For woodworkers and DIYers, a quality table saw is an essential tool. Older Craftsman table saws, in particular, have a legendary reputation for their durability, precision, and smooth operation. If you’ve acquired a vintage Craftsman table saw, or are thinking about buying one, this comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know.
In short, old Craftsman table saws can make excellent additions to any home or professional workshop when properly maintained and used with caution. Read on to learn about the history of these saws, what to look for when buying one, restoration and maintenance tips, recommended accessories, and how to operate them safely.
History and Background of Craftsman Table Saws
The history of Craftsman table saws dates back to the early 1920s when the Craftsman brand was established by Sears, Roebuck and Co. Since then, these table saws have become a staple in workshops and garages across the country, known for their durability and reliability.
Early Development and Key Models
Craftsman table saws underwent significant development in their early years. The company focused on creating innovative designs that would improve accuracy and efficiency. One of the key models that contributed to their success was the Craftsman 100, introduced in the 1930s.
This model featured a cast-iron table and a powerful motor, setting the standard for future table saws.
Another notable milestone in the history of Craftsman table saws was the introduction of the Craftsman 113 series in the 1950s. This series brought about advancements such as improved safety features, better dust collection systems, and enhanced cutting capabilities.
Quality and Reliability
Craftsman table saws have always been known for their exceptional quality and reliability. The company took pride in manufacturing sturdy and durable machines that could withstand heavy use in professional settings.
Craftsman table saws were designed to deliver precise and accurate cuts, making them a popular choice among woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts alike.
Craftsman’s commitment to quality was evident in their use of high-quality materials, such as cast iron for the table and robust steel for the frame. This attention to detail ensured that Craftsman table saws could withstand the test of time and provide consistent performance throughout their lifespan.
Decline and Changes in Manufacturing
In recent years, Craftsman table saws have faced some challenges due to changes in manufacturing and market demand. The brand was acquired by Stanley Black & Decker in 2017, leading to some changes in the production process.
While the quality and reliability of Craftsman table saws remain high, some enthusiasts have noted slight differences in design and construction.
Additionally, the rise of newer and more advanced table saw models from other brands has posed competition to Craftsman. However, Craftsman continues to innovate and adapt to the changing market, introducing new features and technologies to meet the needs of modern woodworkers.
What to Look for When Buying a Used Craftsman Table Saw
Buying a used Craftsman table saw can be a great way to save money while still getting a high-quality tool for your woodworking projects. However, it’s important to know what to look for when searching for a used table saw to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Here are some key factors to consider:
Age and Condition of Top and Fence
One of the first things to inspect when buying a used Craftsman table saw is the age and condition of the top and fence. The top should be flat and smooth, allowing for accurate cuts. Look for any signs of warping, rust, or other damage that could affect the performance of the saw.
Similarly, check the fence for alignment and sturdiness. A misaligned or wobbly fence can lead to inaccurate cuts and frustration in your woodworking projects. It’s also worth noting that some older Craftsman table saws may have cast-iron tops, which are highly valued for their durability and stability.
Motor Power and Electrical Components
The motor power is another crucial aspect to consider when buying a used Craftsman table saw. A more powerful motor will be able to handle thicker and denser materials with ease. Additionally, inspect the electrical components, such as the power switch and wiring, to ensure they are in good working condition.
Faulty electrical components can be both dangerous and costly to repair, so it’s essential to thoroughly check these before making a purchase.
Availability of Parts and Accessories
Before finalizing your decision, it’s important to consider the availability of parts and accessories for the specific model of Craftsman table saw you are interested in. While Craftsman has a reputation for producing reliable and durable tools, it’s still possible that certain parts may need to be replaced over time.
Check if replacement parts and accessories, such as blades, miter gauges, and safety features, are readily available in the market. This will ensure that you can easily maintain and upgrade your table saw in the future.
Overall Fit and Finish
Lastly, pay attention to the overall fit and finish of the used Craftsman table saw you are considering. Look for any signs of wear and tear, such as scratches or dents, which may indicate rough handling or poor maintenance.
It’s also worth testing the saw’s adjustment mechanisms, such as the blade tilt and height adjustment, to ensure they operate smoothly. A well-maintained and properly functioning table saw will not only make your woodworking projects more enjoyable but will also save you time and effort in the long run.
By considering these factors when buying a used Craftsman table saw, you can make an informed decision and find a reliable tool that will serve you well for years to come.
Restoring and Maintaining an Old Craftsman Table Saw
Restoring and maintaining an old Craftsman table saw can be a rewarding project for woodworking enthusiasts. By giving new life to a vintage tool, you not only gain a valuable piece of equipment but also preserve a part of woodworking history.
To ensure the best performance and safety, there are several key steps to follow.
Cleaning and Lubricating
The first step in restoring an old Craftsman table saw is to thoroughly clean and lubricate the machine. Over time, dust, debris, and rust may have accumulated, affecting its performance. Use a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt or sawdust from the surface and crevices of the saw.
Apply a suitable lubricant to the moving parts, such as the arbor, gears, and bearings, to ensure smooth operation.
Checking and Aligning Top and Fence
Next, it is essential to check and align the table saw’s top and fence. A level surface is crucial for accurate cuts, so make sure the tabletop is flat and free from any warping or damage. Use a straightedge to check the alignment of the fence, adjusting it if necessary.
This step will help to ensure precise and consistent cuts while using the table saw.
Inspecting and Replacing Worn Parts
Inspecting the table saw for worn or damaged parts is another critical step in the restoration process. Check the belts, pulleys, arbor, and other components for signs of wear and tear. If any parts are worn or damaged, they should be replaced with high-quality replacements.
This will help to maintain the table saw’s performance and prevent any potential accidents or malfunctions.
Tuning Up Motor and Power Transfer
The last step in restoring an old Craftsman table saw is to tune up the motor and power transfer system. Clean the motor and ensure it is running smoothly. Check the belts and pulleys for proper tension and alignment.
It is also a good idea to inspect the electrical connections and wiring to ensure they are secure and in good condition. Taking these steps will help to optimize the power and efficiency of the table saw.
Remember, restoring an old Craftsman table saw requires patience and attention to detail. Following these steps will help you bring new life to this vintage tool and enjoy its performance for years to come.
Recommended Accessories and Upgrades
One of the most important upgrades for your old Craftsman table saw is a high-quality blade. A good blade can significantly improve the performance and precision of your cuts. Look for blades that are specifically designed for woodworking and have a high tooth count for smooth cuts.
Some popular brands include Freud, Diablo, and Forrest. According to a study conducted by Wood Magazine, using a high-quality blade can reduce tear-out and provide cleaner cuts, resulting in a more professional finish.
Inserts and Zero-Clearance Inserts
Another accessory worth considering is a replacement insert or a zero-clearance insert. These inserts help prevent tear-out and improve the stability of your workpiece. Woodworking websites like Rockler and Woodcraft offer a wide range of inserts that are compatible with older Craftsman table saw models.
Zero-clearance inserts can be particularly beneficial when making cuts with thin or fragile materials as they provide additional support and reduce the risk of splintering.
Featherboards and Push Sticks
Featherboards and push sticks are essential safety accessories for any table saw. Featherboards help keep your workpiece firmly against the fence and prevent kickback, while push sticks allow you to guide the material safely through the blade.
Websites like FineWoodworking.com provide detailed instructions on how to make your own featherboards and push sticks, but there are also many commercially available options that can be easily attached to your old Craftsman table saw.
If you need to move your table saw around your workshop frequently, a mobile base can be a great investment. A mobile base allows you to easily transport your saw from one location to another without straining your back.
Popular woodworking forums like Sawmill Creek recommend looking for a sturdy mobile base with locking wheels to ensure stability during operation.
Upgrading the fence on your old Craftsman table saw can greatly improve accuracy and ease of use. A solid, reliable fence is essential for making precise cuts. There are several aftermarket fence systems available that are compatible with older Craftsman models.
Websites like Woodworker’s Journal provide reviews and recommendations for different fence upgrades. Consider factors such as ease of installation, accuracy, and durability when choosing a new fence for your table saw.
Dust collection is an important aspect of any woodworking shop, and it’s no different for your old Craftsman table saw. A good dust collection system not only keeps your workspace cleaner, but it also improves air quality and reduces the risk of respiratory issues.
There are various options available for dust collection, including shop vacuums, dust collectors, and even DIY solutions. Woodworking websites like The Spruce Crafts offer guides and tips on setting up an effective dust collection system for your table saw.
Safe Operation of Old Craftsman Table Saws
When it comes to using old Craftsman table saws, safety should be the top priority. These powerful tools require careful handling to prevent accidents and injuries. By following manufacturer safety guidelines, using the right accessories, arranging proper support, wearing safety gear, and maintaining focus and control, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable woodworking experience.
Following Manufacturer Safety Guidelines
Before operating an old Craftsman table saw, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. These guidelines provide essential information about the machine’s proper use, maintenance, and safety features.
They may cover specific instructions for blade installation, adjustment, and guarding. Make sure to read and understand these guidelines thoroughly before using the saw.
Using Push Sticks and Featherboards
Push sticks and featherboards are invaluable accessories for enhancing safety when using a table saw. Push sticks allow you to guide the workpiece through the blade while maintaining a safe distance from your hands.
Featherboards, on the other hand, help to keep the workpiece against the fence and prevent kickback. By using these accessories, you can minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a steady and controlled feed of the material.
Arranging Outfeed and Work Support
Properly arranging outfeed and work support is essential for safe operation of a table saw. Outfeed support helps to prevent the workpiece from falling and causing accidents. It can be as simple as using additional tables or roller stands to support longer stock.
Additionally, using work support, such as a miter gauge or sled, can provide stability and accuracy when cutting smaller or irregularly shaped pieces.
Wearing Proper Safety Gear
Wearing the right safety gear is crucial when operating any power tool, including old Craftsman table saws. Protective eyewear, hearing protection, and a dust mask are essential to safeguard yourself from potential hazards.
Additionally, consider wearing non-slip gloves to improve grip and reduce the risk of accidents caused by slippery hands.
Maintaining Focus and Control
Keeping focus and maintaining control over the workpiece are essential for safe table saw operation. Avoid distractions, such as talking or using your phone, while operating the saw. Always keep both hands on the workpiece and maintain a firm grip to prevent slippage.
Maintaining control also involves using smooth and controlled movements to guide the material through the blade, reducing the risk of kickback or blade-related accidents.
Remember, safety should always be the top priority when using old Craftsman table saws. By following the manufacturer’s guidelines, using the appropriate accessories, arranging proper support, wearing safety gear, and staying focused, you can enjoy the benefits of these classic tools while minimizing the risk of accidents and injuries.
While requiring more maintenance and caution than modern saws, old Craftsman table saws remain coveted woodworking tools. With care and expertise, they can serve any workshop for generations. This guide provides essential tips for purchasing, restoring, accessorizing, and safely operating vintage Craftsman table saws.
With the right know-how, you can keep your Craftsman saw running smoothly and expand its capabilities.
For further details on specific models and maintenance procedures, consult your saw’s manual, experienced woodworkers, and specialty vintage tool sellers. With proper care and use, an old Craftsman table saw can be a treasured lifetime woodworking companion.