for quick and easy adjustments of the riving knife. No need to remove the throat plate insert. This is not only helpful for lowering the riving blade into non-through cut position, but also allows the knife to be raised for attaching the anti-kickback pawls and blade guard.
The blade guard itself is a bit disappointing. Its two independent halves, while clear, are chunky and can obstruct the view of the workpiece. Its attachment, which pivots at the riving knife, makes accurate blade adjustments with the guard installed difficult. A guard with more points of articulation and greater clearance would be preferred. As is, this seems to be the same guard included on contractor model saws like the 36-725 and 36-5100.
The anti-kickback pawls likewise attach directly to the riving knife and are one more measure to fight kickback. They work in that regard, but on softer stock have a tendency to mar the surface.back to menu ↑
The Delta Unisaw 36 L352 sports a “bi-level”dust extraction system. This system combines a collector hose with a sloping cabinet bottom to direct sawdust to its 5-inch dust extract port. Dust collection is aided by a fully sealed cabinet, which keeps dust inside the saw where it can be extracted by a dust collection system.
One interesting choice was to opt for a built-in 5-inch port with an included 4-inch adaptor. With 4-inch hose being the standard for most shops equipped for dust collection, a 4-inch port with 5-inch adaptor might have been better. This is only a minor inconvenience and comes with the tradeoff that the Unisaw is prepared for nearly any professional dust extraction system.back to menu ↑
Delta Unisaw Review: The Verdict
Making a change after 70 years of reliable service is no easy thing to do, but with the Type 2 Unisaw, Delta has embraced the challenge and pushed their flagship tool into the modern era. While some new features like a relocated blade bevel hand wheel are unexpected, others like a top-notch riving knife are necessary. The Delta Unisaw manages to combine its storied wood shop past with modern accoutrements without compromising on quality or performance.
The Delta Unisaw 36 L352 Type 2 continues the tradition started almost 70 years ago. As a flagship cabinet saw, this is about as good as it gets.
- Excellent build quality with smooth, flat tabletop
- Redesigned bevel adjustment features easy access hand wheel and accurate bevel dial
- Easy-to-adjust riving knife
- Cutting power for the most demanding rips
- Blade guard assembly does not live up to the rest of the saw
- Miter gauge is average