Pros: Unifence. Included Delta 36-205 Sliding Miter Jig. Very solid.
Cons: Poor assembly manual. Motor mount should be re-designed.
This is an excellent table saw and I would not hesitate to purchase it again. It came highly recommended by a friend, and I am 100% happy with its performance. But Delta really needs to improve their documentation.
There is some confusion as to the exact model of the saw. Delta has basic levels of saw from Professional to Contractors to Cabinet. The saw I purchased is the Contractors saw with a 30" rip capacity, 30" Unifence system, and a Delta 36-205 Sliding Miter Jig.
I started my quest for a new table saw when I purchased a Dado blade for my bench saw and it would not fit on the arbor. Prior to my Delta, I owned an inexpensive Skil bench saw and I simply outgrew it. I'm building larger projects, and need the table area and the power that the Delta provides.
I was torn between a Ridgid saw and the Delta. Despite the nearly $300 price difference, the Delta really impressed me with the Unifence and the included Sliding Miter Jig. Without the Miter Jig, I probably would have not purchased the saw, but the combination of the Unifence and the extra miter jig pushed me to drop the extra $300 for the Delta.
Out of the Box
It comes in 4 or 5 separate boxes that contain the Unifence kit, the base, the laminated extension wing, the cast-iron left extension wing, and other parts. You will definitely need someone to help carry. It pays to layout all the parts ahead of time because each "kit" (saw, fence, extension) has its own set of parts and you do not want to get them mixed up.
My biggest complaint is the manual. While researching for saws, I was extremely impressed with Ridgid because they had all their manuals online in PDF format. I could review the saw in detail before purchasing. The Ridgid manual was formatted very professionally and well written. In contrast, the Delta manual is technically accurate, but lacks the presentation. The manuals are not available online, and each separate manual has its own look and feel.
Additionally, the manual is poorly written. The consistent part names are not used through the manual, warnings are not placed out of order, and steps are left out. For example, one step of the manual refers to "2 inch screws" while another step refers to the same part as "2 inch long screws". A minor difference, but it caused me to second-guess if I used the right part. Another section of the manual warned about over-tightening the wood screws, three steps after the table legs were fastened with wood screws. Finally, many steps tell you to not fully tighten the bolts, but never actually tell you when it is ok to fully tighten them.
The assembly was not difficult; it just took a long time. I blame part of it on the manual, but I do like to take my time with assembly. My only complaint with the assembly is the motor mount.
The motor attached to the saw by first attaching it to a metal plate with 4 bolts. Sandwiched between the motor and the plate is a thin metal belt guard. This whole assembly is then hinged to the saw with 2 metal pins. The motor pulley must be parallel with the blade pulley to reduce belt wear. The alignment is adjusted by sliding the motor side-to-side on the mount. Additionally, the pulley guard must also be aligned so that the belt does not contact the guard. These are two independent adjustments that have to be made with the same fasteners. Because of the weight of the motor, adjusting one tends to throw the other one out of alignment.
The Unifence is my favorite part of the saw. I did a lot of research to determine whether to buy the Unifence or the Biesemeyer. I liked the feel of the Unifence and found other Unifence attachments such as the Uni-T-Fence.
I was concerned about being able to clamp sacrificial fences to the Unifence because of the shape of the fence. I found that a 2x2 fits nicely in the curved area behind the fence and provides a solid surface to clamp to. Holes could be drilled into the fence to attach a sacrificial fence using screws, but clamping provides enough clearance for milling rabbets.
The miter gauge is nice. The Miter slot is a T track and the miter gauge has the corresponding flanges to lock into the slot properly. There are positive stops at 90 degrees and 45 degrees and are adjusted by hex screws. I have attached an additional block of wood to give a little more surface area for pushing large panels.
The right laminated table attaches to the Unifence rail in the front and a support rail in the back. Once attached, it remains level with the rest of the saw. The legs provide support for unbalanced heavy loads.
The motor hangs out the back of the saw. You'll have to keep that in mind if you build an additional out-feed table because you will have to make room for the motor. With my previous saw, the out-feed table could sit flush with the back of the saw.
The blade guard is a little annoying because it cannot be easily lifted out of the way. It has a notch to hold the guard about 45 degrees up, but a slight bump will cause it to fall.